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How Can You Get Ready for a Trip to China? Our Guide to Visiting Beijing

By Yann, published on 30/07/2019 We Love Prof - AU > Languages > Chinese > Visiting Beijing

“Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.” – Anonymous

Whether you want to visit the Great Wall of China, Buddhist Temples, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China is a great place to start.

In 2013, the capital was visited by 4.5 million tourists but this was a 10% decrease in 2012 as a result of overpopulation and the ensuing pollution.

In 2017, however, Beijing welcomed over 12 million tourists just for the National Day. With this in mind, you should probably think about exactly when the best time is to visit China on holiday.

In this article, we’re going to have a look at when you should visit Beijing, the cost of visiting the Chinese capital, and where you should stay in the capital.

When Should You Visit Beijing?

When it comes to choosing holiday destinations, you should really consider when the climate is at its best, how many other tourists will be there, and the cost of travel and accommodation when you’re planning on going to Beijing.

What is the weather like in China? China can get surprisingly cold! (Source: zhu810529)

Is your next planned trip to one of China’s biggest cities?

Be aware that the climate in Beijing can be rather cold in winter and almost suffocating in summer.

We also recommend that you go, if you can, when there are fewer tourists for a number of reasons:

  • You can easily learn more about Imperial China and the history of the Chinese Communist Party when there are fewer tourists.
  • You can visit Tiananmen Square, the temples (the Temple of Heaven, Lama temples, Tianning Temple and its pagoda, the Niujie Mosque, etc.), the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and museums (National Museum of China, Museum of Chinese History, etc.) without wasting time in long queues.
  • Flights from the UK are cheaper and you can travel with low-cost airlines.
  • You can visit attractions off the beaten track.

There are plenty of good reasons to visit Beijing in winter or spring.

The only problem with winter is that the city is subjected to cold spells where temperatures can drop to -25°C! Unsurprisingly, there are very few tourists visiting the capital and its historic monuments in full winter gear.

In summer, temperatures soar and it’s incredibly humid with average temperatures of 30.5°C in June, 31.4°C in July, and 30.3°C in August (with some days being as hot as 40°C!). Additionally, there’s the pollution, even though the Chinese authorities like to downplay just how bad it is.

So when should you visit Beijing?

Autumn in the north of China is rather short, quite dry, fresh in the mornings, and mild during the day. It’s a great time to visit Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi’an, Chengdu, or Guilin.

You could also go in the spring once the city’s thawed and the flowers are in bloom, it’s dry and warm with average temperatures between 20°C and 25°C in April and May.

You probably want to avoid events such as the Chinese New Year and the National Day of the People’s Republic of China:

  • Chinese New Year: 24-31 January 2020, 11-18 February 2021.
  • National Day of the People’s Republic of China: 1-7 October.
  • Qingming Festival: 4-7 April.
  • Labour Day: 1-4 May.
  • Dragon Boat Festival: 7-9 June 2019, 25-27 June 2020.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival): 13-15 September 2019.

These types of events are subject to a massive influx of tourists and visitors.

Find out more about the best time to visit Beijing.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit China?

Generally, things are cheaper in Beijing than they are in London. Whether you visit Hangzhou, Sichuan, Tibet, or the Chongqing, once you’ve paid to travel to China, you’ll find that your money goes farther.

How much does it cost to visit Beijing? Make sure you budget for your time in Beijing. (Source: moerschy)

It will cost you around £36 per person per day for accommodation, £15 for food (in restaurants), £500 for flights, plus £200 for tickets on high-speed trains if you want to visit the south (Beijing-Xi’an, Xi’an-Shanghai, Shanghai-Guangzhou). This means, for a fortnight in China, you could be spending around £1,500 per person.

As you can see, China isn’t the cheapest country in Asia since it’s economic growth has led to inflation.

So how much exactly does visiting Beijing cost?

Let’s start by having a look at flights on sights like Skyscanner, Momondo, etc. You can find return flights for as little as £300. Don’t forget that accommodation in the very centre of Beijing is quite expensive. In addition to the cost of flights and accommodation, you’ll need to allocate some of your budget to leisure activities (trips, bars, etc.), tourist activities, and food.

The only thing that’s really cheap in Beijing is the food. The capital is effectively an open-air restaurant! There are plenty of street vendors, food courts, and night markets where you can find cheap food at any time of day. The Jiumen Xiaochi and Guije Street Night Market are great examples.

In terms of visiting monuments, you can spend between £20 and £50 per visit. While you can find cheap flights, places to eat, places to stay, etc., these all add up to quite the amount.

To find cheap trips and stretch your budget, you could have a look at Doyoogo, a price comparison site for activities, and see the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, or Temple of Heaven at a good price.

Find out more about budgeting for Beijing.

Where Should You Stay in Beijing?

21.54 million people live in Beijing permanently. Due to overpopulation, housing is incredibly expensive and so is accommodation.

Which are the best hotels in Beijing? There’s plenty of accommodation in Beijing. (Source: ken19991210)

If you want to stay in Beijing, here’s our advice…

Firstly, there’s accommodation. If you’re on a modest budget, you’ll want to stay off the beaten path, outside the city centre, expect less comfort, and stay in a private room or in a youth hostel dormitory. You can find private rooms in a local’s house but these can go for exorbitant prices (between £50-£100 a night for two people).

Hotels are more affordable, depending on the comfort, of course. You can pay between £20 and £30 per night for two people but you won’t have the intimacy you’ll get from a private rent with its own kitchen and living room.

Have a look at the following sites if you want somewhere to stay:

  • Airbnb
  • HomeAway
  • Booking
  • Home to Go

Staying in the historic centre, near the Old Summer Palace, Imperial City, and museums will allow you to discover more about the history of the city and China itself but this does mean you can expect to pay between £30 and £100 per night.

You could always stay in Beijing’s Central Business District (the CBD), stretching east to west from Dawanglu to Dongdaqiao and from Chaoyang to Tonghuihe north to south.

Are you looking for picturesque sites?

Consider staying in traditional Chinese houses, hutongs, to really see how people lived in ancient China.

Find out more about accommodation in Beijing.

What Are the Different Districts in Beijing?

Out of Beijing’s many neighbourhoods, we’ve chosen four in particular: The Shichahai, Dongcheng, Chaoyang, Haidian Districts.

Which are the best districts in Beijing? Which district will you opt to stay in? (Source: 7645255)

Even though these are just four districts, they cover several thousand km2 and are home to 7 million people. Shichahai includes the historic centre, where you can find many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Jing–Hang Grand Canal, the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum, Tiananmen Square, the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the National Museum of China, and three lakes:

  • Qianhai Lake
  • Houhai Lake
  • Xihai Lake

This is a popular district with plenty of places to relax in summer or ice skate in winter. There are plenty of hutongs and lots of bars and places to visit in the small streets. This is where you’ll find the city’s most beautiful sights.

Would you like to visit the Temple of Heaven, Temple of Confucius, and stay a stone’s throw from the Forbidden City?

Set your sights on Dongcheng, which is next to many museums, including the National Museum of China.

Around Wangfujing Street, you can find the home of shopping in Beijing. This pedestrianised area is great for those travelling with their family or people just wanting a greener holiday.

There are also districts further out that will offer you a great base for visiting China, especially if you’re considering spending a long time there and learning Mandarin, for example.

Chaoyang and Haidian are effectively their own cities that have been engulfed by Beijing. They are popular amongst the wealthy and western students and expats since they have modern housing and infrastructure.

Before you go, consider getting help from a Chinese language tutor on Superprof. They can help you learn at your own pace with bespoke lessons covering how to read the language, say some essential phrases, and get around Beijing without too many problems.

So are you ready to book your flights and head to China?

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