China's capital, Beijing, is a sprawling metropolis where ancient Chinese culture meets modernity. With over 3000 years of history, the city is teeming with reminders of Beijing's imperial past. For a glimpse into the rich tapestry of historical China, look no further than Beijing. There is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, such as the Great Wall of China, the Hutongs, and the Forbidden City. The city is also home to contemporary architectural masterpieces such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube in Beijing Olympic Park, and the stunning National Centre for Performing Arts.
Flying to Beijing from Australia is very affordable. Chinese owned airlines offer the most competitive prices, with return airfares from $320. Currently, direct flights are only available from Sydney and Melbourne, flying with Air China or Qantas. Return flights start from as low as $365.
Make the most of your trip with a stop en route.
The following airlines fly daily to Beijing from Australia:-
Remember that Australian passport holders will need a visa to enter China. Single entry tourist visas to China cost $110. Ensure you allow at least ten business days for your visa application to be processed.
Beijing Capital International Airport is located 32km from central Beijing. Using the airport express train or a taxi is the best way to get into the city.
Beijing Airport Express Train: The express train is the fastest and most affordable way to make your way into Beijing. The fare is approximately $5AUD, and the trip takes about 20 minutes into central Beijing, where you can transfer to the subway if necessary. The train operates from 6:20 am to 11:10 pm every day.
Taxi: Catching a taxi is a more flexible option, especially if you arrive while the express train isn't operating. Keep away from drivers who approach you, as they may try to scam you, and head directly to the official taxi rank. Taxi fares start from about $20AUD, and the trip takes 50 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Ensure to have the name of your accommodation written down in Mandarin to assist the driver.
Airport Shuttle: Taking the airport shuttle bus is a good option if you don't have much luggage. The ticket is the same price as the train ($5AUD), but the journey will take more than an hour. This option might only be more convenient if there is a bus stop near your accommodation. The shuttle operates from 7:00 am to Midnight every day.
Beijing has an extensive modern subway system. It's fast and affordable, with tickets from less than $1AUD. However, it can get very crowded, so don't expect to sit down.
Another great way to get where you need to go – and see the city at the same time – is by bicycle. Most roads have bike lanes, making it safe and easy to get around. You can hire a bike for about $10AUD per day.
Forbidden City: This 600-year old UNESCO world heritage site is unmissable. The Forbidden City is the world's oldest imperial palace and China's most extensive collection of preserved ancient buildings. Spend a few hours exploring the imperial quarters, examining exquisite artworks, and walking through the traditional gardens. Book your ticket well in advance as there is a limit of visitors per day.
Summer Palace: Stroll through the best-preserved oriental gardens in the world at the Summer Palace. You'll be amazed by the harmony of nature, water, and architecture as you walk through the gardens, or enjoy a boat ride to an island temple.
Tiananmen Square: The authoritative power of communist China is palpable at this iconic square. Brutalist Soviet-style building borders the public square, which is the largest in the world. Get there at sunrise or sunset to see the People's Liberation Army perform the flag-raising or lowering ceremony with precision.
The Temple of Heaven: This historically significant temple is where ancient emperors prayed for a bountiful harvest and divine enlightenment. The cylindrical temple is architecturally unique and ornately decorated. Open to the public since 1918; now the temple is a popular place for locals to practise tai chi.
Peking (Beijing) Duck: This dish is synonymous with Beijing. The dish is famed for its crispy skin and is traditionally served with very little meat.
Quanjude (全聚德) restaurant has over 100 years' experience perfecting the art of delectable roast duck.
Zhang Mama: Run by a multigenerational family from Sichuan province, Zhang Mama will serve you a veritable spice feast, and at an affordable price. Try the signature xiāngguō, a bowl of your choice of meat served with an assortment of veggies, spices and whole chilis.
Don't leave Beijing without also trying dumplings, Zhájiàng noodles, and Beijing Imperial Cuisine!