Arriving in Beijing
International flights fly into Beijing Capital Airport, located 26 km from the city center. You can get a cab outside of the airport terminal, but be very careful about choosing your cab. Make sure to pick up a cab at the designated taxi stands. There has been an upsurge of taxi cab scammers who overcharge you for your ride. Make sure that your cab’s license plate starts with a B. All official taxis have plates beginning with the letter B. Insist that you have the meter running, and make sure you know where your hotel is located beforehand. Additionally, cab drivers tend to not speak English, so make sure you have the address written for them in Chinese beforehand. A cab ride from the airport should cost around ¥70-120.
Another option is to take the Airport Express to the subway lines. A one way fare is ¥25, and it takes you to subway lines 10 (Sanyuanqiao), 2 and 13 (Dongzhimen).
You can also take an airport shuttle to the city center for ¥16. The service runs on 5 lines going to various sections of Beijing. Make sure to inquire for a map at the airport if you want to use this service.
Many hotels offer a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Make sure to inquire with them.
If you are traveling on one of our tours, our company will pick you up from the airport. Your tour leader will greet you upon entering the arrival gate and take you to our buses. Airport service is included in your tour price.
Getting Around Beijing
The easiest option is to use a taxi. Taxis are everywhere in Beijing, but you must remember that with the plethora of taxis come a plethora of taxi scams. As mentioned before, make sure you are using an official taxi cab before you get into the car. Fake taxis are found in most tourist areas, and they will certainly overcharge you. Always insist to have the meter on and make sure you have directions written in Chinese. Traffic is killer in Beijing, so it might take quite a while to go to your desired destination.
Another option is to take the subway. The Beijing subway has recently opened up a few more lines, bringing the total number of lines to 9. Line 1 goes to the major tourist sights as does line 5. Signs in the subway are all bilingual in Chinese/English, although the subway workers will most likely have little to no English skills. There are automated kiosks to buy subway tickets from. A one way ticket costs ¥2 and is only valid the day you buy it. The subway is quite crowded at rush hour (8 AM and 5 PM), and so expect lots of pushing and large crowds in the station.
There is also an option to ride the bus, but be warned that the stops and signs are in Chinese only. Buses also get extremely crowded. It is the cheapest but most time consuming way of getting around Beijing. Fare is ¥1, but you can get a 60% discount if you invest in a Yīkātōng (一卡通 ) pre-paid card. The card has a ¥20 refundable deposit and can be used as a subway card. If you’re thinking about taking the bus, make sure you have your destination written in Chinese and that you are capable and willing to do symbol matching if you can’t read.
I personally would recommend taking the subway. It’s fast, convenient, and for the most part clean. You also get to see local life in transit. Plus, the route maps are very easy to read. And because of the 2008 Olympics, the subway has added new lines. It’s much less crowded than the Shanghai subway too.
Just…don’t stand under the vent. It might feel nice on a hot day, but you’ll regret it later when you start seeing dust trails on your clothes.