capital city of China

Beijing (北京 Běijīng) is China's capital, and its second largest city after Shanghai, with a population of more than 20 million. It had been the capital of Imperial China for much of its history, and became seat of the People's Republic of China after the Chinese revolutions, as well as the country's educational and cultural center.

The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found within the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing is surrounded by concentric so-called "ring roads", which are actually rectangular.

Beijing is a dynamic, changing city. There is a mix of old and new all around (especially within the 3rd and 2nd Ring Roads). Here you can see the most modern, envelope-pushing technologies and social innovations butting heads with the most ancient cultural norms and social settings. The people here can seem a bit cold, but once you break the ice you will find that they are very friendly and engaging, and speaking some Mandarin is definitely helpful.

Be prepared for customs and societal norms that are different from yours; see the China article for discussion. However most Beijingers are sophisticated urbanites, so things may seem less odd here than in rural areas or cities in the interior of China.

The city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the only city in the world that has hosted both summer and winter Olympic Games.

Districts

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Beijing has a total of 16 districts.

Central districts and inner suburbs

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The two central districts are located within or just beyond the 2nd Ring Road. This is the location of the old walled city of Beijing and is where you will find most of the sights and also a good deal of sleeping, eating and drinking and entertainment options. The districts are:

 
Central districts and inner suburbs

  Dongcheng District (东城区 Dōngchéngqū)
covering the eastern half of the central city area. This is the most important tourist district of Beijing. Including:
  • Forbidden City
  • Central Dongcheng, including Wangfujing (Walking Street) and Tian'anmen Square.
  • Chongwen, the southern third of Dongcheng, including the Temple of Heaven.
  • Gulou, in the north-center of Dongcheng, with the Drum Tower and Nanlougouxiang
  • Dongzhimen and Ditan, the northeast parts of Dongcheng, including Yonghegong (Yonghe Lama Temple)
  Xicheng District (西城区; Xīchéngqū)
covering the western half of the central city area. Includes Beihai Park, the Houhai area, Beijing Zoo and National Concert Hall. The former Xuanwu District now forms the southern third of Xicheng.

The next four districts are also fairly close to the centre, and highly urbanized. They are often referred to as the inner suburbs. Here you will find universities, Olympic venues, business and embassy areas, entertainment and bars, art districts, and parts of the Western Hills. The districts are:

  Chaoyang District (朝阳区 Cháoyángqū)
covers a large area east of the central city area. Includes the CBD, Olympic Green (Birds Nest, Water Cube and other 2008 Olympic venues), Sanlitun (the Village and Workers' Stadium), 798 Art Zone, Chaoyang Park, Ritan Park and various embassy areas
  Haidian District (海淀区 Hǎidiànqū)
covers the northwest of the main urban area. About half of Haidian district is made up of the Zhongguancun high technology industry and business cluster and Beijing's major concentration of universities. Includes the Summer Palace.
  Shijingshan District (石景山区 Shíjǐngshānqū)
covers some western suburbs, and parts of the Western Hills
  Fengtai District (丰台区 Fēngtáiqū)
covers the southwest of Beijing. Includes Beijing West Railway Station

Rural Beijing and outer suburbs

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Rural Beijing and outer suburbs

The remaining ten districts are far from the centre.

  Northern outer suburbs
Both districts are on the outer ring of suburbs but Shunyi is well integrated commuter suburb while Changping is a satellite location to the center.
  • Changping District, home to Juyongguan, one of the most popular tourist sections of the Great Wall, and the Thirteen Ming Tombs (明十三陵 Míng Shísān Líng), the burial site of 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors
  • Shunyi District, affluent suburb and a prime spot for birding
  Western and southern outer suburbs
Large districts that include both extensions of the urban center and mountainous rural areas.
  Tongzhou District (通州区 Tōngzhōuqū)
Eastern suburb, relocated administrative seat for Beijing Municipality and home to art communes.
  Rural Beijing
The distant districts to the north of Beijing. The areas are a mix of satellite cities and countryside, located up to 100+ kilometers outside of the Beijing city enter.
  • Great Wall the main line of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall passes through this northern mountainous area
  • Yanqing District, scenic canyons and the mysterious Guyaju Caves; one of the locations of the 2022 Winter Olympics
  • Huairou District, Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and Yanqi Lake retreat for international conferences
  • Miyun District, Great Wall at night at the Simaitai section and adjacent Gubei Watertown
  • Pinggu District, a UFO tower and long glass bridge over mountain scenery

Understand

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History

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Beijing (formerly transliterated "Peking") literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China's long history. Beijing's history dates back several thousand years but it first became notable in Chinese history after it was made the capital of the State of Yan under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the major kingdoms of the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago. After the fall of Yan, during the later Han and Tang dynasties, the Beijing-area was a major prefecture of northern China.

In 938, Beijing was conquered by the Khitans and declared the capital of the Liao Dynasty. The Mongols seized the city in 1215. From 1264 Beijing served as the capital of a united China under Kublai Khan. His victorious Mongol forces renamed the city, Great Capital (大都). From there, Kublai and his descendants ruled their empire from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands. During this period, the walled city was enlarged and many palaces and temples were built.

After the fall of the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was initially moved to Nanjing. However, in 1403 the 3rd Ming emperor, Zhu Di, also known as Emperor Yongle, moved it back to Beijing and gave the city its present name. The Ming period was Beijing's golden era. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built in this period. The capital developed into a huge city becoming the religious and cultural center of Asia.

In 1644, the Ming Dynasty was overthrown by the rebel leader Li Zicheng, though his rule would be short lived as he was quickly overthrown by the Manchus, who established China's last imperial line - the Qing. Despite the changing political climate, Beijing remained the capital. The Manchu imperial family moved into the Forbidden City and remained there until 1911. The Qing built both the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace. These served as summer retreats for the emperors and their entourages. During the 19th century, Western countries established foreign legations in the Qianmen area south of the Forbidden City. These came under siege during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

The Qing dynasty fell in 1911 and was replaced by the Republic of China, with Sun Yat-sen as its first president. In the chaotic first years of Republican China, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. Following the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang moved the capital to Nanjing in 1928, and renamed Beijing as Beiping (北平, literally "Northern Peace") to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. Beijing remained a center for education and culture throughout the Republican Era. When the Kuomintang was defeated by the Communists in 1949, the new government proclaimed a People's Republic with its capital at Beijing.

Recommended reading includes Peking - A Historical and Intimate Description of Its Chief Places of Interest by Juliet Bredon (written in the 1930s, ISBN 0968045987), and Twilight in the Forbidden City by Reginald Fleming Johnston (ISBN 0968045952).

Orientation

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Beijing is characterised by its vastness and large distances between locations. The city used to be almost entirely made up of hutongs with narrow lanes and single story buildings. Now, many of the hutongs have given way to broad boulevards and modern buildings, contributing to an airy, sprawling feel, in sharp contrast to cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Beijing is the political centre of the country, with official buildings and embassy areas dominating the city. Beijing is also the historical and cultural centre of China with many historical buildings and sites - especially within Ring Road Two. The city has undergone rapid modernisation, with improvements of institutions, business environment and work conditions.

People

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Given their city's historical, cultural and political heft, Beijingers are justifiably proud to be citizens of the capital. An attitude known as 大北京主义 or "Great Beijing-ism" is often used to describe their attitude toward people from other regions of China. They are often much more interested in politics and willing to talk about current events than people elsewhere in China. Beijingers also seem to focus on not losing face and often use humor in order to do so. However, many Chinese from other provinces find Beijingers very friendly and straightforward comparing with people from Shanghai especially.

Climate

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Beijing
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Humidity is low except during the summer
Imperial conversion
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0.3
 
 
50
32
 
 
 
0.1
 
 
39
21
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Beijing has a monsoon-influenced continental climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The best time to visit is in September and October, during the "Golden Autumn" (金秋). Spring is the season for dust storms and is otherwise warm and dry. Summer can be oppressively hot and the tourist crowds tend to be the largest as well. Winter is cold and dry, with infrequent, but beautiful, snow. Temperatures can easily fall below −10 °C in winter and or just as readily rise above 35 °C in summer as well.

Demographics and geography

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Beijing has a population of around 20 million living on 16,800 km2 distributed in 16 districts. The city borders Hebei Province to the north, west and south and Tianjin Municipality to the east.

Read

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  • The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, (Michael Meyer, 2008). An account of life in one of the city's remaining hutong neighborhoods by an American who taught English in a local school as a volunteer during the runup to the Olympics, as the city and its residents clashed over the pace and social cost of redevelopment. Meyer puts his story in the context of Beijing's modern architectural history, an added bonus for readers. Not published in China for five years, until the government could decide on which passages to excise.

Talk

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The language of Beijing is Mandarin Chinese. Standard Mandarin itself was the administrative language of the Ming and Qing dynasties and was based mainly on the Beijing dialect. For language students, this makes studying in Beijing an excellent chance to learn the language in a form relatively close to the standard. That being said, Beijing dialect has the "er" sound at the end of many words. Hence the ubiquitous lamb kabobs (羊肉串 yáng ròu chuàn) become "yáng ròu chuànr". In addition, the Beijing dialect consists of many local slang words and expressions which have not been incorporated into standard Mandarin. Beijing taxi drivers are famously chatty and will gladly engage students of the language, offering excellent chances to practice the language and get a feel for the changes in the city and country from an "Old Beijinger".

English is spoken by staff at the main tourist attractions, as well as at major hotels. Otherwise, English speakers are not common, so always get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost. Likewise, have staff at your hotel write down the names of any tourist attraction you plan to visit in Chinese, so locals can point you out in the right direction.

Get in

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Visa-free transit

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Visitors from 53 countries who are transiting to a third country can get a 144 hours visa waiver to visit Beijing municipality, as well neighboring Tianjin municipality and Hebei province. You must arrive and depart mainland China via airports in Beijing, Tianjin or Shijiazhuang, or via the sea ports in Tianjin or Qinhuangdao. At immigration, you will need to present an onward ticket to a country other than the one you arrived from. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan count as separate countries with regard to this scheme.

The following countries are included in the transit program:

  • 24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
  • 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, Monaco
  • 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
  • 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand
  • 6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

By plane

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Beijing (BJS  IATA for all airports) is served by two major international airports; Beijing Capital International Airport is older and larger of the two, while Beijing Daxing International Airport is a newer airport opened in September 2019. Eventually, the plan is for Star Alliance carriers to serve Capital, and for Skyteam and OneWorld carriers to serve Daxing. Nanyuan Airport, which used to serve China United Airlines, has been closed to civilian air traffic, with all its civilian flights having been taken over by Daxing.

  • 1 Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场 Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīchǎng PEK IATA). Beijing's main airport is 26 km northeast of the centre. It serves many domestic and international destinations and is the main hub of flag carrier Air China. It's well signposted in English and straightforward to get around, with all the standard airport facilities. The easiest way to get downtown is by the , fare ¥25. These trains run to the city 06:30-23:00 every 10-15 min from T2 via Sanyuanqiao on Subway Line  10  and Dongzhimen on Line  2  to Beixinqiao on Line  5  - the last section opened on 31 Dec 2021 and many maps don't yet show it. The ride takes 25 min, then you need to buy another ticket to ride the Subway. The outbound train runs to T3 in 25 min then reaches T2 ten minutes later. From T1 walk to T2, 8 min.    
 
Interior of Beijing Daxing International Airport
  • 2 Beijing Daxing International Airport (北京大兴国际机场 Běijīng Dàxīng Guójì Jīchǎng, PKX IATA), +86-010-96158. Shaped like a phoenix (or maybe a starfish), with a long-term goal of moving 100 million passengers per year as an international hub. The airport is designed for efficiency: automated check-in facilities using facial recognition, and you can walk from security to the most distant gates in eight minutes. The airport is connected to the rest of the Beijing Subway by the , with a connection to outer loop line  10  at Caoqiao. In addition, the high-speed Beijing–Xiong'an intercity railway runs to Beijing West station, with connections to the subway as well as the long-distance rail network. Additional high-speed rail connections are under construction.    

By train

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Beijing West Railway Station
 
Boarding in Beijing South Railway Station
See also: Trans-Siberian Railway

Beijing has many railway stations, but the principal stations are Central, West and South.

Public transport at this station:
  • Subway line  2 . The subway entrance can be seen as soon as you get out of the mainline station.
  • Taxis may be expensive and slow.
  • Buses: many run to or alongside the station. The bus stops are Beijing Railway Station East (北京站东 Beijingzhandong) and Beijing Railway Station (北京站 Beijingzhan). Don't get off at Beijing Railway Station Crossing West or East (北京站口东/西), which are some distance from the station.
Public transport at West station:
  • Subway lines  7  and  9 .
  • Taxis: there is an underground taxi rank, which usually has at least a ten minute queue. Taxis may be expensive, especially if you have that tourist stench about you. Inevitably a tout will offer to take you out of the queue for an agreed price, but this will result in a significantly higher fare.
  • Buses: There is an immense amount of packed public buses that reach most destinations around downtown Beijing - however this can be difficult to navigate. These leave from several locations including the south square of the train station, west of the train station (there is a largish bus station here) and north of the station on Lianhuachi E. Road. If you are desperate to get on the public bus, there is a large sign indicating the routes close to the bus stops on the south side (the side closer to the station) of Lianhuachi E. Road.
  • 5 Beijing South Railway Station (北京南站 Běijīng Nánzhàn). This station is used only by high-speed trains. It offers 70 high-speed services every day to Tianjin, Tanggu, Jinan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Fuzhou. There are also a few services from Beijing South to northeastern China as well as Xiamen. Served by subway Lines  4  and  14  and public buses.    
  • 6 Beijing North Railway Station (北京北站 Běijīng Běizhàn). The station was reopened as of late 2019, after the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High Speed Railway began service. It serves intercity high-speed trains to Hohhot, Baotou, Datong and various stations in Zhangjiakou. The  BCR Huaimi  Line starts from here. The station is adjacent to Xizhimen subway station.
  • 7 Beijing East Railway Station (北京东站 Běijīng Dōngzhàn). The only destinations are Chengde, Handan and Ji County, Tianjin. Just off the Guomao CBD. It is very rare for tourists to use this station.  BCR Sub-Central  provides connecting service to Beijing and Beijing West Railway Station, as well as suburban regions of Tongzhou and Fangshan.
  • 8 Qinghe Railway Station (清河站 Qīnghé Zhàn), Shangdi East Rd. Some high-speed trains to Chongli, Hohhot and Datong start from here since 30 December 2019, and the  BCR Huaimi  stops here. Subway Line 13 has added a station here, while the west square can also be reached by bus route No.521, No.623 and No.专139. 500 meters west from the west square is Shangdi 5th Street (上地五街) bus stop which has more routes. The station has metro service, interchanging with subway lines  13  and  Changping .    
  • 9 Beijing Chaoyang Railway Station (北京朝阳站 Běijīng Cháoyáng Zhàn), Chaoyang Station East Rd. High-speed trains to the northeast, including Chengde, Shenyang, Chifeng, Tongliao and Harbin. The subway is not scheduled to open before 2023, and the following bus routes are accessible to nearby subway stations: No.413 to  14  Dongfeng Beiqiao and  10  Liangma Qiao, and No.911 to  6  Qingnian Lu.    
  • 10 Huangcun Railway Station (黄村站 Huángcūn Zhàn). It is in southern Beijing on Beijing Subway  4  line. If you're having trouble getting a ticket for the major Beijing stations, try buying a ticket to this station instead. If taking a night train, you're a bit far from the centre, but the subway opens at 05:30.
  • 11 Shunyi Railway Station. Just a short walk away from Subway Line  15  at Shimen station. This station is served by regular rail services, and most of these can be rather slow.
  • 12 Changping North Railway Station (昌平北站 Chāngpíngběizhàn). This station was re-opened to accommodate services displaced from Beijing North. Trains here mainly run to Inner Mongolia, northeastern Liaoning or further northeast. It's far from the centre, and the most convenient way to get here is to take bus No.345 from Deshengmen West Transit Hub.    
  • Shunyi West Railway Station (顺义西站 Shùnyìxīzhàn). This station was opened on January 22, 2021. It serves primarily high-speed rail service on the Beijing-Shenyang route, also recently opened. It is quite far from the city center, and is primarily served by taxis. It is a particularly small station, but offers regular service and is less crowded than major stations like Beijing Chaoyang.

By car

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Foreigners are allowed to rent vehicles while in China, although they will require a driving license issued by the People's Republic of China.

Also, you will need special permission (进京证) for driving a non-Beijing license vehicle into Beijing (anywhere within 6th Ring Road), which is valid for at most 7 days, and can be applied for at most 12 times. You can apply for the permit electronically, or at the checkpoints. It will be checked in security checkpoints along the city border, and you should place the permit at the lower-left corner of the front windshield of your vehicle. Expect some queues and jams at these checkpoints.

Non-Beijing licensed motorcycles are totally forbidden from entering any roads within the 6th Ring Road.

By bus

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Long-distance buses from areas as far as Shanghai and the Mongolian border connect to Beijing. You can reach areas as far as Harbin or Xi'an on a single bus ride. Beijing has over 20 long-distance bus stations, but what you need to do is go to the bus station located on the edge of the city in the direction you want to travel.

Most of the buses from the long-distance bus stations will be regular or express buses, which take the expressways; cost from ¥200-600 per trip, have comfy seats, and most rides do not take more than 6–12 hours, but sleeper buses are also available.

By bicycle

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See also: Cycling in China

Long-distance cyclist-tourists will find National Road 109 is a pleasant way to enter or leave Beijing, though lots of work. It immediately enters steep hills on the edge of the city, but sees little traffic, is well maintained and passes though lovely landscape of farmland and forests. It's remarkable how close to Beijing you are, and how far it feels.

Get around

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Beijing has a world-class public transportation network with an extensive subway system that gets you to most of the major tourist attractions, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system complementing the subway system, and regular buses that fill in the rest of the gaps. Taxis are reasonably priced by international standards, though these days, it is more common to use ride hailing apps like Didi Chuxing. However, due to Beijing's huge population, congestion can be a significant issue regardless of what mode of transport you use, and the courtesy levels of many locals leave much to be desired.

Though some residents of Beijing know conversational English (especially in the areas frequented by tourists or Haidian District's university cluster), one should not count on finding a taxi driver or passer-by who knows English well. Neither should foreigners with minimal experience with the Chinese language put faith in their ability to pronounce Chinese place names so that a local can understand. Before embarking on a trip around the city, it is best to print out the names of places you want to visit in Chinese characters, or get your hotel front desk staff to write them out for you. When going to specific addresses, writing nearby intersections or basic directions can be helpful as well. Show the text to the taxi driver, or just ask for help on the street. In general, you will have a better chance of getting help in English if you address younger people, as many schools in China have expanded their English education in the last few years.

Crossing the road in China is an art and may be difficult for pedestrians unused to Beijing's particular driving styles. Before crossing, assume that none of the road users will yield to you, even if a policeman is present. Zebra crossings are ignored. Chinese drivers lean on the horn heavily and frequently play games of chicken with pedestrians and other vehicles. Should you hear a loud horn when crossing the road, always look around as there is probably a car right behind you or heading straight for you. Should you find several cars and bicycles veering towards you from different directions, do not try to run to safety; instead, stand still. For drivers and cyclists a stationary obstacle is easier to avoid. Traffic light crossings have zebra stripes painted on the road, but you should only cross when the walk light is green. As with pedestrian crossings in many countries, there is strength in numbers. When a mass of people crosses together cars are more likely to stop or slow down.

By subway

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Beijing subway map

The Beijing Subway is a good way to quickly get around the city and is clearly marked in English for travelers, with announcements being bilingual in Mandarin and English. It is clean, fast and efficient. The network has expanded at a furious pace, with 22 lines now operational and more being built. Unlike most giant cities' subways, it has a grid-like network which is refreshingly easy to navigate. The subway system shuts down around 22:30, and opens again around 05:00, with signage at the entrance to each station.

The lines are as follows:

  •  1  runs east–west from Sihui East to Pingguoyuan crossing the political heart of the city along Chang'an street, passing the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square and Wangfujing. From 29 August 2021, through service started between  1  and  1 , providing direct connection between the downtown and the Universal Resort.
  •  2  is the inner loop line following the old city walls. The first and last trains start/end at Xizhimen and the line serves Lama Temple and Beijing Railway Station.
  •  4  runs north–south on the west side of the city and serves the Old and New Summer Palaces, Beijing University and Beijing South Station.
  •  5  runs north–south on the east side of the city.
  •  6  runs west–east through the city center, serving Nanluoguxiang, Chaoyangmen, Changying and the municipal administration center in Tongzhou.
  •  7  runs west–east on the south side of the city, ending at the newly built Universal Resort in Tongzhou.
  •  8  runs north–south near the center of the city from Zhuxinzhuang (Changping) to Yinghai (Daxing), serving Huilongguan, the Olympic Stadium, Drum Tower, Nanluoguxiang, Wangfujing, Qianmen and Yongdingmen.
  •  9  serves Fengtai district, including Beijing West Railway Station.
  •  10  is the outer loop line that circles around the entire city.
  •  11  is only in a small portion, connecting Jin'anqiao (start of Line 6) and Shougang Park which is converted from a former steel factory.
  •  13  is an elevated line serving the northern suburbs. The line starts at Xizhimen and ends at Dongzhimen and passes through Wudaokou.
  •  14  passes through Chaoyang District and then turns west through to the southern suburbs.
  •  15  runs across the north and north-east suburbs of the city.
  •  16  serves the northwest of Haidian District, which is home to several hills including Jiufeng and Baiwangshan, and ends at Yuyuantan Park East Gate in downtown Beijing (near Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and Yuyuantan Park).
  • runs diagonal on the southeast suburbs, linking Shilihe and Yizhuang New Town.
  •  19  is a rapid line on the west side of the city, from Mudanyuan to Xingong via Jishuitan, Niujie and Caoqiao.
  •  S1  (also called the maglev line) and  1 ,  Changping ,  4 ,  Fangshan  and  Yizhuang  connect the outer suburbs to the city and are of little use for tourists.
  •  Xijiao  is a tram line which runs from Bagou station on line 10, passing various tourist attractions like The Summer Palace, to Xiangshan (Frargrant Hills).
  • runs from Dongzhimen, the northeast corner of the 2nd ring road to Capital Airport via Sanyuanqiao.
  • runs from Caoqiao to Daxing Airport.

Transfers between lines are permitted with the exception of the two Airport Express lines, for which a separate ticket is required.

 
Subway station in Beijing
  Note: Ticket machines in all subway stations require a Chinese ID (or Foreigner's Permanent Resident ID Card) as part of the payment process. Unless you're a long-term resident in China possessing the latter, you cannot use the ticket machines and must go to a manned counter to buy your ticket. These exist in all stations, but not are not necessarily staffed at all entrances/exits. Alternatively, you may use a smartphone app (i.e. Yìtōngxíng, Chinese only) to buy your ticket.
(Information last updated 18 May 2022)

Subway station entrances are identified by a large blue stylized letter G wrapped around a smaller letter B. Single tickets cost from ¥3 to ¥10 depending on distance (except for the Capital Airport Express, which costs ¥25 per one-way trip, and Daxing Airport Express, which costs between ¥10 and ¥35 for a ride) and are only valid on the same day from the station they were purchased. Single-journey ticket machines have English instructions available. The machine does not accept ¥1 bills but if you pay with a ¥10 or ¥20 bill you will be given a handful of coins which you can use for future journeys. You must pass your ticket through the turnstiles upon entering AND exiting the station, so make sure you don't lose it.

If you plan on traveling more than a few times, pick up a Yīkǎtōng (一卡通) pre-paid card, which has a ¥20 refundable deposit. Tap the card at the entrance turnstile and again upon exiting. Using the pre-paid card does not reduce the subway fare, unlike bus fares. The card's deposit can only be returned at a few stations, so passing it on to a friend may be easier than getting your deposit back. Stations that offer a refund clearly state "Yikatong refund" in the ticket booth; examples include Xizhimen, Haidianhuangzhuang (only near exits C/D) and the Airport.

If you are carrying handbags or luggage, these bags must pass through the X-ray checks at the stations. Dangerous liquids (including oil!) may be confiscated. If necessary, drink a little of your bottle of water in front of the security guards to show that it is not harmful.

It is not likely to buy wrong tickets since the ticket machines are easy to buy a ticket from, but if you override stations or when a system error occurs and you fail to get out of a station (when the ticket barriers display a red cross on the screen at the top), ask a station staff to help you. It's illegal to dodge the fare (and almost impossible), but a fare dodger will be fined for a large amount of money and may be arrested.

Smoking is strictly prohibited in subway trains and stations, and anyone who smokes can be asked to stop by any other passenger.

Beware that stations and trains become very crowded during rush hour, particularly lines 1, 4, 10, and 13. Follow the crowd and it will be fine, but trying to avoid these hours seems a wise choice. If there are seats available, be prepared for a mad dash as commuters shove and wrestle for the available seats; you may try to do the same if you feel that you are up to the task. Pickpockets are most likely to strike at this moment, so be alert of your belongings.

By bicycle

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See also: Cycling in China
 
Dockless rideshare bicycles are common in downtown Beijing

Once known as a nation of bicycles, China today has an ever growing number of private car owners. It is estimated 1,200 more cars hit the streets in Beijing every day. As a result, nowadays you are guaranteed to see more bikes in the Netherlands than in Beijing. However, the infrastructure from its days as capital of the "Bicycle Kingdom" means exploring Beijing on a bike is excellent. The city is flat as a pancake and all major streets have bike lanes. Bicycling is often faster than traveling by car, taxi or bus because of the traffic congestion in the motorized traffic lanes.

Four-wheeled motorized traffic in Beijing usually observes traffic signals with the exception of making turns at red lights which is often done without slowing or deferring to pedestrians or bicyclists. Pedestrians, bicycles and all other vehicles (for example, motorized bicycles, mopeds and tricycles) generally do not observe traffic signals. Also, cars, trucks and buses do not defer to cyclists on the road so it is common for a vehicle to make a right turn from an inside lane across a bike lane with no concern for cyclists traveling in the bike lane. Sometimes a right-turning vehicle crossing a bike lane will sound its horn as a warning, but not always. Cyclists also need to be on the lookout for wrong-way traffic in the bike lanes, usually bicycles and tricycles but sometimes motor vehicles, too. Wrong-way traffic usually stays close to the curb so you move to the left to get by them, but not always. Bicycling Beijingers tend not to wear helmets, nor do they use lights at night. Few bikes even have rear reflectors. The moderate pace and sheer numbers of bicyclists in Beijing appear to make bike travel safer than it would be otherwise.

While you will see cyclists use many creative paths across wide, busy intersections in Beijing, the safest way for cyclists is to observe the traffic signals (there are often special signals for cyclists) and to make left turns in two steps as a pedestrian would. But if you spend any significant amount of time cycling in Beijing, you will probably start adopting more creative approaches. These can be learned by finding a local cyclist going your way and following him or her across the intersection.

Several professional bike rental companies, as well as major hotels and some hostels, rent bikes on an hourly basis. For those who need the security of a guide, a bike touring company like Baja Bikes Beijing or Bicycle Kingdom Rentals & Tours would be a great way to go.

If you are staying more than a few days a reasonable bike can be bought for ¥200. Ensure that you have a good lock included in the price. The cheapest bikes are not worth the additional savings; you will get what you pay for and they will start to deteriorate as soon as you begin to ride. Spend a little more and get a bike in the ¥300-400 range. Bike rentals may have good bikes, but you pay a high price and run the risk of the bike being stolen.

 
A bike-sharing rack in Dongsi, near the city center

If neither buying or renting a bike fits into your plans, the city has operated a bike-sharing program since 2011. Around 50,000 are available at a thousand sites around Beijing. While the fee is only ¥1 per hour, a deposit of ¥300 is required for first time users. Only electronic payment is accepted.

By bus

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Route 103 is one of the 20 trolleybus routes in Beijing

Beijing's bus system is cheap, convenient, and covers the entire city. But it is slow compared to the subway (often caught in heavy traffic), and difficult to use if you do not understand Chinese. But should you speak Mandarin, have a healthy sense of adventure, and a fair bit of patience, a bus can get you almost anywhere.

Good reasons to take the bus include:

  • Your origin or destination are not in walking distance of a subway stop
  • Your trip is less than about 3 km in distance
  • You want to see the city, not just a subway tunnel, while traveling
  • You are on an extremely tight budget (typical subway fares are around ¥3-7, bus fares are from ¥2 for most trips, with a 50% discount to ¥1 if you use the Yīkǎtōng pre-paid card)

Buses now feature air-conditioning (heating in winter), TVs, a scrolling screen that displays stops in Chinese (and often English), and a broadcast system that announces stops (In Chinese and English). Bus staff speak little English, and bus stop signs are entirely in Chinese. If you are having problems navigating the bus system, call the English-speaking operators at the Beijing Public Transport Customer Helpline (96166).

Warning: Beijing buses can get very crowded so be prepared and keep an eye on your valuables. Indeed, the overhead speakers on more modern buses will announce a warning to this effect on the more crowded lines. Many pickpockets frequent buses and subways, so carry backpacks in the front, and try to put your valuables somewhere hard to access.

If you use a Yikatong Card, you should both touch in and out on most bus lines so the system will calculate the right fare for you. If not, you may have to pay the original price for the whole route as a fine. You can find a notice above the doors like "下车请刷卡" means you should touch out when "下车请勿刷卡" means you needn't swipe your card when getting off (Usually "Please swipe your card when getting off" in English is printed).

Do not get off from the doors where you got on except if you are riding a bus with only 1 door, or you may be considered to be fare dodging. Usually you get off from the rear door of a bus which has 2 doors, and the front & back doors when you are riding a bus with 3 doors. BRT buses usually have 4 doors, and you can use any one of them.

Bus routes

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Double-decker routes used "特" prefix before 2021, but are dissolved into regular route ranges.

Bus lines are numbered from 1–999. Buses under 300 serve the city center. Buses 300 and up run between the city center and more distant areas (such as beyond the Third Ring Road). Buses in the 800s and 900s connect Beijing with its outer suburbs (i.e., Changping, Yanqing, Shunyi, etc.). Buses with a heading of "专" (zhuān means special) usually serve a small area, "快速直达专线", abbreviate as "快专" (kuàizhuān means express special) provide express point-to-point services, with a much higher fare. The heading of "夜" ( means night) provide late night services only. Buses numbered between 101 and 199 are usually trolley buses. BRT lines 1 to 4 are Bus Rapid Transit lines run on the same fare system, but you swipe the card or buy the tickets at a station.

Directions from place to place can be obtained on AutoNavi Maps, Baidu Maps, or Mapbar. Most maps are in Chinese, whilst AutoNavi Maps are available in foreign languages inside Apple Maps (when in China) or Google Maps (this is a slightly outdated copy). Apple Maps users can also access the 'live bus' feature (i.e. where is the next bus and how long it will be before it arrives) when the map is set to Transit mode. The Beijing Public Transport Co. website has useful information in Chinese, but appears to no longer have an English page.

Fares and operating hours

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How to calculate your bus fare in Beijing?

The main part showing stations of a typical bus stop sign should consist of two parts, station names and "distance numbers" above the names. Find the station you're getting off and its distance number, then fine your position as well as its number. Minus the smaller number from the larger one, then divide it by 5. If the result is lower than 2, you should pay ¥2. Otherwise you should round it up to the closest whole number. For example, this is a part of bus 5 (May not be true):

... 2   3   4   5   ...   15    16   ...
   马   德  德  德        天     大
   甸   外  胜  胜        安     栅
   桥   关  门  门        门     栏
   南   厢  外            西

Suppose you are riding from "马甸桥南" to "大栅栏", you can find numbers 2 and 16 on them. Calculate 16-2=14, and divide by 5, the result is 2.8. Round it up to ¥3. Note that some newer bus stop signs do not have the numbers so you can look up the fare in map apps on your phone or ask the driver (who often doesn't speak English, so you should print out the question(s) beforehand. The better method is to just get a pre-paid card so you don't have to calculate the fare yourself.

Most buses with a line number under 200 run daily 05:00-23:00. Buses with a line number greater than 300 typically run 06:00-22:00 (with some exceptions like 302 runs till 23:00). Night buses usually run 23:20-04:50. Many routes get very crowded during rush hours (06:30-09:00 and 17:00-21:00). On major holidays, there will be more frequent service on most city routes.

For passengers paying by cash: Most lines from ¥2, charge according to the distance. You can either calculate the price yourself by reading the sign carefully or asking someone for help (That's why having a card is suggested, as calculating the price is quite difficult). Some lines operates on a flat fare.

For passengers paying by the new pre-paid Smart Card: 50% or more discount from the original price. (Inter-provincial buses excluded)

Tour lines and direct express lines (快速直达专线) runs on a special fare system. Read the information at the side of the doors carefully (or riding those buses may be extremely expensive).

If you feel it too tiring to calculate the price just get a card, although refunding the card is only available in several places (most airport or major railway stations are usually OK).

By minibus

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Minibuses are very common in the countryside outside the urban areas. Privately operated, most trips cost less than ¥10 per short journey and only a little more for longer journeys.

By taxi

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An electric taxi in Beijing

Taxis are reliable and are relatively inexpensive. The downsides are Beijing's well known traffic jams, as well as the fact that most drivers cannot speak or read English and some taxi drivers can be recent arrivals who do not know the city too well. If you don't speak Mandarin then it's worth having the Chinese characters for the location ready in advance. Vehicles used as taxis include the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra, Volkswagen Santana and Jetta (the old model, designed in the 1980s), and Citroëns manufactured in China. These taxis are dark red, or yellow top with dark blue bottom, or painted with new colours.

You might not be able to find any official taxis in the more remote areas of Beijing. However, in these places there will most likely be plenty of unofficial taxis. These might be difficult to recognise for travellers, but the drivers will address you if you look like you are searching for a taxi. Remember to negotiate the fare before you go. Local people usually pay a bit less for the unofficial taxis than for the official ones, but the asking price for foreign travellers will often be much higher.

Fares and meters

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A note on maps

For the most up-to-date maps, use Baidu or AutoNavi Maps on your smartphone. Baidu Maps is in Chinese, whilst AutoNavi Maps are available in foreign languages inside Apple Maps (when in China) or Google Maps (this is a slightly outdated copy).

If the taxi driver "forgets" to switch the taxi meter on, remind him by politely asking them to run the meter and gesturing at the meter box (请打表 qǐng dǎbiǎo), though most can understand "meter please", and all can understand a simple point at the meter. At the end, it is a good idea to ask for a receipt (发票 fā piào) also while gesturing to the meter and making a writing motion. Having a receipt is handy in case you want to make a complaint later or for business reimbursement purposes, and since the receipt has the cab number, you stand a greater chance of getting your possessions back if you forget anything in the taxi.

If you want a tour around Beijing and its vicinities, you can ask your hotel to hire a cab for one day or several days. It usually costs ¥400-600 per day, depending on where you go. You can also ask just about any driver to perform this service as most are more than willing to do so. If you have Chinese-speaking assistance, then bargain down the cost. No matter the cost, the taxi is yours for the day and will wait for you at various destinations.

Communicating with the drivers can be a problem, as most do not speak English. Many will not even pick up foreign passengers on the street due to the perceived language barrier. The solution should that happen is to go into a nearby hotel and ask the desk staff to call a cab.

You can ask that your hotel write your destination on a card to give to the driver. Make sure to take the hotel's card (and a map) that lists the hotel's address in Chinese. This can be a 'get out of jail free' card if you get lost and need to get back via taxi. A regular city map with streets and sights in Chinese will also help.

Avoiding scams and fakes

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Hyundai Elantra taxi with "京B" prefix

To avoid being taken advantage of, it is a good idea to know the rough direction, cost, and distance of your destination. You can easily find this out from asking locals before calling a cab. Verify these values with the taxicab driver to show them that you are in the know, and are probably too much trouble to cheat. Keep track of the direction of travel with a compass and/or the sun. If the cab goes in the wrong direction for a long distance, verify the location with the taxi driver. For scamming drivers, that is usually enough for them to go back on the right track (without ever acknowledging that they were trying to cheat you). Honest drivers will explain why they are going that way. In addition, sometimes a cab driver might tell you an extravagant price to get somewhere and tell you the meter is broken.

 
These drivers can scam tourists big time if a fare hasn't been negotiated beforehand

There are several "makeshift taxis" running around Beijing including a seat fixed up to the back of an electric scooter. These guys will scam you big time if you don't negotiate a clear fare beforehand. Upon arriving your destination, for a 2-minute ride, the driver will demand ¥300 and will be very belligerent if you don't pay it.

Unofficial cabs hang out around tourist sights like the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Pirate cabs will charge you a higher fee for the journey, unless you are a good bargainer, know where you are going, and know what the right fare should be.

By car

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See also: Driving in China

Driving in Beijing can be quite complicated with seemingly perpetual traffic jams. Many hotels rent cars that come with drivers for up to ¥1,000 per day. Public transport or taxis will get you to most of the main tourist sites and therefore renting a car is not often required at all.

Short visa holders (less than 3 months) can get a provisional driver's license at Beijing Capital International Airport or the transportation police stations in the city within minutes. You need to provide your passport as well as your foreign driver's license and do a small examination to confirm you don't have a physical or visual disability that affects driving. With a provisional license you can legally drive cars in China. Ask any information desk at the airport for directions.

You can find the counters of many car rental companies in the arrival hall of Terminal 2 in Beijing Capital Airport, although English is not usually spoken.

Ccar rental companies serving the Beijing Capital Airport include:

  • China Auto Rental, Tel: +86 400 616 6666
  • Avis also operates a car-rental service in Beijing

The daily rate of smaller, economical cars is about ¥200-300. You need to deposit around ¥3000 (possible by using CUP/VISA/MasterCard credit card).

20% of cars have to be off city centre roads on weekdays — you are affected on different days depending on the last digit of your number plate. These alternate every 13 weeks. The police have a right to fine you repeatedly if you are caught on the road when you should have left your car at home. If travelling to Tianjin by car, remember they operate the same system in tandem with Beijing's road rationing schedules. On weekends no such limits apply in either cities, which may give rise to worse jams during peak travel hours.

Vehicles without a licence registered in Beijing are subject to severe restrictions in the capital — most need a special permit to enter the part of town inside the 6th Ring Road, and for those which are granted this licence, it must be renewed nearly every week. You must have your passport / Chinese ID, driving licence and vehicle licence ("blue book", not larger registration certificate) with you at all times, especially when leaving or entering Beijing, as you will be checked by the police.

By train

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BCR Huairou–Miyun Line train leaving Yanqihu railway station in Huairou
 
Line S2 train changing direction at Qinglongqiao railway station, which was built by Jeme Tien-yow in 1909

Beijing, as a railway hub, has many railway stations. If you are travelling between them, you can even choose the national railway. Sometimes the train is the best way to go to places which don't have a good bus or subway connection. However, waiting for them takes a long time.

Suburban railway lines are great ways to get around. The lines are:

  •  BCR Sub-Central  from Liangxiang railway station (in Fangshan) to Qiaozhuang East railway station (in Tongzhou). All trains call at Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing Railway Station and Beijing East Station. Not so many trains serve the line, but it can be a wise way to travel through the center of the city, especially during peak hours when the roads are too busy, buses and the metro are crowded, but the trains are quite "empty" except the section from Liangxiang to Beijing West.
  •  BCR S2  from Huangtudian station (near Huoying subway station on lines 8 and 13) to Yanqing, is a good choice if you are going to the northern suburbs, especially during morning and evening rush hours when the freeway is extremely crowded. All trains call at Badaling station where you can take a free shuttle bus to Badaling Great Wall. Some trains also stop at Nankou station between Badaling and Huangtudian. A train extends the service to Kangzhuang or Shacheng on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Fares are ¥5 for one station and ¥6 for more than one on the main line, and ¥16 from Huangtudian to Kangzhuang or Shacheng. This is the only suburban railway line that a standard Yikatong card can be used, but your card should at least have a balance of ¥16. This line was described by the Chinese media as "The most beautiful commuting routine" and attracts many visitors. Trains from the city during evening rush or to the city in morning rush may be really crowded.
  •  BCR Huaimi  (also known as S5), from Beijing North station to Gubeikou in the northeastern suburbs, reaches Huairou town and Changping North station. All trains call at Changping North Railway Station. However, there are only two "pairs" of trains to/from Gubeikou per day, one pair in the morning and one in the afternoon. Another four "pairs" of trains are available between Beijing North and Huairou North. Fares are ¥9 to Huairou North and ¥12 to Gubeikou.
  •  BCR Tongmi  starts at Tongzhou West railway station, and has two branches. One to Miyun North railway station, which has only one pair of train: inbound (from Miyun) in the morning and outbound (to Miyun) in the evening. The other branch to Huairou North railway station with only one outbound train in the morning and only one inbound in the afternoon. Maximum fares are all ¥8.
  • S9 line from Beijing East Station to Jizhou which is in Tianjin. It uses the name of Beijing Suburban Railway, but is operated by National Rail long-distance trains. A journey takes 40 minutes and is cheaper than buses. However services are very limited.

Hints for riding Suburban railways

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  1. Get to the stations early for S2, S5 or S9 lines. A S2 line train is equipped with a First class car, a dining car (actually a car with amazing big windows) and standard class cars. Also, getting to stations later than 8:00 may lead you to a great crowd. So if you want to get a good seat to enjoy the great view or at least have a seat to sit down, get to stations early and be ready for a rush to the trains.
  2. No need to book a ticket. Except the S2 line, every line is not so crowded. You can't book a ticket in advance for a S2 line journey. For other lines, buy a ticket at ticket offices (S5 at stations and Sub-Central at station main ticket offices) or use the Yitongxing (亿通行) mobile app to tap in and tap out.
  3. Gate closes 5 minutes before departure. As a railway rule, this is really important when you are buying a ticket.
  4. Use a Yikatong card for S2 line especially during tourist seasons. A S2 train only allows around 700 passengers with paper tickets to get aboard. However, another 850 people with cards are allowed to get on board. So when the tickets are sold out, think of your card!

You can also take trains to many other places like Huangcun and Miyvn, but those long-distance trains may not be as convenient as buses.

The Yikatong card

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Example of tapping out with Yikatong when getting off a bus in Beijing

The Yikatong card actually means "Beijing Municipal Administration & Communication Card" in Chinese. You can get one from most subway stations and every Yikatong service center. Mobile Yikatong cards can also be purchased inside the Apple Wallet on iPhones, change the phone's region to China and then change it back again once you have bought the card. When applying for a card, one should pay a deposit of ¥20. You can charge the card at a subway station, a transit hub, or a service center.

The standard Yikatong card can be used for:

  • All buses operated by Beijing Public Transport, Bafangda buses or Yvntong bus lines, and receive a 50% discount
  • All subway lines, including Xijiao tram line
  • Suburban railway line S2
  • Most public bike systems
  • Convience shops operated by Hualian Group (Not every shop available)
  • Payphones (Mostly in the center of the city)

Another kind of the cards is called the T-Union Yikatong. Almost look like the standard ones, but they have a China T-Union symbol on it. They can only be applied in the service centers, but they are useful if you are going to some other cities in the China T-Union plan. Those cards can be used for:

  • Major bus lines in Beijing (which buses have a China T-Union symbol)
  • The whole subway system
  • Bus systems in many other cities in China, but may not available for discounts. (For example, Travelling by bus in Dalian using a card costs ¥0.9 per ride, but using the T-Union cards from other cities costs ¥1)

The third mainly used Yikatong card is called the suburban railway Yikatong. The only feature that differs from other ones is that it can be used on Suburban Railway Sub-Central line and line S5.

Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles
 
The night view of Tiananmen

Landmarks

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The centre of the city and most important landmark is Tiananmen Square near the centre of the city, administratively in Dongcheng District. This is the world's largest public square and a must see for all visitors from abroad and from elsewhere in China. The square is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate and the Forbidden City. It is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People's Martyrs and was also the site of the infamous massacre of student activists by the Peoples Liberation Army in 1989.

The National Stadium or Bird's Nest in Chaoyang District is a new major landmark and the symbol of the 2008 Olympic Games. Two contemporary buildings in Chaoyang District are remarkable landmarks: the CCTV Building (sometimes called The Underpants or Bird Legs by locals) and the World Trade Center Tower III. Both are outstanding examples of contemporary architecture.

 
Inside the Forbidden City

There are also a number of remarkable remains from the medieval city including the Ming Dynasty City Wall Site Park (the only remains of the city wall) in Chongwen, the Drum and Bell Towers in Gulou, and Qianmen in Chongwen.

Palaces, temples and parks

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The Forbidden City (View from Coal Hill)

The city's many green oases are a wonderful break from walking along the never ending boulevards and narrow hutongs. Locals similarly flock to Beijing's palaces, temples and parks whenever they have time. The green areas are not only used for relaxing but also for sports, dancing, singing and general recreation.

 
Temple of Heaven

The most important palace, bar none, is the Forbidden city (故宫博物院) at the centre of the city, administratively in Dongcheng District. The Forbidden City was home to the Imperial Court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Unlike many other historical sights, the Forbidden City was relatively untouched during the cultural revolution due to the timely intervention of then-premier Zhou Enlai, who sent a battalion of his troops to guard the palace from the over-zealous Red Guards. The Temple of Heaven (天坛) in Chongwen District is the symbol of Beijing and is surrounded by a lively park typically packed with hordes of local people drinking tea, practicing calligraphy or tai-chi or just watching the world go by.

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) (雍和宫) in Dongcheng District is one of the most important and beautiful temples in the country. Entrance fees (2018): ¥25. Just opposite is the Confucius Temple (孔廟); entrance fees (2014): ¥25; open until 18:00 (17:00 in winter), last admittance 30 minutes earlier.

 
The Summer palace

Other parks are scattered around Beijing. Some of the best are Zhongshan Park (中山公园) and Beihai Park (北海公园) in Xicheng District, and Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园) and Ritan Park (日坛公园) in Chaoyang District. The Beijing Zoo (北京动物园) in Xicheng District is famous for its traditional landscaping and giant pandas, however like many Chinese zoos, the conditions for the animals have been questioned.

Haidian District is home to the Summer palace (颐和园), the ruins of the Old Summer Palace (圆明园), Fragrant Hills (香山), and the Beijing Botanical Garden (北京植物园). All are quite close together and worth a visit.

  • Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) Nanluoguxiang a total length of 786 meters and 8 meters wide. The Lane is a north–south channel during Yuan Dynasty, as the Beijing Hutong protected areas. That "the capital city of Square Lane alley set of five," said Luo Guo Lane.
  • 1 JuYong Guan. Juyongguan Pass, also known as Juyongguan in Chinese, is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing. It is a renowned pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.    
  • Olympic Water Park (奥林匹克水上公园). Covering a planned area of 162.59 hectare and a floor area of 32,000 square meters, Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is designated as the venue for rowing, canoeing and marathon swimming competitions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and also rowing events during the Beijing Paralympics.

Museums and galleries

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The museums in Beijing are generally not yet up to the standard seen in cities such as Paris, Rome, New York or even Taipei. However the city contains one of the largest and most well known museums in Asia, the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. China's government is determined to change the backward perception of its museums and has invested heavily in their development. It has also made most of them (not the Forbidden City) free to visit. However, for some museums, tickets must be reserved three days in advance.

 
Lights of the National Museum of China

One of the most well-known museums in Beijing is the National Museum (国家博物馆) in Dongcheng District, which was renovated in 2011. The Military Museum (军事博物馆) in Haidian District has long been a favorite with domestic and foreign tourists. The Capital Museum (首都博物馆) in Xicheng District is a new high-profile museum with historical and art exhibitions. The China Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆) located in the Beijing/Northern Suburbs is surprisingly good and hosts 200+ rare and unique Chinese (mostly Russian) aircraft. Finally, a number of restored former residences of famous Beijingers, especially in Xicheng District, give a good insight into daily life in former times.

The contemporary art scene in Beijing is booming and a large number of artists exhibit and sell their art in galleries around the city. The galleries are concentrated in a number of art districts, including the oldest and easiest accessible, but also increasingly commercial and mainstream, Dashanzi Art District in Chaoyang District (Bus Line 401 - departing from Dongzhimen or San Yuan Qiao). Other newer and perhaps more cutting-edge art districts include Caochangdi in Chaoyang District and Songzhuan Artist's Village in Tongzhou District.

Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles

Walks and rides

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Great Wall of China at Badaling
  • The Great Wall of China (长城 Chángchéng) about a 1-hour train trip or 1½-hour bus ride from the city (be aware of bus scams). See Great Wall for general information on the Great Wall and Northeastern Beijing, Yanqing District, Huairou District and Northern Suburbs for individual section details. The Badaling section is the most famous, but also over-restored and crowded. Mutianyu is recommended over Badaling for the conventional tourist experience. It has been restored to the same degree, but is far less crowded. Jinshanling and Huanghuacheng are more difficult to get to by public transportation but offer a better view of the wall away from the crowds. Simatai is a distant section in the northeast that can be combined with a visit at night to or overstay at Gubei Watertown, a recreated historical village beside the wall. The unrestored Jiankou section is dangerous and widely regarded as the most beautiful. Many of the unrestored or "wild" sections of the wall are suitable for camping or hiking. You may want to bring a jacket against the wind or cold in the chillier season - in the summer you will need lots of water.
  • Hutongs (胡同 Hútòng). Beijing's ancient alleyways, where you can find traditional Beijing architecture. They date back to when Beijing was the capital of the Yuan dynasty (1266-1368). Most buildings in hutongs are made in the traditional courtyard (四合院 sìhéyuàn) style. Many of these courtyard homes were originally occupied by aristocrats, though after the Communist takeover in 1949 the aristocrats were pushed out and replaced with poor families. Hutongs can still be found throughout the area within the 2nd Ring Road, though many are being demolished to make way for new buildings and wider roads. Most popular among tourists are the hutongs near Qianmen and Houhai. The hutongs may at first feel intimidating to travellers used to the new wide streets of Beijing, but the locals are very friendly and will often try to help you if you look lost.
  • Rent a bicycle. Traverse some of the remaining hutongs. There is no better way to see Beijing firsthand than on a bicycle but just be very aware of cars (Chinese driving styles may differ from those you are used to). See above for bike rental information.

Theaters and concert halls

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National Centre for the Performing Arts in Xicheng District was finalised in 2007 and finally gave Beijing a modern theatre complex covering opera, music and theatre. This is worth a visit even if you do not go to a performance.

The Beijing Opera is considered the most famous of all the traditional opera performed around China. This kind of opera is nothing like western opera with costumes, singing style, music and spectator reactions being distinctly Chinese. The plot is usually quite simple, so you might be able to understand some of what happens even if you do not understand the language. Some of the best places to watch Beijing Opera are found in Xuanwu District including Huguang Huguang Theatre and Lao She Teahouse. There are also a number in Dongcheng District including Chang'an Grand Theatre.

Acrobatics shows are also worth a visit if you want to see some traditional Chinese entertainment. Some of the best shows are found in Tianqiao Acrobatics Theatre in Xuanwu District and in Chaoyang Theatre in Chaoyang District.

Drama plays have had a slow start in Beijing and are still not as widespread as you might expect for a city like Beijing, and you will most likely not be able to find many Western plays. However, some good places for contemporary Chinese plays do exist including Capital Theatre in Dongcheng District and Century Theater in Chaoyang District.

Classical music has got a much stronger foothold in Beijing than drama plays. Some of the best places to go are the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Century Theater both mentioned above as well as Beijing Concert Hall in Xicheng District.

Other

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  • Foot massage. Have a highly enjoyable and relaxing foot massage and/or pedicure etc (for a fraction of the price in the West) from any of the respectable and professional offerings in central Beijing (in the vicinity of the Beijing Hotel for example).

Learn

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Chinese (Mandarin) Lessons

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There are many schools in Beijing that provide Mandarin lessons to foreigners:

  • LTL Mandarin School (邻语堂 línyǔtáng). Specialises in teaching Chinese through a number of Chinese programs including small group classes, individual classes and immersion. Students live with Chinese homestay families, do full immersion trips in smaller cities around China and study in small groups or 1-on-1 in Beijing's Central Business District.
  • Hutong School Beijing offers a range of Chinese courses including intensive, HSK preparation courses, business Chinese and Chinese classes for children. Group and private classes are available with experienced native teachers. Tel: [(+86) 10 6403 8670]
  • That's Mandarin was founded in 2005. It offers short-term Chinese courses (2 weeks or more) and long-term courses (to be eligible for student visa). ]

Cooking Classes

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Beijing is a very interesting place for gourmet tours and exploration of the cultures and traditions through food. This is a very delicious way to learn new things! Not only do you get a fantastic taste of Chinese cuisine, but you also are acquire new skills and bringing back home a piece of Chinese culture.

 
Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Founded in 1911
  • Cooking Classes in a hutong (Black Sesame Kitchen), 3 Black Sesame Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, PRC 100009, +86 1369 147 4408. Try to create one of many Chinese dishes — from cold starters to famous noodles and dumplings. A cooking class or a fancy dinner with explanation of major flavors and meaning of different ingredients will be given in English. Reservations are a must! ¥300-350.
  • Hutong cuisine cooking class (Bus stops like dengshidonkou, bus 106/104/684/685 or subway), +86 10 8401 4788. ¥260 + ¥100 for optional market / pers.
  • Cooking Classes, Tea Tastings, Hutong Tours, Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1 Jiu Dao Wan Zhong Xiang Hutong | Beijing | China 北京东城区九道湾中巷1号 (info@thehutong.com or call), +86 15901046127. Located in a traditional courtyard home in downtown Beijing, The Hutong offers many different Chinese culture programs. Visitors can attend market tours, Chinese and international cooking classes, tea tastings and tours, traditional Chinese medicine appointments, private meals and events, or just stop by the roof top terrace to get a view of the authentic hutong culture. "The Hutong". Chefs, guides and teachers speak English, Chinese, Spanish, Dutch and more by request. ¥100-250.
 
Peking University

Universities

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Beijing is the main centre of higher learning in China. Peking and Tsinghua Universities are the most prestigious universities in China, and also ranked among the best in the world. They attract top students from across China and globally as well. Most of the universities are clustered in Haidian District in the northwestern part of the city, and nearly all of the universities in Beijing accept foreign students. Most foreign students are on Chinese language programs which can last from a few weeks to a couple of years. If you have a sufficient HSK level[dead link] then you can enroll in programs to study other subjects.

  • Tsinghua University (清华大学 Qīnghuá Dàxué). China's most prestigious university for technical subjects.
  • Peking University (北京大学 Běijīng Dàxué). China's most prestigious general university, including its top medical school. Colloquially known by its shortened name 北大 (Běidà).

Work

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Guomao

Many international business offices are in the Central Business District (CBD) around Guomao (eastern 3rd Ring Road) or Wanjing, both locations are in Chaoyang District. Many giant technology companies have offices in Haidian. Large banks and insurance companies are based on Financial Street in the Xicheng District.

Like all of China, finding a job teaching English in Beijing is relatively easy for native speakers. However, employers like international schools will generally require an English teaching qualification and a bachelor's degree.

See also: Working in China
Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles
 
Dashilan

Throughout nearly all markets in Beijing, haggling is essential. Especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items, do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% of the vendor's initial asking price. In fact, in the most "touristy" markets final prices can often be as low as 15-20% of the initial asking price, and "removing a zero" isn't a bad entry point in the bargaining process. After spending some time haggling, never hesitate to threaten walking away, as this is often the quickest way to see a vendor lower his or her prices to a reasonable level. Buying in bulk or in groups may also lower the price. How high or low the vendor sets the asking price depends on the customer, the vendor, the product's popularity, and even the time of day. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Caucasians or people of African descent.

There are a number of interesting markets around Beijing where you can find all kind of cheap stuff. Some of the most popular places are Xizhimen in Xicheng District, Panjiayuan in Chaoyang District for cultural gifts and fake antiques, and Hong Qiao Market in Chongwen District. Silk Street Market (秀水街) was once a hectic market for counterfeit goods but after a renovation in 2016 operates like a normal mall bereft of any good deals.

As an alternative to the markets you can go to some of the shopping areas lined with shops. This includes Nanluoguoxiang in Dongcheng District and Qianmen Dajie Pedestrian Street, Dashilan and Liulichang in Xuanwu District.

 
Beijing Wangfujing Department Store

If you are looking for traditional Chinese food shops try Yinhehua Vegetarian in Dongcheng District, Daoxiangcun, Liubiju or The Tea Street in Xuanwu District and Chongwenmen Food Market in Chongwen District.

Visiting hotel shops and department stores is not the most characterful shopping in China, but worth a look. While generally significantly more expensive, they are less likely to sell truly low quality goods. The old style of Chinese retailing is gradually being transformed by shops with a better design sense and souvenir items are getting better each year. Silk clothing, table settings and so on and other spots around town, are worth a look, as are porcelain, specialty tea and other traditional items. Some of the most popular areas for this kind of shopping are Wangfujing and The Malls at Oriental Plaza both in Dongcheng District as well as Xidan in Xicheng District.

Antiques

The carpet business is strong in Beijing and you will find all manner of stores selling silk carpets and other varieties.

Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles
 
Guijie at night

Beijing provides an ideal opportunity to sample food from all over the country. Some of Beijing's best restaurants serve food from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou, Tibet, Yunnan, Xinjiang, and more.

Restaurant areas

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The most famous street for food in Beijing is probably Guijie (簋街/鬼街 Guǐjiē), see Dongcheng District for further detail. The street showcases many excellent cuisines, the centre of a food paradise. Stretching over one kilometre, 90% of the commercial shops in the street house more than 150 eateries.

 
Peking Duck

Peking duck

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Peking duck (北京烤鸭 Bĕijīng kăoyā) is a famous Beijing speciality served at many restaurants, but there are quite a few restaurants dedicated to the art of roasting the perfect duck. Peking duck is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce (甜面酱 tiánmiàn jiàng), and slivers of scallions and cucumbers. You dip the duck in the sauce and roll it up in the pancake with a few slivers of scallions and/or cucumbers. The end result is a mouthwatering combination of the cool crunchiness of the cucumber, the sharpness of the scallions, and the rich flavours of the duck.The two best known restaurants are Dadong or Quanjude.

 
mutton hotpot

Other specialties

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Beijing is also known for its mutton hotpot (涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu), which originally came from the Manchu people and emphasizes mutton over other meats. Like variations of hotpot (general name 火锅 huŏ guō) from elsewhere in China and Japan, hotpot is a cook-it-yourself affair in a steaming pot in the center of the table. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, mutton hotpot features a savory, non-spicy broth. If that's not exciting enough for you, you can also request a spicy broth (one that is flaming red, filled with peppers, and not for the weak!) To play it safe and satisfy everyone, you can request a yuan-yang (鸳鸯 yuānyáng) pot divided down the middle, with spicy broth on one side and regular broth on the other. Raw ingredients are purchased by the plate, including other types of meat and seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, and tofu, so it's also perfectly possible to have vegetarian hotpot. A dipping sauce, usually sesame, is served as well; you can add chilis, garlic, cilantro, etc., to customize your own sauce. While "raw" sounds dangerous, boiling the meat yourself is the best way to ensure that more risky meats like pork are fully cooked and free of germs. In the city center, hotpot can run as much as ¥40-50 per person, but on the outskirts it can be found for as little as ¥10-25. Low-budget types may reuse the spices or cooking broth from previous guests, although it has been boiling for several hours.

 
Lvdagun

For those who have a sweet tooth or enjoys snacks, Beijing is a city with a lot more choices. Traditional snacks like "Lvdagun" (驴打滚 means "Donkey rolling in the muddle", made from rice and red beans) "Wandouhuang" (豌豆黄 means the yellow peas, made from yellow peas, soft) "Fulingbing" (茯苓饼 means poria cocos pancake or a fuling pancake, usually made from a mixture of the herbal plant and flour and stuffings) and so many other kinds.

Street food

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Some of the cheapest and most delicious meals can be had on the streets. For a tourist street food experience, start at Wangfujing has a "snack street" selling such mundane fare like lamb, chicken, and beef as well as multiple styles of noodle dishes, such as Sichuan style rice noodles, but the brave can also sample silkworm, scorpion, and various organs all skewered on a stick and grilled to order.

 
Savory pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi)

Savory pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi) are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning till night with most carts operating during the morning commute and then opening again at night for the after-club crowds and night-owls. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, a fried dough crisp is added, and the whole thing is drizzled in scallions and a savory sauce. Hot sauce is optional. Diehard fans often go on a quest for the best cart in the city. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr) and other kebabs are grilled on makeshift stands all around Beijing, from the late afternoon to late at night. A winter speciality, candied haw berries (冰糖葫芦 bīngtáng húlu) are dipped in molten sugar which is left to harden in the cold and sold on a stick. You can also find variations with oranges, grapes, strawberries, and bananas, or dipped in crumbled peanuts as well as sugar. This sweet snack can also sometimes be found in the spring and the summer, but the haw berries are often from last season's crop.

Vegetarians

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Beijing is not known for vegetarian fare, though there are vegetarian restaurants scattered across the city catering to devout Buddhists. There are some good restaurants in the trendier parts of town in Dongcheng District and Chaoyang District.

Drink

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Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles

Tea, tea, and more tea! Some shops are in malls and others are stand-alone establishments. Whatever their location, always ask the price before ordering or else brace yourself for the most expensive egg-sized cup of tea in the world. You can experience different styles of tea ceremonies and tea tastings at tea houses especially in the Qianmen area south of Tiananmen Square. These can range widely in quality and price. Some tea houses are really tourist traps whose main goal is to milk you of your money (See warning box). You can get a free tea demonstration at most Tenrenfu tea houses which are located throughout the city and at some malls. A private room or a quiet back table in a tea house with mid-range tea for two should cost ¥100-200. After an afternoon in such shops the remaining tea is yours to take home. Once tea is ordered, the table is yours for as long as you like.

Excellent coffee can be found in independent cafés scattered throughout the city. A prime spot for coffee enthusiasts is Wudaoying Hutong in Dongcheng District, a narrow alley lined with small cafés that are serious about their brews. For those seeking a scenic coffee experience, the hutongs surrounding the Miaoying Temple in Xicheng District offer several cafés with terraces. These spots provide magnificent views of a towering 13th-century pagoda designed by a Nepalese architect, making them ideal for a picturesque coffee break.

 
Maotai

The quintessential Chinese hard liquor is baijiu (白酒 báijiǔ), a distilled grain spirit typically made from sorghum. While there are many affordable brands, Maotai (茅台 Máotái) stands out as the national liquor and is the most revered, with prices starting from ¥1500. Erguotou (二锅头 Èrguōtóu), another local variety, is notably potent (40-60% alcohol) and is often sold in gallon jugs at prices comparable to water—caution is advised to avoid confusion. Another high-end option is Wuliangye (五粮液), priced around ¥1000, which may appeal to those new to baijiu due to its milder flavor.

Popular Chinese beers in Beijing include Tsingtao (青岛 Qīngdǎo) and Yanjing (燕京 Yànjīng), the latter being Beijing's local brew with a dominant presence. For craft beer enthusiasts, Great Leap Brewing (大跃) is a notable microbrewery with a hard to find location in the hutongs around Gulou.

Places to drink

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Most of Beijing's bars are located in one of the bar clusters around the city. In the beginning there was only one was Sanlitun, but many areas have emerged.

  • Sanlitun in Chaoyang District historically and presently the centre of nightlife in Beijing.
  • Workers Stadium in Chaoyang District and adjacent to Sanlitun; clubs line the east side of the stadium complex.
  • Nanluoguxiang and surrounding hutongs in Dongcheng District located in the middle of the hutongs in the Gulou neighborhood, east of the Drum and Bell Towers; finding hard to locate bars in a maze of hutong alleys is one of the unique pleasures of nightlife in Beijing.
  • Houhai in Xicheng District is a bar area located on Houhai Lake, west of the Bell and Drum Towers; once thriving but popularity has faded since the 2000s.
  • West Gate of Chaoyang Park in Chaoyang District is a small bar area.
  • Ladies' Street in Chaoyang District is a small bar area near the third embassy area.
  • Wudaokou in Haidian District is the hangout spot for foreign and local university students; the bar street is anchored by a 7-11 where drinkers mill about outside.
  • Dashanzi in Chaoyang District, Beijing's trendy art zone; this old warehouse and factory district has been taken over by art galleries, art shops and bars.

Sleep

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Individual listings can be found in Beijing's district articles

There are a large number of three and four star mid-range hotels throughout the city and in all districts. The listed rates for these kind of hotels are often in the range of ¥500-1,400. The most expensive hotels are in Dongcheng District and on the eastern 3rd Ring Road in Chaoyang District. However by Western standards these hotels are still relatively cheap. In the outlying areas, especially out by the Great Wall, there are some country club type resorts as well as some unique, one-of-a-kind, hotels.

Backpackers can find budget hostels south of Qianmen in Beijing/Chongwen. AirBnb and Couchsurfing are very active in Beijing. The lowest end Chinese accommodations - Zhaodaisuo (招待所) - are generally inaccessible to the foreign community. However, for those determined to get a bargain, you might be able to get a room if you speak Chinese. Many of the hostels are located in Dongcheng District and Xuanwu District.

For longer term accommodation, be prepared to splurge as Beijing's real estate prices are among the highest in the world; even higher than those in many major Western cities.

Stay safe

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Emergencies

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Free emergency telephone numbers:

  • Police: 110.
  • Fire alarm: 119.
  • Medical care: 120.

Remember these three telephone numbers; they are valid in almost every part of China.

Scams and crime

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Beijing, despite its size, remains a very safe city with rare occurrences of violent crime. It is generally safe for women to walk alone at night, and there is a significant police presence in the city center.

Tourists need to be cautious of scams and petty crime, particularly in tourist-heavy areas such as Tiananmen Square and on routes leading to the Great Wall. While these scams are mostly non-violent, they can still be distressing and costly. Pickpocketing occurs in crowded locations, so always keep an eye on your belongings and ensure they are secure.

Scams in Beijing are not especially innovative or harsh compared to global standards but require vigilance. One frequent issue involves taxis, where drivers may attempt to hand back counterfeit bills as change. When receiving large bills like ¥50 or ¥100, check the paper quality, watermark, and the imprint's clarity to ensure they're genuine. If a bill seems suspect, it's acceptable to refuse it and ask for another. Sometimes, taxi drivers may claim that your genuine bill is fake and discreetly swap it with a counterfeit one. Always keep an eye on your money, especially when handling larger denominations. To minimize your chances of being scammed, use a ride hailing app like DiDi to call a taxi.

While many Beijing locals are genuinely curious about foreigners and may simply wish to chat or take a photo, it's important to remain cautious and stick to your original plans. If you are approached with an invitation to go somewhere unexpected, it's wise to politely decline and continue with your plans. Be wary of locals—often posing as students or artists—who invite tourists to exhibitions or tea tastings, which can lead to pressure to make expensive purchases.

Traffic

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Traffic can be crazy in Beijing, and reckless driving is fairly normal. People honk all the time. Honking is not usually considered rude. It is simply another way to indicate that the driver is there. Be prepared for drivers to violate traffic laws even to the extent of going in reverse on highways to back up to a missed exit or driving on a sidewalk. Also expect occasional road debris (a piece of wood or torn out tire) to be laying in the roadway. Pedestrians should be very careful crossing the street: People will generally stop for you, but they will honk. Keep an eye on the locals and cross with them — there is strength in numbers. Cars don't need to stop at a red light when they are turning right. Although the traffic law gives the first priority to pedestrians, not every driver obeys the rule.

Stay healthy

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See the Chinese Stay Healthy article for general health and food advice.
See Chinese Smog article for air pollution issues.

Tap water in Beijing is generally not safe for drinking. Locals always boil the tap water before they drink it, and you should too. Hygiene for cooked food is generally not an issue. Chinese people place a lot of emphasis on the freshness of their food, so any food you eat is usually cooked to order. However, be wary if you plan to eat cold or raw dishes.

 
Heavy air pollution has resulted in widespread smog. These photographs, taken in August 2005, show the variations in Beijing's air quality.

Face Masks for Pollution

A white surgical face mask may help with the occasional dust storms, but a simple fabric or paper mask will not protect you against smaller airborne particles. Most smog or haze outbreaks are made up of fine particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller (PM2.5). N95 or KN95 masks provide good protection against smog as they are at least 95% efficient against fine particles that are about 0.1 – 0.3 microns.

Air pollution and smog has traditionally been a big problem in Beijing like any other big city in China. Coal burning and industrial emissions in the surrounding region makes for very unhealthy air. The air quality in winter is notoriously the worst but since 2018 management of air quality has vastly improved air quality during the winter, but a haze of hazardous air can strike at any time. The worst months for average air quality in 2019 were from January to March.

It's a good idea to check the air-quality readings online first thing every morning. Hazardous air may continue for several days before precipitation or a gust of wind clears the air. Readings of air quality updated by the hour for Beijing and other Chinese cities can be found at aqicn.org. If it is "unhealthy" or "hazardous", consider cutting back on your activities if they are likely to involve a lot of walking outside, in favor of visits to museums or shops.

There are many hospitals in Beijing, but the public hospitals that most locals visit are generally not up to the standard that foreigners from Western countries are used to. In addition, it is unlikely that any of the doctors or nurses would be able to communicate in English. Ambulance services are unreliable, and in the event of an emergency, taking a taxi is usually much quicker. There are several private hospitals in Beijing that are set up specifically to cater to expatriates, the most well known and expensive one being Beijing United Family Healthcare. The doctors and nurses at these hospitals are able to speak English, and the standard of care is usually on par with the West and far superior to what the local Chinese have to put up with. However, they are generally very expensive if you are not covered by insurance. Go to US Embassy's medical facilities listing[dead link] for a complete list.

Cope

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You can get a free map from a Beijing tourist information office (near most tourist places).

Post office

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Many available: One south of Qianmen subway station, hours 08:30-18:00.

Internet access

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The Great Firewall of China blocks popular web services including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, and many others including Wikipedia.

To bypass internet restrictions and access popular websites, travelers often use VPN services. As of 2023, Astrill VPN is considered the most reliable choice, although it may be somewhat expensive. It's important to note that during significant events, VPN services may experience disruptions. The most crucial advice for travelers is to install the VPN before arriving in China; attempting to do so after landing can be problematic as the service might already be blocked.

Laundry

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Laundry is very expensive to be done in Beijing, both at the hotels and at laundry service shops since they both charge by piece.

Embassies

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Go next

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  • Tianjin — Tianjin is a global city in its own right, contrasting with Beijing due to its colonial European influence including European architecture and other interesting historical sites, takes 37 minutes by high speed rail
  • Chengde — Visit the Summer Mountain Resort 256 km (159 mi) northeast of Beijing, just an hour away by high speed rail
  • Shanghai — Largest city in China, and either a 2-hour flight or high speed trains taking as little as 4.5 hours
  • Mongolia — You can overland cross the border through the Inner Mongolia port of Erlian (二连), which can be reached by bus or air from Beijing
Routes through Beijing (rail)
END  N   S  ShijiazhuangZhengzhou
END  W   E  TianjinHarbin
END  W   E  TianjinShanghai
END  N   S  HezeShenzhen Kowloon
MoscowIrkutsk Ulaanbaatar Hohhot  N   S  END


Routes through Beijing (road)
END  W   E  TianjinHarbin
END  N   S  TianjinShanghai
END  N   S  TianjinJinan
END  N   S  ShijiazhuangShenzhen
END  N   S  ShijiazhuangChengdu


This city travel guide to Beijing is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.