Trip Highlights: Beijing, China

Trip Highlights: Beijing, China

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Though comprehensive trip reports can be interesting… I find them to be too much and too long to read, and boring. So that’s why I provide highlights for each location.

That being said, I’m more than happy to chat about specific aspects of the trip and location.


You can read about what points we redeemed for flights here and hotels here, but to quickly give my opinion:

  • I found Cathay Pacific’s business class to be overrated (blasphemy, I know) and Japan Airlines’ Sky Suite business class to be excellent and super comfortable. You can read reviews here and here.
  • Our Hong Kong – Beijing leg was in angle-flat business class seats. This was my first class in that type of product as I’ve always had the mindset that when flying business it’s either lie-flat, or coach. This flight changed that for me. Angle-flat is better than coach. We slept like babies.
  • The Doubletree by Hilton Beijing was excellent: cheap redemption, courteous staff and really clean and well kept hotel and room. As a Diamond member we were upgraded to an executive suite. The hotel is a bit out of the way, but with only two full days on the ground it did not really matter. Would stay here again, unless I was there for a longer stay.

Getting Around

One of the hardest things about going to a new country is getting around–car rental or public transportation. One of the more difficult things about China is the firewall, punily referred to as the ‘Great Firewall of China’. Essentially, this firewalls blocks all the good stuff most of us are used to, like Facebook, instagram, and Google maps!

So how did we get around it? For $0.99 a week (and we were only there 3 days), you can get VPN-Shield app in the iTunes or Android app stores. It will connect you to a different server, “ghosting” your location so you wouldn’t be blocked from the above sites.

In terms of connectivity, I rented a MiFi device for a week with more than enough data so we could use our friendly apps on-the-go, but also have access to Google Maps and Uber.

Uber’s are super cheap in China (like $5.00 for a 45 minute drive), but because addresses are complicated, the driver will want to call you to confirm your location. So even if you did speak Mandarin, you’d need a SIM card to receive those calls.

In any event, we probably spent around $50 on six uber rides (that would be about quadruple in New York City!). If you’re there for longer, or more centrally located, you probably would rely more on public transportation.

Notable Activities

Here’s a list of activities/sights we did in about two days:

  • Tiananmen Square


  • Forbidden CityIMG_6266
  • Summer Palace


  • Silk Market
  • Hutongs and Riding a Rickshaw


  • The Great Wall of China


Would I do it again?

Beijing is a massive city with a large (read: too big) population. The country of China has a population of 1.3 billion people, and is roughly the same size as the U.S., which has a population roughly 1/4 of China. There is always traffic, and always a hustle and bustle. Much like New York City. But with more people.

There are a lot of remarkable cities in China and a lot of wonderfully exciting sights within each city. We were able to hit the landmarks within 2-3 days, and I think it’s pretty doable.

Would I go again to Beijing? Probably not. Should you see the Great Wall? Yes, if that’s of interest to you. Do you need a long time? We didn’t, but you may!

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