Beijing Three-Day Itinerary

Beijing is the home of one of the most popular Ancient Wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China, so it is no surprised that people from different parts of the world flock to the country’s capital.  It is the capital of the most populated country in the world that tourists may feel like entering a massive tourist trap.  Yes, Beijing gets an overwhelming number of tourists but it is not an excuse not to visit the city.  Here is a sample of Beijing Three-Day Itinerary.

Careful planning is needed to fully enjoy the city if you only have three days to explore.  Though they have an effective subway system, choosing the right accommodation matters.  Choosing weekdays over weekends or public holidays is an important factor to avoid the crowds as you do not want your tour to be a total nightmare.  Also, with many local tourist attractions, you should expect not to see all of it in three days.

Beijing Three-Day Itinerary

Day 1:

Arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal

Taking a taxi from the airport is an option but if your accommodation is accessible via subway, take the Airport express directly from the airport to either Sanyuanqiao or Dongzhimen Station.  It costs RMB25 and takes around 30 minutes.

Please note that if taking the subway to your hotel itmay be hard if you have plenty of luggage as some stations do not have an elevator or escalator.  (It is cheap but it’s a struggle)

Check-in and settle down.

Hutong and Wangfujing Street

If you arrive in the afternoon, start you tour and head to the nearest hutong and conclude your night at Wangfujing Street Night Market.

Hutong is an alley or a street of traditional Chinese houses that can still be found in a lot of parts of Beijing.  Check the map for the nearest hutong in your place of stay.  Visiting a Hutong is a great introduction to getting to know the city.

The night concludes with a visit to its famous night market street, Wangfujing Street.  The Wangfujing street is one giant shopping district with countless of local and signature brands and outlets.  Restaurants are also in abundance serving local and international cuisines.  But, the street is most famous for its street food market.  Exotic food such as fried scorpions, star fish, worms, and many others you wouldn’t find on a normal dinner table can be found here.  This is not for the faint-hearted.

How To Get to Wangfujing Street?

Wangfuing Street is walking distance from Tian’anmen, Forbidden City, and around Dengshikou, Dongdan and Chongwenmen Street.  You may also take the subway Line 1 to Wanfujing Station.

Day 2:

Great Wall of China

Admit it, you are going to Beijing primarily because of Great Wall of China.  Going to Beijing without seeing the Great Wall is like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower or going to San Francisco without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Great Wall of China is so long that it is divided into sections.  It is possible that a half or one full day is to be spent on the wall alone.  Some of the sections accessible to the public in Beijing are the Badaling Section, Mutianyu Section, Jinshanling Section, and Simatai.

Choosing the right section for you depends on your time, hiking capabilities, and tolerance with crowd.  If you hate crowds, like elbow to elbow crowd, ditch the Badaling Section.  Although the view is great, seeing it with lots of people may not be fun.  If you are looking for a more authentic feel of the wall then choose to go to Simatai or Jinshanling.  It is a little bit far from the city but still doable.

If time is of the essence to cover some other tourist attractions and Badaling is totally out of your options, then, going to Mutianyu section of the wall may be perfect for you.

Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall

Mutianyu is a section of the wall that is heavily restored, like the Badaling, but there is still a part of it that is not yet touched.  Its difference with Badaling is the number of crowds.  Here, it is still possible to get a picture without people blocking the way or photobombing.  The view is amazing especially during Spring, and this is where you get an amazing zig-zag extending to far areas sight of the Great Wall.  Half day is enough to fully feel the ambience and to lose yourself in the awesomeness of the wall.  Toboggan (luge) and cable cars are available for those who do not want to hike.

We paid a total of RMB180 per person and that includes two-way cable car, roundtrip shuttle service, and the entrance fee.null

We paid a total of RMB180 per person and that includes two-way cable car, roundtrip shuttle service, and the entrance fee.

How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall?

Take the subway to Dongzhimen Station and take Exit C and follow the sign to the Transport Hub.  The transport hub is next to KFC and from there take bus 916 express.  There are two 916 buses but take the one that is express.  Make sure you see this:  916块.  That is the Chinese word for express.

The bus fare is 12RMB and a takes a little over an hour.  You get off at Huai Rou Bei Da Jie (14th stop from Dongzhimen).  They will announce it in Chinese but make sure to check the bus map available inside to know the bus stop names.  Do not pay attention to some Chinese scammers asking you to get off at bus stops before your actual stop.  Stick with bus route map.

After getting off at Huai Rou Bei Da Jie, cross the street and take bus H23 or H24 to Mutianyu Great Wall.  It takes 20 minutes and the fare is RMB5.  If you are a group of three or more, locals asking you take you to Mutianyu with their vans is a good option instead of waiting for the bus.  Negotiate for the price.  RMB10 is quite reasonable.  You may also ask them to pick you up and bring you back to the highway for your trip back to Beijing.  To go back, take everything in reverse.

Temple of Heaven

If you still have the time and energy, you may want to squeeze in Temple of Heaven on your itinerary.  Temple of Heaven is a religious site of ancient Chinese and is as old as Forbidden city.  The park is massive and is open from 8am to 5pm.  Entrance fee is from RMB15-35.

How to Get to Temple of Heaven?

Take the subway from Dongzhimen St to Chongwenmen Station (Line 2) and transfer to subway Line 5 towards Songjiazhuang and get off at Tiantandongmen Station.

Day 3:

Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Jinsgshan Park and Summer Palace

Your Day 3 will be a test of your physical strength as walking, a lot of it, and standing on queues are what waiting for you.  Patience will also be tested but the fun is guaranteed.

Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City

Next to Great Wall of China, the Tian’anmen and Forbidden City are the next important places to visit.  It is not only because it has been standing since 1420 but also because, history, ancient and contemporary, has been made here.  The square is home to Chairman Mao’s tomb, the Monument to the People’s heroes, the Great Hall of the People, and the National Museum of China.

Forbidden City used to served as the home of Emperors during Ming dynasty and the palaces have been preserved to protect its history.  The complex houses plenty of palaces with impressive traditional Chinese architecture.  It is said that Forbidden city has over 900 buildings of extraordinary Chinese palaces.  Visiting the city is like taking a glimpse of China’s wealthy history.

How to Get to Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City?

Take Subway Line 1 to Tian’anmen Dong or Tian’anmen Xi Station (East or West) and start queueing for the security check.  Explore the square and continue walking to the Forbidden City.  The entrance to the Palace is RMB40 and can be purchased at the right hand side counter before the Palace museum.  Please note that an Identification (Passport) is required to buy tickets.

Enter the complex and continue walking until the end.  After walking the entire Forbidden City, cross the street via underground tunnel and enter Jingshan Park.

Jingshan Park

I got to be honest, going to Jingshan Park is a part of the itinerary because of the impressive view of the Forbidden City that can be seen at the top of the hill.  The entrance to the gate is RMB2 and is totally worth it for this view alone

Summer Palace

The last destination on this itinerary is the Summer Palace.  Please note that coming from Jingshan Park or Forbidden City to Summer Palace is a real work.  It can be tricky as the nearest subway is around 2000 meters away by walk.  Taking a taxi is almost impossible from this area as all the people coming out of the Forbidden city congregate here.  Bus option is also as impossible.

If you happen to find a taxi or have the strength to walk to the nearest subway station.  Take the subway to Beigongmen Station (Line 4) and exit from Exit D.   From there, it is a three-minute walk to North Palace Gate.

Beijing Three-Day Itinerary

There you have it, a comprehensive three-day Beijing Itinerary that covers all important tourist attractions that make up the city.  It is a wonderful city and should be visited at least once in your life.  Even for just the Great Wall of China, alone.

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