How to Plan an 8-hour Layover in Beijing: Advices for 4 to 12 Hours’ Stay
See Also: 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei
8-Hour Layover in Beijing
If your 8-hour layover in Beijing is at night, we suggest you sleep overnight in a hotel near the airport. Otherwise, you can have a rest in the time lounge of the airport.
If your layover is in the daytime, you can go on a well-planed tour to classic attractions in downtown Beijing. The below 8 hour layover travel plan in Beijing is backgrounded on the daytime, for instance 08:00-16:00 or 10:00-18:00 for your reference. As there are often traffic jams in Beijing, you should set aside 2-3 hours for the travelling from and back to the airport. Also excluding the 2 hours to go through the boarding procedure, you actually have only 3-4 hours for sightseeing. How to make full use of the 3-4 hours, below are two plans:
Plan A: Tour the Great Wall of China
Setting off from Capital International Airport, you can go to visit Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu directly. Taking a taxi or chartered car, you will reach any of the two alternatives in about 1.5 hours. The cost is about CNY900-1,200 for the round trip. To save the time for sightseeing, it is not recommended to use public transport during the 8-hour layover in Beijing. Remember to leave for the Capital Airport at least 3.5 hours ahead of your flight time.
Northwest to Beijing downtown, Badaling Great Wall is the best-preserved section of China’s Great Wall. You can choose the cable car or slideway to get up to the Great Wall, to see the ancient walls with watch towers and lush mountain landscapes.
Mutianyu Great Wall, apart from the ancient walls and watch towers, is the prettiest Great Wall in the north of Beijing because it is surrounded by dense vegetation. The watch towers are among the masterpieces. There are cable car, toboggan and chairlift too for an easy visit.
Daxing Airport is far away from any Great Wall sections, so a Great Wall tour is not feasible. But you can enjoy a city tour in Beijing. Please refer to the below Plan B for more details.
See also: How to Get to the Great Wall of China from Beijing Airport
Plan B: Forbidden City in Downtown Beijing
From the Capital Airport, you can get on Beijing Airport Express at Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 to Dongzhimen, transfer to Subway Line 2 to Qianmen Station.
From Daxing Airport, you shall take subway Daxing Airport Line to Caoqiao station, transfer to Line 10 for only one stop to Jiaomen West station, and transfer again to Line 4 to Xidan station, then last transfer to Line 1 to Tiananmen West / Tiananmen East station.
After getting out of the subway station, you can walk around Tiananmen Square for half an hour, and then walk north to the Forbidden City. Located in the very city center of Beijing, it was the imperial palace from 1420 to 1911. The last 24 emperors of China have lived and dealt with state affairs here. As a huge wooden architecture complex with many priceless relics, a tour usually needs about 3 hours.
If walking fast only along the central axis, you can finish the visit in about 2 hours. In this case, you can go to the opposite Jingshan Park after getting out from the Gate of Divine Prowess, the exit of Forbidden City. On its highest point, Jingshan Mountain, the entire Forbidden City will come into your sight. Or you can hang out at Wangfujing Street nearby.
You need to go on your return trip to Capital Airport at least 3.5 hours ahead of your flight time, and 4 hours ahead to Daxing Airport. Here is the transportation from the Gate of Divine Prowess of the Forbidden City back to the airports.
To Capital Airport, you may take the city bus 58, 109 or 101 outside the Gate of Divine Prowess to Chaoyangmen Inner stop, after take the subway Line 2 from Chaoyangmen to Dongzhimen station, and then get on the subway Airport Express to reach the airport.
To Daxing Airport, take city bus 101/103 from the bus stop opposite the Gate of Divine Prowess to Xisi Crossroad East stop, or bus 109/124 to Xisi Dingzijie stop, where you shall transfer to subway Line 4 from Xisi station to Jiaomen West station. Afterwards take subway Line 10 for one stop to Caoqiao, and transfer to subway Daxing Airport Line to the terminal building.
9 to 12-Hour Layover in Beijing
If your layover is longer than 8 hours, for instance 9-12 hours, you can enjoy a leisurely one day city tour. You have time to visit the Forbidden City as well as one or two more attractions in Beijing downtown, for example, Temple of Heaven, the site to worship the Heaven by the ancient emperors.
Read More: Perfect Plan for an Overnight Layover in Beijing: 12 to 24 Hours
4 to 6-Hour Layover in Beijing
When you have only 6 hours or even shorter layover in Beijing, it would be better stay in the airport. However, what to do in Beijing airport for 6 hours? You can feed yourselves at a restaurant, as both Capital Airport and Daxing Airport house many restaurants, which serve local food, fast food, coffee, etc. You can also go for a shopping at the shops in the airports, or take a rest at a lounge there.
5 Things to Do in Beijing Airport - Capital Airport