Ultimate Travel Guide to Beijing
If the airfare to Beijing is already going to cost you an arm and a leg, then this guide on budget spending is a definite must-read. As any other metropolis, Beijing is luring you to spend as much as possible, and it’s only too easy to get carried away by its many attractions. You may feel overwhelmed by all the impressions, thus becoming more prone to irrational spending. However, staying within one’s budget is perfectly possible, even in such a mesmerising environment. Here is some advice on how to get the most bang for your buck.
Whenever possible, use public transport. You can expect extremely high prices if you wish to take a taxi from the airport, and it is completely unnecessary, too. The public transfer from airports is very well organised. If you do decide to take a taxi, though, never accept the first price the driver is offering – they actually expect you to haggle. However, if you don’t begin the negotiations, no one is going to remind you of the custom either.
Also, it is quite handy to have the address of your destination written in Chinese characters. This will save you both time and money when you show it to the taxi driver. Once you are in the city, feel free to use the subway – you can get almost everywhere by it.
You are very much in luck to be visiting Beijing after the Olympic Games, since the event produced a higher number of mid-priced hotels. For this reason, you can find some great deals on hotel accommodation, but beware the holiday period. If you happen to arrive in China on one of their public holidays, the prices will be much, much higher.
Conquering the Great Wall
You simply can’t go to Beijing without walking (and, of course, taking loads of photos) along the Great Wall of China. But, how are you to experience it without spending too much?
First of all, forget all about the souvenirs there. Without a doubt, they are largely overpriced. Secondly, you had better fill your backpack with drinks and snacks. These too are very pricey, and you can’t expect a big supermarket to be just around the corner. Don’t worry about the backpack being too heavy – it will certainly become lighter as you become fuller.
Quench your thirst
If you wish to save some money regarding medical costs, i.e. you wish to remain healthy during your stay, be careful where you get your water. Always buy it in bottles, but never get it in the streets, or you may have problems. There is a practice of filling water bottles taken from the garbage cans with tap water and selling them as the real deal. Plan your hydration carefully and only buy water in shops, restaurants or hotels.
When in China…
If you were in India, you would try yoga lessons. When in China, why don’t you have a completely free tai chi lesson?
True, you’ll have to wake up early for this, since it’s practiced in the morning, but at least you’ll be doing it in Tian’anmen, the world’s largest square. You should have no problem finding people practicing it, and feel free to join the locals with your family or friends. A unique experience, isn’t it? Additionally, the square has lots of other attractions (such as flying kites), and once again – they are all free!
Wine and dine
Normally, breakfast is included in the hotel price, but as for lunch and dinner you’ll be much better off elsewhere, especially since Beijing is relatively inexpensive when it comes to eating out. Still, restaurants in tourist areas always have high prices, so apply the rule which you have obeyed on similar trips: find a restaurant where the locals eat out.
Shop til you drop
You can’t go to Beijing without buying some souvenirs, can you? Steer clear of shopping malls, and visit some of the famous Beijing flea markets. A piece of advice: there are no Ming vases there.
So, now you know how to travel, what to see, where to eat and what to do. Remember, choose a suitable date first (no public holidays), and set off onto an (affordable) adventure!