Beijing overnight layover with free Air China Hotel
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Mar 5, 2013 9:53 PM Last Post By: jiejie
Feb 5, 2013 4:59 PM
Beijing overnight layover with free Air China HotelI'm traveling to Bangkok via Beijing arriving at PEK at 5:55pm and leaving the next day at 12:45. Air China is booking me a hotel with shuttle to and from Airport. My 1st question is if anyone has used their partner hotels. Here they are:
Haoya Business Hotel
Beijing Aulympic Airport Hotel
Golden Phoenix Hotel
I've read horrible reviews about Hotel Phoenix. Has anyone had experience with any of these? I was thinking of getting a hostel downtown. I'd like to maybe take the Airport Express bus after checking in if I choose their hotel if it's not to late and maybe visit Tiananmen Sqare and the sorounding area for at least a couple hours or should I try early morning.
I also have a beijing layover from 6:00am to 3:45pm on my return trip. Maybe I should wait till then to visit the city.
I'm on a budget and plan to bring only about $50 in Chinese currency, so I want to avoid taxis and stick to public transport.
Any suggestions on where to go, When, or past experience with Air China hotels would be appreciated. If possible I at least want to choose A good hotel if they let me. I'm not leaving until May.
Feb 5, 2013 6:30 PM
1You will be arriving at rush hour and Beijing traffic will be slow. So I wouldn't plan on doing a lot that day. Your available time will be in the evening.
As to which hotel to chose, I'm not sure they let you chose. When I've been put up by the airline during overnight transit (other airline, other airport) they just assigned me a place to stay. No selection was offered. Furthermore, such airline hotels are seldom great.
If you do get a choice, I would select according to location and pick one that is near some place you want to visit or near something you want to do.
Feb 5, 2013 7:45 PM
2All of these Air China-provided hotels are near the airport and inconvenient to anything else. You'll be effectively marooned. I don't know anything about them but generally they won't be any great experience.
If you want to stay in town, I'd suggest something on the near east side of town for accessibility reasons. Somewhere within a short walk of the Airport Express light rail line, probably near Dongzhimen Qiao at the Transport Hub terminus. Alternative would be near Sanyuanqiao, first stop of the light rail.
To decide whether to take the freebie, focus on useable time and what you can realistically accomplish with it
--Useable time outbound: 17:55 arrival means you'll be ready to leave the airport by 19:00. With light rail from T3, you'll be at terminus area by 19:30. This is too late to do any true sightseeing, but you can definitely spend a few hours in the Ghost Street area, Sanlitun, or other nearby places where there are is a lot of activity. Next morning plan: save Tiananmen/Forbidden City area for return due to time/distance. Instead: 07:00 out the door. Subway over to Lama Temple by 07:30. Explore the nearby hutongs on foot 07:30 to 09:00, grabbing breakfast snacks on the route. Lama Temple at opening, 09:00-10:30. Subway back (1 stop) to Dongzhimen Hub for Airport Express.
--Useable time return: 06:00 arrival means 07:00 leaving airport. Morning rush again. Airport Express again then switch to subway (two transfers necessary) for Tiananmen. You should be there around 08:15, in time for quick look and photos, then walking to gates of Forbidden City by 08:30 opening. Spend a couple of hours there, then from the north exit cross street and walk west to Beihai Park, walk through the Park and out the north exit to Line 6 subway stop, head back (1 transfer required) to Dongzhimen hub. You should be able to get back to the Hub by 12:30. Find lunch around there, lots of food courts in the surrounding malls. Get back on AE by 1:30 so you can be back at T3 by 14:00.
If you decide to do your own thing for the inbound hotel and have to pick up checked luggage, I'd suggest sticking it in Left Luggage overnight, and only taking your valuables and change of clothes + minimal toiletries into town for the night. You don't want to be negotiating the subway at rush hour with a bunch of luggage. On the return, any checked bags should automatically be routed onward without you picking them up.
Feb 5, 2013 9:22 PM
3i've looked up all the hotels on google maps and yes, they all are near the airport but from what i've read they have shuttles every 30min back and fourth to the airport but all that sounds like a bit of a hassle. I've found plenty of hostels for only between $5-$10 right near Tiananmen Square. It would save me allot of time just to head straight for the airport express to the subway or maybe I could get the airline to give some kind of taxi voucher if I turn down the hotel. I know, thats doubtful . I have a few months to decide.
Anyway, Thanks for the sample itinerary @jiejie. I'll have to do some more research. I'm excited to get to visit Beijing Visa Free, not only once but twice. My last long layover was in San Salvador and they wouldn't even let me leave the airport.
Feb 6, 2013 12:27 AM
Hotel wouldnt be a problem.
Whichever hotel you will stay. you will easy back to T3 of airport, am i right? at least you can ask the hotel how to back there.
After check in, go back to T3, take the subway(the Airport Express) to downtown. it will take around half hour.
If you know how the subway works, i mean, line 10 line2 line1(you can google it), you can easily get Tiananmen. and maybe you can take a look at Wangfujing which is every close to Tiananmen.
but notice, the subway gonna shut down around 11pm(different line, different time to shut down). if there is no more subway you can take to back to hotel. take a taxi or find a shuttle bus.
it will be very rush day but hope you have fun :)
Feb 6, 2013 9:39 AM
5Doesn't make a lot of difference. Hotels used by the airlines are basic but they are free so I wouldn't worry about it....just one night. I wouldn't try to go down to the center of the city that late...costs about $20 to $25 by taxi. Rush hour lasts until about 7:00 or longer. Traffic is unbelievable. On the way back it is the same problem. Morning rush hour from 06:00 until about 10:00 and you need to be back at the airport about 2 hours before flight time. Rush hour took me 2.5 hours from the airport to the central area last time I was there....been there over 50 times. Traffic during the day time is much like traffic in L.A. during rush hours so it is up to you.
Feb 6, 2013 5:12 PM
6Actually, he would be going the opposite direction of traffic at rush hour from PEK to downtown, and, if he arrives at 6p, and clears immigration, gets shuttle, goes to hotel, showers up and heads back to T3 on a shuttle, it will be 8pm, take the Express Train to last stop, then transfer to Line 2, and then to Line 1 to T.S or F.B, walk around two hours and then either train back to Express train, or taxi back to airport, Its $15 ish, maybe $20 depending where you are in BJ.
You could head to Ghost street after 10pm and find plenty of great places to eat and drink, then go to hotel from there, but after midnight, taxis get few and far between, though Ghost street is a 24/7 venue. Then sleep late, get to airport at 1030, and go thru passport control and security.
Feb 7, 2013 4:27 PM
7Ghost street sounds great. Thanks for the reviews @SoloHobo. I love spicy food. I'm leaning towards a budget hostel in the area. This way i'll arrive downtown around 7:00 7:30pm and don't have to worry about making it back to the Airport Express by 11:00pm. Plus I can meet fellow travelers and possibly visit some bars and hopefully go in on a good Authentic Chinese dinner and wander around and visit the forbidden City when it opens at 8:30. Never had been to China I look forward to tasting the differences from American Chinese food.
I don't want to spend more the 50$ total on my layover so Taxis are out except maybe point to point downtown.
Thanks for all the ideas. I'm still gonna try to talk the airline in at least some kind of taxi or meal voucher/ I know it's a long shot but never hurts to try.
Feb 8, 2013 7:02 AM
8At that hour, traffic in Beijing is nuts, regardless of direction, though its worse going out to PEK from city than in to city from PEK, but overall, BJ is the most cingested city you will ever encounter, so play safe and take express train in to city, so easy and pleasant...if it was after 8pm, then a taxi would be about 25 minutes maybe...otherwise at 6pm, can be 1 hour easy, one time took me 2 hours, due to 1 lane closed. Once inside 3rd ring road, its a mess, inside 1st ring, walking is usually as faster, a bicycle way faster.
Feb 8, 2013 3:30 PM
9I give you fair warning, consider my original suggestion for the outbound stopover, and do not attempt Tiananmen and the FC, but instead put them on the return stopover where the useable timing works more in your favor. These places aren't going anywhere.
Mar 5, 2013 4:38 PM
10I finally got my hotel voucher by e-mail. I also got an itinerary change, I'm leaving Beijing the next day at 2:05pm instead of 12:45pm. That gives me close to 1 hr 30 minutes. To explore. I'm scrapping the crappy airport hotel and booked a dorm at the "Sunrise Hostel (Tian An Men)" Dongcheng Distric, NanHeYan Street, CiQiKu Hutong, Beijing, 100002 China (东城区 南河沿大街 瓷器库胡同 2号 （贵宾楼向北第三个红绿灯路西 刘家锅酒楼北侧）). It's right next to Wang Fu Jing Station, it's only a station away from Tiananmen East station or a 5 minute walk from the forbidden City. I hope to visit some of the good spots in the area at night then start at 6am on travel around till' the Forbidden City opens and after lunch have plenty of time to hit the Airport.
Mar 5, 2013 9:53 PM
11#10 General plan is OK and the later departure helps, but two things to note:
1) Sunrise Hostel is certainly near Tiananmen and the FC. But it is NOT next to Wangfujing Station. In fact, it's about a 15 minute walk. Again, as I said upthread, I strongly suggest you plan your packing and stick bags that are not autorouted at PEK into Left Luggage, then make your way with minimal daypack (valuables, camera, change of clothes, minimal toiletries) via Airport Express and subway to the hostel. Traveling very light will also allow you to check out of hostel in the am and take your things with you so you don't have to backtrack to retrieve.
2) With a 14:05 international departure, you need to be back to the airport by 12:45 at the latest, assuming you already have boarding pass and luggage checked through. If you have to hit the CA check-in desks to accomplish those, get to the airport by 12:20-12:30 at the latest. This means you really don't have time for lunch in town. I suggest you add 15-20 minutes to your airport time and grab something quick on the nonsecure side before heading over to Terminal E and Immigration/Security. Running the clock backward, you should aim to exit the Forbidden City north gate around 10:45. I'd then cross the street to the Jingshan Park side and start walking north, trying to get a cab to take you to the Dongzhimen transport hub. The expense is minimal, maybe RMB 15. The time savings is worthwhile. But empty cabs may be hard to find, so at least walking north for about 15 minutes, you can get to the Line 6 subway station at Nanluoguxiang. Which you'd take 2 stops east to Chaoyangmen then transfer to Line 2 two stops north to Dongzhimen. This, plus the return trip on the Airport Express and interstitial wait times, likely will take you 1.25 hours back to the terminal.
By my calculations, if you stick to Airport Express + subway, dorm bed, entrance fee to the FC, you're up to around RMB 220. That leaves you a bit over RMB 90 for meals, water, etc. which is kind of light. You may want to round up that budget to USD 60 esp if you have to leave a bag at Left Luggage.
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