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2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China’s Great Wall And Beijing’s Must-See Places

2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places

By DAN FORTEZA

Beijing, China’s capital city, is brightened by its glorious past. Having served as the capital of the country for more than 800 years, it is home to some of the finest remnants of China’s imperial past. That’s why I didn’t skip this massive city even though I only have two days remaining in my China travel itinerary. After visiting Shanghai and Zhangjiajie, I flew into Beijing to explore both the rich history and the ever-changing modernity of the city. And you probably guessed it right – the Great Wall of China is on the top of my Beijing itinerary must-see list!

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about myself becoming a digital nomad. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling | Dantravels.org

WHERE IS BEIJING?

Beijing is located in northern China. Its name, which means “Northern Capital”, was applied to the city in 1403 during the Ming Dynasty to distinguish the city from Nanjing (the “Southern Capital”). It is a roughly 2-½ hour flight away from Shanghai, almost 4-hour flight away from Tokyo, or a little more than 4-½ hour flight if coming from Manila.

Language: Chinese
Currency: Chinese Yuan (RMB)
Airport: PEK
Preferred mode of transportation: Subways / Walking
Time Zone: GMT +8

HOW I GOT THERE:

Finding a cheap flight ticket to Beijing, China from Southeast and East Asia is relatively easy (and cheap, too!) Coming from Zhangjiajie airport, I flew in to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) via Air China. PEK airport is the main international airport serving Beijing. It is located 32 km northeast of Beijing’s city center.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW TO GET AROUND?

  • Metro / Subways are the best way to get around Beijing. The Beijing subway system is modern and easy to use (all signage is in Chinese and English), but often crowded, so don’t expect a seat. Fares range from 3 RMB to 8 RMB. This is the preferred way to get around Beijing for international travelers.
  •  Buses are cheap and they go everywhere, but difficult for non-Chinese speakers to negotiate, and often overcrowded. Fare per trip 2 RMB; with travel card 0.8 RMB.
  • Bikes have seen to have taken over the sidewalks and street in Beijing in recent years. Thanks to the new bike-sharing craze. Mobike and Ofo apps and other bike-share companies make it easy to rent a bike anywhere in the city and just drop off conveniently at your destination.
  • Walking is a great way to build up your travel experience since it can lead you to scenic places that you wouldn’t normally find on a map. I did walk a LOT when I was in Beijing! And as I mentioned in my budget travel tips blog – “walk as much as you can!”
  • Other means of transportation are by taxi and rickshaw. But I don’t recommend them for budget and short-term travelers.

TIP: Your navigation would be much easier if you are using Google Maps. Google Maps was my savior in Beijing. If you don’t have mobile internet, you can use an offline map app called Maps.me (no internet needed).

WHERE DID I STAY?

I arrived at PEK airport at around 1:00 AM from a 2-½-hour flight from Zhangjiajie. I took a taxi to get me to my hostel since the airport train service hour is only until 11:00 PM. It took about 40 minutes to reach my hostel.

TIP: When using a taxi, please make sure that you have the hostel address in Chinese characters as most taxi drivers do not recognize or understand English writings. Good thing I have my address translated by Peng (he is the Chinese friend I mentioned in my Shanghai itinerary blog.)

  • Taxi from PEK airport to my hostel – 110 RMB (~15 USD)
  • Beijing Alley International Youth Hostel: 2-night stay (click here to book)
    • Hostel room type: 1 Bed in Dormitory-type room
    • Hostel rate: 473 PHP (~9.3 USD) per night

You can book a room at any Beijing hotel through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

If Beijing hostel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

MY 2-DAY BEIJING ITINERARY

DAY 1:

1st Stop: Great Wall of China

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
The breathtaking view of the Great Wall of China | Dantravels.org

I was soaked into the scenery of the beautiful Great Wall at Jinshanling -Simatai during a full-day hiking tour! In order to get away from the crowds at the usual Badaling or Mutianyu Great Wall (Great Wall nearest to Beijing), I booked a group day-tour via Viator to take me a less crowded Great Wall in Jinshanling (actually no crowd at all, just us!) So together with other 20+ foreign travelers, we headed northeast to see this amazing Great Wall! Travel time by bus from downtown Beijing to Jinshanling was almost 3 hours!

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): Whole day! (9 hrs. approximately)
    • Price: 31.99 USD per person
    • Meet-up point: Beijing Downtown Travel Service Co., Ltd., No.85 Nanluogu Alley, Jiaodaokou, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Groupie with fellow travelers from the full-day hiking tour | Dantravels.org

Here are the itinerary details of the tour:

  • Full-day hiking tour to Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, from Beijing
  • Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai West with an experienced and English-speaking guide
  • Admire the mountain scenery while walking along a remote 3.7-mile (6-km) part of the Great Wall of China
  • Check out 15 guard towers along the route
  • Learn about the Ming Dynasty and why the Great Wall was built
  • Includes guide, entrance fees, and round-trip transport from Beijing

Whether you’re a solo backpacker or with friends, this full-day hiking tour is TOTALLY RECOMMENDED!

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
One more look at this breathtaking view of the Great Wall of China | Dantravels.org

DAY 2:

2nd Stop: Tian’anmen Square

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Tian'anmen Square | Dantravels.org

Tian’anmen Square is a city square in the heart of Beijing where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It is named after Tiananmen which literally means “Gate of Heavenly Peace”. There is a bridge/walkway opposite the square (with a large picture of Mao Zedong) that will lead you through to the Forbidden City and this is a one-way system to ensure you have seen The Square before moving on. You can easily get there by subway as there are stations on both sides. By the way, I went here on Saturday and this place very crowded!

NOTE: Take your passport or any ID with you to get through the security checkpoint. There are tons of security and police here!

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest Subway station: Tian’anmen East or West station

3rd Stop: The Imperial Palace and the FORBIDDEN CITY

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places

After a visit to Tian’anmen Square, I passed through the main entrance to the Forbidden City. It was very crowded but they did a great job moving people through the process.  What amazed me most, other than the incredible size of the structures and land area is the amazing restorations of all of the buildings. The Palace grounds in the Forbidden City was a great visit for me due to its historical significance. You need at least 4 hours to visit this amazing place. I was in a hurry so I stayed here for only 2 hours.

I paid 40 RMB for the entrance fee. Make sure you come here early as it is open only until 4:30 PM.

TIP: As a non-Chinese visitor, I strongly recommend that you use a private guide for this attraction as he/she will explain the history to you and give you a real in-depth view of the Forbidden City.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-4 hours
    • Nearest Subway station: Tian’anmen East or West station

4th Stop: BEIHAI PARK

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Beihai Park | Dantravels.org

If you enjoy admiring beautiful nature, Beihai Park is definitely a must-see when you are visiting Beijing! This is a wonderful relaxing park right in the heart of Beijing. As soon as I stepped into the park, I could smell the flowers and feel the cool wind of autumn (it was November).  The park is mostly a large lake in the middle of lovely large trees. There are many seats along the edge of the lake that one can sit and rest.  You can watch the boats on the water, walk to the top and catch a great view, or have a little snack.

It lies to the west of the Forbidden City (Palace Museum) so you can just basically walk after Palace Museum tour. Ticket cost 10 RMB per person.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2 hours
    • Nearest Subway station: Tian’anmen West station; Beihai North station

5th Stop: Beijing Olympic Stadium

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Bird's Nest at Beijing Olympic Park | Dantravels.org

The 2008 Olympic Park is a must-see in Beijing for me. You can spend a couple of hours here wandering around: there is the famous bird’s nest, water cube, Olympic torch, and other buildings. There is a ticket of 100 RMB if you opt to see the inside of the stadium. As for me, I just spent an hour wandering and enjoying the sights around the park grounds.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest Subway station: Olympic Sport Center station

6th Stop: Lama Temple

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Entrance Gate at Lama Temple | Dantravels.org

Lama temple gives you a glimpse into the Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, it’s art and architecture. I was in awe of all the paintings and best of all gigantic Buddha statue carved out of single wood. Make sure you come here early as it is open only until 4:30 PM.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • Nearest Subway station: Yonghegong Lama Temple station

7th Stop: NanLuoGuXiang road.

Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Nanluoguxiang Road | Dantravels.org

Nanluoguxiang is a famous shopping alley in Beijing. The neighborhood contains many typical narrow streets/lane known as “Hutong”. This is probably the most well-known and touristy Hutongs in all of Beijing. Wandering in these authentic streets is very interesting as one can witness the traditional way of living in the city.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • Nearest train station: Nanluoguxiang station

What do you think of this 2-day Beijing itinerary?

I hope that you find this 2-DAY BEIJING ITINERARY useful!

TIP: To save you from time and hassle, you can always look for the best package tour for you at Viator like I did.

There are other awesome (and cheap!) Beijing tours you can find at Viator Beijing.

If you have more days to spend in Beijing, you can include these cool places in your Beijing itinerary:

  • Temple of Heaven
Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Temple of Heaven | Tripadvisor
  • Summer Palace
Dan Travels 2-Day Beijing Itinerary: China's Great Wall And Beijing's Must-See Places
Summer Palace | Tripadvisor

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it as well for your Beijing Itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Beijing itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  •  Beijing Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.

Click here to find the best Viator deals in Beijing!

  • Travel Insurance
    • World Nomads. If you don’t have travel insurance when times get tough, basically you are screwed. Traveling always comes with inherent risks attached. Whether you are trekking in the Tibetan mountains or wandering the busy streets of Beijing, unforeseen events can suddenly upend your world. Generally speaking, travel insurance covers you for the following: Medical Costs – hospital visits, emergencies, evacuations; Property Loss – luggage and their contents; Travel Issues – accommodation and transportation expenses. Thus, I highly recommend you guys getting a travel insurance. I bought one from the World Nomads (available in 130+ countries) where most travelers get their travel insurances.

Go to this link to get to your World Nomads travel insurance.

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Thank you. Great job.

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