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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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have a 12-hour (daytime) layover, consider these two options:
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.
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:
If you have a 2-day layover in Beijing, you can visit the cream of the attractions in Beijing. For example:
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.
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 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 that’s right for you.
Here are two customizable Beijing itineraries for your inspiration: