You want to go to visit Beijing during a transit without visa ? This post is for you! Come here to see how to visit most of the city in two days.

Beijing - Tiananmen - South Entrance to the Imperial City
Beijing - Temple of Heaven Beijing - The Great Wall of China
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Even if Beijing is quite difficult to explore it’s still worth a visit. First thing to know, it is full of people everywhere, whether they’re citizens of the city or tourists coming from other provinces of China. And second, nobody speaks English over there. But don’t worry, you’ll survive, it just requires some organisation. You need to be sure to know how to get to all the places you want to visit, either by looking on a city map or by printing each route before going. Because nobody in the street will be able to help you (except if you can speak Chinese!).

Tip: to go to China, citizens of many countries require a visa. But for a stopover of 72 hours [UPDATE 2020: it’s now 144 hours], it’s not necessary. That’s why I suggest visiting the city for two days.
To be allowed to stay 72 hours without a visa, at the airport when passing immigration choose the special line which is normally only for business people (right next to the automated passport control), then show your plane ticket to prove that your next flight will be in less than 72 hours and tell the person that you want a free transit visa.

This is the schedule I’ve followed during my stopover in Beijing, 2 days were enough to see most of the city:

Schedule - Beijing, 2 days

Day 1: exploring the city

Tiananmen Square

Beijing - Tiananmen Square - Great Hall of the People Beijing - Tiananmen Square - National Museum of China Beijing - Tiananmen Square - Monument to the People's Heroes
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Start your first day by visiting the Tiananmen Square. To get there, take the subway (line 1) and get off at the «Tiananmen East » or « Tian’anmen West » station. Once there, on one side, there’s the Great Hall of the People and on the other side, there’s the National Museum of China. The entrance to the museum is free by showing your passport, however you’ll have to wait in line to get in (and the queue can really be long, even in the morning). Then, when facing the Imperial City, behind you, you will see the Monument to the People’s Heroes, and behind it, there is the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (which is also free, but again, the queue to enter can be very long).

Forbidden City

Beijing - Forbidden City - Gate of Supreme Harmony Beijing - Forbidden City - Hall of Supreme Harmony Beijing - Forbidden City - Throne Palace of Heavenly Purity
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Then, continue your tour of the town by visiting the Forbidden City. From the Tiananmen Square, there’s an underpass, take it and you’ll be entering the Imperial City. From this point, you can’t go wrong, just follow all the other people. Pass security, keep going and you’ll arrive in a courtyard. Over there, you’ll be able to purchase the entrance tickets (¥40/person). The ticket booths are located right after the restaurant and the picnic tables. You’ll find them easily, they have the mention « tickets for the museum ». Once you have your ticket, you’ll be able to continue exploring the fortress! Just go straight, and you’ll pass various rooms of the emperor’s palace. The visit ends when you’ll arrive into the park.

Temple of Heaven

Beijing - Temple of Heaven Beijing - Ceiling of the Temple of Heaven
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After the visit of the Forbidden City, go to have lunch before going to the Temple of Heaven. It’s located at the subway station « Tiantan » (exit A), and the palace itself, is located into a park. When leaving the subway, you should see the park. Get in and head to the ticket booth, the entrance to the park is ¥10. From there, walk straight through the park for about 10 minutes. Then you’ll see the temple and the ticket booth. Admission is ¥20.

Olympic Park

Beijing - Olympic Park - tower Beijing - Olympic Park - Bird's Nest Beijing - Olympic Park - Water Cube
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For the end of the day, you can go to visit the Olympic Park. To go there, get off at the « Olympic Green » subway station and take the exit H. From there you’ll already be able see the stadiums: the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. It’s a large street and the stadiums are located on both sides.

In the late evening, you can go to the mall which is located opposite to the Olympic park (in the basement). There are many restaurants there where you can have dinner.

Tip: or you can go to eat in a small restaurant which is located right next to the stairs that leads to the mall (on the left). There’s not much choice, but their food is excellent and very cheap.

Day 2: Beijing’s surrounding area

The Great Wall of China

Beijing - The Great Wall of China - view

To go to visit the Great Wall of China, you should start your day pretty early. It’s located quite far from the city, about 55 km away. The best way to get there is to take bus number 877, which is a direct bus.

Tip: BE CAREFUL! because there are so many fake taxis waiting at bus stops, trying to rip you off by offering round trips overpriced. They pretend that all the buses of the day going to the great wall were cancelled and they then offer a trip by car, but they put 6 people in a car, plus the driver. So it extremely dangerous and more than that, they drive sometimes on the emergency lane, sometimes zigzagging between cars. And it’s really expensive where the bus only costs ¥12 one way.

To take the bus, go to the subway station « Jishuitan » (exit A), then turn left and walk straight until you see a fortress. Buses are inside of it. You just have to get on a bus, but every passengers must be seated. So if there are no more seats available, just wait for the next bus, they operate frequently. Then a person will come to sell tickets. The journey takes about 1 hour and a half to 2 hours. Once there, head to the ticket booth to buy an entrance ticket, admission is about ¥40 (more or less depending on the period). To visit the wall, you’ll just have to walk on it and to climb stairs. You can walk as much as you want, but just remember, you’ll have to walk all the way back. So don’t forget to bring walking shoes! When you’re done visiting, take the same bus to go back to the city.

Summer Palace

If you have some time left, you can go to visit the Summer Palace, which is located at the subway station « Xiyuan ». Once you are out of the station, turn left and walk along the street for about 10 minutes until the park entrance.




A trip by taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost about ¥100. If you want to be able to reach your hotel, you must have the hotel address written in Chinese characters, because taxi drivers will not be able to read the address in Latin alphabet. So the best is to find the Chinese translation of the address before going to China (try to do some research on the Internet). But if you cannot find it, don’t worry, you’ll always be able to go to the information desk at the airport and the person there will be able to translate it for you.

Tip: don’t listen to scammers waiting into the airport who keep asking you where you are going. Ignore them and directly go to the taxis section.

Once you’ve reached the taxis section, just wait in line to take a taxi. At the end of the queue, a person there will tell you which taxi you should take. And don’t worry, they all have a GPS!

At the end of your stay, to get back to the airport, you can ask your hotel to call you a taxi. It will be the exact same price as on the first trip.

Public Transportation

But to go to the city centre from the airport, you can also take the express line and the subway. It costs ¥25+¥3 per person. It’s pretty cheap but not very convenient, because you’ll have to carry your bags on the subway full of people and when out of the subway you’ll have to walk to go to find your hotel.


The most convenient and the cheapest way to get around the city is the subway. You just have to buy a ticket, either at the machine or at the ticket booth. It will cost ¥3 per trip regardless of the distance.

Also, all the subway stations have safety controls. So each time you are getting into a station, you have to put your bag in a X-ray machine and if you have a bottle of water, you’ll have to drink a sip at each control!


Just so you know, almost every restaurants will ask you to pay right after ordering food (like in a fast food). So don’t be surprised.

I recommend tasting one of Beijing specialties: xiao long bao. They are small round dumplings, but be careful, there can be a boiling soup in the inside of it. You can find these dumplings in a lot of restaurants especially in the malls.

Beijing - culinary specialty - xiao long bao


To get Chinese yuan, there are, to me, 2 excellent ways:

  • Global Alliance: if your bank is a member of this alliance, then you can withdraw cash at some cash withdrawal machine in Beijing with your credit card. They don’t take commission and have one of the best rate. You can check with your bank were exactly you can withdraw cash.

Tip: for example, the members are:

  • Barclays in the UK
  • Scotiabank in Canada
  • Westpac in Australia and New-Zealand
  • Bank of America or Bank of the West in the USA
  • BNP Paribas or Hello Bank in France
  • Currency exchange offices: the best option is to change money before going to China in order to avoid any inconvenience.


When booking a hotel, try to find one located close to a subway station, and also close to the places you are planning to visit.
And always try to print your booking confirmation voucher.

Thanks for reading :)

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