Beijing Municipality's

BEIJING

Global Mark : 15.09 (down)    Top Ten : No5

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
3 4 5 5 2 5 2 5

1

14.22

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
29 90%  (26) 79%  (23) 97%  (28) 12 to 20 15.97


Description :
A big place with a lot of things to do and see, as you already know...

Comments : With this place, you will need to be organized and visit by geographic zones as transportation from one point to another is dramatically slow (except if connected to the subway)

What to do : Get up early as there is a lot of things to visit... / Buy your train ticket early as there are a lot of people who are also wishing to leave the place /

What you may not like : Wasting time in the traffic jams / Spending too much money in accommodation and sightseeing / Some aggressive taxi drivers / Some rip-of : with the taxi drivers from the airport (should cost around Y80) or the pedi-cap tours for example / Finding out too late that the bottle of water that you just bought was not sealed / The dangers of biking in the traffic streets

How long ? With a visit to the Great Wall, 3 days is a strict minimum but 4 or 5 days would be better


Where to stay ?

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

Center of the city :

  • Fangyuan Hotel (6525 7047/6331, fax :6513 8549), 36 Dengshikou Xijie, Dongcheng District, off Wangfujin, Bus 103 or 104 from Beijing Train Station (taxi 10Y), Taxi 20Y from West Train Station  : Sgl with shower 126 / Dbl with shower 177 / Dbl with bath 217 / All prices include breakfast / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the cheapest Sgl with bathroom in town, the excellent location off Wangfujin, the nice and comfortable rooms, the good rates,... / What you may not like : not getting the single room as they have only two (reservation is therefore a must)

  • Dong Hua Hotel (6525 7531, fax : 6513 5138), near the previous one at No32 / Dbl with shower or bath & TV 198 or 248 / HW 24 hours / Bikes 10Y per day / Good service // Go there for the cleanest reasonably priced dbl in town. / What you may not like : not getting the same standard everywhere...

  • Lu Song Yuan Hotel (6401 1116, fax : 6403 0418, email : lsyhotel@263.net), 22 Banchang Lane, Kuanjie, Bus 104 from Train Station / Dorm around 100(3) without bath / Dbl 258 / OK western toilets / Not so clean shower without doors / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the charm of the traditional building (a compound of quadrangle composing of five courtyards), the small Hutong location with relative quietness, the "Silence" signs in the corridors, to check the dorm and new price policy,...  / What you may not like : the tiny rooms and somehow claustrophobic atmosphere of the hotel, not having private bath in the dorm for that price...

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 00)
 A good central option is the Beijing Youth Hostel located behind the International Hotel at 22 Banchang Alley, Dongcheng District. Tel : 440 436 4015882.  It cost Y60 for a dorm bed.

South of the City :

  • Lihua Hotel (010-6721 1144, fax : 6721 1367), 2 stars hotel, Bus No14 from Hepingmen subway station (walk south Nanxinhua Jie 3mn for the bus stop) / Dorm without bath : 31(4), 56(3) / Dbl without bath 132 / Dbl with bath 198 / OK toilets / OK showers / HW 24 hrs /  Internet 15Y per 30mn // Go there for the nicest "cheap" rooms with or without bathroom in the area,  to avoid the crowd, for the convenient bus drop,... / What you may not like : the lack of backpacker' atmosphere...

  • JingHua Hotel (010-6722 2211, fax 6721 1455), Bus No2 or 17 from Qianmen or No14 from Hepingmen then a few minutes walk / Without bath : Dorm 25(20), 30(4) in basement or 35(4) / With shower : 50(30) / Dbl 140 with shower, 160 or 190 with bathtube / Western toilets and showers without doors / HW 24 hrs / Bikes 10Y per day / Internet 15Y per 30mn // Go there to be with all the other backpackers as this place offer the cheapest beds in town as well as the cheapest dbl with bathroom, for the relaxed little garden by the (dirty) pool, the patient staff,... / What you may not like : the dirty western toilets (where to seat ?), the basic quads, the tiny bathrooms in Trpl, the mosquitoes in the basement, the crowd, the few cases of robberies,...

  • Sea Star Hotel (010-6721 8855, fax : 6722 7915), a partner of the Jinghua, Bus No2 or 17 from Qianmen / Dorm in basement : 30 (5 or 6), 35(4) / Dbl with bath 170 / OK western toilets / Common shower / HW 24 hrs // Go there only if the other two are full as the dorm' rooms are basic & dark in the basement and the dbl not so fresh...

  • Jingtai Hotel (010-6722 4675, fax : 6721 2476), Bus No39 from Beijing Train Station up to Puhuangyu then walk west 10mn, Bus No122 from West Train Station up to Tiantian South gate then walk south 15mn, Bus 2 from Qianmen up to Andelin Lu then walk east 10mn, also Bus 25 or 45 up to Liu Li Jing then walk west 5mn / Trpl without bath 120 (LS 90) / Dbl with shower 198 (LS 162) / Add 12Y tax for each room / OK western toilets / Common bath / HW 24 hrs / Bikes 10Y per day // Go there for the relatively quiet and interesting location (market street), the good train connection, to check the yet-to-come new price policy of the English speaking management (Maggy). / What you may not like : so far, having to come with two friends to save money on  the Trpl, the not so fresh rooms

 

Fangyuan Hotel

fangyuan binguan

Dong Hua Hotel

dong hua

Lusongyuan Hotel

lusongyuan binguan

Lihua Hotel

lihua fandian

Jinghua Hotel

jinghua fandian

Sea Star Hotel

haixing dajiudian

Jingtai Hotel

jingtai binguan


Where to eat ? 
For Beijing Duck, avoid the world famous Quanjude group which is now surfing high on its reputation : average food, bad service and inflated prices...

Publications ?  "Welcome to China Beijing", "Beijing Scene", "City Edition" or the more official "Beijing this month" are freely available from restaurants, bars & hotels and provide extensive listings from venues and restaurants to art galleries and bungee jumping places...

Tourist office ? CITS, 28 Jianguomenwai St, tel : 651 58565, from 9 to 18. The English speaking staff might be able to answer some of your questions...

Library ? The best selection of books (mostly in Chinese, of course) can be found at the new Beijing Book Store, just North of the Xidan Subway Station on Xichang'an Jie

Embassies ?

  • Vietnam : 32 Guanghua Lu, Jianguomenwai, Tel : 010-532 1125 / It is no longer necessery to specify the point of entry & exit / The land crossing visa cost however a whopping US$75 and takes 4 days to be delivered !  Better therefore to have it arranged in Hong Kong. / Also one Consulate in Guangzhou.

  • Myanmar : 6 Dong Zhi Men Wai St, Chaoyang District, Tel : 010-532 1584 / Necessary to fly or to take a tour from an agency (see in Kunming)

  • Laos : 11E, 4th St, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, Tel : 010-532 1224 / Best to arrange the visa at the Camelia Hotel in Kunming

    Embassies in Beijing  

 Internet ?

  • One terminal from 8 to 24 at the International Post & Communication for 0.3Y per mn.

  • Two computers at China Telecom for the same rate but open 24 hrs

  • An internet cafe was reported on the 3F of the Old Beijing Railway Station, near Qianmen Metro station / Y20 per hour or Y10 for 30mn. 

Backpacker's Tips : Rafe, Australia (Aug 00)
 Internet at corner of Chengfu Lu and Xueyuan Lu is 10Y per hr, and rockets along, 15 pc's. Also at World Trade centre, nice, but 20Y per hr.

Backpacker's Tips : Carmen Arellano, Mexico (Sept 00)
 If you arrive to Beijing by the South Train Station, get outside the station, avoid all the agressive taxi drivers and look out for bus number 2 that takes you downtown. Remember bus number 2 !

 << Discover some aspects of the Capital...

 

What to see/visit ?  << Discover the sights of Beijing


Trains 
Bus  << Precise transports schedules


The trip to Datong :
  Train No4437/4436  / Night / Y71(?) / dep. 22:58 arr 6:55

A very convenient train that is also quite cheap. Other trains arrive much earlier, are more expensive or are leaving from the West Train Station. 

The trip to Wutaishan : Train K701 + Bus / Night / dep. 21:13 arr 3:47 + 1h30

A very hard arrival time but you will be able to continue your night for one and a half hour in the onward bus to real Wutaishan.  Indeed, buses are waiting for passengers at the train station of Shahe, around 50km away from Taihuai. You will be waken up at the gate and requested to pay the Y50 entrance fee to the area. You should not be the only one to complain about this racket...

The trip to Qingdao : Train NoT25 / Night / Y215 / dep. 22:10 arr 7:59

An expensive but comfortable train that is much faster than a slightly cheaper one...

See also trip from Hohhot to Beijing...


Backpacker's Tips : An adventure to St. Petersburg, by Paul Meier, New Zealand (Sept 01)
First you must get a tourist visa for Russia. In your home country is easiest. It costs about US65, not much you can do about that. To get the visa you need an invitation from a hotel or hostel in Russia. e.g. Youth Hostel in St P, or Hostel Asia in Moscow - both are good. To get the invitation you need to book at least one nights accom and pay for the invitation in advance - about $30 total, pay by credit card. Then you do your trip and spend the night in the hotel/hostel and they will get the stamp put in your passport. It doesn't matter if you travel around Russia for a while before you get the stamp - but get it before you leave Russia or you will be fined. I traveled almost 2 weeks before arriving in St P.

OK so now you're in Beijing ready to leave on your trip, Russian visa in your passport. First buy a ticket direct to Manzhouli, It cost me 126 yuan (8Y=1US), sitting all the way - not recommended! There are sleepers, I found out later, but you must book early (5 days in advance is the maximum) The train runs daily and it takes 33hours. It goes by quite an indirect route - Changchun, Harbin, Qiqihar the Manzhouli.

You arrive in Manzhouli. Hitch a ride or share a taxi to the centre of town which is quite a long way away. Spend a night in the Bei Fang Hotel - it cost me $10, although they start off at $25 so be careful.

Get up EARLY the next morning as there is much to be done!! Take a taxi to the border, should be $4-5. Be sure to get dropped at the front of the queue. You cannot walk across the border. This is tricky. If you can speak Russian or Chinese you may be able to negotiate your way to Chinese customs. I could speak neither so paid a minibus $5 to drive me the hundred meters or so!! There is small fee of about 10 yuan to pay at Chinese customs (don't know why). They will be very surprised to see you as 99.999 percent of travelers are either Chinese or Russian. If your papers are in order you'll be ok. Find your minibus on the other side, or there may be a different one waiting to drive you the next few hundred meters to the Russian customs office. 

In the Russian customs office there will most likely be a chaotic queue. Fight your way through it. Again they will be surprised to see you, but there should be no problems. There will be transport on the other side of the building to drive you to the main road (a dusty dirt track). You could find someone to change money there. It would be about a 30 minute walk to zabaikalsk station from there, or you could pay someone 40-50 roubles to drive you.

Note: The border crossing procedure is the most difficult part of the trip. If you can speak any Russian or Chinese it would be a big help. Try to learn some Russian before you arrive there.

At the station, buy a ticket to Chita. One train a day. Trains run on Moscow time but as I recall if you get to the station before 3pm local time you'll be ok. This train cost me 155 roubles (30R-1US) platscart.

There's not much to see in Chita. You may have to stay overnight (check LP for accom) I then took a train to Irkutsk (282R) which is definitely worth a stop (Lake Baikal especially). At irkutsk there is a foreigners ticket office that speaks English -useful. From there I took a train straight to Moscow. Would have liked to stop somewhere along the way but was short of time. Ticket cost 1088R. Then to St P, ticket 200R.

All tickets in Russia were sleepers, platscart (3rd class). I found it comfortable enough. The Russians like to share their food and drink and are very friendly. Plenty of food and drink can be bought on the platform at each station. Each wagon has its own attendant (provodnik or provodniza) who restricts who can enter the wagon. You can leave your valuables with him or her. I never felt unsafe. If you want a higher level of comfort and safety, you can go kupe (2nd class, 50percent more expensive). Lockable doors to your compartment and cleaner. BTW I never saw another western foreigner on all of the trains I took.

That's how to do it dirt cheap. If you wanted to avoid the hassle (or challenge) of the border crossing at zabaikalsk, you could take an international train from Beijing to irkutsk or chita (for example) and local trains from there. It would be more expensive as there is no 3rd class on international trains. You could also buy the full ticket all the way to Moscow from the main station at Beijing, for about US250 I think. I don't know all the details as I never did it. 

There is no reason why this trip could not be done in reverse as well.