How to Plan a Trip to Beijing (Tips, Photos & Map)

If it is your first time to visit Beijing, we hope, this short travel guide will help you plan your long-expected Beijing tour.

We try to offer  you some practical advice on when to go and where to stay, how to allocate your time and choose the major attractions in Beijing.

Forbidden City
Forbidden City

When to Go

Maybe “When to go” doesn’t seem a practical question since most of us are unable to match our visit time with the so-called the best time to visit Beijing or any other particular destination. But nevertheless getting ourselves well informed of “When to go” is very much useful preparing a coming trip.

Beijing has clearly cut four seasons with longer winters and shorter springs. Beijing’s winter lasts officially from November 15 to March 15 ( official winter indoor heating period) : dry and cold outside.  But visiting Beijing in winter is not a bad idea given the discounts offered by airlines, hotels and sites, plus numerous winter activities in Beijing.

Though Beijing’s official spring time starts from March 15 to May 15, its warmer springtime only lasts one month from early April to early May. Beijing’s March is very often chilly and sandstorm hits Beijing periodically in March. So traveling Beijing in early April through early May is relatively relaxing and comfortable. But try to avoid visiting Beijing during the 3-day public holiday May 01 to 03.
How to Visit Beijing in March
How to Visit Beijing in April
How to Visit Beijing in May

Beijing’s summer lasts from May 15 to September 15. The first two months ( May 15 – July 15) are a bit hot and dry with relatively comfortable weather, not a bad time to visit Beijing.

July and August are Beijing’s rainy season, hot and humid. July and August are also the school summer vacation season with lots of domestic tourists flocking major attractions in Beijing.
How to visit Beijing in June
How to visit Beijing in July
How to visit Beijing in August

Autumn (September 05 to November 15) is oft-lauded as the best time to visit Beijing, blue and clear sky and mild temperature. October 01-07 period should be avoided to keep from the hordes of domestic tourists on China’s National Holiday.
How to Visit Beijing in September
How to Visit Beijing in October
How to Visit Beijing in November

Beijing’s winter starts from December to February next year. The major attractions in Beijing are open all year around and basically you are able to visit Beijing at any time of a year. Choosing your own best time per your own time, budget and personal taste. For Beijing winter activities, check out Beijing winter tour for more information.
How to Visit Beijing in December
How to Visit Beijing in January
How to Visit Beijing in February

For information on Beijing Climate, please check out the link: Beijing Climate; for Beijing’s daily weather photos, past and present, please check out the link: Beijing timely weather photos.

What to See

It takes time to enjoy everything that Beijing city has to offer. If you only have a few days to spare, you can highlight your Beijing trip by visiting the major attractions in Beijing.

Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing based on our past 20 years’ travel data, just for your information.

Beijing Tour Maps

There are numerous scenic spots and historical sites in Beijing. Some of them are walkable. Some of the attractions are a little far from the city centre.

Around Beijing, there are eight major sections of the Great Wall, including Badaling, Juyongguan, Huanghuacheng, Jiankou, Mutianyu, Gubeikou, Jinshanling, and Simatai. All the sections of the Great Wall around Beijing fall into three categories – restored sections, partially restored and unrestored..

Beijing Great Wall Map

Check out Beijing tourist maps to get yourself familiar with the places you are going to visit or explore.

Where to Stay

Where to stay in Beijing? That’s a common question when you are planning your Beijing, considering that Beijing has hundreds of star-rated hotels, plus numerous hostels, courtyard hotels, B&B hotels and boutique hotels.

Generally, Beijing is divided into 6 areas – 1. Central Beijing; 2. Houhai & North Beijing; 3. South Beijing; 4. Northeast Beijing; 5. West Beijing and 6. Northwest Beijing, where you can find where and in which hotel you want to stay per your personal taste and budget.

Five Suggested Steps to finalize Your Hotel booking in Beijing
1. Choose the area where you want to stay
2. Compare the hotels and prices in the same area
3. Use google to map the exact address of the hotel
4. Use google and hotel review websites to assess the hotel
5. Book your hotel directly or use the hotel booking engines.

Check out the link: Where to Stay in Beijing for more hotel information in Beijing.

How to Get Around

Generally speaking, getting around or out of town, is quite easy in Beijing. In the past 30 years, Beijing transportation has been improved greatly – widened roads, lengthened subway lines, much cleaner buses, more environmentally friendly taxis etc.

But like any other metropolitan cities worldwide, you will hit a traffic snag in a peak hour. So try to avoid rush hours and well plan your airport transfer to keep from possible delay.

Check out the following links for more information on Beijing city transportation

How to take subway in Beijing
Beijing Public Buses
Beijing Taxis
Badaling Great Wall by train
Badaling Great Wall by Bus
Mutianyu Great Wall by Bus
Bus & Train to Gubei Water Town & Simatai Great Wall

How to Visit Beijing

We put together 4 options ranging from one day tour to four day tours which can generally meet the travel needs of the first time visitors to Beijing.

Badaling Great Wall

1) Beijing in One Day:
Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and  Mutianyu Great Wall  ( Or Badaling Great Wall )

Check out the link: How to Visit Beijing in One Day.

2) Beijing in Two Days:
Day 01: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace, Beijing Opera
Day 02: Ming Tombs and Badaling Great Wall ( or Mutianyu Great Wall )

Check out the link: How to Visit Beijing in Two Days.

3) Beijing in Three Days:
Day 01: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace
Day 02: Ming Tombs and Badaling Great Wall ( or Mutianyu Great Wall )
Day 03: Hutongs, Lama Temple and Olympic Sites, Silk Market, Beijing Opera

Check out the link: How to Visit Beijing in Three Days.

4) Beijing in Four Days:
Day 01: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace
Day 02: Ming Tombs and Badaling Great Wall
Day 03: Hutongs, Lama Temple, Olympic Sites, Silk Market, Beijing Opera
Day 04: Beijing Capital Museum, Panda House, CCTV headquarters Building, Grand National Theatre, 798 Space
Check out the link: How to visit Beijing in Four Days.

Where to Eat

The big difference between Chinese and Western eating manner is that in the West, everyone has their own plate of food, while in China people share the dishes placed on the table.

A typical Chinese meal starts with cold dishes. These are followed by the main courses, hot meat and vegetable dishes. Finally a soup is brought out, which is followed by principal food, usually including rice or noodles or sometimes dumplings.

Check out the link Beijing Dining for more information on where to eat in Beijing.

Where to shop

Shopping in Beijing is becoming more and more convenient. New shopping centers, plazas and malls have been sprouting up all over the capital. 30 years ago there were only a few department stores and small bazaars, but now there are many superstores, mega-malls and markets and boutiques where you can buy just about anything you need.

Check out Top 10 Markets in Beijing and Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing for information.

Ruifuxiang Traditional Chinese Gown

There are many places to go for shopping in Beijing, depending on what you expect and the prices you are prepared to pay; there are a rich variety of things waiting for you to explore and buy.

Beijing Nightlife

Beijing nightlife is very colorful. Beijing nightlife has more to offer! If you travel with your kids, then enjoying Kung Fu show in the evening is a must.

If you are young and energetic, you may go to disco or live jazz. If you like to know more about old Beijing and enjoy Chinese tea, you can go to tea houses.

Check out the link: Beijing Nightlife and Top 10 Things to Do at Night in Beijing for more information.

How to Visit the Great Wall

Visiting the Great Wall is a delightful must for the first-time visitors to Beijing China. The Great Wall was built in different times and dynasties, largely constructed in the three dynasties – Qin Dynasty (221 B.C to 206 B.C); Han Dynasty (206 B.C.– 220 A.D ) and Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D – 1644 A.D).

The most powerful Yuan Dynasty (1271 A.D – 1368 A.D) and the last Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D – 1911 A.D) did nothing about the building of the Great Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Great Wall of China had been built.

For historical and geographical reasons, the Great Wall of China doesn’t form a continuous line and in fact exits in different sections. The official survey shows the Great Wall now totals 21196 km long with the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty ( 1368A.D – 1644 A.D ) as long as 8851 km.

Check out the link: How to Visit the Great Wall of China.

144 Hour Visa Free Transit in Beijing

For Beijing airport transit passengers, basically you need a Chinese visa to enter Beijing if you want to exit from Beijing Capital Airport for a few hour’s layover tour or 2 or 3 days short stay in Beijing. But currently, 51 countries are entitled to 114 hours free visa transit stay in Beijing. So Visa-free travel to Beijing is possible now!

1. Prerequisites for getting the 114 hours transit free visa
The Eligible 51 nationalities include:24 Schengen Countries in Europe:

A. 24 Schengen countries in Europe:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

B. 13 other European countries:
Russia, Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.

C. 6 American countries:
The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

D. 2 Oceanian countries:
Australia and New Zealand.

E. 6 Asian countries:
Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

2.Travelers must have valid passports.

3. Travelers must have confirmed tickets to a third country or regions (Hong Kong and Macau).

Check out Beijing 144 Hours Free Visa Transit for more information.

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings

How to Plan a Trip to Beijing
Best Time to Visit Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

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