Cheap Flights To Beijing, China
- Area Municipality : 16,411 km² (6,336 sq. mi)
- Area Codes : + 86 10
- Currency : Yuan Renminbi (RMB/CNY)
- Population Municipality : 21,700,000 (2015)
- Official Language : Mandarin. Beijing dialect, Pekingese in urban Beijing.
- Time Zones : China Standard (UTC+8)
- Airport : Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world and is situated 32km northeast of central Beijing. It provides free Beijing Airport Shuttle buses for transfers between terminals 1, 2 and 3. To get from PEK to the city centre, terminals 2 and 3 have stations for the Beijing Express Airport Train that operates from dawn until late every 10 minutes and takes around 15/20 minutes or take an airport bus to Beijing Railway Station or to other areas on one of 11 routes. Taxis are located on the first floors of terminals 1 and 2 and any road toll charges are for the passenger’s pocket, on top of their fare. Legal taxis have Beijing B marked on their number plates.
Direct flights are available from Johannesburg to Beijing. South African travellers can fly to PEK, departing from Cape Town or Johannesburg with the following airlines:
- South African, Air China (via Johannesburg) 17h 25m+
- Emirates (via Dubai) 19h 20m+
- Qatar Airways (via Doha) 19h 50m+
- British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair (via Johannesburg, Hong Kong) 20h 15m+
- Ethiopian (via Addis Ababa) 21h 5m+
- Singapore Airlines (via Johannesburg, Singapore) 22h 10m+
PEK has an abundance of airlines touching down, some that include:
- Air Seychelles
- British Airways
- Israel Airlines
- Lucky Air Company
- Thai Airways
Reasons to Visit Beijing, China
- Located in northern China and formerly known as Peking, Beijing is capital of the Peoples Republic of China and the third most populous capital city in the world. It’s an exciting, fast-paced city with soaring modern skyscrapers, an abundance of museums, ancient palaces, copious temples, olden pagodas, the Great Wall of Chine, lush parks, gardens and numerous wildlife reserves.
- Beijing’s history, spanning three millennia, has borne many wars between numerous dynasties and take-overs including that of the Mongolian army in 1213 but today it’s the country’s cultural, educational and political heart and home to many of Chinas biggest state-owned companies. The city’s subway system is the second longest in the world (after Shanghai) and as of 2016, the busiest globally.
- Take a day to enjoy the wonders of Wangfujing Street, the oldest and busiest shopping street in Beijing or splash your cash at the Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping arcade. Relax your legs and stop for tea at one of many delightful tea houses, enjoy an evening of traditional Chinese theatre and indulge in the city’s most well-known dish, Peking Roast Duck or the old-style Beijing snack Fuling Jiabing, a pancake filled with fu ling, a fungus used for medicinal purposes.
- There’s a great range of backpacker/hostels to choose from and plenty of hotels, some refined, some luxury and some very old like the Beijing Double Happiness Hotel, a 250 year old villa with a restaurant. There are countless bars, a range of microbreweries and innumerable nightclubs for night owls.
Best time to visit Beijing, China
The best time is from September to November during autumn when the weathers comfortable and natures pleasingly beautiful.
Summers are sweltering with occasional downpours and necessary items being sunglasses, an umbrella and sun-screen. Also, peak season, accommodation prices are high with tourists everywhere. Spring from March to May is ideal for seeing the flowers bloom, but its windy with occasional sandstorms. Winter from December to February is dry, cold and freezing, but a great time for skiing.
Places to Visit in Beijing, China
- The splendid and largest palace in the world, The Forbidden City opened in 1420 with around 9,000 rooms and was the Chinese imperial palace for 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties, today it houses the Palace Museum. Stroll or hire a boat at Shichahai, a scenic historic area comprising three lakes that once gave the emperors much pleasure.
- The Summer Palace northwest of Beijing overlooks lakes and gardens from where its nestled in a small lush hill. It opened in 1750 and built in Chinese styled architecture, is 60 meters high. Its landscaped Chinese gardens are deemed masterpieces in design.
- A sad sight are the ruins of the 12th century Old Summer Palace (originally the Imperial Gardens) that was five times the size of The Forbidden City and once a complex of the most beautiful palaces and exquisite gardens, until it was destroyed and looted in 1860 by Anglo French forces.
- Prince Gong Mansion is one of the most preserved royal residences in existence today and the only one built during the Qing dynasty thats open to the public, a must-see for historians.
- Fragrant Hills Park comprising 188 hectares is a beautiful well-known forest park and imperial garden that’s perfect for walking and family fun. It’s a sight to behold during autumn with the spectacular colourful leaves.
- Noted as a masterpiece in architectural design, the Temple of Heaven built in 1420 is a complex of religious structures that was used by Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for their yearly prayer ceremonies for good harvests.
- Absorb the opulence of burial sites for the thirteen Ming emperors, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The thirteen tombs are scattered in an area of 40km², northwest of Beijing in Changping District with pathways and statues.
- The National Museum of China, on the east side of Tianan Men Square, is the largest comprehensive history museum in China. Capital Museum is home to superb galleries, an amazing collection of ancient Buddhist statues and many other amazing relics and items for visitors to delight in. Other museums include the National Art Museum of Beijing, Beijing Museum of Natural History, the Chinese Aviation Museum, Beijing World Art Museum, Geological Museum of China, the Paleozoological Museum of China, Museum of the War of Chinese Peoples Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the Today Art Museum and the China Ethnic Museum and many others.
- For late night revellers, the popular 5-Star rated Russian club Chocolate provides live music, dancers and very happy customers all night long.
- Located at 67 Xiaojingchang Hutong, Dali Courtyard affords excellent Chinese cuisine in a quiet, relaxed and casual atmosphere. The Country Kitchen @ Rosewood Beijing I situated in the Chaoyang District has an inviting atmosphere with wood-fired ovens that have you drooling over imperial crisp pork belly and traditional Peking duck. A popular eatery for BBQ chicken and baby back ribs is Home Plate BBQ and for the best Italian food, nothing beats Mercante with just 8 tables, its located in the Dongcheng District. Delicious dirt-cheap food sold by vendors can be enjoyed on the street.
Getting Around Beijing, China
To beat rush hour in a taxi or hired vehicle, be on the road before 07h30 otherwise just wait until after 10h00. Arteries become congested from 15h00 until around 19h30 and its best to take the Metro to the nearest point of your destination and then get a taxi.
Get a Beijing Metro map. Stations are numbered and have signage on platforms stating which stations are next in each direction and there are English announcements on the trains, making the Metro relatively easy to negotiate. Ticket booths are located underground and sell single or tickets with unlimited transfers. All cards can be bought and returned at any station. Some stations have provision for wheelchairs, but not all.
With around 3 million people taking one of 70,000 taxis daily, you’ll always find a taxi. Operated by numerous companies, taxis are all metered but double check the driver has not pushed the button on the meter for one-way trips that increases the rate after 15km by at least 50%. Be aware of taxies parked at the airport, outside the station, close to tourist sites or any that may approach you, rather get one parked at a rank. Drivers are generally honest and friendly but check that the drivers supervision card with his photograph and telephone number is displayed. Dont tip and if travelling alone sit in the front. Always get a receipt (Fapiao) that assists in having anything you’ve left in the taxi returned to you.
Driving in Beijing is hectic and best done in the biggest vehicle, giving the driver more authority but it’s not advisable for visitors, rather take a taxi.
It’s not as safe as it used to be, but riding a bicycle gets you to places faster than sitting in congested traffic provided, you’re not timid. Many prominent hotels rent out bikes or a new one can be bought for next to nothing which is better if you’re planning on using it for a few days. Check the brakes and tyres before taking a hired bike and always park it in a marked enclosure for bicycles using the lock.