“China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese. ” - Charles de Gaulle
China and its capital, in particular, don’t appear in the top 10 lists of tourist destinations around the world. However, if you’ve booked a flight to Beijing to see the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, or the Temple of Heaven, you’re going to need somewhere to stay.
For the National Day of the People's Republic of China in 2017, Beijing welcomed 12 million tourists! By 2030, China could be the world’s most visited country. This is hardly surprising given how big China is; you can visit the Yangtze River, the Terracotta Army, The Great Hall of the People, and tonnes of tourist attractions!
Are you looking for accommodation in China?
Here’s how to book somewhere to stay in Beijing, the capital of the north, when you visit China.
A Quick Look at Accommodation in Beijing
If you don’t want dodgy hotels miles from the city centre, you should take care when booking accommodation in Beijing.
The Chinese capital is booming but it does mean that accommodation can be just as expensive as in the west.
Furthermore, Beijing is home to 21.54 million people and as the country’s second-largest city after Shanghai, there’s a huge demand for places to live. This means it can be difficult to find housing in Beijing and even harder to rent. For long stays, expatriation, work, or studying abroad, you’ll probably need to talk to estate agents.
In China, rent is paid every three months. To get your keys, you’ll need to pay a deposit, agency fees, and three months’ rent; a lot of money when renting in the centre of Beijing can cost between £500 and £1,500 per month!
For a short stay, you won’t need to sign a lease with an agency. There are plenty of holiday rents and hotels available on sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com, Airbnb, and HomeAway.
Where you stay and when you stay will drastically affect the cost of your accommodation. Thus, try to avoid the National Day of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese New Year, or the high season in summer. Summer in Beijing is really hot and humid anyway.
Additionally, with so many people trying to visit in the summer, the prices are much higher than they would be in spring or autumn.
By the end of autumn and the start of winter, things are much cheaper. However, the temperatures can drop to -25°C.
Find out more about the best time to visit Beijing.
You can find beds in youth hostel dormitories for between £5 and £10 per person per night. If you want a private holiday flat in the heart of the city centre, you’ll be paying upwards of £100 per night (for two people).
If you’re looking for something between £50 and £60, you’ll have to look outside the city centre and make sure it’s near the metro.
Alternatively, you can find hotels for less (from £20 per night per person), but you won’t enjoy the same amenities as you would in a flat or a house.
Finding Accommodation in Beijing on Airbnb
Are you already familiar with Airbnb?
You can use the holiday rental site in Beijing too!
The advantage of private rents is that you can find traditional Chinese houses, siheyuan, forming small streets known as hutong where you can stay.
On Airbnb, you can find accommodation for between £30 and £50 per night for two people. However, they’re still quite a distance from the city centre.
Just like in other large Chinese cities, the cost of accommodation will vary according to the neighbourhood and the amenities. The closer you are to the historic centre, the higher you’ll expect to play.
You definitely shouldn’t just find the cheapest place.
You don’t want to end up 50 miles from the city centre. If you want to stay in Beijing and enjoy the city’s history, the Ming and Qing Dynasties, museums, and temples, you could always find an Airbnb in the Central Business District (the CBD). This area stretches from Dawanglu in the east to Dongdaqiao in the west and from Chaoyanglu in the north to the Tonghuihe River in the south. Here you’ll find your typical Asian megalopolis with its huge modern buildings, shopping centres, and chain bars and restaurants.
You can find the Temple of Heaven, a 15th-century monument that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, just a few metro stations to the south-east.
The Sanlitun neighbourhood to the north is great for party animals with its nightlife and expats. You can find some affordable accommodation for between £25 and £50 per night for two people in the middle of June.
The Gulou neighbourhood near Houhai Lake has renovated hutongs you can stay in for an authentic Chinese experience as you enjoy one of the city’s most picturesque areas. Gulou also has the advantage of being near the city centre. It’s just a few metro stops from Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.
Enrol for and learn Mandarin London here.
Using HomeAway to Find Accommodation in Beijing
So where should you stay when you visit Beijing?
While most people know Airbnb, fewer know HomeAway.
HomeAway is another holiday rental company and you can find accommodation in 190 different countries and there are over a million properties.
Are you planning on staying in Beijing during your time in China?
Each travel guide will tell you; staying in Beijing can be expensive. China used to be somewhere you could go on a cheap trip with the low cost of living in the country, an abundance of noodle stands, and cheap accommodation. Those days are over! The People's Republic of China’s economy has changed and it’s catching up to its western competitors.
That said, the cost of living is still cheaper in China than in the UK and Beijing is cheaper than in London. However, travelling to Beijing will also cost more than visiting places like Chengdu, Guilin, Xi’an, or Yangshuo. You can pay between £50 and £90 (for two people) to stay in the Sanlitun neighbourhood and enjoy the parties.
You could pay between £80 and £100 if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the business district to the east of the historic centre.
Find out more about the different districts in Beijing.
Other Resources for Finding Accommodation in Beijing
There are other resources and websites where you can find accommodation in China.
You can use sites such as Soufun and The Beijinger to find flats. If you’re using Soufun, you’ll need to have an understanding of Mandarin Chinese since there’s no English translation of the site. The Beijinger, however, does have an English translation. This is a bit like Gumtree or Craigslist.
Would you like to stay in Beijing’s old town? Budget not an issue?
Have a look at Home to Go. This is very similar to Airbnb and allows you to reserve hotel rooms, guest houses, etc. in different neighbourhoods and for different prices. You can also analyse offers on Airbnb using this platform. You can book hotels, a private room in a flat, or an entire property.
There’s a wide range of prices. You can pay anywhere between £20 and £350 a night for two people.
Of course, you can find double beds in a hotel room for between £25 and £30 a night.
Make sure you book ahead so that you won’t be panicking once you land at Beijing International Airport. Of course, as with any trip to China, be it to Xinjiang, Tibet, Shaanxi, Guangdong, Fujian, or Zhejiang, you can use these methods to find accommodation. Fortunately for you, accommodation tends to be cheaper outside the capital.
Find out more about budgeting for a trip to Beijing.
Before you go to China, consider getting private tutorials in Mandarin Chinese. On Superprof, there are three main types of language tutorials available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Group tutorials are closer to traditional lessons at school with multiple students and a single teacher. If you and your family or friends are planning a trip to China, you could all get Chinese lessons together from a tutor before you go.
Face-to-face tutorials are bespoke lessons with one tutor and one student. As the only student in the class, this is the most cost-effective type of private tutorial. Your tutor can spend all their time focusing on you!
Finally, online tutorials are similar with the main difference being that the private tutor isn't there with you in the room. Thanks to the internet and programmes such as Skype, you can learn Chinese from anywhere with a decent internet connection and from tutors from anywhere in the world.