Traveling to China can be stressful especially because there is a list of things you NEED and a list of things YOU SHOULD KNOW before going.
Don’t worry though, I am here to help! Before I share my tips for traveling to Beijing, China I will say that the biggest recommendation I can share is to travel to China with an open mind.
You should ALWAYS travel with an open mind because you’re traveling and stepping away from your comfort zone, but for China, I highly recommend traveling with an open mind.
VISA FOR CHINA
As an American, you need a VISA for China. Word to the wise, I would highly recommend finding a finding a company to do the paperwork for you. It might be a little pricey, but it’s absolutely worth it. I played the cheap card and did it all myself. Which was only $140.00 for the VISA. But somewhere along the process, I made a mistake and I only received a VISA for six months with one entry. Verse (what you’re supposed to get and what I wanted to get) a 10-year VISA with multiple entries. – I still paid $140. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper. Not to mention all the time you need to revisit the Chinese Embassy.
APPS YOU’LL NEED
- Download the following apps:
You will need these apps in order to communicate with anyone back home or in China. China has high restrictions on Instagram, Facebook, anything Google, and Pinterest. Technically you just can’t use any of these platforms if you’re in China. It sucks. Especially for a digital nomad who works from all these platforms. A VPN number is what tells the internet where you’re located. These apps basically lie to the VPN and tell them you’re actually in the US so that you could use those platforms.
Remember Google doesn’t work in China. This is a great app! I used it for Cuba too. All you need to is download the map of the city and you can use the map offline. Which is clutch if you don’t have wi-fi. It will help you get around much easier.
The best way to exchange money is by using an ATM machine. Please make sure it isn’t an ATM machine that is by a Currency Exchange company but an ATM that is from a local or international bank. The difference is that the local or international bank will have the actually exchanged rate for that day. Where as the currency exchange rate company will have whatever exchange rate they want to charge. Basically, you have fewer chances of losing money from a local or international bank than you would from other ATM machines.
When you arrive in Beijing, China they have a Taxi service that with certified taxi drives. You can go up to the counter and ask them to translate your location to Chinese so that the cab driver can read the directions. I would recommend asking what the company is charging vs. what you’d like to pay. Typically an airport ride should be no more than $25-$35 USD (150-250 CYN).
GETTING AROUND BEIJING (TRANSPORTATION)
If you don’t speak Chinese it can be a little difficult. There are 4 ways to get around Beijing:
- Walking- this is definitely my favorite. It’s a great way to see the city and really explore the culture. Plus it’s a great way to cut calories from all the awesome Chinese food.
- Cabs/ Taxi- I recommend keeping a small map and full address of your hotel in Chinese or where you’re staying on a piece of paper. This will help you communicate with your driver. The cabs are run by meters. They are fairly cheap.
- Bicycle- Beijing is a known as a Bicycle city! You can rent a bike and ride around the city. This is def the most cost effective way. Your hotel could help you with renting bikes.
- Rickshaw- These are the people riding around town in bicycles in those cute little wagons. Please be aware that 9 out of 10 times these people will try to rip you off. So get to negotiate and stick to your price!
- Metro (Subway) – This is the most cost effective method of getting around without possibly getting run over (biking around Beijing) haha. A metro ticket is dirt cheap and they are super clean! The actual trains have air conditioning so it helps during those unbearable hot summer days. Don’t let the map intimate you. It is very easy to get around via Metro.
My last and most important advice is to negotiate. Chinese people love to negotiate prices. In fact they respect it. Especially with women. I have to say this is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. Negotiating prices. It’s fun! Don’t feel like you’re being rude if you tell a rickshaw driver you want to pay $50.00 less than his original offer. Trust me, if he wants to give you a ride he will compromise!
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