I have always wanted to see the Great Wall of China and this year I decided I was going to see it! However, getting the Chinese Visa can be quite difficult and expensive so I decided that I would visit here on a visa free transit. You can now get a transit visa in Beijing for up to 144 hours (6 days). This is more than enough time and a lot less hassle. You will need to have all of your onward flights printed to prove you intend to leave the country. (as it is a transit visa, so you can’t just book a return flight) We stopped for 24 hours on the way to Japan and 36 hours on the way back and got two transit visas. You will have to fill in a blue form and visit the request to leave desk once you get off the plane and before you go to security. The queues can be long, but if you have all your flights and accommodation printed, it makes it a lot easier.
The main attraction we wanted to see, was of course, The Great Wall. We went to the Mutianyu Area of the Great Wall. Here, you can get a chair lift or a cable car up to the wall, and the best part was, we got to toboggan down the wall. Normally, I’m the the best with cable cars or chair lifts, but it was actually fine. We booked our trip with a tour company, so we had a private car, hotel pick up and all of our tickets etc were sorted for us. Here is the tour company we went with. We spent over an hour on the wall, which I felt was more than enough. It was starting to snow on the day we were there, so maybe that’s why! We were also given the choice of a morning or afternoon trip. I always think that the morning trips are better, so that you can beat the crowds. Simitai is another recommended area of the Great Wall, that is meant to be less touristy.
Other attractions in Beijing are Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. These are in the Dongcheng area of Beijing are are easily accessible by underground subway. There are a number of monuments and museums in this area. You have to have ID here, so bring your passport with you. There are a lot of guards here too, so you’re more than likely to see the changing of the guards or see them marching around the square. We went at night when it was lit up and spent around an hour there.
You can visit the Forbidden City from Tiananmen Square. Here, you can visit Museums and see old Palaces of the Chinese Dynasties. A couple of hours here should be more than enough time. You could do both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in the same day. Read more about the Forbidden City here.
One place we didn’t get to visit was Summer Palace. If the weather had been better on our last day, we probably would have went but, rain/snow, Beijing traffic and gardens are not a good combination! You can arrange day tours to here and it meant to be beautiful in the nice weather. You can see the famous gardens and take a boat ride on the lake. Here is a highly recommended tour company. You can arrange this tour and combine a trip to Hot Springs, Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City.
For shoppers, we were told to go to the Silk Market before we left for China. Once we arrived, our driver from the Great Wall tour recommended the Pearl Market instead. They have clothes, bags, accessories etc. and if you’re looking for ‘genuine fakes’ then this is the place to go! This market is indoors and has less tourists than the Silk Market, therefore, it is easier to haggle prices with the sellers and is less crowded. The sellers here start their prices very high so you really haggle. A friend bought a bag that started at 3000 Yen and got it for 700! Getting there is easy via subway. There are recommended subway stops in the links above to help you get there!
Here are some accommodation recommendations, mostly in the Dongcheng Area.
- Grand Hotel Beijing – Dongcheng area
- Inner Mongolia Grand Hotel – Dongcheng area
- Prime Hotel Beijing – Dongcheng area
- Chaoyang Area is another popular area with bars and western shops.Top Tips:
- Use tripadvisor to find good restaurants while you have wifi. Finding places with English menus and good food can be challenging at times, especially if you’re a picky eater.
- Airport express is a great way to get into the city and onto the subway lines without getting caught in traffic. It costs around 25 Yen.
- If you’re using the subway, use google maps before you go anywhere and it will give you all of the stops you need. So useful.
- If you’re getting a transit visa, be sure to have all flights and accommodation for the rest of your trip printed.
- Check out my YouTube Channel for a video of my trip!
Top Tip Traveller 🙂