Asia Beijing Travel

Where to Visit with a Layover in Beijing?

This past December 2017, I found round trip tickets from Las Vegas to Beijing for just $463 USD with American Airlines (learn how to find cheap flights with this step-by-step guide). What a steal! This pushed me to finally give Beijing a visit, as I’ve always wished to but never made time for. Beijing is a beautiful city rich in culture and history. So if you’re an adventurer that finds joy in exploring ancient architecture and submerging yourself in cultural experiences, Beijing is the perfect fit for you.

My time in Beijing was minimal since it wasn’t my final destination. With my free-transit visa, I had 72 hours to spare before I had to hop on my next flight to Busan, South Korea. As you read on, you can see that plenty can be accomplished in 72 hours.

Below are the highlights of my trip:

 

1. The Great Wall of China

Stretching over 13 thousands miles from the East to the West of China’s northern borders is the Great Wall. Starting 7th century BC, many villagers, soldiers and convicts spent years of their life fortifying these walls. For over 2,000 years through many Dynasties, these walls were built, extended and rebuilt.

Instead of hiking up just to reach the entrance of the wall, there is a cable car option that takes you straight up (with an additional cost, of course). I strongly recommend taking the cable car because once you get to the wall there is still plenty of walking/hiking. It says it in the name, the wall is great in length and the steep slopes will tire you out.

Standing on the wall looking down reminds me of Dynastic Warrior games that my older brother taught me to play as a child. He always told me that there’s an advantage of battling from the walls- it’s easier to shoot arrows down from an elevated fort then to be down on the ground shooting up. I can only imagine the struggles of being a soldier back in the day, marching through land for weeks and months just to reach a fortified city for a battle!

The Great Wall of China truly is a fascinating place.

Opening Hours:
6:30 am to 7:00 pm in the summer
7:00 am to 6 pm in the winter

Regular Ticket:
April to October 45 CNY ($2.40USD)
November to March 40 CNY ($1.60USD)

Cable Car:
One Way 60 CNY ($9.50USD)
Round Trip 80 CNY ($12.70USD)

 

2. Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the house of Emperors and the Chinese political center for over 500 years through the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now this has become the Palace Museum. I only had two hours to spare here due to a tight agenda, even with active walking it wasn’t enough time for me to fully experience every part of the palace.

The infrastructures in the palace is stunningly unique. Quite honestly, I spent a lot of time just admiring the gates. The amount of detail in this place is absolutely mind-blowing.

There are many halls within the palace worth noting and checking out. I visited the palace during off-season in December and it was surprisingly still crowded; I needed to wait in line and push through crowds at almost every hall to get a good look of the inside. It’s worth the wait so don’t skip out on it!

After a long walk at the palace, there will be food carts waiting for you at the exit. You can find local street foods like Chinese hot dogs or Candied Hawthorn Berries.

Though I don’t enjoy them,¬†Candied Hawthorn Berries are traditional Beijing snacks from the Qing Dynasty, I spent 5 yuan for a Chinese hot dog which was only around 80 cents USD- these are usually 3 yuan, but since it’s a touristy area prices are higher than usual. Definitely try it!

 

Opening Hours:
April to October 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
November to March 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
[Closed Mondays]

Regular Ticket:
April to October 60 CNY ($9.50USD)
November to March 40 CNY ($1.60USD)

Discounted Tickets:
Senior enjoys half off with valid ID
Minors 20 CNY ($3.20USD)D
Season Pass 300 CNY ($47.60USD) 10 entries; Chinese citizens only

 

3. Summer Palace

Built in the Ming Dynasty and expanded during the Qing Dynasty is the Summer Palace. Also known as the Imperial Garden, it encloses a collection of of gardens, lakes, and halls of worship.¬† It is a relaxing place where many locals gather to play cards/Chinese Chess or do their morning exercise. Just like the Forbidden City, the infrastructure here has its unique ancient beauty. It’s not too expensive to get in; the prices are listed below.

Along the way, there are photo opportunities where you can pose in borrowed traditional costumes. It’s a bit of a rip off but for $10 USD, I dressed up as a Chinese Princess and took home a printed and laminated photo with an ancient throne as background.

Ticket Pricing: 
April to October 30 CNY ($4.80USD)
November to March 20 CNY ($3.20USD)

Opening Hours:
Sun – Sat 6:30 AM – 6:00 PM

Within the palace there are many halls- the most visited one is the Temple of Heaven. This is where emperors would pray for rich harvests and good health. To enter the area, there is an additional fee of $2.40USD.

 

Regular Ticket:
April to October 10 CNY ($1.60USD)
November to March 15 CNY ($2.40USD)

Discounted Ticket:
April to October 5 CNY ($0.80USD)
November to March 8 CNY ($1.30USD)

Seasonal Pass:
April to October 30 CNY ($4.80USD)
November to March 35 CNY ($5.60USD)

 

 

Have you been to Beijing before? Share your favorite spots in the comment field!

 

 

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