Guides

Beijing Travel Tips

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Beijing is safe, yet visitors occasionally get caught out by scammers and touts, with Tiananmen Square and dodgy buses to the Great Wall being particularly noteworthy. Fake money is a problem in Beijing while the traffic on the major roads in the city is horrendous. It is best to avoid the big festivals holidays when traveling to Beijing.

Customs and etiquette

The handshake is a popular form of greeting in China but you may find your personal space invaded more than you’d like. Tourists may also find the locals a tad impolite, although there is generally no malice intended. Most locals dress conservatively and wandering around temples and palaces in shorts and vests is a no-no. Tipping is generally not expected although the practice is now more common in quality restaurants.

Money

The Chinese use the renminbi (RMB), which is widely known as the yuan (or kuai in Beijing). It is no longer pegged to the US dollar and cannot be purchased outside the country. Black market money is rife therefore exchanging money at banks or withdrawing from ATMs is best.

Beijing has numerous ATMs in big shops, at the airport, and in the bigger hotels although only around half recognize foreign cards. Credit card usage is generally only at top shops, swanky restaurants and in star-rated hotels.

 

Weather

Beijing is in the northeast of China and experiences four seasons, with hot, wet summers, freezing winters, and milder weather in spring and fall. Visiting in the spring (March through May) or fall (late September through early November) when it’s not too hot, too cold, nor too wet is advised. 

Another good reason for not visiting in the winter, besides the cold, is that January and February sees a mass exodus of locals traveling to and from Beijing for Chinese New Year. Hotels get fully booked up at this time. 

Transportation

Beijing is massive but well covered by buses, taxis and a subway system. The subway is better than buses and cheap although it is fairly old. Buses cover more of the city but are crowded and uncomfortable, while taxis have standard meter charges and are a good deal. 

There are two main options in getting from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) to the city and hotels, including taxis and airport shuttle buses. If the shuttle bus doesn’t take in your hotel, it would be best to take a taxi but be sure to hand the Chinese name of your hotel to the driver. Taxis are metered but a lot more expensive than shuttle buses, which leave every 30 minutes. 

Fast facts

Population: 15 million
Spoken languages: Mandarin Chinese 
Electrical: 220 Volts, 50 Hertz
Phone/calling code: +86 10