Traveling in Beijing can be challenging, yet exciting. With history stretching back three millennia, its ancient sites such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Tiananmen Square are a must-visit. However, compared to other Chinese cities, Beijing could leave you stretching your pocket. It might be a little bit more expensive, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this ancient city.
What if we told you that you can travel on a budget in Beijing? *mind blown* Beijing is one of the few international cities where you can include a variety of experiences to suit your budget. Follow our tips below, and you might even return home with more than just souvenirs in your luggage!
The cheapest time to visit Beijing
One of the best ways to save money is to choose the right time to travel. The cheapest time of the year to visit Beijing is during the off-season winter, which runs from November to March. During this time, prices for most of Beijing’s attractions and hotels are discounted. However, the downside when visiting during this time is that the weather is freezing cold, the smog is on a higher level and some of the tourist attractions might be closed. If you decide to visit during the off-season, make sure to check if the places you’re visiting are open.
Try to avoid traveling during the summer as it’s the peak season, and absolutely avoid visiting during the 15 days of Chinese New Year as well as on National Day holiday (1 October) when the city becomes extraordinarily busy and expensive!
The cheapest way to get around Beijing
Traveling on a budget? Forget taking taxis or even renting a car. The best, cheapest and easiest way to get around in Beijing is to take the subway. The Beijing subway is so well-connected that you can get to anywhere in the city within a 10-minute walk from a subway station. Talk about being efficient!
But, if this is your first time visiting Beijing, the subway stations can be a massive web of confusion. Every subway station has four exits that are nowhere near each other, and if you take the wrong exit, you can get lost! So, make sure that you know which stop to get off at AND which exit to take out of the subway station.
Since the apps that you’re probably using back home might not work in Beijing, check out the apps you need to have when visiting China.
Where to eat cheap in Beijing
If everything else seems expensive to you, don’t worry, food is where you can really save up. The best thing about Beijing is that you can eat cheap yet delicious food. It’s a win-win situation, we think! Beijing is a mecca for street food and you can find a myriad of dumplings, noodles and snacks everywhere that you’d never go hungry. Some of the must-go spots for street food in Beijing include Ghost Street, Wangfujing Snack Street and Muslim Street. For the best dumplings and noodles in Beijing, keep an eye out for places where there is no English translation and only full of locals!
Where to stay in Beijing on a budget
Hostels are your best bet if you’re traveling on a budget, especially if you’re a solo traveler or traveling with a group of friends. If you’re a first-timer, staying at Qianmen Street is ideal, although you’ll be paying a little bit more for the central location. As a budget traveler, you may want to look along Dashilan (away from the shopping area) for smaller hotels. Both neighborhoods are within walking distance to Tiananmen Square, shopping, and good food.
Another area popular for tourists is Wangfujing where there are plenty of beautiful boutique guesthouses and is only one subway stop away from the Forbidden City. Do keep in mind that staying in these suburban hutongs (alleyway) means you’ll spend more time getting around with the subway. Whichever area you pick, make sure it’s tourist-friendly so it’s easier for you to navigate the language barrier. Want an even better way to save, you say? Why, come book your hotels on Traveloka!