Friday, January 13, 2023
Beijing Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Beijing is the People’s Republic of China’s capital and one of the world’s most populated cities.

It had a total population of 21,150,000 people in 2013. The city proper is the world’s second most populated.

With the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast, Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province; the three divisions create the Jingjinji metropolitan area and China’s national capital region.

Beijing, China’s second biggest metropolis by urban population after Shanghai, serves as the country’s political, cultural, and educational capital.

It houses the headquarters of the majority of China’s top state-owned enterprises and serves as a significant hub for the country’s roadway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. Beijing Capital International Airport is the world’s second busiest in terms of passenger traffic.

The history of the city extends back three millennia. Beijing, the last of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals, has served as the country’s political hub for most of the previous eight centuries.

The city is famous for its luxurious palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls, and gates, and its art treasures and colleges have made it a cultural and artistic hub in China.

It was the residence of the Ming and Qing dynasties’ emperors until the establishment of a republic in 1911. Beijing is the country’s political, educational, and cultural hub, and as such it is rich in historical landmarks as well as key government and cultural organizations.

The city is well-known for its flatness and uniform architecture. Within the city borders, there are just three hills (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Beijing, like the Forbidden City, features concentric “ring roads” that are really rectangular and wrap around the city.

Beijing is a fast-paced, ever-changing metropolis. There is a combination of old and modern everywhere (especially within the 3rd and 2nd Ring Roads). Here, the most cutting-edge, boundary-pushing technology and social advances collide with the most ancient cultural norms and social contexts. The folks here may seem frigid at first, but after you break the ice, you will discover that they are quite pleasant and engaging.

The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, Great Wall, and Grand Canal are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing.

Beijing held the Summer Olympics in 2008 and was selected to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, making it the first and only city to hold both games.

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Beijing | Introduction

Beijing – Info Card

POPULATION :  City: 21,516,000 /  Metro: 24,900,000
LANGUAGE :  Han Chinese, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Mongol
RELIGION :  Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%
AREA :  16,410.54 km2 (6,336.14 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  43.5 m (142.7 ft)
COORDINATES :  39°55′N 116°23′E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 48.80%
 Female: 51.20%
ETHNIC :  Han Chinese 96%, Manchu 2%,  Hui 2%,  Mongol 0.3%
POSTAL CODE :  100000–102629
DIALING CODE :  +86 10

Tourism in Beijing

The Forbidden City, the massive palace complex that was the residence of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, is located in the historical core of Beijing. The Forbidden City houses the Palace Museum, which houses imperial collections of Chinese art. Several old imperial gardens, parks, and picturesque regions, including Beihai, Shichahai, Zhongnanhai, Jingshan, and Zhongshan, surround the Forbidden City. These locations, notably Beihai Park, have been recognized as masterpieces of Chinese gardening art and are famous tourist sites with significant historical significance. Zhongnanhai has also been the political heart of successive Chinese administrations and regimes in the modern period, and it is presently the headquarters of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.

Several famous landmarks are located just across the Forbidden City from Tiananmen Square, including the Tiananmen, Qianmen, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace, both located on the city’s western outskirts, comprise a comprehensive collection of imperial gardens and buildings that served as summer homes for the Qing royal family.

The Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), situated in southern Beijing and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the city’s most well-known religious buildings, where monarchs of the Ming and Qing dynasties visited for yearly rites of prayers to Heaven for a successful crop. The Temple of Earth (Ditan) is located in the city’s north, while the Temple of the Sun (Ritan) and the Temple of the Moon (Yuetan) are located in the city’s east and west, respectively. Dongyue Temple, Tanzhe Temple, Miaoying Temple, White Cloud Temple, Yonghe Temple, Fayuan Temple, Wanshou Temple, and Big Bell Temple are among the other well-known temples. There is also a Confucius Temple and a Guozijian, or Imperial Academy, in the city. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which was established in 1605, is Beijing’s oldest Catholic church. The Niujie Mosque is Beijing’s oldest mosque, having a history dating back over a thousand years.

Beijing has numerous well-preserved pagodas and stone pagodas, including the tall Pagoda of Tianning Temple, which was erected between 1100 and 1120 during the Liao Dynasty, and the Pagoda of Cishou Temple, which was established in 1576 during the Ming Dynasty. Stone bridges of historical significance include the 12th-century Lugou Bridge, the 17th-century Baliqiao Bridge, and the 18th-century Jade Belt Bridge. Pre-telescopic spheres from the Ming and Qing periods are on exhibit at the Beijing Ancient Observatory. The Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan) is a well-known picturesque public park that includes natural landscaped areas as well as traditional and cultural artifacts. The Beijing Botanical Area has about 6,000 plant species, including a wide range of trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as a large peony garden. Some of the city’s prominent recreational parks are Taoranting, Longtan, Chaoyang, Haidian, Milu Yuan, and Zizhu Yuan. The Beijing Zoo is a zoological research facility that houses uncommon creatures from all over the world, including the Chinese giant panda.

The city has 144 museums and galleries (as of June 2008). Other major museums in China include the National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum, the Beijing Art Museum, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution, the Geological Museum of China, the Beijing Museum of Natural History, and the Paleozoological Museum of China, in addition to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China.

The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, the sumptuous and complex burial places of thirteen Ming emperors that have been listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, are located on the outskirts of downtown Beijing but inside its municipality.

In metropolitan Beijing, three architectural types predominate. The first is classic imperial Chinese architecture, arguably best typified by the huge Tian’anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace), which remains the People’s Republic of China’s signature building, the Forbidden City, the Imperial Ancestral Temple, and the Temple of Heaven.

Beijing has a rich and diversified religious legacy, with Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity all having major historical presences in the city.

Climate of Beijing

Beijing has a humid continental monsoon climate, with increased humidity in the summers owing to the East Asian monsoon and colder, windier, drier winters due to the effect of the enormous Siberian anticyclone.

Sandstorms blowing in from the Gobi Desert over the Mongolian steppe in the spring, followed by fast warming but mainly dry weather.

Autumn, like spring, is a transitional season with little precipitation.

In January, the monthly daily average temperature is 3.7 °C (25.3 °F), whereas in July it is 26.2 °C (79.2 °F).

Geography of Beijing

Beijing is located at the northern extremity of the roughly triangular North China Plain, which extends to the city’s south and east. The city and northern China’s agricultural heartland are protected from the approaching desert steppes by mountains to the north, northwest, and west. The Jundu Mountains dominate the northern half of the municipality, particularly Yanqing County and Huairou District, while the Western Hills frame the western part. To guard against nomadic raids from the steppes, the Great Wall of China was erected across the northern section of Beijing Municipality on the rough terrain. Mount Dongling, located in the Western Hills near the border with Hebei, is the municipality’s highest peak, rising 2,303 meters above sea level (7,556 ft).

The major rivers that go through the township, including the Chaobai, Yongding, and Juma, are all tributaries of the Hai River system and flow southeast. The Miyun Reservoir, located on the upper reaches of the Chaobai River, is the municipality’s major reservoir. Beijing is also the northern end of the Grand Canal to Hangzhou, which was created as a transportation route over 1,400 years ago, and the South–North Water Transfer Project, which was completed in the last decade to deliver water from the Yangtze River basin.

The Beijing urban area, located on the plains in the municipality’s south-central lowlands at an elevation of 40–60 m, covers a relatively modest but growing share of the municipality’s land area. The city is divided by concentric ring roads. The Second Ring Road follows the route of the historic city walls, while the Sixth Ring Road links satellite towns in the surrounding suburbs. Tian’anmen and Tian’anmen Square are located in the heart of Beijing, right south of the Forbidden City, the historic palace of China’s emperors. Zhongnanhai, China’s current leaders’ house, is located to the west of Tian’anmen. Chang’an Avenue, which connects Tiananmen Square with the Square, is the city’s primary east-west axis.

Economy of Beijing

Beijing’s economy is one of China’s most developed and rich.

Beijing has more Fortune Global 500 Company headquarters in 2013 than any other city in the world, owing to the concentration of state-owned firms in the national capital.

Beijing is ranked ninth in the world in the International Financial Centres Development Index issued by the Xinhua News Agency, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Dow Jones & Company, and 29th in the World Financial Centres Index released by Z/Yen and the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.

In addition, behind Moscow, New York, and Hong Kong, the city ranks fourth in terms of the number of billionaires living there. PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked Beijing’s total economic impact as the highest in China in 2012.

The city’s economy is post-industrial, with the tertiary sector (services) accounting for 76.9 percent of production, followed by the secondary sector (manufacturing, construction) at 22.2 percent and the primary sector (agricultural, mining) at 0.8 percent.

Financial services, wholesale and retail, information technology, commercial real estate, scientific research, and residential real estate all contributed at least 6% to the city’s GDP in 2013.

Industry remained the single biggest sub-sector, accounting for 18.1 percent of total production in 2013. Since 2010, when the city stated that 140 high-polluting, energy- and water-intensive firms will be evacuated from the city in five years, the balance of industrial output has shifted dramatically. Capital Steel began relocating to nearby Hebei province in 2005. Automobile, aerospace, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, and food processing production all grew in 2013.

Internet, Comunication in Beijing

Costa Coffee, Charlie Brown Café, Starbucks (once a pin is issued to your cell phone), McDonald’s (30 minute time restriction after registration), and many more small independent cafés offer free WiFi. From the outside, these cafés may seem to be restaurants, yet almost any business labeled a café will offer WiFi. WiFi is also widely available in hostels and hotels. The vast majority of such wifi connections are shaky and unreliable. If having access to the Internet is crucial to you, look for an AirBnB property with decent wifi.

How To Travel To Beijing

Get In - By plane

Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场) Beijing’s primary airport, is situated 26 kilometers from the city center, to the northeast of the core districts. It serves a wide range of local and international destinations and is the preferred destination for most foreign airlines.

Nanyuan Airport (南苑机场 Nányuàn Jīchǎng, IATA: NAY) is a former military airstrip 17 kilometers south of Beijing that is now exclusively used by the army-linked low-cost carrier China United (Zhngguó Liánhé). China United now flies to Harbin, Dalian, Sanya, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Wuxi on a daily basis. Shuttle buses to Nanyuan Airport depart from the Xidan Aviation Building every 06:10, 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, and 15:00. The first bus (06:10) is not guaranteed to run every day. Make certain that you do not take a shuttle bus to Beijing Capital Airport. Examine the shuttle bus route, which is written in Chinese. The bus fare costs ¥16.

Get In - By train

There are several railway stations in Beijing. The majority of trains arrive at Central, West, South, or North stations.

  • Beijing Railway Station (北京站Běijīng Zhàn) is in the heart of the city, served by Subway Line 2. Destinations include:Changchun, Chengde, Dalian,Fuzhou, Guangzhou,Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Jilin,Nanjing, Qiqihar, Shanghai,Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Yangzhou. This station serves as the departure point for high-speed trains to the Northeast. Trains to Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar), Russia, and North Korea depart from here as well.
  • Beijing West Railway Station (北京西站 Běijīng Xīzhàn). Presently the largest. Train destinations from Beijing West include: Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Datong,Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guilin, Guiyang, Hefei, Hohhot, Hong Kong, Kunming,Lanzhou, Lhasa, Ningbo, Qinhuangdao, Sanya, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Urumqi,Wuhan, Xi’an, and Xiamen. Both “regular” and high-speed trains (when available) utilize Beijing West to reach these locations, albeit HSR does not (yet) depart the mainland. See the table below for information on how to get away from the station.
  • Public Buses. Most locations in downtown Beijing are served by a large number of crowded public buses, which may be challenging to maneuver. These depart from many points, including right in front of the railway station, east of the train station (where there is a large bus terminal), and on the other side of Lianhuachi Donglu. If you need to catch a bus, there is a huge sign at the bus stops on the Beijing West Station side of Lianhuachu Donglu outlining the routes.
  • Taxi. There is an underground taxi rank, and there is generally a ten-minute wait. Taxis, on the other hand, may be the most costly method to depart the station, particularly if you smell like a tourist. A tout will always offer to take you out of the line for an agreed-upon fee, but be warned that this will result in a substantially higher charge.
  • Subway. Metro Line 9 has expanded to link with the rest of Beijing’s subway system, and it serves Beijing West Railway Station. Line 7, which debuted in December 2014, currently also services the station.
  • Beijing South Railway Station (北京南站 Běijīng Nánzhàn). This station is used only by high-speed trains. It presently offers 70 high-speed services every day to Tianjin, Tanggu, Jinan, Qingdao, Shanghai (under 5 hours), Hangzhou, and Fuzhou. Line 4 of the subway serves the area. There are also a few services from Beijing South to northeastern China and Xiamen.
  • Beijing North Railway Station (北京北站 Běijīng Běizhàn). Small in comparison to the preceding three, yet you could find yourself here if you’re traveling from Inner Mongolia.Destinations include Chifeng (赤峰 Chìfēng), Fuxin, Hailar (海拉尔Hǎilāěr), Manzhouli, Hohhot, Longhua (隆化 Lōnghuà), Luanping (滦平 Luánpíng),Nankou (南口 Nánkǒu), Shacheng, Huailai (沙城 Shāchéng, via Badaling), Tongliao(通辽 Tōngliáo), and Zhangjiakou (张家口 Zhāngjiākǒu). It also provides rail tours to Yanqing and the Badaling Great Wall. Lines 2, 4, and 13 stop nearby, and are served by the neighboring Xizhimen station.
  • Beijing East Railway Station (北京东站 Běijīng Dōngzhàn). Chengde, Handan, and Ji County in Tianjin are the sole destinations. Just off Guomao’s CBD. It is very unlikely that travelers will need to utilize this station.
  • The Huangcun Railway Station has just reopened. It is located on the Beijing Subway Daxing Line in southern Beijing. If you’re having problems acquiring tickets to one of Beijing’s main stations, consider Huang Cun Railway Station instead. If you take the night train, you’ll be a little out of the way, but the metro opens at 05:30.
  • Subway Line 15 at Shimen station is only a short walk away from Shunyi Railway Station. This station is serviced by frequent train services, the majority of which may be sluggish.

Get In - By bus

Long-distance buses link to Beijing from as far away as Shanghai and the Mongolian border. A single bus journey may take you as far as Harbin or Xi’an. Beijing has over 20 long-distance bus stations; however, you must go to the bus station situated on the outside of the city in the direction you want to go.

  • Xizhimen Long Distance Bus station (西直门长途汽车站 Xīzhímén Chángtú Qìchēzhàn),  +86 10 62183454. Handles buses heading north and west. Destinations include Anshan, Baochang (宝昌 Bǎochāng), Baotou, Binzhou (滨州Bīnzhōu), Boshan (博山 Bóshān), Changchun, Chengde (4.5h), Chifeng (赤峰Chìfēng, 12h), Daban (大阪 Dàbǎn), Dazhangzi (大仗子 Dàzhàngzǐ), Fengshan (凤山 Fèngshān), Harbin, Hohhot, Huimin (惠民 Huìmín), Jinan, Jining (Shandong) (集宁 Jíníng, Shandong Province, 7 hrs), Jinzhou, Kuancheng (宽城 Kuānchéng),Lindong (林东 Líndōng), Linhe (临河 Línhé), Luanping (滦平 Luánpíng), Ningcheng(宁城 Níngchéng), Pingzhuang (平庄 Píngzhuāng), Qinhuangdao (7.5h), Tieling (铁岭 Tiělǐng), Leling (乐陵 Lèlíng), Pingquan (平泉 Píngquán), Xilin (锡林 Xīlín),Shenyang, Shacheng (沙城 Shāchéng, 5h), Shanhaiguan, Shenmu, Shizuishan,Tangshan (唐山 Tángshān, 5h), Weixian (蔚县 Wèixiàn, 8h), Wudan (乌丹 Wūdān),Xuanying 选营 (Xuǎnyíng, 7 hrs), Xinglong (兴垄 Xīnglǒng), Yinchuan, Yingxian (应县 Yīngxiàn), Yulin, and Zhangjiakou (张家口 Zhāngjiākǒu).
  • Deshengmen Long Distance Bus Station (德胜门外长途汽车站 Déshèngménwài Chángtú Qìchēzhàn),  +86 10 82847096. Also handles buses for the north andnorthwest. Destinations include: Baochang (宝昌 Bǎochāng), Chicheng (赤城Chìchéng), Dongmao (东卯 Dōngmǎo), Guyuan, Sandaochuan (三道川Sāndàochuān), Yuxian (芋县 Yùxiàn), and Zhangjiakou (张家口 Zhāngjiākǒu).
  • Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station (东直门长途汽车站 Dōngzhímén Chángtú Qìchēzhàn),  +86 10 64674995, +86 64671346. Handles buses heading northeast. Destinations include Changyuan (长垣 Chángyuán), Chengde(4.5h), Chifeng (赤峰 Chìfēng, 12h), Fengning (丰宁 Fēngníng, 5h), Fengshan (凤山 Fèngshān), Guanshang (关上 Guānshàng), Huairou district, Jiaozhuanghu (焦庄户 Jiāozhuānghù), Mafang (马坊 Mǎfāng), Miyun County, Nanzhuangtou (南庄头Nánzhuāngtóu), Pinggu district (2.5h), Sishang (寺上 Sìshàng), Shunyi district,Wuxiongsi (吴雄寺 Wúxióngsì), and Xinglong (兴隆 Xīnglōng).
  • Sihui Long Distance Bus Station (四惠长途汽车站 Sìhuì Chángtú Qìchēzhàn), +86 10 65574804. Handles buses mainly heading east. Destinations include:Changchun, Chengde, Dalian, Dandong, Liaoyang (辽阳 Liáoyáng), Tangshan (唐山 Tángshān), and Tianjin.
  • Zhaogongkou Long Distance Bus Station (赵公口长途汽车站 Zhàogōngkǒu Chángtú Qìchēzhàn),  +86 10 67237328. Handles buses heading south and southeast. Destinations include Cangzhou (沧州 Cāngzhōu, 3.5h, ¥70), Jinan(5.5h, ¥114), Tanggu (塘沽 Tánggū, 2.5h, ¥45), Tianjin (1.5h, ¥35).
  • Lianhuachi Long Distance Bus Station (莲花池长途汽车站 Liánhuāchí Chángtú Qìchēzhàn),  +86 10 63322354. Handles buses heading south. Destinations include: Kaifeng, Luoyang, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou.

The majority of buses departing from Long Distance Bus Stations will be regular or express buses that travel on expressways; they cost between ¥200 and ¥600 a trip, have comfortable seats, and most journeys last no more than 6–12 hours, however sleeper buses are also available. Sleeper buses with rows of bunk beds cost approximately ¥100 each trip, although many move extremely slowly up hills, skip expressways, stop at every city or town, give “meals” for an additional fee, use potholed National roads to save money, and a bus voyage may last up to 24 hours. The average speed of the fairly rapid sleeper buses is just 40 km/hr, with a range of 25 to 60 km/hr. It might be a nice real sense of how less affluent Chinese folks travel.

Get In - By car

Foreigners are permitted to hire automobiles in China, but they must have a driving license granted by the People’s Republic of China.

Beijing serves as a center for multiple expressways that go in all directions. The following is a list of expressways and their destinations:

National Expressways

  • G1 Jingha / Beijing-Harbin (Beijing (Sifang Bridge – Shiyuan Bridge – Huoxian County, Tongzhou – Xiji) – Xianghe (Hebei) – Jixian County (Tianjin) – Jinwei – Tangshan (Hebei) – Beidaihe – Qinhuangdao – Shanhaiguan – Jinzhou (Liaoning) -Shenyang – (Jilin) Changchun – (Heilongjiang) Harbin).
  • G2 Jinghu / Beijing-Shanghai (Beijing (Fenzhongsi – Shibalidian – Dayangfang – Majuqiao – Caiyu) – Langfang (Hebei) – Tianjin (Yangcun)) – Shanghai) — part of the expressway spins off as the S40 to central Tianjin and Tanggu.
  • G4 Jinggang’ao / Beijing-Hong Kong/Macao (Beijing (Liuliqiao – Wanping – Liulihe) – Shijiazhuang (Hebei)) – Hong Kong or Macao
  • G6 Jingzang / Beijing-Tibet (Beijing – Badaling Expressway – Donghuayuan – Huailai – Xiahuayuan – Zhangjiakou) – Inner Mongolia – Tibet.
  • G7 Jingxin / Beijing-Ürümqi (Beijing (Jianting Bridge – Machikou – Deshengkou)) – Zhangjiakou (Hebei) – Ürümqi (Xinjiang)
  • G102 Tongyan / Tongzhou-Yanjiao (Beijing (Tongzhou District) – Hebei (Yanjiao)
  • G103 Jingtong / Beijing-Tongzhou (Beijing (Dawang Bridge – Sihui – Gaobeidian – Shuangqiao – Huicun – Tongzhou District)) — linked with the G102.
  • G106 Jingkai / Beijing-Kaifeng (Beijing (Yuquanying – Daxing – Huangcun – Panggezhuang – Yufa) – China National Highway 106)) — continues into Hebei as the G45.

City Expressways

  • S11 Jingcheng / Beijing-Chengde (Beijing (Taiyanggong – Wanghe Bridge – Gaoliying – Huairou – Miyun – Gubeikou) – Luanping (滦平 Luánpíng, in Hebei) -Chengde) — this becomes the G45 in Hebei.
  • S12 Airport Expressway (Beijing (Sanyuanqiao – Siyuan – Beigao – Xiaotianzu – Beijing Capital International Airport)).
  • S15 Jingjin / Beijing-Tianjin (Beijing – Tianjin)
  • S32 Jingping / Beijing-Pinggu (Beijing (Huanggang Bridge – Pinggu)) — this becomes the S1 in Tianjin.
  • S50 Beijing 5th Ring Road

11 China National Highways (国道 Guódào) also link into Beijing:

  • G101 – Jingshen Road (Beijing – Shenyang, Liaoning).
  • G102 – Jingha Road (Beiling – Harbin, Heilongjiang).
  • G103 – JingJinTang (Beijing – Tanggu, Tianjin).
  • G104 – Nanyuan Road (Beijing – Fuzhou, Fujian).
  • G105 – (Beijing – Zhuhai, Guangdong).
  • G106 – (Beijing – Guangzhou, Guangdong).
  • G107 – (Beijing – Shenzhen, Guangdong).
  • G108 – Jingyuan Road (Beijing – Chengdu – Kunming, Yunnan).
  • G109 – Fushi Road (Beijing – Datong – Yinchuan – Xining – Golmud – Lhasa, Tibet).
  • G110 – (Beijing – Zhangjiakou – Hohhot – Baotou – Yinchuan, Ningxia).
  • G111 – (Beijing – Fengning – Jiagedaqi, Inner Mongolia).

How To Get Around In Beijing

Though some Beijing citizens speak conversational English (particularly in tourist regions like the Haidian District’s university cluster), one should not expect to discover a cab driver or passer-by who is fluent in English. Foreigners with little expertise with the Chinese language should not put their confidence in their ability to pronounce Chinese place names in a way that a local can comprehend. It is recommended to print down the names of sites you wish to see in Chinese characters before beginning on a journey around the city, or have your hotel front desk employees write them out for you. When traveling to particular destinations, noting down adjacent crossroads or basic instructions might also be useful. Show the SMS to the taxi driver, or just ask for assistance on the street. In general, addressing younger individuals will increase your chances of receiving English assistance, since many Chinese schools have extended their English instruction in recent years.

Crossing the street in China is an art, and it may be challenging for pedestrians unfamiliar with Beijing’s driving patterns. Before crossing, presume that no one will give way to you, even if a police officer is there. Crossings with zebras are disregarded. Chinese drivers routinely use their horns and engage in chicken games with pedestrians and other cars. If you hear a loud horn while crossing the street, always glance around since there is most likely a vehicle just behind you or headed straight at you. If you see multiple automobiles and bicycles coming towards you from various directions, don’t attempt to run away; instead, come to a complete stop. A stationary impediment is easy to avoid for vehicles and bicycles. Also, although traffic light crossings have zebra stripes painted on the road, you should cross only when the walk signal is green. There is strength in numbers, as there is with pedestrian crossings in many nations. When a large number of pedestrians cross at the same time, automobiles are more likely to halt or slow down.

Get Around - By Subway

The Beijing Subway is a convenient method to navigate about the city and is fully labeled in English for visitors. In recent years, the network has grown at a breakneck speed, with 17 lines currently operating and others being developed. It boasts a grid-like network that is delightfully simple to traverse, unlike most major cities’ subways. The subway system closes at 22:30 and reopens at 05:00, with signs at each station’s entrance.

The following are the lines:

  • Line 1 runs east-west from Sihui East to Pingguoyuan crossing the political heart of the city along Chang’an street, passing the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and Wangfujing.
  • Line 2 is the inner loop line following the old city walls. The first and last trains start/end at Xizhimen and the line serves Lama Temple and Beijing Railway Station.
  • Line 4 runs north-south on the west side of the city and serves the Old and New Summer Palaces, Beijing University and Beijing South Station.
  • Line 5 runs north-south on the east side of the city.
  • Line 6 runs west-east through the city center, serving Nanlouguxiang
  • Line 7 runs west-east on the south side of the city.
  • Line 8 runs north of Nanlouguxiang (line 6) to Changping District, serving the Olympic Stadium.
  • Line 9 serves Fengtai district, including Beijing West Railway Station.
  • Line 10 is the outer loop line that circles around the entire city.
  • Line 13 is an elevated light-rail line serving the northern suburbs. The line starts at Xizhimen and ends at Dongzhimen and passes through Wudaokou.
  • Line 14 passes through Chaoyang District and then turns west through to the southern suburbs.
  • Line 15 runs across the north and north-east suburbs of the city.
  • Batong, Yizuang, Changping, Daxing and Fangshan lines connect the outer suburbs to the city and are of little use for tourists.

Transfers between lines are possible, with the exception of the Airport Express, which requires a separate ticket.

Subway station entrances are identified by a large blue stylized letter G wrapped around a smaller letter B. Single tickets cost from ¥3 to ¥9 depending on distance and are only valid on the same day from the station they were purchased. Single-journey ticket machines have English instructions available. The machine does not accept ¥1 bills but if you pay with a ¥10 or ¥20 bill you will be given a handful of coins which you can use for future journeys. You must pass your ticket through the turnstiles upon entering AND exiting the station, so make sure you don’t lose it.

If you plan on traveling more than a few times, pick up a Yīkātōng (一卡通 ) pre-paid card, which has a ¥20 refundable deposit. Tap the card at the entrance turnstile and again upon exiting. Using the pre-paid card does not reduce the subway fare, unlike bus fares. The card’s deposit can only be returned at a few stations, so passing it on to a friend may be easier than getting your deposit back. Stations that offer a refund clearly state “Yikatong refund” in the ticket booth; examples include Xizhimen, Haidianhuangzhuang (only near exits C/D) and the Airport.

If you’re carrying purses or baggage, they must go through the X-ray scanners at the stations. Hazardous liquids (even oil!) may be seized. If required, drink a little amount of your water bottle in front of the security personnel to demonstrate that it is not dangerous.

During rush hour, stations and trains, notably lines 1, 10, and 13, become very packed.

Get Around - By bicycle

China, formerly regarded as a country of bicycles, now boasts an ever-increasing number of private automobile owners. Every day, it is expected that 1,200 additional automobiles enter Beijing’s streets. As a consequence, you’re more likely to see bikes in the Netherlands than in Beijing these days. However, because to the infrastructure left over from its days as the capital of the “Bicycle Kingdom,” seeing Beijing by bike is a breeze. The city is as flat as a pancake, with bike lanes on all main streets. Because of traffic congestion in the motorized traffic lanes, bicycling is typically quicker than driving, using a cab, or taking a bus.

In Beijing, four-wheeled motorized traffic generally obeys traffic signals, with the exception of turning at red lights, which is often done without slowing down or deferring to pedestrians or bikers. Pedestrians, bicycles, and all other vehicles (such as powered bicycles, mopeds, and tricycles) do not normally obey traffic signals. Furthermore, vehicles, trucks, and buses do not defer to bicycles on the road, therefore it is normal for a vehicle to make a right turn from an inside lane across a bike lane without regard for cyclists moving in the bike lane. A right-turning car crossing a bike lane may sometimes blow its horn as a warning, but not always. Cyclists should also be on the watch for wrong-way traffic in bike lanes, which mainly consists of bicycles and tricycles but may sometimes include motor vehicles. Wrong-way traffic normally remains close to the curb, so you must shift to the left to avoid them, although this is not always the case. Bicyclists in Beijing seldom wear helmets or use lights at night. Only a few motorcycles have rear reflectors. The relatively slow speed and huge quantity of bikers in Beijing seem to make bike commuting safer than it might otherwise be.

While bikers take many innovative ways across vast, crowded crossroads in Beijing, the safest approach for bikes is to obey traffic signals (there are frequently dedicated lights for cyclists) and make left turns in two steps, just like a pedestrian. However, if you spend a large amount of time riding around Beijing, you will most likely begin to adopt more inventive techniques. These may be learnt by locating a local bicycle who is traveling in your direction and following him or her through the junction.

Several professional bike rental firms, as well as large hotels and certain hostels, provide hourly bike rentals. A bike touring business like Baja Bikes Beijing or Bicycle Kingdom Rentals & Tours would be an excellent option for individuals who need the security of a guide.

If you plan on remaining for more than a few days, a decent bike may be purchased for ¥200. Check to see whether a decent lock is included in the purchase. The cheapest bikes are not worth the extra savings; you get what you paid for, and they will degrade as soon as you start riding. Spend a bit extra and you’ll obtain a bike in the ¥300-400 price range. Bike rentals may offer decent bikes, but you pay a large amount and risk having your bike stolen.

If purchasing or renting a bike isn’t an option, the city has run a bike-sharing scheme since 2011. Around 50,000 are offered at a thousand different locations around Beijing. While the charge is just 1¥ per hour, first-time customers must pay a deposit of ¥300. Electronic payments are the only ones accepted.

Get Around - By bus

The bus system in Beijing is inexpensive, convenient, and covers the whole city. However, it is slower than the subway (frequently stuck in traffic) and difficult to use if you do not speak Chinese. A bus, on the other hand, can take you practically everywhere if you know Mandarin, have a strong spirit of adventure, and a good amount of patience. The following are some compelling reasons to ride the bus:

  • your place of departure or arrival is not within walking distance of an underground station
  • your journey is less than 3 km long
  • you want to see the city during your trip and not just an underground tunnel
  • you are on an extremely tight budget (typical underground fares are RMB 3-7, bus fares are ¥2 for most trips, with a 50% discount to ¥1 if you use the Yīkātōng prepaid card)

Buses are now equipped with air conditioning (with heating in winter), televisions, a screen displaying the stops in Chinese (and often in English) and a broadcasting system announcing the stops. The bus staff speaks almost no English and the stop signs are only in Chinese. If you have trouble navigating the bus system, contact the English-speaking staff at the Beijing Public Transportation Customer Assistance Line (96166).

Warning: Beijing buses can be very crowded. Be prepared for this and be careful with your valuables. On the more modern buses, an appropriate warning is broadcast through overhead speakers on crowded routes. Pickpockets are common on buses and subways. So carry your backpacks in the front and try to store your valuables in a place that is difficult to access.


Bus routes are numbered from 1 to 999. Buses under 300 serve the downtown area. Buses over 300 serve the city center and more distant areas (e.g., beyond the Third Ring Road). Buses of line 800 connect Beijing to its “rural” districts (e.g. Changping, Yanqing, Shunyi, etc.).

The complete maps of the system are only available in Chinese. Route descriptions from one place to another can be obtained via Google Maps, Baidu Maps, Edushi (click on the bus lightning symbol) or MapbarThe Beijing Public Transport Co. website offers useful information in Chinese, but no longer seems to have an English page.


Most buses with route numbers below 200 run daily from 05:00 to 23:00. Buses with route numbers above 300 generally run from 06:00-22:00 (with a few exceptions, such as the 302 which runs until 23:00). All buses with route numbers in the 200s are night buses. Many routes are very crowded during peak hours (06:30-09:00 and 17:00-21:00). On major holidays, most city lines run more frequently.

In December 2014, a citywide rate increase took place and the following rates are no longer current:

For passengers who pay cash: Routes 1-199 and 300-599 charge a flat fare of ¥1 per trip. Routes 600-799 charge ¥1 for the first 12 kilometers of each trip and ¥0.5 for each additional 5 kilometers. Commuter buses (800-999) start at ¥2 and are charged according to distance. Night buses (200-299) cost ¥2 per trip.

For passengers paying with the new prepaid smart card: Routes 1-599 have a flat fare of ¥0.40 per trip. Routes 600-899 receive a 60% discount on the cash fare. Three-day, seven-day and 15-day passes are also available for travelers. There is no round-trip or daily ticket.

Get Around - By taxi

Cabs are reliable and relatively cheap. The downsides are Beijing’s notorious traffic jams as well as the fact that most drivers don’t speak or read English and some cab drivers are recent arrivals and don’t know much about the city. If you don’t speak Mandarin, it’s worth having the Chinese characters of the place at hand beforehand. Cabs used include Hyundai Sonata and Elantra, Volkswagen Santana and Jetta (the old 1980s model), and Chinese-made Citroen. These cabs are painted in dark red, yellow on top and dark blue on the bottom or in new colors (see picture).

There are also luxurious black limousines (usually Audi) that usually wait outside hotels and can be booked by private companies. They cost several times the rate of the corresponding cab.

In the more remote areas of Beijing, you may not find official cabs. However, in these areas, there are likely to be many unofficial cabs. These can be difficult for travelers to spot, but drivers will approach you if you look like you are looking for a cab. Remember to negotiate the fare before you leave. Locals usually pay slightly less for unofficial cabs than for official ones, but the price for foreign travelers is often much higher.


Cabs charge a starting fee of ¥13, and an additional fee of ¥2.3/km after the first 3 km. The meter continues to run if the speed is less than 12 km/h or if one waits for a green light; 5 minutes of waiting is equivalent to 1 km of travel. During off-peak hours, an average trip across the city costs about 20-25 yen, and a trip across the city costs about 50 yen (e.g., from downtown to the north side of the Fourth Ring). Since spring 2011, a gas surcharge of ¥2 is applied to all trips. Note that this surcharge is not indicated on the meter. Thus, if the meter reads ¥18, the price is ¥20.

If the cab driver “forgets” to turn on the meter, call him back by politely asking him to let the meter run, while pointing at the meter box (请打表qǐng dǎbiǎo), although most can understand “meter please” and all can understand a simple pointing at the meter. In the end, it is a good idea to ask for a receipt (发票 fā piào) while pointing to the counter and making a writing motion. A receipt is handy if you want to complain later or for business reimbursement purposes, and since the receipt contains the cab number, you’re more likely to get your stuff back if you forgot something in the cab.

If you want to tour Beijing and its surroundings, you can ask your hotel to rent a cab for one or more days. This usually costs between ¥400 and ¥600 per day, depending on where you are going. But you can also ask any other driver to provide this service, as most are willing to do so. If you have Chinese language assistance, you can negotiate the cost down. Whatever the cost, the cab is yours for the whole day and is waiting for you at different destinations.

Communication with drivers can be a problem, as most do not speak English. Many will not even take foreign passengers on the street, as they feel the language barrier is too great. The solution in this case is to go to a nearby hotel and ask the front desk staff to call a cab.

You can ask your hotel to write your destination on a map and give it to the driver. In any case, take the hotel’s map (and a card) with the hotel’s address written in Chinese. This will get you out of jail if you get lost and have to take a cab home. A normal map of the city with the streets and sights in Chinese is also useful.

As everywhere in the world, it is very difficult to find a cab when it rains. Most of them refuse to take passengers and many of them also try to raise the price. Even if it seems unreasonable (three to five times the normal price), it is sometimes better to accept the offer than to wait for another cab.


All official cabs have license plates beginning with the letter “B”, as in “京B”. “Pirate cabs” look like cabs, but their license plates start with a letter other than “B”. It is almost impossible to stop a pirate cab on the street; they usually stop near tourist sites such as the Great Wall and the Summer Palace or at subway stops. Pirate cabs charge a higher fare unless you are good at negotiating, know where you are going and know the correct fare. Sometimes they drop off foreign tourists at the wrong place. In some extreme cases, the driver even takes them to the countryside to rob them. If you realize that you have hired the wrong cab and they have overcharged you, don’t argue if you are alone, pay the driver and write down the car’s license plate number, then call the police later.

To avoid being taken advantage of, you need to know the approximate direction, cost and distance to your destination. You can easily find this out by asking locals before you call a cab. Check these values with the cab driver to show him that you know the subject and are probably trying too hard to scam him. Note the direction of travel with a compass and/or the sun. If the cab is going the wrong way for a long distance, check the location with the cab driver. With fraudulent drivers, this is usually enough to get them back on track (without ever admitting that they were trying to deceive you). Honest drivers will explain why they are going that way. Also, sometimes a cab driver will overcharge you and tell you that the meter is broken.

There are several “makeshift cabs” in Beijing, including a seat on the back of an electric scooter. These guys will rip you off copiously if you don’t negotiate a clear price for the ride beforehand. Once you arrive at your destination, the driver will ask you ¥300 for a two-minute ride and will be very aggressive if you do not pay him.

Keep in mind that the center of Beijing may be closed at certain times, forcing cabs to take an alternate route. And some streets prohibit left turns (with large signs) either at certain times or all the time, which may force the driver to take a detour.

Get Around - By Car

Driving in Beijing can be quite complicated, as there seems to be constant traffic jams. Many hotels rent cars with drivers for up to ¥1,000 per day. Public transportation or cabs take you to most major tourist sites, so a rental car is often not necessary.

Short-term visa holders (less than three months) can obtain a provisional driver’s license within minutes at Beijing International Airport or at traffic police stations in the city. You will need to present your passport and foreign driver’s license and take a short test to confirm that you have no physical or visual disabilities that would prevent you from driving. You can drive legally in China with a temporary driver’s license. Ask for instructions at an airport information desk.

In the arrivals hall of Terminal 2 of Beijing’s airport, you will find the counters of many car rental companies, whose English skills are not very good.

The following is a partial list of car rental agencies that service Beijing Capital Airport:

  • China Auto Rental , Tel : +86 400 616 6666
  • Top One CN , Tel : +86 4006 788 588
  • Avis also operates a car rental service in Beijing
  • Transfer from Beijing Airport, Tel: +86 18932846209

The daily rate for small economy cars is about ¥200-300. You need to deposit a deposit of about. ¥3000 (possible with CUP/VISA/MasterCard credit card).

20% of the cars have to leave the city center on weekdays – depending on the last number on your license plate, you are affected by different days. These alternate every 13 weeks. The police have the right to fine you repeatedly if you are caught on the street when you should have left your car at home. If you are driving to Tianjin, keep in mind that the same system as in Beijing applies, namely road rationing. On weekends, both cities have no such restrictions, which can lead to heavy traffic jams during rush hour.

Vehicles without a Beijing-registered driver’s license are subject to strict restrictions in the capital – most of them need a special permit to enter the area inside the Sixth Ring Road, and for those who do get it, it has to be renewed almost every week. You should always carry your Chinese passport/ID card, driver’s license and vehicle registration card (“blue book”, not a larger registration certificate) with you, especially when entering and leaving Beijing, as you will be checked by the police.

Districts & Neighbourhoods In Beijing

Beijing has a total of 14 boroughs and 2 districts. In 2010, Xuanwu District was merged with Xicheng District and Chongwen District with Dongcheng District.

Inner City And Suburban Areas

The two central districts are located within or just beyond the Second Ring Road. This is where the old walled city of Beijing is located, and where you will find most of the tourist attractions as well as many opportunities for sleeping, eating, drinking and entertainment. The districts are:

Xicheng County (西城区; Xīchéngqū)
Includes the western half of the central area of the city to shortly after the second ring in the west and to the third ring in the north. It includes Beihai Park, the Houhai area, the Beijing Zoo, and the National Concert Hall. The southern third of Xicheng is the former Xuanwu District (宣武区; Xuānwǔqū).

Dongcheng County (东城区; Dōngchéngqū)
spans the eastern half of the central area of the city approximately to the Third Ring Road in the north and the Second Ring Road in the east and south. It is the main tourist area of Beijing, including the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. Chongwen (崇文区; Chóngwénqū) is an ancient district that includes the southern third of Dongcheng, including the Temple of Heaven. Other important districts are Wangfujing (Walking Street), Gulou (Drum Tower and Nanlougouxiang), Yonghegong (Yonghe Lamas Temple), Dongzhimen and Tiananmen.

The next four districts are also relatively close to the center. They are often called the inner suburbs. They include parts of the Western Hills, universities, Olympic venues, business and embassy districts, entertainment and bar districts, and arts districts. The districts are:

Shijingshan District (石景山区; Shíjǐngshānqū)
Includes the area immediately west of the central city area. Also includes parts of the Western Hills

Haidian District (海淀区; Hǎidiànqū)
Which covers the northwestern part of the capital territory. About half of Haidian District consists of the high-tech industrial and commercial center of Zhongguancun and the largest concentration of universities in Beijing. Includes the Summer Palace

Chaoyang County (朝阳区; Cháoyángqū)
includes a large area east of the central urban area, extending from the second ring road to shortly after the fifth ring road to the east. It includes downtownSanlitun (the village and workers’ stadium), Olympic Green (Bird’s Nest, Water Cube and other Olympic facilities), 798 Art Zone, Chaoyang Park, Ritan Park and several embassy districts.

Fengtai District (丰台区; Fēngtáiqū)
Includes the area south and west of Beijing. Includes Beijing West Railway Station

Rural Beijing And Outer Suburbs

  • Tongzhou District (通州区; Tōngzhōuqū)
  • Northern suburbs (Changping, Shunyi)
  • Western and southern suburbs (Mentougou, Fangshan, Daxing)
  • Rural Beijing (Yanqing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu)
  • The Great Wall passes through this northern mountainous region

Prices In Beijing

Tourist (Backpacker) – 33 $ per day. Estimated cost per 1 day including:meals in cheap restaurant, public transport, cheap hotel.

Tourist (regular) – 107 $ per day. Estimated cost per 1 day including:mid-range meals and drinks,transportation, hotel.


Milk 1 liter $ 2.24
Tomatoes 1 kg $ 1.15
Cheese 0.5 kg $ 14.00
Apples 1 kg $ 2.15
Oranges 1 kg $ 2.13
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 0.83
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $ 12.50
Coca-Cola 2 liters $ 1.00
Bread 1 piece $ 2.00
Water 1.5 l $ 0.65


Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $ 20.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $ 45.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $ 70.00
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $ 4.50
Water 0.33 l $ 0.30
Cappuccino 1 cup $ 4.40
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $ 3.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 0.95
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $ 0.55
Coctail drink 1 drink $ 9.00


Cinema 2 tickets $ 18.00
Gym 1 month $ 60.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $ 10.00
Theatar 2 tickets $ 100.00
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $ 0.08
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $ 2.95


Antibiotics 1 pack $ 5.00
Tampons 32 pieces $ 7.00
Deodorant 50 ml. $ 6.00
Shampoo 400 ml. $ 5.60
Toilet paper 4 rolls $ 1.70
Toothpaste 1 tube $ 2.10


Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 1 $ 60.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M) 1 $ 39.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas) 1 $ 100.00
Leather shoes 1 $ 110.00


Gasoline 1 liter $ 1.05
Taxi Start $ 2.00
Taxi 1 km $ 0.40
Local Transport 1 ticket $ 0.45

Sights & Landmarks In Beijing

The center of the city and its main symbol is Tiananmen Square, located near the city center and administratively belonging to Dongcheng District. It is the largest public square in the world and a must-see place for all visitors, whether from abroad or from other parts of China. The square is surrounded by large buildings, including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate and the Forbidden City. The square also houses the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Martyrs. In 1989, it was the scene of the infamous massacre of student activists by the People’s Liberation Army.

The National Stadium or Bird’s Nest in Chaoyang District is a new symbol and the symbol of the 2008 Olympic Games. Two contemporary buildings in Chaoyang District are remarkable emblems: the CCTV building (also called slip or bird’s feet by locals) and the World Trade Center Tower III. Both are outstanding examples of contemporary architecture.

There are also a number of notable remnants of the medieval city, including the Ming Dynasty Wall Park (the only remnant of the walls) in Chongwen District, the Drum and Bell Towers in Dongcheng District and Qianmen in Chongwen District.

Palaces, temples and parks

The city’s many green oases are a wonderful change from the endless boulevards and narrow hutongs. Locals also flock to Beijing’s palaces, temples and parks whenever they have the time. The green spaces are not only for relaxation, but also for sports, dancing, singing and general recreation.

The most important palace is the Forbidden City (故宫博物院), located in the center of the city, administratively in Dongcheng District. The Forbidden City was the seat of the imperial court during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Unlike many other historical sites, the Forbidden City remained relatively untouched during the Cultural Revolution, as then Premier Zhou Enlai intervened in time and sent a battalion of his troops to protect the palace from the overzealous Red Guards. The Temple of Heaven (天坛), located in Chongwen District, is the symbol of Beijing and is surrounded by a bustling park, typically populated by hordes of locals who come to drink tea, practice calligraphy or tai chi, or just watch the hustle and bustle.

Yonghegong (Lama Temple) (雍和宫), in Dongcheng District, is one of the largest and most beautiful temples in the country. Entrance fee (2014): 元25. Just across the street is the Confucius Temple (孔廟); entrance fee (2014): 元25; open until 6pm (5pm in winter), last entry 30 minutes early.

Other parks are scattered throughout Beijing. Some of the best are Zhongshan Park (中山公园) in Xicheng District, Beihai Park (北海公园) in Xicheng District, Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园) in Chaoyang District and Ritan Park (日坛公园) in Chaoyang District. Beijing Zoo (北京动物园) in Xicheng District is famous for its traditional landscaping and giant pandas, but, as with many zoos, the conditions for housing the animals have come under fire.

In Haidian District are the Summer Palace (颐和园), the ruins of the Old Summer Palace (圆明园), the Perfume Hills (香山) and the Beijing Botanical Garden (北京植物园). They are all quite close to each other and worth a visit.

  • Nanluoguxiang(南锣鼓巷) Nanluoguxiang a total length of 786 meters and 8 meters wide. The alley is a north-south channel under the Yuan Dynasty, such as the protected areas of Beijing Hutong. The “capital of the alley Square Lane set of five,” said Luo Guo alley.
  • JuYong Guan. Juyongguan Pass, also known as Juyongguan in Chinese, is located 20 kilometers north of Changping District, about 60 kilometers from Beijing. It is a well-known pass of the Great Wall of China. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is under national cultural protection.
  • Olympic Water Park (奥林匹克水上公园). The Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park, with a planned area of 162.59 hectares and a footprint of 32,000 square meters, is intended to host the rowing, canoeing and marathon swimming events of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as the rowing events during the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Museums & Galleries In Beijing

  • In general, Beijing’s museums are not yet on par with those of cities like Paris, Rome and New York. However, the city is home to one of the largest and most famous museums in Asia, the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Chinese government is determined to change the backward perception of its museums and has invested heavily in their development. In addition, most museums (except the Forbidden City) are free to visit. However, for some museums, tickets must be reserved three days in advance.
  • One of Beijing’s most famous museums is the National Museum (国家博物馆), located in the Dongcheng district and renovated in 2011. The Military Museum (军事博物馆), in Haidian District, has long been popular with domestic and foreign tourists. The Capital Museum (首都博物馆), in Xicheng District, is a new high-level museum featuring historical and artistic exhibits. The China Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆), located in the northern suburbs of Beijing, is surprisingly good and houses over 200 rare and unique Chinese (mostly Russian) aircraft. Finally, a number of restored former residences of famous Beijingers, especially in the Xicheng district, provide a good glimpse into the daily life of the past.
  • Beijing’s contemporary art scene is thriving, with a large number of artists exhibiting and selling their work in galleries throughout the city. Galleries are concentrated in a number of art districts, including the oldest and most accessible, but increasingly commercial, Dashanzi in Chaoyang District. (Bus line 401 – departure from Dongzhimen or San Yuan Qiao) Other newer and perhaps more innovative art districts are Caochangdi in Chaoyang District and Songzhuan Artist’s Village in Tongzhou District.

Things To Do In Beijing

Hiking and horseback riding

  • The Great Wall of China (长城 chángchéng) is about 1 hour by train or 1.5 hours by bus from the city.  The Badaling section is the most famous, but it is also over-restored and overcrowded. Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng and Simatai are a bit further away, but offer a better view of the wall, away from the crowds. (Since March 2011, Simatai is closed for restoration work. It is expected to reopen in 2012-2014. Crowds are definitely a problem for the Great Wall: in popular sections at popular times, it does not become the Great Wall of China, but rather the Great Wall of tourists. Mutianyu has been restored, but it is much less crowded than Badaling and more popular with foreign visitors. The unrestored section of Jiankou is dangerous and widely considered the most beautiful. It is possible to hire a cab for ¥400-800 for the round trip, including waiting time. In the cooler season, take a jacket against the wind or cold – in the summer you will need plenty of water and it is cheaper to bring your own.
  • Hutongs (胡同 Hútòng). The old alleys of Beijing, in which you can find the traditional Beijing architecture. They date back to the time when Beijing was the capital of the Yuan Dynasty (1266-1368). Most of the buildings in the hutongs are built in the traditional courtyard style (四合院 sìhéyuàn). Many of these courtyard houses were originally inhabited by aristocrats, but after the Communists came to power in 1949, the aristocrats were evicted and replaced by poor families. Hutongs can still be found throughout the area inside the 2nd ring road, although many are being demolished to make way for new buildings and wider streets. Tourists particularly enjoy the hutongs near Qianmen and Houhai. For travelers used to Beijing’s new wide streets, the hutongs may seem intimidating at first, but the locals are very friendly and will often try to help you if you look lost.
  • Rent a bike. Ride through some of the remaining hutongs. There’s no better way to see Beijing firsthand than by bike, but be careful with cars (the Chinese driving style may be different from what you’re used to). You can find information on bike rentals above.
  • Game of the hidden city. Sunday 1:00 – 5:30 pm. Explore Beijing’s hutongs and parks in a monthly bilingual Sunday afternoon contest. A fun way to discover Beijing’s history and culture, enjoyed by locals and international visitors alike. The program includes activities based on Chinese traditions, such as calligraphy, music, art, food, science and games. Restaurants are sponsoring prizes worth up to 5,000rmb. The next event will be held on August 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm at Five Dragon Pavilions, 500m west of Beihai Park North Gate, Beihai North Line 6.

Theaters and concert halls

The National Performing Arts Center, located in Xicheng District, was completed in 2007 and finally provided Beijing with a modern theater complex including opera, music and drama. A visit is worthwhile even if you do not attend a performance.

Peking opera is considered the most famous of all traditional operas performed in China. This type of opera has nothing in common with Western opera: the costumes, singing style, music and audience reactions are clearly Chinese. The plot is usually quite simple, so you may be able to understand some things even if you don’t understand the language. Some of the best places to see Peking Opera are in Xuanwu District, including the Huguang Huguang Theater and the Lao She Tea House. There are also a number of theaters in Dongcheng District, including the Chang’an Grand Theatre.

Acrobatic shows are also worth a visit if you want to see traditional Chinese entertainment. You can find some of the best shows at Tianqiao Acrobatic Theater in Xuanwu District and Chaoyang Theater in Chaoyang District.

Theater performances have had a slow start in Beijing and are still not as widespread as one might expect in a city like Beijing, and you probably won’t find many Western plays. There are, however, some good places to see contemporary Chinese plays, including the Capital Theatre in Dongcheng District and the Century Theater in Chaoyang District.

Classical music is much more prevalent in Beijing than theatrical performances. Some of the best places are the National Center for Performing Arts and the Century Theater, both already mentioned, as well as the Beijing Concert Hall in the Xicheng district.

Theaters and concert halls

The National Performing Arts Center, located in Xicheng District, was completed in 2007 and finally provided Beijing with a modern theater complex including opera, music and drama. A visit is worthwhile even if you do not attend a performance.

Peking opera is considered the most famous of all traditional operas performed in China. This type of opera has nothing in common with Western opera: the costumes, singing style, music and audience reactions are clearly Chinese. The plot is usually quite simple, so you may be able to understand some things even if you don’t understand the language. Some of the best places to see Peking Opera are in Xuanwu District, including the Huguang Huguang Theater and the Lao She Tea House. There are also a number of theaters in Dongcheng District, including the Chang’an Grand Theatre.

Acrobatic shows are also worth a visit if you want to see traditional Chinese entertainment. You can find some of the best shows at Tianqiao Acrobatic Theater in Xuanwu District and Chaoyang Theater in Chaoyang District.

Theater performances have had a slow start in Beijing and are still not as widespread as one might expect in a city like Beijing, and you probably won’t find many Western plays. There are, however, some good places to see contemporary Chinese plays, including the Capital Theatre in Dongcheng District and the Century Theater in Chaoyang District.

Classical music is much more prevalent in Beijing than theatrical performances. Some of the best places are the National Center for Performing Arts and the Century Theater, both already mentioned, as well as the Beijing Concert Hall in the Xicheng district.


  • Foot massage. Treat yourself to a very pleasant and relaxing foot massage and/or pedicure, etc. (for a fraction of the price in the West) at one of the serious and professional providers in central Beijing (e.g. near the Beijing Hotel). (for a fraction of the price in the West) at one of the serious and professional service providers in central Beijing (e.g. near the Beijing Hotel).
  • Debate! , Runqiyuan Tea House, 65 Andingmen Dong Dajie. 润琦缘茶馆 65安定门东大街号. W 20:00-22:00. If you consider yourself a very scrappy person, if you are looking for an intellectual activity or if you just want to meet people, you should at least attend one of the meetings of “The Beijing Debate Society” (BDS). BDS is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political organization that strives to improve argumentation skills. BDS is subject to the rules of the British Parliamentarian Debates. The language of debate is English.

Food & Restaurants In Beijing

The best way to eat well in Beijing at a reasonable price is to go to one of the ubiquitous restaurants where locals eat and choose a few different dishes from the menu. Honestly, anyone familiar with Western currency and prices will find Beijing a very cheap place to eat, especially considering that tipping is not a common practice in China.

Some of the cheapest and most delicious meals can be found on the street. Spicy pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi) are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning to night, with most carts operating during the morning commute and only reopening at night for night owls and night owls. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, then a fried batter is added and the whole thing is drizzled with green onions and a hot sauce. The hot sauce is optional. Die-hard fans often go in search of the best cart in town. This treat should only cost ¥2.50, with an extra egg ¥3.

Lamb skewers (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr) and other kebabs are grilled at makeshift stalls all over Beijing from late afternoon until late night. In Wangfujing, there is a “snack street” where such common dishes as lamb, chicken and beef are sold, as well as various noodle dishes such as Sichuan-style rice noodles, but the braver ones can also try silkworms, scorpions and various organs that are skewered and grilled to order.

A winter specialty, candied fir berries (冰糖葫芦 bīngtáng húlu), are dipped in melted sugar that hardens in the cold and sold on sticks. There are also variations with oranges, grapes, strawberries and bananas, or with peanut chips and sugar. This sweet snack is also sometimes found in spring and summer, but the berries are often from the last harvest.

The most famous street to eat in Beijing is probably Guijie (簋街/鬼街 Guǐjiē).

Street food in Beijing: Gui Street (簋街) is located in Dongzhimen, east of the Second Belt Street of the western part of Dongzhimen Viaduct and west of the East Final Intersection Street of the East Main Street.

Mistletoe Street is now the center of a culinary paradise with many excellent cuisines. Over a length of one kilometer, 90% of the stores on this street house more than 150 establishments. Most of the capital’s great restaurants are certainly found here.

Peking duck is a famous Peking specialty served in many restaurants, but there are also a few restaurants dedicated to the art of roasting the perfect duck. For a whole duck, it costs about ¥40 in cheap restaurants and ¥160-200 in high-end restaurants. Peking duck (北京烤鸭 Bĕijīng kăoyā) is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce (甜面酱 tiánmiàn jiàng),and slices of green onions and cucumbers. The duck is dipped in the sauce and rolled up in the pancake with some spring onions and/or cucumber slices. The end result is a delicious combination of the cold crispness of the cucumber, the spiciness of the spring onions and the rich flavor of the duck.

Beijing is also known for its mutton hotpot (涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu), which is of Manchu origin and favors mutton over other meats. Like variations of hotpot (general name 火锅 huŏ guō) from other parts of China and Japan, hotpot is prepared in a steaming pot placed in the center of the table itself. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, mutton hotpot has a flavorful, non-spicy broth. If that’s not exciting enough for you, you can also order a spicy broth (warning: it’s bright red, full of paprika and not for the faint of heart!) To play it safe and keep everyone happy, you can order a Yuan-Yang pot (鸳鸯 yuānyáng), divided into two, with spicy broth on one side and normal broth on the other. Ingredients are purchased per plate, including other meat and seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and tofu, so a vegetarian stew is quite possible. It is accompanied by a dip sauce, usually sesame, which you can prepare yourself with chilies, garlic, coriander, etc. Although the term “raw” sounds dangerous, cooking the meat is the best way to ensure that riskier meats, such as pork, are fully cooked and germ-free. In the city center, a hotpot can cost up to ¥40-50 per person, but in the suburbs, you can find them for ¥10-25. In the cheap versions, spices or broth from previous customers are reused, even if they have already cooked for several hours.

Beijing offers an ideal opportunity to try dishes from all over the country. Some of the best restaurants in Beijing serve dishes from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou, Tibet, Yunnan, Xinjiang and other countries.

For vegetarians, Beijing’s first all-vegetarian buffet restaurant is located at the Confucius Temple (see Dongcheng District for more information).

Origus has many locations throughout Beijing and offers an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta buffet for ¥39, including soft drinks and a dessert bar. If you’re in the mood for Texas cuisine, check out Tim’s Texas BBQ, near Jianguomen subway station. You can enjoy your favorite American food and drinks there. Tony Roma’s has a branch in Wangfujing (in Oriental Plaza). Korean restaurants are also very common in Beijing. A common meal is homemade barbecue with beef, chicken and seafood, as well as some vegetables like vegetables and potatoes.

All luxury hotels have at least one restaurant, which can offer any cuisine they think their guests will enjoy. In most hotels you will find French, Italian, American and Chinese restaurants. Restaurants that serve abalone and shark fin are considered the most expensive restaurants in town. Expect to pay more than ¥800 for a “cheap” meal in one of these restaurants if you want to spend a little more.

Coffee & Drinks in Beijing

Tea, tea and more tea! Some stores are located in shopping malls, others are independent establishments. No matter where they are located, always ask for the price before ordering, otherwise you will have to prepare yourself to drink the most expensive egg-sized cup of tea in the world. In tea houses, especially in the Qianmen district, south of Tiananmen Square, you can attend different types of tea ceremonies and tastings. The quality and price can vary greatly. Some tea houses are real tourist traps whose main purpose is to make you lose your money (see warning box). In most Tenrenfu teahouses, which are found throughout the city and in some shopping malls, you can get a free tea demonstration. A private room or a quiet back table in a teahouse with mid-range tea for two people should cost ¥100-200. After an afternoon in such an establishment, you can take the rest of the tea home. Once the tea is ordered, the table is yours for as long as you like.

In this tea-loving country, where much of the world’s tea is grown, coffee is not so easy to find, but with the growing number of expatriates who have settled in Beijing, coffee consumption by the emerging middle class and students is also increasing. As a result, the city alone has 50 Starbucks branches. Most of them are located in the city’s shopping centers and business districts. Other international chains such as Costa CoffeePacific Coffee, etc. are also located in Beijing. Coffee of varying quality is also available in the ubiquitous Taiwanese-style coffee shops like Shangdao Coffee. These are usually located on the second floor of a building and often offer Blue Mountain Styled Coffee, making them a real bargain. Most coffee shops offer wifi. Baristas at non-chain coffee shops may not be trained to make commonly accepted espresso-based drinks, such as latte and cappuccino. Espressos from Kaffa Cafe, a local coffee company and technical coffee development organization, generally taste better and are more consistent.

Chinese beer can be quite good. The most popular beer in China is Tsingtao (青岛 Qīngdǎo), which can cost ¥10-20 in a restaurant or ¥2-4 from a street vendor depending on its size, but in Beijing, Yanjing Beer (燕京Yànjīng) is the city’s home brewery and has a commanding presence in the city (Yanjing is the name of the city from the time it was the capital of the state of Yan 2.000 years ago). The beer is usually packaged in large bottles and has an alcohol content of 3.1 to 3.6%. Both Yanjing and Qingdao exist as standard beer (普通 pǔtōng) and as pure beer (纯生 chúnshēng); the difference seems to lie mainly in price. Beijing Beer (北京啤酒 Běijīng Píjiǔ) is probably the third most popular brand. Craft beers are also hot in Beijing: specialty beers can be found in several German-themed restaurants across the city, as well as Beijing’s first microbrewery, Great Leap Brewing (大跃), located in the charming hutongs of eastern Beijing.

Great Wall is the most popular local grape wine brand. Wine produced in China does not have a good reputation, but this is changing. Offering wine is not a common practice in most places in China, and most people are not used to the wine label or appreciation (white wine is often mixed with Sprite). Imported red wines are generally of better quality and can be purchased in large supermarkets, imported goods stores and some restaurants.

The most common alcohol is baijiu (白酒 báijiǔ), made from distilled grain brandy (usually sorghum). It can be found in a multitude of brands and usually at very reasonable prices (¥8 for a small bottle) and is best avoided if you want to have a clear mind the next day for your travels. A famous local variety is called Erguotou (二锅头 Èrguōtóu), it has an alcohol content of about 40-60% and is produced by several companies. It should be noted that local ergotou is sold in gallon containers, often placed on the same shelf as water, and it is impossible to differentiate them in terms of price and color. Care should be taken not to confuse the two. Maotai (茅台Máotái), the national liquor, is one of the most expensive brands and used to cost about the same as a bottle of imported whiskey – but now it costs much more, between ¥1,000 and ¥2,000. Wuliangye (五粮液) is another high-end brand and costs about ¥1,000. Because of its mild taste, Wuliangye is perhaps a better choice for first-time baijiu drinkers. A wide selection of imported spirits is available in most bars and large supermarkets. It is best to buy expensive spirits (whether domestic or imported) from large supermarkets to avoid counterfeits.

Shopping In Beijing

In almost every market in Beijing, haggling is a must. Especially if you are browsing in the big “tourist” shopping malls, don’t be afraid to start haggling as soon as 15% of the initial price asked by the seller. In most “tourist” markets, final prices may even be between 15% and 20% of the initial price, and “taking a zero” is not a bad way to start the negotiation process. After haggling for a while, never hesitate to threaten to walk away, as this is often the quickest way to get a seller to lower their price to a reasonable level. Buying in large quantities or in groups can also bring the price down. How high or low the seller sets the price depends on the customers, the seller, the popularity of the product and even the time of day. Sellers also tend to target visible minorities, such as whites or people of African descent, more.

Beijing has a number of interesting markets where you can find all kinds of cheap (and often counterfeit) goods. Some of the most popular places are Xizhimen in Xicheng District, Silk Road or Panjiayuan in Chaoyang District and Hong Qiao Market in Chongwen District.

As an alternative to the markets, you can go to some shopping areas lined with stores. These include Nanluoguoxiang in Dongcheng District and the Qianmen Dajie, Dashilan and Liulichang pedestrian zone in Xuanwu District.

If you are looking for traditional Chinese grocery stores, visit Yinhehua Vegetarian in Dongcheng district, Daoxiangcun, Liubiju or The Tea Street in Xuanwu district and Chongwenmen Food Market in Chongwen district.

Visiting hotel stores and department stores is not the most typical purchase in China, but it is worth a look. Although they are generally much more expensive, they are less likely to sell really poor quality goods. The old style of Chinese retailing is slowly being replaced by stores with a better sense of design, and souvenir items are getting better every year. Silk clothes, table decorations, etc. are worth seeing, as are porcelain, tea specialties and other traditional goods. Some of the most popular areas for this type of shopping are Wangfujing and The Malls at Oriental Plaza, both in Dongcheng District, and Xidan in Xicheng District.

The carpet industry is very present in Beijing, and there are many stores selling silk and other carpets.

Xicheng District


In this area, there are several large shopping malls and streets with many stores. Get off at the Xidan subway station. You can find all kinds of goods there, but clothing stores are predominant. In many stores you will have to bargain, but you can also find quite cheap things. It is more popular with locals than Wangfujing, as it is cheaper and less focused on international brands. It is very crowded on weekends.

  • 77th Street Plaza.
  • Beijing Capital Times Square (首都时代广场; Shǒudū Shídài Guǎngchǎng), 88 Xi Chang’an St88 (西长安街号; Xīcháng’ānjiē), +86 10 8391 3311. 9:30-9:30 AM. Shopping center focused on international brands.
  • Grand Pacific (君太百货; Jūntàibǎihuò), 133 Xidan North St133 (西单北大街号; Xīdānběidàjiē), +86 10 6612 6888, e-mail: [email protected] 10AM-10PM. Has a good selection of cheaper brands and attracts mostly younger customers. The mall seems bright and clean and is usually not too crowded. Makeup, clothing and sporting goods are available. Restaurants include Bread Talk, DQ, Pizza Hut and Sizzler.
  • Joy City (大悦城; Dàyuèchéng), 130 Xidan North St130 (西单北大街号; Xīdānběidàjiē), +86 10 6651 7777. This shopping mall opened in 2008 and is the largest in Xidan, with almost everything, including a huge cosmetics store. The building has an impressive glass facade and the interior is very spacious despite the number of locals that crowd in.
  • Xidan Department Store (西单商场; Xīdān Shāngchǎng), 120 Xidan North St120 (西单北大街号; Xīdānběidàjiē), +86 10 6605 6531. State-owned shopping mall with a history of over 70 years. It has been renovated several times over the years, but still seems a bit old-fashioned. The prices are correct, however.
  • Xidan Mingzhu market.
  • Xidan shopping center.
  • Xin Hua Bookstore.
  • Zhong You Department Store (中友百货), 176 Xidan North St. Has a lot of counterfeit brands (mainly clothes). Very affordable if you bargain hard.

Other places

  • Xizhimen (西直门 Xīzhímén). One of the most popular markets for locals is in Xizhimen, right next to the zoo. To get there, you have to build a huge new building in front of the zoo (Beijing Zoo stop on metro line 4), which is just another big market, but behind it is the wholesale market with the best prices and many authentic goods (clothes). This market is much more local than the others mentioned here and may not be ideal for less adventurous travelers. A similar market is located in the pedestrian underpass under the parking lot of Yushuguan Bridge, where it is easy to bargain.
  • Sihuan Mixed Goods Market (四环综合市场; Sìhuánzōnghéshìchǎng), Sihuan Hutong, Deshengmenne St (德胜门内大街四环胡同; Déshèngménnèi Dàjiē Sìhuán Hútòng). 7AM-7PM. Wholesale raw food market.
  • Wukesong camera market.
  • Beijing Commodity Market, 259 Fuwai Rd (Fuchengmen subway), +86 10 6832 0761. M-F 7:30-5PM, Sat-Sun 7:30-5:30PM. This 40,000 square meter market offers a wide range of products including fashion, gifts, leather goods and toys.
  • Market of Tian Zhao Tian. Jewelry market.

Nightlife In Beijing

Most of the bars in Beijing are located in one of the city’s bar clusters. A few years ago, there was only Sanlitun, but in recent years, a new area has been added almost every year. The main areas are as follows:

  • Houhai in Xicheng District, which is located around the lake, Houhai
  • Nanluogu Xiang in Dongcheng district, in the middle of the hutongs
  • Sanlitun, in Chaoyang District, was once the center of Beijing’s nightlife and is still popular with expats, but increasingly unattractive to travelers and locals.
  • The Workers Stadium of Chaoyang District took over part of the action in the neighboring Sanlitun district.
  • The West Gate of Chaoyang Park in Chaoyang District is one of Beijing’s newest bar districts.
  • Ladies’ street in Chaoyang district. During the day, there are, as the name suggests, a few fashion stores, but there are also some interesting new bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Yuan Dynasty Wall Bar Street, in Chaoyang District, is a newly completed bar district. Although it is nicely located next to a small river and a park, it has some rather uninteresting bars.
  • Wudaokou in Haidian District, where most foreign and local university students are located. There are a number of bars and restaurants that offer a wide variety of wines, beers and spirits at reasonable prices. This area is also known for its large Korean population and is a good place to find Korean food.
  • Dashanzi, in the Chaoyang district, Beijing’s trendy art zone, is a former warehouse and factory district that has been taken over by art galleries, art stores and bars.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Beijing

Stay Safe In Beijing

Despite its size, Beijing is a very safe city and violent crime is extremely rare. However, tourists are often attacked by crooks and smugglers who try to run a series of scams against tourists. Be especially careful in the city center, around Tiananmen Square and on the crowded tourist paths leading to the Great Wall.

On the other hand, many travelers have been excessively hostile to Chinese people approaching them for fear of fraud. Also, many Chinese people come to their capital for the first time as tourists, and they are really curious about foreigners and may just want to practice their English and take a picture with you. It is perfectly normal to be asked to take a picture and there are no known scams in this regard. Be friendly, but don’t feel pressured to go where you didn’t want to go. If you are outside of the tourist areas, the likelihood of you getting scammed decreases drastically.

The Chinese are very friendly to travelers and expats in general; to foil a scam, you need to use the same common sense you would anywhere else in the world. Scams in Beijing are not particularly innovative or brutal compared to the rest of the world, and as long as you keep your wallet out of sight, you can always get away without fear of violence or theft.

Beware of counterfeit money. You will find that the Chinese check their money carefully, and for good reason: there are many counterfeit bills in circulation. The most common are the 100 and 50 bills.

Traffic in Beijing can be crazy and reckless driving is quite common. People honk their horns all the time. Honking is not generally considered rude. It is simply another way to show that the driver is there. Expect motorists to disregard traffic laws and even reverse on the highway to get to a missed exit or drive on the sidewalk. Also expect to find the occasional piece of debris (a piece of wood or a flat tire) on the roadway. Pedestrians should be very careful when crossing the street: People generally stop for you, but they also honk their horns. Pay attention to the locals and cross the street with them: the power is in the crowd.

Free emergency numbers:

  • Police: 110.
  • Fire Alert: 119.
  • Medical care: 120.

These three phone numbers are valid in almost all parts of China.

Stay Healthy In Beijing

Tap water in Beijing is generally not safe to drink. Locals always boil tap water before drinking it, and you should do the same. Hygiene of cooked food is generally not a problem. The Chinese attach great importance to the freshness of their food, so all dishes are usually cooked to order. However, be careful if you want to eat cold or raw food.

Air pollution and smog have always been a major problem in Beijing, as in all other major Chinese cities. Car exhaust, coal burning and dust storms from the Gobi Desert combine to produce some of the worst urban air in the world. It’s worst in winter, when cold air forms an inversion layer and traps pollution in the city. In 2013, Beijing made headlines for a sudden increase in smog. The air quality was “beyond index,” which can be deadly for people sensitive to air pollution.

There are many hospitals in Beijing, but the public hospitals that most locals attend are generally not up to the standards that foreigners from Western countries are used to. In addition, it is unlikely that doctors or nurses will be able to communicate in English. Emergency services are unreliable and, in an emergency, it is usually much quicker to take a cab.



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