How to Plan a Trip to Beijing

How to Plan a Trip to Beijing

By CindyUpdated Dec. 27, 2021

Planning on visiting Beijing? Whether you are spending one week in Beijing or just making a stop during your Asian trip, Beijing is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.

Use this page to help get inspiration and be prepared for your upcoming Beijing trip.

Things to Do in Beijing
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The Best Things to Do

Beijing is one of the most popular cities in the world, renowned for its rich cultural heritage. You should not miss the following things:

  • Walk along or camp on the Great Wall: a must-do activity in Beijing.
Great Wall of China, Beijing top attractionCamp on the Great Wall
  • Explore the Forbidden City: the second most popular attraction in Beijing. It is hard to get an idea of the great size of the imperial palace until you are in it.
Forbidden City, BeijingExplore the Forbidden City
  • Savor the Summer Palace - while one palace was forbidden, this one remains inviting. Wander where the royals relaxed in the warmer months.
Summer PalaceSummer Palace cruise
  • Discover the enchanting hutongs. Sightsee, shop, and dine in ancient residential and shopping streets. If you are interested, we can help you enjoy a home-visit to a traditional hutong courtyard house.
Beijing hutongBeijing Hutong - South Luogu Lane
  • Experience other things, such as Beijing roast duck, a kung fu show, or an acrobatic show.
Beijing roast duckBeijing roast duck

Beijing Trip Itinerary: 4 Days Suggested

The Temple of HeavenThe Temple of Heaven

Four days are enough if you only want to see the essence of Beijing. A recommended itinerary is as follows:

Click to see our handcrafted itinerary with detailed descriptions and vivid pictures as a starting point for your tailor-made tour.

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For an In-depth Beijing Trip 

Great Wall hikingGreat Wall hiking

If you want to discover more of Beijing, you will need one or two days more. Here are our recommendations:

1. Jiankou Great Wall hiking and camping: Jiankou Great Wall is renowned for its majesty and danger where you can enjoy its wildness and quiet environment.

2. Get a insight into Beijing hutong and courtyard houses: Walk into a family's houses, explore the historical and cultural sites like temples and towers, and take a stroll. See 1-Day Beijing Hutong Tour.

3. Half-day Beijing city walk: visit a non-touristy temple and a local market, taste a local snack, and visit a pretty park where senior citizens do exercises.

Many people will extend their Beijing trip to Xi'an, Shanghai, and Chengde.

Our travel experts are happy to tailor-make a Beijing tour according to your special interests and requirements.

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Beijing Trip Costs

Beijing nightviewBeijing CBD

The reference price of a 4-day trip to Beijing for two people is about 1100-1400 USD based on a private tour. (This doesn't include the cost of transportation to and from Beijing).

A Beijing trip cost will vary according to your accommodation choice, type of transportation, dinning, and other expenses.

Beijing lies on the top price band in Mainland China, but is still below the Western city prices found in China’s most expensive cities of Hong Kong and Macau.

Reference Prices for a Trip to Beijing

  • International flights to Beijing: 800 to 1,300 USD for an economy round trip flight from the USA (or Europe). But in the current pandemic environment, airfares to Beijing are higher, sometimes reaching 3,000–6,000 USD or higher.
  • Domestic travel to Beijing: 500 to 1,500 yuan (80–230 USD) for an economy one-way trip by plane; 400–1,000 yuan (60-150 USD) for a second-class one-way trip by high-speed train
  • Cost of accommodation in Beijing: 3-star/economy (40–80 USD/per night); 4-star/boutique (80–200 USD/per night); 5-star/luxury (100–500 USD/per night)
  • Cost of dining in Beijing: 1.50–5 USD for a snack like pancake; 5–15 USD per meal per person for a good restaurant; 30–60 USD for more expensive. See the top restaurants in Beijing with their prices and specialties for reference.
  • Cost of transportation in Beijing: Metro fares are 3–8 yuan (0.50–1.20 USD), public buses are 1–5 yuan (0.10–0.70 USD), and taxis charge 13 yuan (2 USD) within three kilometers, and thereafter cost 2.3 yuan (0.3 USD) per kilometer.
  • Cost of Beijing attraction tickets: tickets for most attractions in Beijing range from 30 to 100 yuan (5–15 USD). There are a few free attractions in Beijing such as Houhai, Tian’anmen Square, Tianning Temple, and the 798 Art Zone.

The Best Time to Go

Great Wall in autumnGreat Wall in autumn

The best time to visit Beijing is from September to November, as the weather is usually quite temperate, and there are relatively few tourists.

The high season is from April to October. Pros: warm weather and long days; cons: crowds, heat, and high costs.

The low season is from November to March. Pros: less crowd and lower prices; cons: cold weather and short days.

We recommend that you book well in advance if you plan to visit during these Chinese holidays:

  • China's summer holiday season (July and August)
  • Labor Day (May 1–3)
  • National Day (October 1–7)
  • Spring Festival (late January or early to mid February)

Take our private tour to enjoy a more comfortable trip. Your guide will help you skip the lines at the famous Forbidden City, lead you to explore a less crowded part of the Great Wall, and keep you refreshed with ice water and air-conditioned private transport.

Read more about Beijing's weather and Best Time to Go

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Where to Stay in Beijing

Beijing map

Beijing is a huge city with a vast range of accommodation options suiting every budget, including hotels, hostels, traditional hutong courtyards, guesthouses, and boutiques.

There are several areas you can consider when choosing your hotel:

  • Qianmen Street area: best for first-timers and sightseeing travelers; near the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven
  • Wangfujing Street area: best for first-timers and shopaholics; near the Forbidden City
  • Hutong area: best for families with children and culture lovers; near Lama Temple and Drum Tower
  • Sanlitun area: best for young people and night owls

Learn more about 11 best areas to stay in Beijing.

Famous Food You Should Try

Beijing snackBeijing snack – ice-sugar gourd

Beijing has food from all over China as well as from many parts of the world. There are thousands of restaurants, including Chinese restaurants, Western restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, Muslim restaurants, and Asian restaurants.

There are quite a few dishes which are unique to Beijing, and one of the most famous specialties is roast duck. The famous roast duck chains of restaurants are Quanjude (全聚德) and Dadong (大董).

Your local guide can give you recommendations according to your tastes and requirements. He/she can help you to order dishes, giving you a hassle-free dining experience.

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Best Time to Visit Beijing
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How to Travel around Beijing

It is very convenient to travel around Beijing. You can choose subway, buses, or taxi according to your preference.

Beijing has two airports: Beijing Daxing Airport and Beijing Capital Airport. Both airports have domestic flights to Beijing, but during the pandemic, only Beijing Capital Airport has been open to international flights.

Public Transportation

Beijing subway

Although buses in Beijing are abundant, the subway has more and clearer English signage and is faster.

Beijing’s subway lines can take you to most attractions within Beijing city, like the Forbidden City and Lama Temple. It is also an economical way to get around Beijing. See Beijing Subway.

The Great Wall is located far from the downtown area. But you can still use public transport to get there, although it takes a long time. Learn more on How to Get to the Great Wall (Options & Costs).

Taxi

Taxis are also a useful option though they cost a bit more. It's hard to get a taxi during rush hours (7–9am and 5–9pm).

Private Transportation

Booking a private tour with your own driver and guide is what we recommend, as it is the most efficient, worry-free, and relaxing option.

Tips for a Beijing Trip

1. visa requirments: usually, foreigners need to apply for a visa before traveling to China.

Before the pandemic, if you met the relevant qualifying criteria of the 144-hour visa-free transit policy, you could stay in Beijing for 144 hours without a visa.

See the latest entry policy on China Travel Restrictions.

2. Read some movies or books about China and Beijing. See 10 Movies to Watch Before Going to China.

3. Get your mobile phone plans in order. Make sure your SIM card is compatible on a Chinese network if you plan to use it. Read some information about Internet access in China.

4. Learn a few words of Chinese, such as “please”, “hello”, “thank you”, and “excuse me”. Strangers are more likely to show kindness when you make an attempt to speak in their local language.

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Discover Authentic Beijing with Us

If the above information is not enough for you to plan your Beijing tour, feel free to contact us

Our specialists will help you to maximize your travel experience by suggesting the optimal trip for the time you have available and the things you love to do.

Here are some sample Beijing itineraries for inspiration. They're able to be tailor-made down to the finest detail according to your tastes and interests.

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