There is no place on earth like Beijing. The capital of China is a modern metropolis with a legendary history. As a result, Beijing pulses with vitality and contradiction in which modern buildings rise above ancient temples and imperial palaces. A trip to Beijing will show you the essence of China. Beijing is always my top destination to visit. This blog will serve as my Beijing Travel Guide and Best places to visit.
1. Beijing at a glance
Before showing you my Beijing travel guide, let’s take a look at some key information about the capital of China.
- Reasons to visit Beijing
- Beijing air quality
1.1. Reasons to visit Beijing
Being the capital of China for eight centuries, Beijing has well preserved ancient imperial buildings and essential aspects of traditional Chinese culture namely Beijing opera, kung fu, tea culture, paper cutting, Chinese calligraphy, sugar painting… And that will be the first reason to travel to Beijing.
Chinese drama is no stranger to Vietnamese, especially historical film. These films depict life inside the Forbidden City. That’s also my favorite genre. As a result, I really wanted to see all the palaces, temples in real life.
1.2. Beijing air quality
Air quality is the most concerning issue for those who wish to travel to Beijing as China is notorious for being a major polluter.
However, you don’t need to worry much. Beijing’s air quality has improved significantly thanks to the Chinese government’s efforts on controlling and minimizing urban air pollution in the city.
At first, I thought that there was barely a clear blue sky in Beijing. However, 3 days in Beijing turned out to be sunny.
2. Best time to visit Beijing China
2.1. Beijing weather overview
Beijing is one of the cities in Asia that are affected by the four distinct seasons. However, the duration for each season differs (spring and autumn are short while summer and winter are longer).
You can find key info about each season below:
a. Spring (March to Mid May) is always short with rapid warming. March can witness sandstorms blowing in from the Gobi Desert across the Mongolian steppe.
b. Summer (Mid May – Mid September) is usually hot and rainy. July and August are the hottest months in a year and at the same time gather most of Beijing’s rainfall.
c. Autumn (Mid September – Mid November): is similar to spring which is a transitional season. The weather improves with pleasant temperature and minimal precipitation.
d. Winter (Mid November – February) is cold, dry and windy. The average temperature is always below freezing (0 °C); sunshine is quite common, and a cold wind blows from the deserts of Mongolia (yellow dust). Although the winter is a dry season, sometimes it can snow.
2.2. Best time to visit Beijing
It is recommended to visit Beijing during autumn when the autumn palette dominates the whole city. My Chinese teacher always told us how beautiful Beijing was during autumn. And it is the reason why I choose to visit Beijing in autumn.
Summer is the peak travel season for both local and international travelers. It will drive the travel cost at the same time. Summer is also the rainy season in Beijing so it will be comfortable to travel under the rain.
Don’t travel to Beijing during Lunar New Year as it is the biggest holiday of the Chinese. All you will be empty streets, limited services available and extra charges.
3. How to roam around Beijing
Beijing has an extensive public transportation network which serves 10 million commuters on every working day. There are three main forms of public transportation in Beijing namely subways, buses and taxis.
a. Subways: Definitely the best transportation to use in Beijing which takes you to almost all tourist attractions of the city.
Beijing subway consists of 25 lines including 20 rapid transit lines, 2 airport rail links, 2 light rail lines and a Maglev line. Keep in mind that baggage check is required before entering any subway station.
b. Bus: Bus is among the most extensive, widely used and affordable forms of public transportation for locals, but not for foreigners.
All signs and announcements are no other than Chinese (there are no single words in foreign languages).
c. Taxi: Taxis in Beijing are comparatively cheap to other South Asian capitals like Seoul or Tokyo. However, it is not the most convenient one.
We couldn’t book a taxi during rush hour (I also asked the reception to hail a taxi on Didi and I gave up after 20 minutes).
For short-route or during-rush-hour journeys, almost all taxi drivers will refuse to turn on meters and offer a higher than normal price. It is recommended to make a bargain (30% off from their price).
4. Where to stay in Beijing
Although being one of the 10 largest cities in the world (as big as New York and bigger than any other city outside Asia), accommodation prices are not so expensive. However, it is difficult to choose an area to say as Beijing has many different areas that have different characteristics and different benefits for travelers.
While Beijing seems huge and a little overwhelming on the map, almost all top tourist attractions are all located in a line up the center of the city (except the Great Wall of China).
It is recommended to stay near Wangfujing Rd as central locations where tourist attractions like Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square are just steps away.
I stayed at Citytel Inn Beijing and it was such a good choice. This hotel is new and budget friendly, and located just a few steps away from the Forbidden City. You can find hotel info below:
|CITYTEL INN BEIJING|
5. Places to visit in Beijing
In this Beijing travel guide, I will also recommend some top places to visit in the capital of China. You can find below:
5.1. Forbidden city
Previously an imperial palace complex of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912), Forbidden City is one of the top tourist attractions in Beijing.
Covers an area of about 72 hectares with 980 buildings and 8,886 rooms, the palace exemplifies the opulence of the residences of the Chinese emperor and the traditional Chinese palatial architecture.
5.2. Great Wall of China (Changcheng)
The Great Wall of China is numerous defensive walls that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China to protect against nomadic groups from the Eurasian Steppe.
Although the majority of walls have disappeared without trace, it is still one of the most remarkable structures on Earth which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
5.3. Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)
Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. Covering an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers is natural landscapes of hills and open water which combined with artificial features (pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges).
5.4. Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven is an imperial complex of religious buildings in which Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties do annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvests.
Rigorous symbolic layout, peculiar structure, and magnificent decoration make Temple of Heaven the most representative example of Chinese ritual architecture.
5.5. Beijing National Stadium
Beijing National Stadium is the biggest stadium and also the most striking structure recognised all over the world. The design of the stadium takes inspiration from the ‘bird’s nest’. It is the reason why the stadium is also known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium (鸟巢: Niǎocháo).
It took the honor to stage the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics. When I first saw this stadium on TV, the inspirational design immediately caught my eyes. And I just want to see this architecture in real life.
5.6. Wangfujing Street
With a history of 700 years around, Wangfujing is one of the most symbolic and famous shopping streets of China. It houses a wide variety of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, trendy boutiques and upscale chain stores as well as restaurants.
It got the name Wangfu (royal mansion) and Jing (well) because there used to be royal mansions and a well with sweet water on the street.
6. What to eat in Beijing
Being the capital city of China, Beijing is where most of the representative food of the country gathers. However, the food and restaurant scene in Beijing remains firmly focused on tradition. And of course,
With a whole A to Z of restaurants and dishes around every corner in Beijing, it is not easy to decide what to eat.
Here is the shortlist for What to eat in Beijing: Kaoya (烤鸭), Mongolian Hot Pot (蒙古火锅), Soybean Paste Noodles (炸酱面), Kungpao Chicken – Gongbao Jiding (宫保鸡丁), Beijing Jarred Yogurt (北京酸奶), Sugar-coated haws (糖葫芦),…
7. Beijing travel itinerary
7.1. Beijing travel itinerary
It is recommended to spend at least 4 day in Beijing. I spent only 3 days and 2 nights which was such a rush (fortunately we weren’t exhausted during the trip).
To achieve our plan, we had to get up at 6 am everyday and spend more than 12 hours outdoors. So don’t follow my itinerary. If you wish, please extend 1 one more night.
You can find my Beijing travel itinerary below:
DAY 1: Temple of Heaven – Beijing National Stadium – Tiananmen Square
I board the train from Shanghai at 7:00 am and arrive in Beijing at 11:30. After checking in, we had a quick lunch and visited the Temple of Heaven and Beijing National Stadium.
DAY 2: Great Wall of China (Mutianyu) – Hutong – Galaxy Soho
I spent half a day at the Great Wall of China (Mutianyu) as it is located outside Beijing. After coming back to Beijing. I took a walk at a hutong (forgot the name). In the evening, we took some photoshoots in Galaxy Soho.
DAY 3: Summer Palace – Forbidden City – Go back to Shanghai
We got up at 7:00 and boarded the subway to Summer Palace. After that, we visited the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park (where you can see the panoramic views of Forbidden City). At 6pm, we went to Beijing South Station and boarded the train back to Shanghai.
7.2. Beijing travel map
Kindly see my Beijing travel map to better plan your itinerary. Keep in mind that Google Maps is banned China, so some places are not be demonstrated in this map.
8. Beijing travel budget
It took me 2819¥ for my 3D2N trip to Beijing. Transportation accounts for 50% of my travel budget. As I flew from Hanoi to Shanghai on a round trip, I don’t exclude flight tickets in the below budget table.
It surprised me that public transport in Beijing is cheap. It only takes 5¥ for a ride, so stay away from taxis (cause it may drive your budget up).
Keep in mind that QR code payment is popular in China (even the street vendors accept QR code payment). Some street vendors may refuse cash payment.
You can see my Beijing travel budget below:
|.1. Train Shanghai – Beijing (round-way)||1176 ¥||* Depend on the journey being made|
|2. 3-day transport||295 ¥||* Inc metro & taxi|
|3. 2 night stay at Citytel Inn||451 ¥|
|4. Temple of Heaven||28 ¥|
|5. The Great Wall of China (Mutianyu)||342 ¥||* Inc admission & transport|
|6. Summer Palace||70 ¥||* Inc admission & boat ride|
|7. Forbidden City||40 ¥|
|8. Jingshan Park||2¥|
|10. 3-day eating||415 ¥|
|TOTAL||2819 ¥||≈ 446 USD|
9. Summary: Beijing travel guide & Best places to visit
9.1. Beijing travel tips
– Always bring your passport along as you can be checked by the police (electric version is acceptable).
– Install necessary apps namely Dianping, Didi, Trip.com… because it will help you a lot in your China’s trip.
– Learn some basic Chinese phrases to communicate with vendors and taxi drivers.
9.2. Summary: Beijing travel guide & Best places to visit
Beijing turned out to be my most favorite place in China. I was able to travel to places which I saw on TV.
This brings me to the end of this Beijing travel guide. If you need any further information, kindly see other posts below:
- Shanghai travel guide and Best places to visit
- Top 10 best things to do in Shanghai
- What to eat in Shanghai? Shanghai ultimate eating guide
– MUST-USE WEBSITE TO PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP –