The People of Beijing in Photos

Girl Eating noodles, People of Beijing

Beijing is a dynamic city with a rich history that spans thousands of years. With 22 million people, it’s also the world’s third largest city. When we visited, we utilized the free China transit visa to spend 72 hours in Beijing. We spent 5 days in Beijing while visiting China twice, en route from Boston to Australia.

China expanded the 72 hour transit visa to free a 144 hour transit visa. Then COVID-19 happened which effectively closed China’s borders to leisure tourism for three years. China recently reopened its borders to leisure travel in March 2023. It’s best to check with Chinese government sites for the latest rules on visiting China.

The free transit visa saved us around $300 on visiting China. If you combine that with other travel hacks, you can potentially save thousands on a trip. We loved exploring the phenomenal palaces in the Forbidden City, tasty food, the Great Wall of China and interacting with the people of Beijing.

The People of Beijing in Street Markets

Wangfujing Street Food Market, People of Beijing

Beijing is a fantastic city for street food. This is highlighted well by several great open air street markets around the city, with a lot of variety to choose from. While we recommend much of it, including the Wangfujing Night Food Street, the Donghuamen Night Market is best for people and exotic food watching.

There’s a lot of gimmicky items at Donghuamen like fried scorpions, sea horses, starfish and silkworm cocoons that are popular to photograph, but hardly anybody actually buys them to eat. If you want to try them, ask that they be prepared fresh in front of you, rather than taking pre-made sea horses on a stick. But unless your highly intoxicated and adventurous, stick with the good food, and the people of Beijing provide a lot of it.

Beijing Restaurants

Peking duck service at Sijiminfu, people of Beijing

Some of our favorite foods in Beijing were Peking duck at Sijiminfu, fresh noodle dishes, dumplings and sweet treats like moon pies. There’s a big variety of moon pie choices in sweet shops, with selections like bean curds, green tea and fruit flavors. If they speak English, ask for recommendations and explanations. We especially loved the coconut moon pies. We also became big fans of hawthorn fruit tea. So much so, that we recently ordered some off Amazon, which didn’t compare to the freshness of what we drank in Beijing.

People of Beijing, Chinese TukTuk negotiation

English in Beijing

The people of Beijing don’t typically speak much English, but vendors and especially those in the hospitality industry in Beijing can usually communicate basics in English. We generally found the people of Beijing to be good natured, helpful and on average, less pushy than sellers in major southeast Asian cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

Chinese man on a bike, People of Beijing

The people of Beijing are enjoying more opportunities that have come with their booming economy. But this also means new challenges like overwhelming pollution. Beijing has some of the lowest air quality from pollution in the world. Many expat children who reside in Beijing usually only go outside on rare days when the pollution index is low. But it’s still a fantastic city to visit, partly because the people of Beijing have much to offer.

Great Beijing Hotels

We highly recommend staying at the Inner Mongolia Grand Hotel. It’s a fantastic 5-star hotel with comfortable, modern, well appointed rooms and friendly staff. Visitors are greeted with an impressive lobby featuring a beautiful Mongolian horse statue.

We also recommend the Prime Hotel Beijing. It’s another 5-star hotel centrally located in the Wangfujing district of Beijing. We stayed at Prime Hotel Beijing on our second visit to Beijing because the Inner Mongolia was booked. It’s also a very nice hotel but the beds are extremely firm. They’re properly Asian firm, but also comfortably firm. Rooms are adorned with lovely Asian decor and modern amenities like temperature control. You can book on-site massages and there are nice dining options at the hotel too.

You can possibly book either hotel with free cancellation to hold the room and then cancel later if your plans change.

Want to travel to China Cheap?

We take advantage of credit card bonus sign ups to save thousands each year on travel. Offers frequently change so keep your eyes open for special reward bonuses to maximize this hack. If you need tips to save thousands on travel, get in touch!

If you’re planning a trip to Beijing and have questions you can leave a comment or email me at [email protected]. I can assist with your travel plans to China!

This article contains some affiliate links. We receive a small commission when you book or sign up through certain links and it costs you nothing extra. When it suits you, please use them, as it helps us help you with your travels! 


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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12 thoughts on “The People of Beijing in Photos

  1. This post brought back memories of my trip to Beijing 10 years ago. I agree with the smog. We traveled in the summer where it was a mix of smog and the sands of the Gobi desert, which killed our view of the Great Wall. I must say the people were nice and customer service was great!

    1. Sorry to hear you didn’t have the best view of the Great Wall in summer, diningtraveler. There was some smog on the early March day we visited, but it wasn’t too bad. We were surprised how few tourists there were at the Mutianyu section in late afternoon. We had vast stretches of the wall to ourselves at times. And yeah, our experience of customer service in Beijing was also generally good!

  2. Damn, I was planning my SE Asia trip for spring and was thinking whether to make a stopover in Beijing or not (within the 72 hours). Definitely starting learning Chinese now!

    1. Great! You should definitely stopover in Beijing on your way to southeast Asia! Just make sure your flight doesn’t have two stops in China if you do the 72 hour free transit visa, as that isn’t allowed.

    1. Totally agree, Nomadicboys! I don’t think we’ve ever eaten better dumplings than the ones we enjoyed in Beijing!

  3. I love Beijing!!! Hubby and I went for our Honeymoon. WOW!!! The smog then wasn’t that bad… BUT now… phew… it’s just getting soooo bad. However, looks like u still had fun and very brave of trying the street food:)

    1. Sounds like it was a very interesting honeymoon, Bon-Bon! It’s a shame the smog in Beijing is getting worse. We suspect this will improve in the future because it honestly has to. The people and government have become aware of the health risks. Hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

      As far as Beijing street food, we ate what looked popular, appetizing and fresh. It’s the same sort of caution we’d use even in New York City 🙂

  4. What a great way to experience Beijing for 5 days! Really smart way to utilize the free 72 hour visa. I hope to visit China some day and Beijing will definitely be one of our stops.

  5. I really enjoyed this photo blog, such candid shots of daily life in urban Beijing! I ave been to Beijing but it was more than a decade ago, when I was still a student so I’m pretty sure it’s changed so much! I’ll be in China soon but unfortunately Beijing is not in the itinerary. Will have to save it for another time 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Jean! It was our first time in Beijing so we’re curious how it looked a decade ago. That was two years pre-Olympics so that would have been an interesting time to have visited.

      Have a great time on your trip to China! Looking forward to seeing your photos! 🙂

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