How to choose a suitable budget hotel in Beijing? Well, this artical gives you the best answer.
Hostels Feature English Speakers
Many Beijing youth hostels have opened in recent years to cater to the increasing traffic of local and international backpackers. They are usually located in modern buildings or recently restored courtyard homes very close to Beijing’s main attractions and shopping streets. Most hostels offer dorm rooms of various sizes as well as private rooms, some with the option of an en suite toilet.
Hostels are often staffed by young Chinese with a good command of English. Easing the ‘lost in translation’ feeling, they will gladly direct you to the best eateries and nightlife in town.
Beijing’s Hostels are Centrally Located
The area between Chongwen and South Chaoyang is one of Beijing’s most popular hotel districts. Located a short distance away from the city’s main sights, such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven, it is well connected to public transportation.
A great option is Leo Youth Hostel, tucked away on a picturesque alleyway that is much quieter than Dazhalan Xijie, the closest main drag. This is one of Beijing’s longest standing hostels. The staff is enthusiastic, used to dealing with foreigners, and will be happy to point out the best dumpling stalls in the area.
For history and atmosphere, Dongcheng is the spot. Not far from famous sights like the Lama Temple and the Drum and Bell towers, Dongcheng still offers a taste of old Beijing. It is one of the few places where the hutongs, Beijing’s traditional districts with courtyard homes and narrow alleyways, still survive. Happy Dragon Courtyard Hostel is in a Dongcheng hutong in a restored courtyard home dating back to 1820. Many of the original features have been maintained, including red lanterns and a pond with bamboo trees. Kelly’s Courtyard is another reliable choice in Dongcheng. This tastefully restored courtyard home is run by an artist and fashion designer.
Budget Courtyard Homes via Airbnb
If you want history, character, and a unique Beijing experience, try booking your very own courtyard home on Airbnb. There are many options to choose from, often costing only a little more than a private room in a hostel. Most are located around Dongcheng. Solo and couple travellers can snap a bargain by booking a private room on Airbnb. What better way to find that perfect Peking duck than having your own Beijinger host show you around?
Public Transportation is inexpensive Chongwen, South Chaoyang, and Dongcheng are all centrally located, but Beijing is such a huge city you’ll eventually have to take public transportation. Buying a rechargeable Yikatong card, which offers bus and subway discounts, is a great way to save money.
Beijing buses are the cheapest option, starting at ¥1 (¥2 for aircon buses), but make sure to get your ticket from the conductor, not the driver. Buses are reliable and convenient for short hops around town, but travelling longer distances can be quite difficult if you don’t speak Chinese or have a Chinese friend with you. It’s also hard to find seats, and all signs are in Chinese script. Daytime Beijing buses run from about 5-6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and night buses (200-number series) run from after 11 p.m. to 4-5 a.m.
The Chinese capital is served by an excellent subway system with English signage and a flat fare of ¥2 on all lines (except for the Airport Express). The system is easy to navigate, but trains tend to be very crowded, especially at peak hours.
Taxis are everywhere and can be hailed from the street or called over the phone. Few taxi drivers, however, speak English and some refuse to accept your custom if you don’t speak Chinese. Having your destination written down in Chinese script helps. Cabs are new and comfortable, and most are air-conditioned. They are all required to use a meter and advertise the going rate on a sticker on the door. Fares usually start from ¥10 and are 10% higher at night.
Budget Attractions Abound in Beijing
Sightseeing elsewhere in China is expensive, but Beijing offers many free things to do and popular attractions costing a only a few kuai. The Summer palace costs only ¥30; the Temple of Heaven is ¥35; and the Drum and Bell towers, close to one of Beijing’s prettiest hutongs, are just ¥20 and ¥15. The Forbidden City, so huge you could easily spend the day there, is a bargain at ¥40.
Free attractions include Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum in Tienanmen’s square, as well as wonderful markets such as Wangfujing Snack street (starfish on a stick, anyone?) and the quirky 798 Art Zone.
When to Book for Cheap Rates
In winter, Beijing’s hotel rates dip along with the temperature, often -4 F (-20 C). This is the cheapest time to visit, but if you’re staying at a budget hotel, make sure it has heating. Peak tourist season is between September and November, when the breeze blows Beijing’s perpetual pollution cloud away. Summers are scorching, as hot as 104 F (40 C) with unbearable humidity.
Hotel rates rise around the Chinese New Year (two weeks in January-February), Labour Day (May 1), and National Day (October 1). Sightseeing during these holidays is also hectic due to the influx of Chinese tourists.
Online rates are usually cheaper than walk-in prices. If you didn’t book in advance, ask for a discount. Up to 50% off is the norm. If arriving at Beijing airport, head to one of the many hotel booking counters, which offer midrange hotels at bargain prices.