What to Do on a Layover in Beijing
Beijing, the capital of China, is an essential transportation hub both for cross-bordering air and rail service in Asia for the long run. Now Beijing has adopted the 144-hour visa free policy to nationals of 55 countries, such as USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil, etc.
Advantaged by this visa free transit, how could airport layover travelers skip a real oriental tour to Beijing, one of the most vibrant and historical cities in the world? 144 hours is fairly enough to discover the most distinguished sites of Beijing, while how many you could see depends on your actual stay. Hereunder are some quick facts helping you to make the most of your layover time to touch upon one of the oldest and most glorious civilizations in the world.
- Badaling Great Wall: 2 - 3 Hours
- Mutianyu Great Wall: 2 Hours
- Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City: 2 - 3 Hours
- Temple of Heaven: 1 - 1.5 Hours
- Summer Palace: 3 Hours
- Shichahai Hutong Areas: 1 Hour
- Olympic Sites: 10 Minutes
It is the best-preserved and most popular section of the Great Wall for both insiders and outsiders. Badaling is blessed with convenient transportation and touring facilities, while the only flaw is the all-year-round crowds.
Mutianyu is also a well-remained and representative section with more iconic watchtowers for photography. Relatively, there are less throngs in weekdays when one could obtain a better Great Wall experience.
Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City are usually visited together on account of their joint locations. A wander through of them would let visitors to absorb the most prestigious historic heritages of Chinese feudal dynasties.
No regular tour would miss Temple of Heaven as it is the best sample of traditional Chinese ceremonial architecture. The lively local's morning exercise in the park would be also an eye-opener to peek at the lifestyle of old Beijingers.
Visitors in Beijing are highly recommended to venture into the Summer Palace to soak up the centuries-old imperial gardens with a cluster of stunners such as Kunming Lake, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Marble Boat and Long Corridor.
Shichahai is the core area for hutong explorations, where quaint courtyards and time-honored shops are arrayed neatly. Taking a vintage rickshaw is the most popular way to tour the back alleys hidden in Shichahai.
There is no need to enter the stadium of 2008 Olympic, but the sites like Water Cube and Bird's Nest do promise great photo chances to capture their characteristic appearance.
8 Hours: If you have an 8+ hour layover in Beijing, never should you stick to the airport till departure. Why not plan a quick tour to see a top wonder of China, like the Great Wall. 8 hours are adequate for both the sightseeing and the round-way transfer between the wall and the airports. You are strongly recommended to go with an escorted tour so that you could back to the next fight in time.
1 Day (24 Hours): A layover more than 24 hours would be an amazing opportunity for you to check out two most awe-inspiring UNESCO sites of Beijing, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Even you could consider a fabulous Kung Fu show or a street food experience at night.
2 Days (48 Hours): 2 days are technically enough to see the most highlights of the capital, such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and the Bird's Nest & Water Cube. The best way to work out such tight schedule is to go with an organized tour.
3 Days (72 Hours): A layover of 72 hours are more than enough for a regular Beijing Tour. You could take your pace to discover one or two more highlights off the bucket list mentioned above.
4 Days (96 Hours): 4 days are sufficient for you to make a clean sweep of what Beijing has to offer. Except for the top attractions listed above, you get a chance to explore the 798 art zone and the hutong areas at a leisurely pace. Cultural activities like painting opera masks and learning Chinese calligraphy would make your Beijing tour memorable more than ever.
5 Days (120 Hours): Travelers with a layover of 5 days could have an in-depth discovery of Beijing by digging out more hidden gems like Lama Temple, National Museum, and Confucius Temple. Adventurous explorers could launch a trekking from Jingshanling to Simatai Great Wall, while panda lovers could meet the national treasure in Beijing Zoo.
6 Days (144 Hours): If you get 6 days at most, consider a free day in your Beijing panoramic tour package, or make an extensional trip to Chengde Mountain Resort in Hebei by a highspeed train. In winter, throw yourself into one of the first-class ski resorts in outskirts of Beijing to have some fun.
1. The eligible stay of 144 hours is calculated from 12am of the next day upon your arrival. That is to say, sometimes you have more than 144 hours.
2. If you have several days for a Beijing tour, plan your Great Wall adventure at weekdays to avoid the crowds.
3. Be clear if you need to retrieve your luggage during the transit.
4. Visitors who want to go outside the airport need to get a transit visa first after arrival, with their passports and boarding passes with confirmed seats for the next flight.
5. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, make sure that you could be back to the airport 2 hours prior to the departure of your flight.
6. If you are pressed for time, I suggest you opt for an escorted service to save the time wasted on public transportation. Beamless private vehicle would guarantee you to catch your onward plane in time.