Tips For Traveling Beijing For Less
Beijing is an affordable destination for budget travelers eager to score once-in-a-lifetime experiences without breaking the bank. Just like many other major cities, Beijing presents some easy ways for you to pay a lot of money for things that will not enhance your experience. The tips below will explain how to travel Beijing for less.
1. Cut Accommodation Costs
The city of Beijing added hundreds of hotel beds to accommodate the thousands of visitors the city anticipated for the 2008 Olympic Games. This definitely works to the advantage of a budget traveler because the city now has many mid-priced hotel rooms to offset the opulent grand hotels and guesthouses.
In fact, there are more than 300 places in Beijing where you can stay for only $50 or less per night, which is incredibly cheap considering the state of the city. For a cheaper stay in Beijing, stay at a courtyard hostel, which come with lower price tags.
If you are willing to stay in a room in someone’s place, rather than having an apartment to yourself, you can cut the price to under $40. There are also many websites that show properties in Beijing, at prices ranging from as low as $8 per night to $49 per night, so you’re not short of some cheap accommodation.
2. Find Economical Eats
Beijing has no shortage of the fancy restaurants–many of which come with high prices. Western food is almost always more expensive in Beijing. For a cheap meal, head to one of the local restaurants that are frequented by local executives on lunch breaks, students, and everyone in between. Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop, Lanzhou stretched noodles, and 7-11s offer this type of experience.
Beijing Food Prices
Budget Breakfast — Free – 30RMB
- Chinese-style breakfasts, including noodles, can be very cheap. Western breakfasts will cost much more. Many hostels will offer a free or simple breakfast that normally consists of cereal, bread/croissant, and maybe milk, coffee, tea.
- A cup of coffee can be anything from 10RMB (instant one) to 36RMB (Starbucks).
Budget Lunch: 25RMB-35RMB
- Going to the places where the locals eat will get you great bargains and authentic meals. A simple, yet filling and tasty, lunch from a local (i.e. non-touristy) restaurant will cost about 25RMB –35RMB.
Budget Dinner: 30RMB-45RMB
- Budget travelers will want to seek out the many ordinary restaurants in Beijing. It isn’t too tough to find a good meal for about 30RMB-40RMB.
- McDonalds combo meal (burger, fries, and a drink) will cost about 30RMB–45RMB.
- A Hot pot meal will cost about 35RMB-50RMB.
Drinks and Alcohol
- Domestic beer: Beer is much cheaper in supermarkets than in restaurants. 5RMB-15RMB+
- 2 liters of Coca-Cola from a grocery store: 6RMB-10RMB
- 1 bottle of red table wine, good quality at a restaurant: 150RMB-250RMB+
Street Food Recommendation
- Fried pancake (Jianbing)–a popular street breakfasts, a batter of wheat and grain flour, eggs and sauces.It can be topped with different fillings and sauces such as baocui (薄脆 crispy fried cracker), chopped or diced mustard pickles etc, depending on personal preference. 6RMB-15RMB.
- The Chinese Hamburger (Rou jia mo)–a street food from Shaanxi Province, pre-cooked braised pork belly, chopped cilantro and peppers with flatbread to create a super delicious sandwichs. 6RMB-10RMB
- Kao leng mian /grilled cold noodles–a lowbrow delicacy from the northern province of Heilongjiang. 6RMB-10RMB.
Avoid the raw vegetables and water that is not bottled, and if you have to buy bottled water, make sure the seal is not broken.
3. Getting Around by Subway
The easiest way to get around the city is the subway. Traveling through the subway system is relatively economical since most fares are based on a zone system. But if your trip involves destinations and times that make a taxi more practical, you are guaranteed to find many operators who are honest and friendly with fares.
4. Use your Feet
Beijing is very walkable and you see a lot more on foot than you would by public transport or taxi. Lama Temple – Guozijian (the Imperial Academy) – the Temple of Confucius – Nanluoguxiang Hutong – Yandaixiejie Hutong – Silver Ingot Bridge – Drum & Bell Towers Square – Prince Gong’s Mansion – Shichahai –these are some of the best routes to appreciate (or escape) China’s capital city.
5. Hop on a Bike
Biking is a fun and inexpensive way to get around the city. There are some wonderful cycle routes around Beijing, especially along Houhai Lake bar street, Hutongs, the area outside Forbidden City and Olympic village. There are many bike rental shops and stands around the city, you can also find a bike at your hotel.
6. Visit Beijing in the Winter
Beijing will be cold in December, January and February. The wind rushes down the streets, the chill can make you feel like your ears are burning off. Even so winter is still a great time to visit the city because hotel rates and prices for airline tickets and tours are at their lowest.
Tourist site entry fees in Beijing will be reduced during the coldest months every year. As long as you wrap up warm, even open-air sightseeing can be very enjoyable. Avoid Chinese Spring Festival during January or February you can enjoy a quiet time at places like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, be away from the crowds.