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Guide to Beijing (北京)

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  • All Sages Bookstore 万圣书园, address: 成府路 (on the south side of Qinghua University campus) (the best selection of academic-oriented and literary books in Beijing) (a number of very nice cafes nearby, including the in-house Thinker's Cafe (醒客咖啡))
  • 风入松 bookstore, selection of books similar to All Sages. Near the south gate of Beijing University.
  • For Chinese learning material try the BLCU bookstore at the south gate of BLCU University; the Wangfujing Bookstore (just north of the subway, 3rd Floor (?); or the Foreign Languages Bookstore, ground floor, further north on Wangfujing.The latter two are also sources of English language reading material.



Taxis are plentiful here and compared to most western countries getting around by taxi is quite cheap. But it is not the cheapest nor always the fastest option for getting around the city and many drivers cannot speak English. So make sure you know how to say in Putonghua where you're going, or have it written down in Chinese to show the driver.

[h4]A word about unlicensed taxis[/h4]

The first thing to note is that all legitimate and licensed taxis will have license plates starting with "京B". Anything else is an unlicensed taxi (or "black car" as the locals refer to them). Many of these unlicensed taxis look like real taxis, and even have working meters, so always check the license plate before getting into a car. There are also unlicensed cars that don't even try to look like a taxi and don't have a meter, you will often see these cars parked outside of subway stations.

If you're arriving at the Capital Airport, there is a taxi queue outside of the arrivals lounge. You should go there to take a taxi. If someone approaches you from within the terminal and offers you a taxi, it most likely will be for an unlicensed car.


Fares are always metered here.

During the day, flag fall is 10 RMB, this includes the first 3 km. Each additional km is charged at 2 RMB, in increments of 1 RMB. Over 20 km the per-km rate goes up by 20%.

After 11pm at night, the fares increase. Flag fall becomes 11 RMB and the per-km rate 2.40 RMB. The surcharge for longer distances also applies. As you can see, taking the taxi late at night can become quite a bit more expensive.

There may still be taxis that have a base rate of 2.40 RMB/km, these cars are usually black in colour (not to be confused with the unlicensed "black cars") and a bit larger than the regular taxis. In any case, the base per-km rate will always be displayed on the rear windows of the taxi.

There is also a rate for idling, so being stuck in a traffic jam will also increase the fare.

As for "getting taken on the scenic route", many drivers here are honest but sometimes it does happen. The best way to protect yourself from this is to know the route to your destination and tell it to the driver. But do note that due to how the roads are laid out in Beijing and the traffic rules, what seems like the best route isn't always possible. For example, it is forbidden to make left turns at most intersections on Chang An Avenue prior to 11pm. So the driver may suggest an alternative route and this is ok. So long as you don't come off as a total newbie, they will think twice about cheating the foreigner.

Before getting out of the taxi, don't forget to get your receipt. You'll need it for claiming expenses, and even if you aren't, it's generally good practise to do so in case you leave something behind in the car.

[h4]Taxi Etiquette[/h4]

If you're carrying luggage, especially the type with wheels/rollers, the driver may ask and even insist that you put your luggage in the trunk. This is ok, he doesn't want to steal your luggage - he's just trying to keep his car clean for the next passenger.

Eating in a cab is generally frowned-upon, but the driver is unlikely to say anything so long as you're not eating messy food.

If you're a smoker, taxis here are non-smoking, so don't. Likewise, if a driver decides to light up you can ask him to stop.

In the summer, if it's hot outside you can ask the driver to turn on the A/C if he hasn't already.

Finally, taxi drivers here can and do get fined for traffic violations. In addition to the fine (which starts at 200 RMB and up depending on the violation), he will also get a short suspension from his job. There are also lots of traffic cameras throughout the city. So don't get mad if the driver refuses to make an illegal u-turn or to let you out of the car somewhere that he isn't allowed to stop.


As of the opening of Line 5, the fare for riding the subway has dropped to 2 RMB. This includes transfers between the lines. You can pay using one-time tickets, or by using a card that you can store credit on ("yi ka tong").

It does get incredibly crowded on weekdays during rush hour, so if you value your personal space, you should take this into consideration.

Here are the subway lines that are currently in operation:

  • Line 1 - runs east-west along Chang An Avenue
  • Batong Line - this is an extension of Line 1 to the east, with transfer stations at Sihui and Sihui Dong. This line will take you to Tongzhou and beyond.
  • Line 2 (aka - "loop" line) - this is a closed loop running around the 2nd ring road north of Chang An Avenue, and just south of Chang An Avenue.
  • Line 5 - newly opened line (10/2007), runs north-south and intersects Line 13, Line 2, and Line 1.
  • Line 13 - this is another loop on top of Line 5, terminal stations at Xizhimen and Dongzhimen

[h3]City Bus[/h3]

(To do)

[h3]Airport Shuttle Bus[/h3]

An alternative to taking a taxi into the city from Capital Airport is to take the Airport Shuttle Bus. It is very affordable at 16RMB per person, per trip and there are 5 routes to choose from. If you're not getting off at the terminating stop, then make sure the driver knows and try to sit near the front of the bus so you don't miss his announcement for your stop. You can also take the shuttle bus to get to the airport, but the routes and stops are a bit different. See here for more information and a map of the routes and stops for both directions.

[h3]Inter-city Bus[/h3]

[h3]Inter-city Train[/h3]

[h2]Short-term Affordable Housing[/h2]

If you have no desire to stay in a 5-star hotel, here are some short-term housing options that are more affordable and have gotten good feedback from forum members.

  • Hejia binguan 和家宾馆 – good hotel option next to BLCU 和家宾馆北四环店 海淀区 成府路 东升园 七条 华清家园 (北四环保福寺桥向北300米再向东 100米)
    Phone: 82629055
  • 365Inn has two locations in Beijing. One member has reported positive experiences with the branch by BNU. There is also a Qianmen branch
  • Home Inn has about 35 locations all over Beijing, price range is RMB 200-300. It is quite busy and you need to book in advance!

You can also use the following sites to search for hotels.

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I recall some good discussions about Hejia bingguan so I created a new section and added it in. I'm hoping that someone can add info on the hostels. Also, this shouldn't be limited to just hotels in the Wudaokou area. If you know of any good and cheap hotels in the city, let's include them here!

Also, is the SAC option only availabe to students? Or can all travellers stay there? I didn't feel like reading through 12 pages of posts (http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/63-taiwanese-writer-san-mao26) to find out. There might also be other relevant info there too.

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