If you are visiting China’s capital city, Beijing, to see the sites, meet the people and interact with a country on the brink of extreme change and development, than you are in the right place to learn a great deal without spending a bundle. Here’s how to see the city and experience the people without dropping a small fortune:
Beijing Metro – Getting around in Beijing by taxi can be a bit annoying as the cabs can be few and far between. Once you finally hail a cab, how do you plan on explaining to the driver where to go?– He is unlikely to speak English. Your best bet for a fast and effortless transport to your destination is to take the metro. A cheap metro card will end up saving you money if you stay in Beijing a week or more. You can buy them at the small booths underground before jumping on the tube. The cards also work in cabs, on buses and obviously on the metro. It eases your time buying tickets, and when on the bus it saves you a bit of money with each fare. Total cost of the Beijing metro card – RMB 20.
Staying Fit – One of the most informative and also heart-warming ways to get to know the older people of Beijing is to rise and shine when the sun first peaks out over the eastern skies and join the throngs of elderly people who congregate around the city’s parks and outdoor gyms to talk, listen to the radio, exchange gossip and do a bit of exercise. You’ll find them in groups in every city block, if you walk around and explore a bit. Small outdoor gyms around the city are especially a hot meeting spot for elderly interaction. Simply show up (in normal, day wear clothing) and do a few exercises while you observe the morning rituals and attempt to chat with the locals. The total cost of this outdoor gym membership/ social time – $0
Booze for Less – Going out on the town in Beijing can be an expensive affair, in most major drinking areas, but if you know where to go and how to chat like a local you’ll be able to find $1.50 beers almost anywhere in the city. At local restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries you’ll find TsingTao beer for around RMB 3 a bottle, with a .5 refund for the bottle. Yanjing beer is also a common Beijing favorite. In nicer bars, like the area around Sanlitun, you should be able to find a small bottle of beer for RMB 10 – 15 if you walk around and ask outside before you enter the establishment. Total cost – RMB 10 – RMB 20
Interact with Animals – To see a taste of how China might interact with nature and wildlife in the years ahead, and to simply enjoy yourself for cheap, head to the Beijing Zoo. Accessible easily by metro, you’ll find the RMB 20 well worth the entry fee. For 5 less you can skip the famous panda exhibit and visit the rest of the zoo instead. You can easily spend several hours to half a day walking around the zoo. Many foreigners visiting the zoo are saddened by the large cat exhibits, but we’ll let you be the judge for yourself on that. Total cost – RMB 15 – RMB 20