BEIJING

You’ve got me wonton more.

beijing guide quote

Beijing will be the first city to host the winter and summer Olympic games.

China only has one time zone (GMT +8) for the entire country called Beijing Time, or China Standard Time. It’s 12 hours ahead of New York, and seven hours ahead of London.

To visit China’s mainland, US citizens must apply for an entry visa through the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General which can take 4-5 business days. A tourist visa is required and your passport must be valid for 6 months after your stay. Visit here for more info. 

The Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing Nanyuan Airport. Transportation to and from the airport includes train, bus, and taxi.

The Airport Express Line train will take you to the city center and is the least pricey and efficient option.

Taxis are available all day and night and can take you directly to your destination, although costing a bit more and taking a longer amount of time than other options.

The Bus system offers many stops in the city center and around the city, all depending on how much you would like to pay for a ticket, however, this option is the longest in time as there are many stops.

Didi is the common rideshare app for the country, although Beijing does have options for buses, subways, light rail, taxis and bikeshares, in which you can rent a bike for a period of time before returning it somewhere else. 

Avoid people who approach you on the streets offering to exchange foreign money into their currency. The money they offer is fake, so exchange your money in banks or with licensed money changers.

Keep your wallets and purses out of sight in busy crowds to avoid pickpockets.

Ask locals about quality-oriented shops as shops selling fraudulent and knock-off brands are prevalent.

Avoid unlicensed taxis and always ask for a receipt.

To avoid scam in taxis, make sure to follow along on your GPS app throughout the ride so you are not charged extra for longer routes. 

Knock-off products are everywhere, so be wary when making what looks like an expensive purchase.

The summers are long and humid while the winters are cold and dry. The temperature on average ranges from 18ºF to 88ºF throughout the year. The ideal time to visit is in the late spring and early fall as the temperature remains nice for outdoor activities without being too hot or cold. During these times, bring long sleeve t-shirts, sweaters, and light jackets, to keep warm from the winds.

The official language of China is Mandarin, although there are approximately 75+ dialects being spoken within the country. In major cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing, English can be spoken to get around, but in more rural areas, it is best to know some basic Chinese vocabularies.

Hello: 你好 ni-hao

Thank you: 謝謝 xie-xie

You’re welcome: 不客氣 bu-ke-chee

Excuse me: 不好意思 bu-hao-yi-ci

I’m sorry: 對不起 dui-bu-chi

Please: 請 ching

Good morning: 早安 zao-an

Good night: 晚安 wan-an

My name is…: 我的名字是… wo-de-ming-zhi-shi

How much is this?: 多少錢? duo-shao-chian

I don’t understand: 我不懂 wo-bu-dong

Do you speak English?: 你會講英文嗎? ni-huay-jiang-ying-wen-ma?

Where is the bathroom?: 洗手間在哪裡?xi-shou-jian-zai-na-li?

Take your shoes off when entering a home.

During a tea ceremony, don’t drink the first round of poured tea, wait until the third round to drink.

A slight “nod” instead of a full bow is a sign of respect. If in a business meeting, greet with a handshake.

Respect your elders.

There is a lot of surveillance. Always keep in mind there are 20 million+ cameras in China, so stay away from misconduct, be aware of your actions, and be respectful of the culture.

Be aware that spitting is common, although it might have decreased since the pandemic. 

Dining:

Sample all the dishes with a serving chopstick and not your personal chopsticks.

Finish everything on your plate, it means you really enjoyed it!

Don’t take the last bit of food on the shared plate, it is reserved for the eldest.

Do not sit at a dinner table until the guest of honor has been seated.

Place your chopsticks across the top of the bowl (sticking chopsticks in your food is considered impolite).

Put small bones, seeds, and other inedible foods onto the small plate that is next to your plate.

Chinese money has two names that are used interchangeably: Yuan ¥ (CNY) and renminbi (RMB). 

Tipping is not expected or required and may be frowned upon. It is also illegal in airports and some establishments.

China’s standard voltage is 220 V, with three different plug types: A, C, and 1. Type A has two flat parallel pins. Type C has two round pins. Type 1 has three flat pins in a triangular pattern. An adapter will be necessary if you are traveling from the Americas, however, some European countries have similar plugs to China.

The standard voltage is between 220 and 240 volts, which is double the voltage in North America. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. You should carry two types of sockets: type G and type D. Type G is a British-based socket, while type D is an Indian-based plug. Here is what yours should look like:

Type A

Type A socket

Type C

Type C socket

Type 1

Type I socket

The water in China is not safe to drink. It is okay to use for washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth. Only drink boiled water or bottled water. Hotel water is also not okay to drink from the faucet.

In most cities, Wi-Fi is available in public places including hotels, cafes, and bus stations. Google is not available in China, which includes Gmail and YouTube. If it is necessary for you to access these applications, you can use a T-Mobile or a VPN with a sim card or VPN with Pocket Wifi. 

Didi is the major rideshare app in the country. All you need to do is download it! Uber and Lyft are not available due to China’s strict government.

If you travel to China, be aware that PDA is typically frowned upon in general and especially for LGBTQ+ identifying people. Should you choose to travel there, be aware that China is not a very accepting country for members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

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FOR THE PLANNERS

Wangfujing is a great neighborhood for lodging if you want to be near the Forbidden City. Qianmen neighborhood exudes old Beijing, situated near the south of the Forbidden Palace.