Great wall of China is not just one attraction that brings tourists to the country whereas Beijing has many record holding sights which worth visiting. Modern Beijing is the business hub whereas old city has many well preserved historical gems, museums and thousand years old religious places.
Why should anyone visit the city?
There are wide variety of activities to do in Beijing including vast business opportunities. It is one of the most diverse shopping hubs of the world with many exclusive brand stores in low price. You will find many modern shopping malls which are filled with entertainment and shopping places.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
It is very easy to access Beijing from anywhere in the world. Beijing Capital International Airport serves both international and domestic flights. Beijing Nanyuan airport and Tianjin Binhai International airport are the other two airports which are used for the domestic flights.
Railway system of Beijing not only works for the city but many other parts of China. Trains from various places pass from the station of Beijing. Almost 700 trains connect Beijing with different parts of the country.
Bus system is also excellent and connects Beijing to almost every part of the country. Different busses also connect the city to the suburbs and nearby towns. There are regular, express and sleeper buses for different destinations and distances.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
Beijing is one of the safest cities of the world for tourists. Violent crime is low whereas minor things like scamming and pick pocketing happens in most of the tourist parts. Take care of your belongings in public places and do not share your personal information with strangers.
Traffic is crazy so you need to take care while driving and walking on the main road. Valid international driving license is needed to drive in Beijing.
What’s the weather like?
- September to October is the humid but comfortable time to explore Beijing. National day celebrations start in October so there are crowds of locals at every tourist attraction especially the Great wall.
- November to February is winter season. Tourist crowds, prices for accommodation and travel also decrease. You will find some tourists sites almost empty. Plan your trip carefully during this time because air pollution grows worse and temperature falls below freezing point.
- March to May is the warm, vibrant and comfortable time to visit the city. It is the spring season that is filled with blooms and colors. Book accommodation in advance because hotel prices increase in this time. You might see some dust storms so listen the precautions given by your hotel carefully.
- June to August is the summer season and the peak of tourist crowds in Beijing. Air fare and accommodation cost is very high during this time. July and August are the rainiest months of the city so do not forget bringing umbrella.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
Official language of Beijing is Mandarin Chinese that is spoken everywhere. Majority of the population do not prefer any other language for communication other than their local language. However, most of the people from tourist areas speak and understand English language. There are many gadgets easily available in the Chinese market for communication and translation.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
Official currency of china is Yuan. You can easily buy and exchange US Dollar in China or use your ATMs card. Some international upscale hotels, eateries and luxury brand stores accept US Dollars, Euros and Pounds whereas you need local currency (RMB)/Yuan at most of the places.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
- Qianmen – Near to Old Beijing, commercial hub and forbidden palace.
- Houhai – Traditional area, Hutong, small villages inside Beijing and best food.
- Wangfujing – Best area to stay for the sightseeing lovers.
- Xidan – Commercial hub, fashion boutiques and shopping malls
- Sanlitun – Modern Quarter with the best restaurants, cocktail bars and nightclubs.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
- Beijing Ron Yard Hotel is the budget hotel located near the historic quarter. It has an in house restaurant that serves buffet breakfast to the guests.
- Beijing Express Dongyun Hotel is the moderate expense hotel with Free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast.
- Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing Hotel is the sophisticated luxury place to stay. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV’s and speaker system. There are lounges, swimming pools, restaurant and a lot more.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Beijing Subway and Bus are the most used public transport system that is very efficient and extensive. The network reaches every part of the city. There are no monthly or multi-day passes and sometimes buses are crowded.
- Taxis are very cheap and common. They are easily available in every part of Beijing. Uber is not operating in China whereas you can use an alternative service named DiDi in Beijing.
- Tuk Tuk or Motor Rikshaw are known as Sanlunche or Boing Boing. It is a small three wheel car that you can ride for fare almost equal to taxi. However, these are more efficient and convenient for the traffic of Beijing.
- Pedicabs or bicycle rikshaws are easily available in old town and tourist areas.
- You can rent a car with driver. It is better to avoid driving because of excessive traffic. You will need a Chinese driving license if you want to drive a car in Beijing that can be obtained by the foreigners staying for a long time.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
- Summer Palace is the largest imperial garden of China that was used by the emperors as the summer garden. It is a master piece of Chinese garden architecture with the beautiful Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill.
- Great wall is the identity of China that is very famous all around the world. It is one of the longest manmade structures of the world. The sections of great wall in major parts of Beijing are very well preserved. You can stroll or hike on one of the parts of this wonder.
- Ming Tombs are located in the amazing country side so it is a wonderful escape from the city crowds. Almost 13 to 17 emperors from the Ming dynasty are buried in these tombs. People with heart or knee problems should avoid visiting the underground areas.
- Hutongs are the narrow streets of Beijing which represent the real life of ancient China. Most of them are very well preserved and you can visit them by the Pedicab or bicycle. There are traditional Chinese homes, gardens and old places to explore. You can also sit in the restaurants or cafes for a break.
- Temple of Heaven is located in the southern part of the city and is one of the most highlighted holy places for more than five centuries. There are different several royal altars and sacrificial places of Ming and Qing dynasty for Heaven, sun, moon, earth and other symbolic forces of nature. You can watch local activities like Kung fu, taiji, music and other good activities if you visit the temple early in the morning. There are centuries old trees outside the temple.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
Chinese culture is unique and owns its specific tradition and style. You should click images of every attraction in Beijing whereas forbidden city should not be missed. This complex belongs to the 14th century. You can enjoy a photo walk in the forbidden city and learn about the stories behind the place.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
Beijing is a foodie’s heaven. Some of the best eateries are:
- Qing- Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop
- Yuebin Restaurant
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
Some of the best breakfast options in Beijing are:
- Toast – Mediterranean restaurant and Bar
- N’Joy – Cocktail bar, Seafood and sushi place
- Green Cow City café – American Café
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
There are many Chinese dishes to try in Beijing whereas do not forget dumplings when you are in the country. Try a plate of Jiaozi – Chinese dumplings with sauce, vinegar and chili dip.
What about food markets?
You will find a huge variety of food everywhere in Beijing. Some of the markets to visit for food and culture are:
- Sanyuanli Market – street food, international and local cuisines
- Wangfujing Snack Street – skewered insects and scorpions
- Ghost Street- seafood, street food and pancakes
- Chaowai morning market – household goods and food ingredients
- Niujie Mosque Snack Street – authentic halal food, pastries and soup
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
- Sanlitun – Modern nightlife, foreign style clubs and bars
- Dashanzi Bar Street – Trendiest place for nightlife
- Nanlouguxiang – old century places and live music
- Xingba Road – famous musicians and popular rock star bars
- Houhai Bar Street – ancient relaxing places, entertainment and live performances
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
- V Plus Lounge and Bar
- YIN on 12 Rooftop Bar
- Toast at the Orchid
- Arrow Factory Taproom
can you recommend the best shopping areas? best shopping mall?
- Wangfujing Shopping Street – ancient famous shopping street and large shopping malls
- Xidan Commercial Street – world famous brands, stores and food markets
- Qianmen Street – Tian’anmen Square, modern shops and ancient buildings
- Sanlitun Village – contemporary night out, shopping malls and huge variety of shops
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
- The Summer Palace
- Badaling Pass and Great wall of China
- Fragnrant hills park
- The caves of Zhoukoudian and Peking man Museum
- The Ming Tombs
- The Marco Polo Bridge
- The Terracotta Warriors
- The Eastern Qing tombs
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
Every type of gambling, casinos and online gambling is illegal in China. There is a very strict penalty and fine.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Beware of Taxi Drivers and negotiate before getting into the car because they try to rip off the customer.
- Avoid national holidays of you are planning your trip because all the places are very expensive and over-crowded.
- It is a rule to bring toilet paper if you want to use a public toilet.
- Do not go for a tea with the people you just met. It is a very common scam with tourists especially at tourist places.
- Visit Wangfujing snack street to explore and buy souvenirs but do not anything from there. Most of the Chinese snacks cause severe food poisoning.