Beijing is now seen as a luxury destination, with all the ‘bling’ of its urban and social renewal created for the Olympics. However, the old-world charm and budget fun is still there – you just need to know where to look. Here are five reasons why Beijing is great for a budget holiday full of culture, cheap eats and inexpensive fun.
- Beijing has so many great affordable tourist attractions that are far cheaper than you might think. The beautiful Summer Palace complex is great to visit at any time of the year, and it is all accessible for around US$10. You can spend the whole day taking in Chinese culture without it being a major event for your wallet.
- While we all might want to stay in a swanky hotel, hostels are the best option for those on a budget. There are plenty of great, cheap hostels in Beijing including Houhai Youth Hostel and the GongTi International Youth Hostel. These hostels are often in better locations than some of the top hotels, particularly for the young who are looking for nightlife.
- Eating local means eating cheap. Beijing may have 5-star hotel restaurants and top chefs, but the real value is to be found at the local joints. Get hearty, filling food at Dongbeiren, affordable spicy goodness at Chuan Jing Ban, and lots of tasty local staples at Bai Zhou Xiang. If you are feeling even more adventurous and want to practice your Chinese language skills, just pick any local restaurant and you will likely get food that is tasty, fresh and unbelievably cheap.
- Bars in Beijing are increasingly high-end venues with high-end prices, so it pays to party ‘local style’. Grab a large beer on the street for around 15 cents and some meat kebabs (chuan’r) for 7 cents each. Stick to this and you can have an evening out for a couple of dollars with the added bonus of soaking up the local atmosphere.
- Getting around such a big city can be a concern, but with all forms of inexpensive transport this is not a problem in Beijing. The growing subway network costs just 2rmb (12-15 cents) for a single journey, and even cab fares are cheap at around 4 dollars for a 10km ride. With such affordable transport you can see all the sights without breaking the bank. Just because Beijing is now an international city doesn’t mean you have to pay international prices.