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Beijing Travel Tips
Beijing Travel Tips, Beijing tourist attractions and tourist traps written by real travelers and Beijing eTours. 

1. How to get from the Beijing Capital International Airport to the town Beijing?
When you arrive at the Beijing Capital Airport, you may take a rest and have some coffee at Starbucks or KFC that have new outlets outside the international arrivals. 

Most of the international incoming flights land on the terminal 3 and 2 while terminal one is for a few domestic flights. For taking taxi, please pass through the "black cab drivers" who are following at your heels. These black taxi whose rates are far above the going fare. So just head straight for the taxi line outside the arrival doors. Make sure they use the meter, and if you notice irregularities, just point it out. 

Even local residents are sometimes the victims of meters that ominously read RMB100 (until, with the push of a button, the original fare is restored). You will have to pay an extra RMB10 (roughly US$1.2) for the Airport Expressway toll. Once it is learned that a foreign tourist is overcharged RMB 400 from the airport to the downtown area! Normally the ride costs around RMB 120.  Most taxi driver speaks little English, maybe , just a few words. So please show your hotel in Chinese.

2. Beijing City Layout
Beijing is very big and quite extending. The present city still find its the basic outline of the Imperial City 500 years ago in Yuan Dynasty with a clear north-south axis and a lot of narrow lanes. The round line of the subway and the second-ring road almost liken the none-existant old city wall. 

The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are located in the middle of the city. The place cycling the Forbidden City once housed the court officials and noble families. Many of these old residential housees can still be found in the hutongs or alleys. These hutongs now become the popular sites for a visit to the city. It's a shame in some other parts of the city, the old alleys are being fast destroyed for new buildings. 

Not far from the south of the Forbidden City is Wangfujing Street, a busy walking commercial street and the layout of some famous hotels. Wangfujing is just a walking distance to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. 

To the Northeast of the Forbidden City is Chaoyang District, which holds a lot of the city's expat community and also the layout of lots of hotels which are for foreign clients. Far to the North is the Badaling Great Wall and Juyongguan Great Wall. The Beijing Capital International Airport is located to the northeast of the city with about 40 minutes by drive. 
Northwest to the Forbidden City is Weigongcun which hold lots of higher learning institutes, like Beijing university, Tsinghua University and more. The Summer Palace is also situated to the northeast of the city center. 

3. Beijing business hotels, tourist hotels and hostels
There was certainly lots of hotels in Beijing. The local govenment classifies the hotels into five classes: 5 star, 4 star, 3 star, 2 star, 1 star. Each stared hotel has a plaque with the star on it. While each Beijing hotel listed here will provide rooms, dining, health and fitness facilitiesand necessary business service. Beijing business hotels, of course, are on par with the best anywhere in the world. 

Each deluxe hotels has a 15 percent service charge. Beijing hostels are the best way to go for budget lodging in Beijing. Ask to see a hostel room before you pay and choose a dorm (several bunks in one room) for the cheapest Beijing lodging. Expect to pay US$ 8 - 15 for a Beijing hostel bunk. 

3. How many sections of the Great Wall around Beijing?
There are many sections of the Great Wall and the section closest to Beijing (and thus the most crowded and touristy) is Juyongguan and Badaling. The next further section is Mutianyu. Beyond that (about 2 hours away from Beijing) lies Simatai and Jinshanling. 

The further sections are more rugged and you get to see more the real Great Wall but their distance tends to discourage folks from visiting them. To visit the Great Wall, you have three main choices: taxi, Public bus or organized tours. 

4. Will we have language barrier in Beijing China?
Many of the large and popular restaurants tend to have an English menu these days so it shouldn't be difficult. As for hotels, they will give you a card with the address of the hotel. NEVER lose this card, and just give it to your taxi driver when your done sightseeing, and he'll take you back. The major signboards on the streets are both in Chinese and English. 

5. Would appreciate any indication of tipping practices in Beijing?
Usually tipping is generally not practiced in China, but for some hotels you book, or organized tours you take, you should pay a little. 

6. Is it advisable to purchase Travel Insurance for a trip to China?
No matter you travel independently or buy an organized tour, you should purchase Travel Insurance for a trip to China on your own at your home country. You never know when you are out of luck and what situation you might encounter. 

When you visit a public hosptial in China, very often, the first thing they ask, other than your name, is money. In addition, the local tour operators in China usually don't buy a travel insurance for you, they only buy the travel agency insurance for themselves.

7. We are going to book an overnight sleeper train to Xi'an, when should we buy the ticket?
You have three ways for train ticket booking. First, you can get them in the hotel directly. Many hotel tour desks have ticket booking service from the front desk, but you need pay about RMB 20 -30 yuan for handling charge. 

The second way is that you can buy the tickets directly from the train station. For this it is quite hard for you, lining up and having some language barrier. Last way is for you to turn to a local travel agency or ticket booking agency. When you use this method, you should book early. 

Many local travel agencies only offer package tours including ticket booking and tours. And don't offer ticket booking only service. By the way, you are advised not to take trains during Chinese big holidays like Spring Festival, May Day, and National Day. There will be a huge nunber of travelling people. It is very much difficult to buy the train tickets.

8. I am a single traveller in Beijing for one week, any safety in Beijing?
If friendly young Chinese people approach you on the street for tea or art, just say "no". This is a common problem in Beijing: the old teahouse and art student scams designed to extract money from unsuspecting tourists. Never accept rides from taxis that don't have a working meter. Just get out and find another one. Don't go hiking far alone on remote sections of the Great Wall. 

There are no dangerous areas of downtown Beijing that you need to be concerned with as a foreigner. Petty theft is always a problem in the vicinity of China's train and bus stations.

Please be careful of the following:
-Stay away from local quarreling
-Keep away from drunk locals. 
-Put your belongings close and under your eyes. 
-Question what people will tell you. 
-Keep every taxi reciept or goods'reciept. Never follow any "black taxi driver" who approaches you (especially at airports).
-Always make sure the taxi driver turns on the meter. 
-Never agree to a fixed price before you get in a taxi and start to go.
-Never give money to beggars, who are very often controlled by some kind of organzation
-Never pay for bus tickets till the bus is driving on the road and you are in it. 
All these are just warnings. Each country has its problems. China is comparatively safer than many places in the world. just be confident about these things.
By the way, if you bring your mobile phone to China and you are from Aus, or the UK, or most of Europe, then you have the same cell phone system with China. Once you are in Beijing, buy a chinese sim card for around 50-100RMB. The phones use a pre-paid system and you will find it helpful.

9. Must see places in beijing?
- Forbidden City 
- Tiananmen Square 
- Great Wall (Badaling, Juyonguan, Mutianyu,Jinshanling, or Simatai) 
- Summer Palace 
- Hutong tour 
- Qianhai/Houhai area 
- Temple of Heaven 
- Yonghegong Lamasery 
- Panjiayuan market (early weekend morning)
- Wangfujing street
- Wangfujing night food market 
- Peking duck meal 
- Chinese acrobat performance 
- Chinese opera performance 
More about Top 10 Must See Places in Beijing

10. Is it better for us to travel independantly or go with an organized tour in China?
If you want to be adventurous, you don't need a tour for help, as you know tons of travellers visit indepedently a great number of places in China every year without any knowledge of Chinese. If you have no time for searching for the travel information and don't want to be intrepid for your trip, taking a group tour is a good way! 

11. Is it easy to find a taxi on the tourist sites in Beijing?
It is very easy to find taxis next to touristic attractions in Beijing. The taxi fleet has recently been upgraded, and taxi drivers have to learn some english (though it might still be a bit difficult to communicate with some of them). 

When you take a taxi, don't forget to ask for the receipt (Fapiao in chinese): it could be usefull if you forget something in the cab ( a telephone number is written on the taxi driver's license in the taxi). Make sure they are metered. Last, but not least important is to make sure the taxi's plaque starts with "B", otherwise, it is a black taxi!

12. How to recognize a legal taxi in Beijing? Any advice on illegal tour bus?
1) The taxi plaque number starts with the number "B"
2) The taxi should be equippped with the light on the top and meter measuring.
3) It's better to take a taxi on the road instead of a taxi waiting somewhere. 

The empty taxi must show a red light in the front window. Watch out! Don't come aboard the black "illegal tour bus": In Beijing, there are also some black illegal tour buses sending tourists to the Great Wall. You will have a terrible trip once you get on it. To promote their illegal tours, these sales people always deliver a small card to passing-by travelers wanting to go to Great Wall tour by standing on the some public places like the street, Tian'anmen Square, or the entrance of Forbidden City. 

Very often they use their "unbelievable low price" to attract those "blind" tourists. But once you come aboard their buses for the Great Wall, they have to make you pay additional fees again and again. Sometimes even the Great Wall is not real Badaling section!! We remind you not to take their card if you happen to meet them. Actually it's very easy to recognize an illegal tour bus in Beijing. A legal tour bus plaque starts with "B", if not, you possiblely get on a "black tour bus". 

13. How to recognize a licensed and legal tour guide?
A licensed and legal tour guide should have two things - IC card and formal reception plan from the travel agency for which she or he works.
A formal reception plan is actually a travel plan or tour confirmation between a travel agency and the tourists. 

14. How to recognize a freelance tour guide?
A freelance tour guide is a tour guide who doesn't only work for her or his registered travel agency. They jump from one travel agency to another. They are not tied to only one travel agency, something like a guerrilla! A freelance tour guide is a licensed and legal tour guide. So they also have two things: tour guide IC card and travel plan from a travel agency.

15. How to recognize a self-employed tour guide ( illegal tour guides )?
If a licensed tour guide directly organize a tour and also conduct the tour, she or he is a self-employed tour guide. A self-employed guide is also a licensed and registered tour guide. But they don't work for their registered tour operators or tour guide management companies. They work for themselves covertly and contact the potential clients by using some low-cost sales channels like web forums, phone calls, direct encounter at some scenic areas. 

Some self-employed tour guides even make a simple travel website and contact the internet travellers directly! We kindly suggest you avoid using a self-employed tour guide. It is not safe to put yourself in the hand of a single self-employed tour and travel guide. Booking a tour through a self-employed tour guide is illegal! 

16. How to recognize an illegal tour guide?
It is quite easy to tell an illegal tour guide. An illegal tour guide has neither IC card nor travel plan from a travel agency. They, just like self-employed tour guides, touch the tourists directly by using some low-cost sales channels like web forums, phone calls, direct encounter at some scenic areas. Some trendy illegal tour guides also make a simple travel website and contact the internet travellers directly! You are kindly advised not to use their services even though their service charges are much lower maybe. To put yourself in the hand of an illegal tour guide is dangerours!

17. Money Exchange in Beijing
How and where to exchange your money when you travel to Beijing China ? 
Unlike many foreign countries, there are no money exchange houses on the streets. Usually you may do money exchange at the banks or ATM machine at the Beijing Capital Airport when you arrive, or at your hotel in Beijing. They make the same deal either you do it at the airport banks or at ATM machine, or at your hotel in Beijing. 

When you do the money exchange, don't forget to take your passport. Please keep your receipt. It is valid for three months! you can use the receipt to exchange your RMB ( Chinese money ) back to your currency when you leave China. When you run out of money, you can also exchange your money at the counter of your hotel in Beijing. Each hotel has the capacity to do the money exchange for you since Bank of China or other banks in China will have their counters at the foreign-related hotels. 

18. Beijing: Toilets
Of course, this is a sensitive subject. There are two kinds of restrooms: sitting and squatting, but most are the latter. Please keep in mind that there is seldom toilet paper in the most toilets, so bring your paper always on hand, and even take some anti-bacterial wipes. Hotels here have very good toilets. 

Some in the tourist sites are all right. But you will find some toilets are terrible! Sometimes the smell is beyond belief. Usually our tour guide advise you to use toilet before going to some remote area like great wall. But things are changing to the better now at least in Beijing.

19. Beijing Emergencies:
When you are traveling in Beijing or other parts of China and find yourself in emergency, the urgent telephone number is 110 for police, 119 for fire and 120 for ambulance. But while you are in Hong Kong or Macau, please use the number of 999 for emergency services. 

Foreign Tourists are every often the victims or the targets for thieves, so visitors should keep passports and money from pickpockets. It is also a good idea to keep from wearing impressive jewelry or disclose money in public. 

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