Home Beijing How to Spend Your Stopover in Beijing

How to Spend Your Stopover in Beijing

Tian'anmen Square in BeijingTian'anmen Square 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. 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 8 hours

It takes about 1 hour to process through Arrivals (and pick up and deposit your large luggage). The round trip between Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing urban area is about 2 hours. Another 2 hours is required for checking in to your onward international flight.

It means that if you would like to take a trip to the Great Wall or central Beijing, you should have at least an 8-hour layover.

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

Travel Ideas for 8, 12, 24, 48 or 72 Hours in Beijing

The Mutianyu Great WallThe Mutianyu Great Wall

An 8-Hour Layover

If you have an 8-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. See more about The Best 10 Sections/Parts of the Great Wall to Visit

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.

A 12-Hour Layover

If you have a 12-hour (daytime) layover, consider these two options:

  • Option 1: Enjoy a slow-paced trip to the Great Wall (as above, but with longer on the wall)
  • Option 2: Go downtown to see Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Jinshan Park (the best place to enjoy an overview of the Forbidden City)

You might find that some recommend visiting both the Great Wall and the Forbidden City within a 12-hour layover. To have a better and more in-depth experience, we highly recommend you focus on one of them, as both are huge, and time-consuming if you want to discover their rich history and culture.

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:

  • AM: See locals practicing tai chi and appreciate the Temple of Heaven; then visit the Forbidden City
  • PM: 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

Based on the 2-day itinerary, you can enrich your trip with more Beijing experiences on the third day, such as taking a boat ride at the Summer Palace and joining in a traditional Chinese culture experience, like making dumplings, in the hutongs.

See more recommendations on: The Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing.

Some 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!

You can enjoy your Beijing tour at your own pace.You can enjoy your Beijing tour at your own pace.

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 two customizable Beijing itineraries for your inspiration:

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