One moment you're taking in the magnificence of The Forbidden City or walking along the towering Great Wall, and the next, you could be shopping at some of the biggest malls you've ever laid eyes on and experiencing the sights and sounds that are characteristic of big cities everywhere. Both seem equally natural in Beijing, a city that takes its rich history and culture in stride while becoming one of the most modern metropolises in the East.
From historic reminders of China's great dynasties, to family-owned shops where you can meet fifth-generation owners, the city's hutongs or alleyways are packed to the brim with everything most characteristic of Beijing. Even if you have only a few hours to spare, take the time to wander through them and experience their charming atmosphere. Enjoy the unexpected tranquility of Beijing's Back Lakes, take in a traditional performance by the city's opera company, and dine on some of the most scrumptious and authentic Peking Duck you've ever eaten. Cheap flights to Beijing abound, so don't waste time. Book today and be one your way to one of Asia's top destinations.
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Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is one of China's largest and busiest airports and is used as a hub for Air China, Hainan, and China Southern Airlines. The airport is also served by several international carriers including Air Canada, United, American Airlines, Delta, and Continental. Air Canada and Hainan both offer direct flights to Beijing from Toronto while Air China and Air Canada fly direct from Vancouver.
Beijing weather is all about extremes, going from about -20°C in the winter to over 40°C in the summer. Spring has milder temperatures, but has its own quirks like the clouds of willow catkins rolling through the city and sand storms that sweep in from the west. That leaves fall as the best time to book Beijing flights and find the city in a riot of colour with the changing leaves as well as pleasant temperatures and very little rainfall.
Flights to the city are most expensive in the summer, so if you're planning a trip to Beijing during this season you will need to book well in advance.
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) has three terminals and a free shuttle operates between them 24/7. There is a waiting time of 10 minutes between each service which increases to 30 minutes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Public Transit:Express trains run between the airport and various stops in the city. Passengers can find the stations in the Parking Garage areas of T2 and T3. Those arriving at T1 will have to take the inter-terminal shuttle to T2 or T3 and board the train from there. Services run from about 6:20 a.m. to 11 p.m. so passengers whose flights to Beijing arrive after that will have to take another mode of transport. One-way tickets cost approximately $4 CAD and no discounts are available.
Airport Shuttle: Airport shuttles are extremely cheap and in addition to downtown Beijing destinations, there are also shuttles that go to the suburbs and neighbouring cities. Tickets can be bought at the airport and cost about $2.50 CAD for a one-way trip to the city centre.
Hotel Shuttle: When booking your accommodation in Beijing, check with your hotel if they offer complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport. If they do, this is the easiest way to travel from the airport but remember to confirm the pick-up location prior to boarding your Beijing flights to avoid any confusion on arrival.
Taxi: Taxi stands are located at the exit gates of all three terminals and passengers should beware of taxis drivers offering a cheaper rate if they book at the airport's arrival areas. Follow the clearly marked signs to the stands and take an officially registered airport cab. All fares are metered, with a flag-down fare of about $1.50 CAD. Average fares to the city centre cost about $15 CAD and you will also have to pay a small fuel surcharge and any toll fees along the way. Prices increase by about 20% between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
If you're travelling in a large group, it is cheaper to take two or more cabs rather than larger minibuses that will charge you as much as $70 CAD to cover the same distance.
Car Rental: Several car rental companies have booking desks at the airport but you will need a Chinese driving license to drive a car in the city. If you'd like to hire a chauffeured car instead, there are help desks at the airport's arrival areas where you can find a list of recommended service providers.