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How to Spend Your Layover in Beijing

Beijing is a very popular layover destination, with the largest airport in China, a richness of historical sites, and a visa-free transit policy.

If you are planning a flight with a layover at Beijing and don't know how to do, this article will help you to plan a stopover in Beijing.

Enjoy Visa-Free Transit

Beijing has launched a 144-hour visa-free transit policy. If you meet its requirements, all you need to do is fill in a form and give it to customs, to tour Beijing for up to 6 days. Find out more on How to Plan Your Beijing VISA-FREE Tour.

Time Needed: at Least 10 Hours

It takes about 1–1½ hours to finish the arrivals process, including collecting and depositing your large luggage. The round trip between Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing urban area is about 2–3 hours, and you need to allow 3–4 hours for touring. Another 3 hours is required for checking in for your onward international flight.

This means that if you would like to take a trip to the Great Wall or central Beijing, you should have at least a 10-hour layover.

Otherwise, you are recommended to have a rest in the airport or tour around the places nearby, such as 798 Art Zone, which is about 20 kilometers from the airport.

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Travel Ideas for Beijing Airport Layover

If you want to visit the Great Wall or do any sightseeing in Beijing, your layover time should be at least 10 hours. Otherwise, you you are recommended to stay at the airport.

The Mutianyu Great WallThe Mutianyu Great Wall

A 10-Hour Layover

If you have a 10-hour layover (in the daytime), we recommend you visit the Great Wall. The Mutianyu section is one of the best options, about a 1½-hour drive from the airport.

Private booked transport is recommended, since no public transport is available to the Great Wall from the airport, and finding a suitable taxi may be a hassle.

2 or 3 hours on the wall is recommended: take a cable car up the mountain ridge to the Great Wall, enjoy an easy hike on the wall, and descend on a mini rollercoaster.

Check our 1 Day Beijing Great Wall Layover Tour, which is suitable for a 10-hour layover, giving you enough time to enjoy yourself at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.

A 15-Hour Layover

If you have a 15-hour (daytime) layover, consider the schedule below:

  • Enjoy a slow-paced trip to the Great Wall (as above, but with longer on the wall)
  • Go downtown to see Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City (the iconic landmarks in Beijing)

Check our 15 hours Beijing Layover Tour (Tiananmen Square + Forbidden City + Great Wall). You will be escorted by our experienced local guide and travel in a private car throughout the tour. All of our drivers have many years of driving experience and know the traffic conditions well. We will make the most of your layover time and make sure that your trip is comfortable and not conducted in a rush so that you can discover the history and culture of Beijing.

The Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City

A 24-Hour Layover

If you have 24 hours in Beijing, make the most of your time and visit the most popular attractions. With a full day you could explore the Forbidden City in the morning, and the Great Wall after lunch.

Alternatively, you could spend your time in the downtown area:

  • Morning: Discover the secrets of the Forbidden City.
  • Afternoon: Ride a rickshaw through the 300-year-old hutongs.
  • At night: Enjoy a kung fu show in the Red Theater.

A 48-Hour Layover

If you have a 2-day layover in Beijing, you can visit the cream of the attractions in Beijing. For example:

  • Day 1: The Temple of Heaven + the Great Wall
  • Day 2: Tian'anmen Square + the Forbidden City + the hutongs

A 72-Hour Layover

If you have a 72-hour layover, you can enrich your trip with more Beijing experiences. Our Secret of Beijing tour is suitable for you. Discover Beijing's secret and charm, making your layover time worthwhile and unforgettable.

  • Day 1: Arrive and have a good rest.
  • Day 2: Visit Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City, and see the stunning night views at the Great Wall at Simatai.
  • Day 3: Enjoy a slow-paced trip to the Great Wall at Simatai.

See more recommendations on: 20 Ultimate Things to Do in Beijing.

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Useful Tips to Make Your Journey Smooth

Private China TourA private tour with a private car and guide will help you to maximize your layover time.

1. Check your check-in time. Double-check when your next flight's check-in time is with your airline.

2. Manage your luggage. Double-check whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between flights. What you don't want to take on your stopover tour, you can store at the airport.

3. Consider taking a private tour. It is time and energy consuming to travel independently in Beijing. To maximize your layover time, we recommend a private tour.

We believe a tour that's tailor-made to your flight schedule, style, and interests is the best way to spend your stopover in Beijing.

Need Help with Your Tour - Look No Further!

 Great Wall layover tourWe can make the most of beijing layover time to visit the Great Wall.

Need any help with your layover in Beijing? Just tell us your times of arrival/departure and what you'd like to do, and we'll tailor-make a tour that's right for you.

Here are three customizable Beijing itineraries for your inspiration:

Feel free to contact us with an inquiry. Our travel consultant will be in touch within 24 hours with some suggestions.

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