When you take an international flight to Beijing, many flights arrive in the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) at the new Terminal 3 (T3).
After passport control, before collecting your luggage, you have to take the connecting
monorail to the T3C station, the center of the huge Terminal 3, and that is where the luggage arrives at.
If you arrive in Beijing from an international destination, and have a connecting domestic flight, look at your ticket closely to make sure which terminal the international flight arrives at and which terminal the domestic flight leaves from.
If you arrive at Terminal 3 (T3) of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) and have to transfer to Terminal 1 or 2, take the shuttle bus which leaves every 10-15 min from a bus stop on the street just outside the T3 arrivals hall.
Terminal 1 is about 20 minutes' bus ride from Terminal 3, out to a main public highway and then an exit to Terminal 1. Terminal 2 is adjacent to Terminal 1.
Make sure to allow sufficient time to make this transfer!
The official BCIA website below lists the terminals for all airlines.
The cheap way to get into the city from the airport (till the subway extension is available in 2008) is to take one of the airport shuttle buses. There are 5 services, going to different parts of the city.
All you need to do is to hop out at the terminal stop and then connect via subway or public buses to the place you wish to go.
The 1-way fare is 16RMB (circa Jun 2007). Look out for exits 11 and 13 at the Arrival Hall and pay the fare at the ticket desk. Upon that, proceed to the right bus and take your seat. (Free seating). The bus will leave once the bus is filled up.
Journey into the city is about 30 minutes, baring no traffic jams or accidents along the Highway.
Beijing Capital is today the busiest airport in the People's Republic of China. The airport is the main hub of Air China and China Xinhua Airlines. It is located to the northeast of the central districts, 26 km from the city centre. Most people use taxicabs to reach town from the airport. Get your travel agent to get you the Chinese name of your hotel so that you can let your taxi driver read where you want to go. A taxi from the airport should cost between 70 - 120 RMB. You will have to pay the fee shown on the meter (make sure the driver uses it) plus 10 RMB toll for the airport expressway. Don't leave Beijing on the May Day holiday, it took me nearly 3 hours to reach the airport.
It sits a bit of a ways outside of Beijing, but is still close enough to serve the city. Figure a fifteen minute ride by cab from the airport to the city, factor another 10 to 15 to get to the city center.
The airport iteslf has two terminals, with a third one scheduled to open a year before the Olympics in 2008.
Getting around inside the airport is remarkably easy, and there is enough English writing to make sure foreigners don't get lost. Plenty of shops fill up the modern terminal 2, as do dining and ticketing centers.
Just a warning for first time travelers though. Getting into Beijing is easy, getting out is going to cost you. As with most airports in Asia, you must pay a tax to leave. Be sure to save some money to pay your way out. The airport will have more information about the current tax rate, but it was a lot more than I expected on my first trip back in 2001. Keep $50 on you (in Yuan) at the airport, and you should be able to make it through alright, with some dough to spare.
Getting the layover in Beijing for six hours was a tough assignment. I could have gotten a VISA for China and go into town or stay in the Terminal 3 that is huge by all standards. I opted to save $120, the cost of the VISA and stayed in the Terminal that is so large and should have many shops and restaurants. My six hour stay in the terminal 3 was in Mid March...it was freezing and I just came from the tropics, so I had shorts on. It was cold. There was plenty of duty free shopping as I past the time away 1 hour and then decide to use the free internet. I was tired though and cold, so I decided to treat myself to food. I thought for a big airport that they would have more variety and chain store but no...most are local and not well run....the food look horrid and over priced...I tried it anyway and threw away ten dollars for a bowl of noodles and a beer. The national beer , Tsingtao was cheaper than a cup of coffee or tea. (weird) Anyway the restaurants were open air meaning it was cold also. The only other place was a Pizza Hut that just open but doesn't serve pizza at ten in the morning, Basically there was not much to do at the huge complex and I had three hours to go, but it was cold with the marble floors and I just couldn't sleep eventhough there were many empty seats to make a bed.
The Beijing airport is big, with excellent conditions. We use the taxi to go to the city, because it was late and did not know the locate of the hotel. Not expensive and becomes more comfortable.
However, our driver spoke no English, did not know where was the hotel and the phone number was wrong. It was a mess, so I recommend that you always have on hand the hotel phone to communicate with each other in Chinese.
The way back was in a bus, that makes the transfer between the airport and city and has determined collection points. More economical, comfortable and just a short walk.
The most convenient way to reach city center from airport or vice versa is by taxi if you are a couple or 3 people. Taxi will cost about 100 Yuan including highway toll. The taxi stand is easy to find on airport terminal exit. If you have too many luggages, you may need to take some inside the car since some taxis may have narrow trunks.
In my opinion, this is the best and cheapest way to travel from and to the airport in Beijing.
I made the connection XIDAN - AIRPORT, line 2, and it is convenient because Xidan is served by underground.
First Bus departures from the airoport at 07:00, and from Xidan (building aviation) at 05:40.
Fare is 16 CNY, and the journey time is about 55 min.
The Chinese built Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport as part of the preparations for the Olympic Games. It is impressive, with plenty of light and space and attractive decoration featuring traditional Chinese motifs. And it's big. It can take 30 or 40 minutes to get to the baggage carousels to claim your luggage: not because of any queues or delays at immigration but simply because the new terminal is so vast. Perhaps they should change the airport code from PEK to BIG!
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