Frugal Travel Tips For Beijing, China

Beijing, home of the 2008 Olympics, has more to offer it than simply an Olympic venue. Sites such as the Forbidden City and The Temple of Heaven charge an entrance fee. Other sites such as the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs require, in addition to the entrance fees, an excursion outside the city. However there are ways for the frugal traveler to reduce costs.

The Great Wall

Seeing some sections of The Great Wall is a must (to see it all takes years). It is located outside of the city and getting there can be costly. English language tours are costly. Chinese language tours? A tenth to a fifth of the cost. Chinese language tours in minibuses leave from the street just south of the Great Hall of the People off Tian'anmen Square every morning. Tickets can be purchased from the booth on the pavement before departure. We stopped at four different sections of the wall, Badaling the most popular, commercial and crowded, and three others where we were the only people we could see.

Note: Ensure that you get back to the minibus on time or the driver will leave you. Times will be shouted out in Chinese so clarify with the driver. One of the tricks I use while traveling in non-English speaking countries is to bring a pad of paper and a pen with me. I point at my digital travel watch and write a time that I think it is. The driver will usually take the pen and adjust to the correct time.

Donghua Men Night Market

One of the appeals of Beijing is the exotic food, even if it is to only watch the locals eat it. Anything and everything is available at the Donghua Men Night Market from snake to seahorse to anything you can possibly think of and more. The night markets are an ideal place to people watch and of course it is free.

Gardens Around The Temple Of Heaven

There is an entrance fee to the must see Temple Of Heaven but the beautifully kept gardens around it are free to wander in. Not only is the scenery beautiful but in the mornings, especially, the parks are full of locals doing their morning exercises (such as Tai Chi)

Tian'anmen Square

Located in the heart of Beijing, Tian'anmen Square is one of its symbols. The square itself is free to explore and is the surrounded by monuments and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. At sunrise and sunset, there is a rising and lowering of the flag ceremony.

Beijing is one of the cities to see in the world. With thousands of years of culture and history, it is certain to fascinate.

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