Visiting Beijing? These tips will help you navigate the airport and get to town smoothly
Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), known as “China’s No. 1 Gateway,” is China’s main window to communicating and interacting with the outside world. BCIA has also become a symbol of the country’s phenomenal economic growth: from 1.03 million passengers in 1978, the number has catapulted to 86.3 million in 2014, placing BCIA second on the list of busiest airports in the world. It has three terminals: T1 is the smallest, housing some domestic flights; T2 hosts a mix of domestic and international flights; and the largest and newest, T3, has one main concourse area, T3C, and two satellite ones (T3D and T3E).
BCIA is proud of its airport culture: Staff Art Troupe puts on daily performances such as singing, dancing and magic tricks (10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the T3E Fountain) and special numbers on Christmas and New Year. Travelers may also take time to appreciate the airport’s two gardens and feed the fish (the airport staff provides the free fish food).
Drop by Airco, an unassuming duty-free foodstuff and sundries shop located at T3. Buy China’s popular pu’er tea or a bottle of Moutai (a fermented sorghum liquor from Guizhou in southwest China). Also try the salty roasted watermelon seeds for only US$4, or a dried and vacuum-packed roasted Peking duck for US$25.
Food concessionaires throughout the airport operate with varying schedules, but most are open 24 hours a day. As in any other airport, the fast food options are ever present. Prik Thai (East Food Island, 5th floor, T3) is said to be the top Asian choice. Enjoy a decent green chicken curry, rice and a Singha beer for only US$11.
There are hourly lounges inside the airport terminals (T1, T2 and T3) which offer standard rooms with bathrooms. Rates range from US$7.60 (for a shower) to US$76 (for a 4 to 6-hour stay at a single standard with bathroom). There are also GoSleep Pods, or chairs equipped with a cover to block light and noise, at T2 (near Gate 31). The pods can be used for an hour or longer and also provide mobile charging facilities.
Head to town
Taxi stops are located outside Gate 1 on F1 (T1); outside Gate 5 to 9 on F1 (T2); and at T3 (just refer to the signs inside the terminal building). The minimum charge is US$2 for the first three kilometers (for each subsequent kilometer, US$0.40 will be charged). A few tips: Take note of the charge standards on the taxi windows and the taxi driver’s service supervision card. Passengers are required to pay for the road and bridge toll fees. Don’t forget to ask the taxi driver for invoices and take down the car number if necessary.
Aside from taxi cabs, free ferry bus services are also available between terminals. There is also an Express Railway, which has four stops: Dongzhimen, Sanyuanqiao, T3 and T2. Sanyuanqiao Station connects to Subway Line #10, while Dongzhimen Station connects to Subway Line #2 and Subway Line #13. A single trip will cost US$3.80 per person.