Why You Should Take a Flight to Beijing
China’s capital is a sprawling mega-city, where ancient and modern collide in spectacular fashion.
Beijing’s world famous historic sites like Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall transport you to a different age, but today they sit alongside the glitzy Western malls and arcades of districts like Wangfujing.
The city is China’s cultural melting pot – there are museums and galleries galore, and food lovers will be in heaven.
When to Book Flights to Beijing
Beijing has cold winters and hot humid summers, but crowds flock to the city all year round. Winter and summer bring extremes of temperature and the pollution levels can be bad at these times of year.
Cheap flights can be difficult to find around the time of the Chinese New Year celebrations in late January or February.
Spring can be windy but is a good time to visit the city before the summer rush. Beijing is beautiful in fall, and the September and October are the best months to visit, with mild temperatures and less rain.
How to Find the Best Flight Deals to Beijing
Beijing is one of the world’s biggest transport hubs so it should not be difficult to find cheap flights, and when you book with Orbitz there are plenty of ways to ensure you find a bargain.
Having some flexibility in your itinerary is key. Use the ‘Show flexible dates’ option when searching for Beijing flights to compare fares on different days and unlock different routes. The ‘Nearby airports’ option lets you look at flights from different departure points in the US that may be cheaper.
You can filter results to compare direct and connecting flights by clicking ‘Show options’ and using the buttons on the left of the screen. It is also possible to list flights by price, duration, ticket type and by airline.
US Departures to Beijing
Optimal flight times from US cities to Beijing include:
Main Airports in Beijing
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is enormous. It is the second busiest airport in the world (after Atlanta), handling almost 100 million passengers a year, and the third terminal, opened in 2008, is the sixth biggest building in the world. There are shuttle buses between the terminals.
There are English-speaking tourist information kiosks, money-changing facilities and ATMs around the airport and the array of shops and restaurants is staggering. There are plenty of familiar brands including Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC and the duty-free shopping area in T3 is huge.
Which Airlines Fly to Beijing?
Airlines flying direct from the US to Beijing include:
- Air China
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Hainan Airlines
- United Airlines
How to Get to and Around Beijing
Beijing Capital International is 20 miles north-east of the city center. The Airport Express rail link takes you into the city in 20 minutes and is part of the Beijing subway system. There are many different bus routes to and from the airport. There are also shuttles and taxis. Bus fares start at RMB4, shuttles cost from RMB20 and taxis are upwards of RMB100.
Long-distance buses and trains also arrive into Beijing from other parts of China.
The subway system is already vast and continues to expand. It has 22 lines and 370 stations but is relatively easy to navigate. Fares are based on distance traveled and start at RMB3. The bus system is also extensive but can be confusing. Yikatong cards can be used to travel on subway trains and buses.
Cycling is another option in Beijing, which is flat and has lots of bike lines. Taxis are cheap but can be hard to flag down and few drivers speak English. It is possible to hire a car, but driving is difficult in China and you need a local license.
What Are the Must-Sees in Beijing?
Beijing’s awesome Forbidden City was home to the rulers of the Ming and Qing dynasties for almost 500 years. It covers 180 acres in the heart of the city and it takes at least a day to explore the palaces, temples and museums. Enter through the imposing Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tiananmen Square.
East of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum of China, housed in a brutalist Cold War-era structure. The museum has more than a million exhibits including breathtaking ceramics, bronzeware and calligraphy.
Modern Beijing is a sight to behold. Architectural triumphs include the Bird’s Nest stadium, built for the 2008 Olympics, and the headquarters of China Central Television, an irregular 44-story tower that looks like a pair of trousers.
Tips and Tricks for Traveling in Beijing
Carry a piece of paper with your address written down in Chinese script to show to taxi drivers.
You should have no problem accessing the internet in Beijing but remember that the Chinese government restricts access to some sites.
Beijing’s pollution problems are well documented, so if you suffer from respiratory problems make sure you have medication and wear a pollution mask.