The next summer olympics in 2008 will be held in Beijing. Beijing is becoming an increasingly important stop for the business traveler, as well as growing in popularity with its proximity to the Great Wall, along with the astounding Forbidden City in downtown Beijing. With all these factors favoring Beijing, here are a few tips to get in and out of its international airport:
- Airlines provide entry and departure forms, but not quarantine ones. Quarantine forms are often scarce, but are located immediately before you go through customs and take very little time to fill out. Once you have all of the documents together it is easy to go through to the customs hall.
- You will need to get your visa to enter China - information is provided by the Chinese Embassy for US residents, Canadians, UK residents, Australians, New Zealand residents.
- Finding an atm after customs in the baggage hall is straightforward - just look to your left as you enter the baggage hall and you will see it there.
- Also located in the baggage hall are free, useful maps of Beijing.
- Leaving the airport fairly straightforward too: as you leave the baggage hall on the arrivals level go to your far right on the arrivals level. Here you'll see a sign for shuttles and a stand to buy your tickets for 16 yuan (approx $2 US) - Route 1 is a good because it stops at a few of the subway stations, the bus itself is comfortable and air conditioned.
- If taking a taxi you should pay no more than 100 yuan (just over $12 US) to get to a hotel in the city.
- Within the city, cabs are inexpensive: no tips are expected and are sometimes even refused. In Beijing, the cost of taking a taxi ranges from 10 to 15 yuan (approx $1.25 - $1.85) for the first 4km and 1.20 to 2.10 yuan ($0.15 - $0.26) for each km after (depending on their amenities such as air conditioning) - these are marked on the windows of the taxis and it is good to use the free map from the airport to point where you want to go. It is also useful to have a copy of the name of where you want to go in chinese as it is exceedingly rare to find a cab driver who speaks any foreign languages. You can visit your hotel's website for the Chinese script, or have them e-mail/fax it to you in advance.
Beijing is not the easiest city to navigate, but it is becoming more tourist friendly with some signs in English - one assumes it may be part of the earlier preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics. From feasting on Peking Duck, to visiting the Great Wall there is much to see once you leave the airport.
At the time of this writing the rate of exchange is:
1 US dollar = 8.3 yuan
1 Canadian dollar = 6.9 yuan
1 Australian dollar = 6.5 yuan
1 NZ dollar = 6 yuan
1 UK pound = 16 yuan
1 Euro = 11.25 yuan