When To Come
Beijing is a city of extremes, with a very cold winter and a boiling hot summer. So we’ll let you in to a little secret: it’s at its very best in April, May, September and October when the temperature is just right, the sky is blue and taxi drivers seem mysteriously chirpy. November to mid-March in Beijing is winter and temperatures can drop to -10 degrees centigrade. Summer in Beijing runs from May to mid September and can reach highs of 40 degrees centigrade.
How long to stay
Like most major world capitals, Beijing has enough going on to keep you occupied for a lifetime. However we recommend at least a 3-day stay to make sure you get to see some of the off-the-beaten path sights and ‘real’ Beijing too.
Goodness, where do we start? Taxis are a constant topic of conversation and most Beijingers’ biggest headache. Increasingly difficult to hail, and often driven by underpaid, unhelpful drivers, it’s definitely one of Beijing’s not so great features. Sometimes you’ll strike it lucky and find a friendly English speaking siji, but the odds are extremely slim. The good thing is that taxis are cheap. Very cheap. Expect to pay around 4 USD per journey.
China’s unit of currency goes by many names. Officially it is known as the Renminbi (RMB for short), meaning ‘The People’s Currency, but also goes by the name ‘yuan’ or the informal ‘kuai’. All three words refer to the same unit of currency, and the largest denomination is just 100RMB.
With the exception of staff in five star hotels, tour guides and hired drivers, tipping is not commonplace, or indeed acceptable, in China. Don’t feel guilty about it; staff are occasionally searched before leaving the premises and can get into hot water if found with extra cash. When eating out, service will already have been factored into the cost of your meal when you get your bill.
Here’s the good news. From a crime perspective, Beijing is one of the safest cities in the world. Even late at night you can feel safe walking through the old alleyways and sidestreets. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t exercise common sense in crowded public places (subways, major tourist sights and major train stations) as this is where pickpocketing is prevalent. If you’re a female travelling alone, we also recommend avoiding the backstreets of Sanlitun very late at night. Other than that, you can relax.