Arriving in Beijing Capital Airport is quite a change from Singapore. Although we had not heard that the air quality was bad, nothing quite prepares you for the reality of it.
Once we arrived a the airport we had to make our way out to Downtown Backpackers in Nanluoguxiang. First we took the airport express train and then a bus. When you decide to hop off the bus, make sure you hop off at the correct stop! We didn’t do this…we hopped off a stop too early. The locals are not helpful at all (especially the ladies). After trying to ask the locals and comparing the Chinese symbols on signs to the symbols on our paper, we eventually found the road we needed to be on and arrived at out hostel! Woohoo.
Tips on Beijing arrival:
– If you arrive between 6:20am and 11:30am, the airport express takes you right to Dongzhimen Station, otherwise the taxi ride into the city is around 100-150 yuan.
– The airport express costs 25CNY per person. This is a fast ride and once you arrive at the station you can catch a taxi or bus into the city for 2CNY per person.
– The 107 bus line takes you to Nanluoguxiang which is handy to both the Beijing Downtown Backpackers (where we stayed).
As we had arrived in Beijing in the early morning we decided to knock off a few ‘must see’ attractions to keep us awake and adjust to the new time zone. We walked over to Jinshan Park, which is a large park immediately north of the Forbidden City and about a 10 minute walk from the Hostel. The entrance fee was only 2CNY. The feature is a temple atop the large hill overlooking the forbidden city. The path up to the temple is relatively steep and there are several photo ops along the way. There were also vendors at the top selling reasonably priced drinks and souvenirs. The view from the temple is amazing and gives you a chance to appreciate the vastness of the Forbidden City. It also offers a 360 degree view of downtown Beijing.
Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
After we visited Jinshan Park, we made our way down to the Forbidden City. The actual attraction is one way, from Tiananmen Square, so we were unable to enter as we were at the exit. Rickshaw drivers were everywhere so you can either take one of these to the entrance or catch a taxi. We decided to catch a taxi and made the mistake of asking how much it was going to cost. The driver said “50CNY” although this isn’t much when we convert it to New Zealand dollars…we got ripped off! it should’ve only been around 15CNY. Let the meter run and don’t ask how much it’s going to cost is something we learned after reading signs in the taxi. We arrived at Tiananmen Square and had to get in queue for security checks. The locals really like to stare at you here and make you wonder if you’re doing something wrong… Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City is large so be prepared to do a lot of walking. The entry fee for Tiananmen Square is free but to the Forbidden City costs 40CNY per person. We were quite tired from the plane ride and all the walking we had to do so we did not stay very long.