The best price found from United States to Běijīng is on September 15th, 2016, travelling with United. See more options, compare prices and book: search flights.
Most travellers will fly into Běijīng. Average flight times include: London 10 hours, New York 14 hours and Sydney 12 hours. Běijīng’s international airport is Běijīng Capital International Airport (PEK). If coming from elsewhere in China, you may also fly into the small Nányuàn Airport (NAY).
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Currently the world’s second busiest airport, Běijīng Capital International Airport has three terminals. Terminal 3 (三号航站楼; sān hào hángzhànlóu) deals with most long-haul flights, although international flights also use Terminal 2 (二号航站楼; èr hào hángzhànlóu). Both are connected to the slick Airport Express, which links to Běijīng’s subway system. The smaller Terminal 1 (一号航站楼; yī hào hángzhànlóu) is a 10-minute walk from Terminal 2. Free 24-hour shuttle buses connect all three terminals.
All terminals have ATMs, money-changing facilities, information desks with English-speaking staff, booths selling local SIM cards, plenty of eating options and shops galore (although much less so at Terminal 1).
If you need to stay by the airport, Langham Place lays on a free shuttle bus and is well regarded.
A taxi should cost ¥90 to ¥120 from the airport to the city centre; bank on it taking 40 minutes to one hour to get into town. Ignore unofficial drivers who may approach you as you exit customs and join the line for an official cab. When you get into the taxi, make sure the driver uses the meter (打表; dǎ biǎo). Have the name of your hotel written down in Chinese to show the driver. Very few drivers speak any English.
A well-established illegal taxi operation at the airport attempts to lure weary travellers into a ¥300-plus ride to the city, so be on your guard. If anyone approaches you offering a taxi ride, ignore them and join the queue for a taxi outside.
There are 17 different routes for the airport shuttle bus, including those listed here. They all leave from all three terminals and run from around 5am to midnight. Note that you may have to show a valid photo ID when buying your ticket. Fares are ¥15.50 to ¥30.
Line 1 To Fāngzhuāng (方庄), via Dàběiyáo (大北窑) for the CBD (国贸; guó mào)
Line 2 To Xīdàn (西单)
Line 3 To Běijīng train station (北京站; Běijīng Zhàn), via Dōngzhímén (东直门), Dōngsì Shítiáo (东四十条) and Cháoyángmén (朝阳门)
Line 7 To Běijīng west train station (西站; xī zhàn)
Line 10 To Běijīng south train station (南站; nán zhàn)
Coach service to Tiānjīn (天津; ¥82, 2½ hours, 7.30am to 11pm hourly)
The Vehicle Administration Office on the 1st floor of Terminal 3 – look for the ‘Traffic Police’ sign – issues temporary driving licences for use in Běijīng municipality. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 70 and must hold a temporary Chinese visa (three months or less). The straightforward process involves checking out your home driving licence and undergoing a simple medical test (including an eye-sight test). You’ll also need two passport photos and copies and translations of your documents, although it can arrange this for you at the office. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes and costs ¥10. Once you have the licence, you can hire a car from Hertz (www.hertz.cn), which has an office just along the corridor. Self-drive hire cars (自驾; zìjià) start from ¥279 per day (unlimited mileage). A car-with-driver service (代驾; dàijià) is also available (from ¥1100 per day).
The Airport Express, also written as ABC (Airport Běijīng City), is quick and convenient and links terminals 2 and 3 to Běijīng’s subway system at Sanyuanqiao station (Line 10) and Dōngzhímén station (Lines 2 and 13). Trains times are as follows: Terminal 3 (6.21am to 10.51pm); Terminal 2 (6.35am to 11.10pm); Dōngzhímén (6am to 10.30pm).
The very small Nányuàn Airport feels more like a provincial bus station than an airport, but it does service quite a few domestic routes. Airport facilities are limited to a few shops and snack stalls, and don't expect to hear much English.
A taxi costs around ¥60 to ¥70 to the Tiān’ānmén Sq area. Ignore drivers who approach you. Use the taxi queue. Make sure the driver uses the meter (打表; dǎ biǎo).
The shuttle bus (机场巴士; jīchǎng bāshì) goes to Xīdàn (西单; ¥18, 1½ hours, 9am to last flight arrival) via Qiánmén (前门). You can pick up the subway at either destination.