If you are planning on visiting the Land of Dragons, you can’t afford to miss Beijing – one of the most historical and unique cities in China, yet hectic and quirky. Here you can experience the best Chinese cuisine (street baozi, famous Beijing duck, grilled scorpions, and yummy jiaozi) as well as visit some stunning historical monuments and night markets that will take your breath away.
Although I don’t believe you could explore the city properly in just 24 hours, here are some tips and sightseeing recommendations that can help you a lot and make your stay in Beijing much easier, cheaper and definitely more fun:
How can I get to Beijing?
It all depends on where you are coming from and what your budget is. Beijing can be easily reached by plane, train, local bus, and taxi. Just to give you an example, a train ride from Chongqing to Beijing takes around 20 hours and costs approximately RMB 650 (sleeping ticket).
If you are nearby Shanghai and you’re trying to get to Beijing, you should definitely get into one of the high-speed bullet trains. The journey takes less than 4 hours and costs around RMB 600 (second-class ticket).
How can I get around the city?
Subway is definitely the most convenient way to get around Beijing. There are 16 different subway lines so you can easily get anywhere for only RMB 2.
If you are short of money, rent a bike (RMB 10 a day) or simply walk. That can help you keep fit, see more places and discover new local restaurants and coffee shops. Try to avoid taxis (way too expensive, lots of scams) and local buses (way too crowdy).
Where should I sleep in Beijing?
The good news is that Beijing is packed with budget travel hostels so you can find dorms from even $3-$5 a night. My personal recommendation would be the Sanlitun Youth Hostel which is one of the most hospitable and safe places I’ve stayed in Beijing.
Location: No.1 Chunxiu South Gongti North Road, Beijing.
Price: RMB 30 a night (dorms).
Pros/cons: free Wi-Fi, nice staff, luggage store, 24/7 hot shower, but the food was a bit pricey. Free dumpling party every Friday and cooking classes available.
What and where should I eat in Beijing?
When it comes to food, Beijing has a lot of night markets, affordable local restaurants and plenty of street vendors from where you can buy your food.
In the morning, you should grab two baozi with soy milk from any street food vendor placed all over the city. Baozi is traditional Chinese dumplings filled with mince, carrots, and parsley. They are steamed and served with sesame oil. Apart from its wonderful taste and smell, baozi is one of the best breakfast options on the cheap in Beijing. They are filling and yummy!
In the afternoon, you can dig into a bowl of Beijing noodles and having a famous Beijing duck for your dinner is a must.
When it comes to sweets and dessert, Beijing will welcome you with you tiao (deep fried bread sticks), pumpkin cakes, fruity baozi, and dried fruit candies. As for drinks, don’t forget to try Beijing yogurts and bubble tea – absolutely delicious.
Restaurants in Beijing are surprisingly affordable. There is one place I would highly recommend called Wuyi Shan, open daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-9pm where the best baozi is sold. There is also a great variety of noodle soups and rice dishes. English address: Maliandao Hutong, Xuanwu district. Chinese address: 宣武区马连道胡同.
What should I see in Beijing?
Compulsory, the Great Wall of China. The best part of it would be Badaling Pass which is quiet and very beautiful, located less than 60 miles from the city center. You can get there by a local bus no. 919 in less than 2 hours and all journey including spending a few hours at the Great Wall will cost you less than RMB 100.
After the Great Wall of China, you should definitely explore the Forbidden City. It should not take you more than two hours to see the best-preserved collection of ancient buildings located here. If you want to, you can book a guide who will tell you a lot of interesting stories about this place.
Tiananmen Square should be visited late at night as it’s not that crowded as in the morning or late at night. When it gets late, the Square is lightened up with wonderful Chinese lanterns so it looks so beautiful.
If you feel like having a rest, Jingshan Park is a must see place. It’s cozy and charming, perfect for jogging, meditation or a romantic walk. If you love exploring different temples, make sure you make it to the Temple Of Heaven which is a great insight into the life and times of the Emperors, their families and all the people involved in their lives.
As you know, nowadays many governments block some Social Media websites as well as other online features you could be using in your home country back home like, for instance, the totally inoffensive BBC iPlayer. Well, bad news is China is one of these countries.
But here comes good news. In order to easily stay in touch with your peeps and get complete access to your networks, you can use a VPN service like Hotspot Shield. What happens is that they will switch your IP address location to one based in the UK and you’ll be happily accessing your websites of choice in no time as if you were in your home country. Bam!
How do you like this idea of spending a day in Beijing?
About the authors: Meet the eTramping crew – Agness and Cez – best friends and travel companions from Poland. These two are sharing their budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been traveling the world while teaching English in different Asian countries such as China, Thailand or Cambodia. They are both photography passionate obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture.