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Most Practical & Useful Travel Tips for the First Time to Beijing

First time to Beijing? Need the best advices for your tour? Our 17 most practical and useful travel tips will guide you a smooth and easy Beijing tour.

1. Taxis

Taxi in Beijing

Taxis in Beijing are plentiful and cheap. The flag down price is 10 yuan. Just note that legalized taxis have a prefix “B” followed by a series of numerals. The color is usually a yellow band along the length of the car, flanked by another color. The exception is a fully black taxi, but then, the prefix and numeral still apply.

If you are at the airport, go to Basement 2 for your taxis to your hotel. It’ll be wise to have a letterhead of the hotel that is your destination to save your time. Also, the taxi driver is usually responsible enough to call the hotel, if they are lost.

Do have loose change with you when you take a taxi, as they may not have change with them. That’s not meaning they are out to cheat you. You also could go the nearest shop and purchase the cheapest item, like a bottle of mineral water for 1.5 yuan.

Taxis are hard to find at your destination, like a tourist spot. In this scenario, move to the next available road junction and you may have better luck. If subways are available, use them. If all fails, then call your hotel and ask them to pick you up.

2. Loose Change

Chinese RMB

I mean anything that is less than 100 yuan. Loose change will save you some inconvenience as mentioned in dealing with taxis. Also, when you check out, do note that your hotel, don’t accept anything that is less than 10 yuan. Maybe spend them at the airport and drop the rest of them in the donation box.

3. Baggage Scanners

Baggain Scanner

Baggage scanners are everywhere and can be found at Tiananmen Square, Subway station, Olympic Station, airport, train station, etc. So if you have something offensive, it will be confiscated.

Match stick, lighters and flammable material are not allowed to bring with when you visit the tourist attractions, like Olympic Stadium, Forbidden City, etc.

4. Fake Currency

Fake Currency

The fake currency is usually of the 100 yuan denomination. It seems that the fake ones are smooth in texture. Anyway, the 100 yuan is the largest denomination and there is no reason, for you to have a change in that denomination, unless, some guys in the street, just want to ask you, if you have currency that ends with certain serial, which is an obvious trap. Just in case, double feel all other local currency. 

5. Carry your ID

They are required, when you visit the Military Museum. It is stated at the ticket counter. It may also be useful in times of trouble.

6. The Great Wall

Great Wall of China

There are three main sections. Badaling in the NNW, Mutianyu in the NNE and Simatai in the NE. The traveling time to Simatai is about 2 hours, while the other two, is about an hour (Simatai is under the construction since the July 2010). You have the option of using the toll highway for a few yuan more. You should not pay more than 800 yuan for Simatai and 400 yuan for the other two. Do note that the cost is inclusive of the waiting time of three hours, while you walk the Great Wall. If you are a single traveler, you may opt for a bus ride or join a group for about 200 – 250 yuan per person from the travel agencies.

Beijing Private Great Wall tours may make your travel more exciting and enjoyable.

Note that Badaling is very well restored and most favored by both tourists and locals. On most mornings, you will see lots of tour bus there. Mutianyu, is also well restored and the novelty is the availability of chair lift, cable car and toboggan. Take your pick of the mode of getting to the wall. Also advised that you visit the wall during the weekdays, so that there aren’t much people. Do note that drink sellers are abundant along the wall and that at the entrance, there are plentiful shops, Chinese crafts and of course, food and drinks.

7. The Toilet in Beijing

Here the female species will have a hard time. Imagine red colored debris and toilets, where, if you stand, will know, who is in the next cell and if that is not all, then also note that there may not be a door too. The toilets are generally dirty, even at Wangfujing.

8. Muslim Food

Food in Beijing

Abundance in Beijing. One of their hotpot outlets is on the 5th floor of APM Building in Wangfujing. Just remember not to bring in stuff that is contrary to their religion. Muslim street food is tasty and cheap and the food street at Wangfujing is also their concentration.

9. Choice of Entry Gate

You may visit familiar place, like Palace Museum, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and others. Note that some gates are close to the subway and so serves a quick getaway, simply because, taxis may be difficult to find. The subsequent destination, may also be a consideration for the choice of entry gate. As an example, if you are from your hotel and going to the Palace Museum by taxi and subsequently to the Military Museum, then your taxi should stop at the north gate of Palace Museum, as the south gate has a subway, which you can go to the Military Museum.

10. Bargaining

Shopping Bargaining

Even in departmental stores in Wangfujing, there is room for bargaining. There is no fixed rule of thumb, but I usually don’t pay anything that is more than 50% of my home country price. As an example, I was at the Silk Market and I was offered 450 yuan for a double layer jacket that also comes with hood. I offered 200 yuan and after several round of bargaining, it was sold at that price. I guess, it is still too high a price to pay, so you make your judgment call. You can bargain in these shopping markets in Beijing.

11. Pets Droppings

In the middle of the city, you will find people with pet dogs on strolls. When they are tired or want to watch people go by, they will sit on the planter’s kerb and with their pets next to them. Unfortunately, the pets relieve themselves and most owners don’t pick up after them. So look out, where you sit, especially at night and if you see dark or wet patches, stay away and finally it stinks at some stretch of the pedestrian walkway for obvious reason.

12. Crossing the Road

Crossing Road

The green man doesn’t count. Some cars and even buses don’t give a damn to your existence. As the perimeter of the two way Streets are mainly for bicycles, take note that they are generally anti pedestrians. So, take care.

13. Peking Roast Duck

Peking Roast Duck

They are everywhere and my recommendation was at Da – Dong. Really nice and I mean the atmosphere too. The restaurant at Jiabao Street was dim and their menu book, is gold coloured and weighs quite a bit. You can order the whole duck or half of it and the cooking time is about 45 minutes. In the meantime enjoy the other stuff on the menu. The Chinese has a unique way of dealing with a live fish as in Da – Dong. You may choose to cook the fillet in one way and the bone and fish head in another. No wastage. 

When the Da – Dong duck is ready, it will be wheel to you in a trolley for an inspection. The cook will lift the duck and turn it 360o and you can reject the duck, if it is not roasted to your satisfaction. Ask them, if they use apple tree wood as it will transfer some of the flavour. The cook wears a face mask for obvious reason. You don’t want to talk to the cook, when saliva may be also flying in the direction of the duck. We are living in the era of avian flu and H1N1.

When the duck has been skillfully carved and arranged on your table, the waitress will give you a demonstration of the suggested way to eat Beijing duck. Note that they will have a subdivided tray with all sorts of condiments, so give them a break, allow them to show off their culture. Further more the waitress are a sight to behold.

When you pay your bill, you will notice that there is an oversize cognac glass, filled with chewing gums. It is free and I forget to ask, if it has anything to do with the Beijing duck. Besides the Da Dong Restaurants, there are also many other restaurants offering the Peking Roast Duck with more reasonable prices and tasty dishes.

14. Eating Out with Friends

Eating Out

Here, if you eat with other people, you do not order person by person. The group orders a number of dishes and they share the food. That’s why there are round tables with a rotating plate plateau in the middle. You just pick something from a plate and put it in your own bowl to eat it. Also with hot pots you’ll share the cooking pot.

If food is left, a lot of Beijing people ask to wrap it up and they will take it home. Also if you have a whole Peking Duck you can ask to have the remainders of the duck wrapped for you to take it home (or ask them to make soup for you). There are numerous restaurants in Beijing for your choice, and here we classified them so as to narrow down your selection, Read Details.

15. The Plastic Bag

Shopping Bag

The notion of saving the planet, going green, carbon footprint and being environmentally friendly is not strong. At convenience store or at most supermarkets, they will charge 0.3-0.5 yuan for a plastic bag. Few Beijing locals carry their own cloth bags around.

16. Heavy vehicular traffic

Traffic in Beijing

If you are scheduling an evening appointment that is across the other side of Beijing, do note that weekday evening traffic is bad. You should double the traveling time needed for a best case scenario. The vicinity of the acrobatic show, i.e. Chaoyang is one area with heavy traffic.

17. Scams and Con Man

Enough has been written of them, but writing here as a warning that the species is probably alive. They range from those sweet young things that want to practice English to the rickshaw driver that pulls a fast one. I always remember that I am a tourist and English may not be my native tongue.

Have a question about your Beijing trip planning? Simply tell us your travel ideas and we will handle the rest. No deposit is needed until you are totally satisfied with all tour plan details.

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