There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Beijing each year.
The main ones are listed below.
As China is still largely a rural country, Chinese New Year celebrations are exceedingly important, emphasizing rebirth and renewal. Coinciding with the new moon on the first day of the first lunar month, in ancient times the start of the festival marked the beginning of the new season for planting crops, the ideal moment to pray for a good harvest. For three days, celebrations involve merrymaking and entertainment of many kinds, both at home with family members and outside in the streets: firecrackers to ward off evil spirits and demons, fireworks, etc.February/March – Fifteenth day of the first lunar month : Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie, celebrated nationwide)
Colourful paper lanterns line the streets of Beijing and throughout China on this day. According to tradition, they are lit to see celestial spirits flying in the light of the first full moon of the lunar calendar. Children and adults parade through the city carrying long bamboo poles hung with smaller lanterns. This festival officially ends Chinese New Year celebrations.May 1 : Labour Day (national holiday) August – Seventh day of the seventh lunar month : Double Seventh Festival (Qixi, celebrated nationwide)
Also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day, this romantic festival has been celebrated in China for centuries. Traditionally, this was the day when young, single women prayed for skill in needlework in order to attract a husband and bear children. The name of the festival refers to the seventh daughter of the Jade Emperor, a weaving maid, who was only allowed by her father to see her beloved, a lowly cowherd, once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Gifts of bouquets of flowers or chocolates, special dates, romantic dinners, and dance parties are among the celebrations during this day, highly anticipated by all single people in Beijing.September/October – Fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month : Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu Jie, celebrated nationwide)
Also known as the Moon Festival, this is the day in the year when the moon is particularly round and bright, a symbol of unity and familial happiness. The main feature of this traditional festival is the sharing of cakes with family and friends.October 1 : National Day (Guoqing Jie, national holiday)
Commemorates the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, proclaimed by Mao Zedong. Festivities held throughout the city include fireworks, military parades, concerts and dance balls.September/October : Beijing International Marathon (local event)
One of the top events of its kind in the world, the Beijing International Marathon kicks off each year from Tiananmen Square with as many as 30,000 runners taking part, including the sport's biggest names as well as relative unknowns.December 25 : Christmas (celebrated nationwide)
|Month||Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Average Rains (MM)||Best Time to Travel|
|January||7/45||2/36||3/0.1||Not the best period to go|
|February||4/39||6/43||4/0.2||Not the best period to go|
|March||1/34||12/54||10/0.4||Good period to go|
|April||9/48||21/70||25/1.0||Good period to go|
|May||15/59||27/81||37/1.5||Good period to go|
|June||20/68||30/86||72/2.8||Not the best period to go|
|July||22/72||31/88||160/6.3||Not the best period to go|
|August||21/70||30/86||138/5.4||Not the best period to go|
|September||16/61||26/79||48/1.9||Not the best period to go|
|October||9/48||19/66||23/0.9||Not the best period to go|
|November||0/32||10/50||9/0.4||Not the best period to go|
|December||-5/23||3,8/39||2/0.1||Not the best period to go|
Beijing Capital International Airport is located about 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of the city centre.
Getting around Beijing is relatively simple. The Beijing Subway, which underwent major renovation in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, is quick and convenient. Taxis are another option, and fares are relatively inexpensive. Lastly, if it appeals to you, renting a bicycle is the best solution for really exploring the city.
Ultra-modern and easy to use, the Beijing Subway is an excellent way to get around the city. At present, the system comprises 18 lines including the Airport Express, serving most city districts. However, trains can be very crowded at rush hours. The system operates from 5 a.m. to midnight. Fares start at CNY 3 for distances less than 6 kilometres (4 miles).
Beijing has an especially dense network of bus lines, which are often very useful to reach places not served by the subway. The only problem is that almost all signs are written only in Chinese. The minimum fare is CNY 2 for a distance of up to 10 kilometres (6 miles).
Taxis are plentiful in Beijing. Definitely an option to bear in mind if you need to make a long trip in the city or get around late at night. Taxis charge an initial rate (flag-down fare) of CNY 13.00 covering trips of up to 3 kilometres (2 miles) and CNY 2.30 for each additional kilometre (0.6 miles), plus a fuel surcharge of CNY 1.00.
Although some visitors may be sceptical at first, getting around by bicycle in Beijing is certainly worth a try, at the very least. In fact, bicycles offer an excellent alternative to other modes of transport. There are many bicycle rental companies, cycling paths and bicycling parking stations around the city. Rental kiosks are located near Beijing Subway stations, shopping centres and hotels. Public rental bikes are free for the first hour. Each additional hour costs CNY 1 and the maximum fee for a day is just CNY 10.
Driving licences obtained in other countries (including international driver's licences) are not recognized in China.
Upon your arrival in Beijing, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.Beijing Tourism Building
Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).
The official website of the China National Tourist Office (CNTO), maintained by its New York office, provides a wealth of information on Beijing.
See your doctor before you travel.Vaccinations
There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to China. However, obtaining a booster vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio is strongly recommended.
For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:
As a general rule, it is advisable to drink only bottled water sold in sealed, tamper-proof containers.
Citizens or nationals of all but a handful of countries must be in possession of a visa to enter China, regardless of the length of their stay.
For further information on visa requirements, contact the Chinese consulate general closest to your place of residence.
Here are a few basic Chinese phrases that will make your stay in Beijing a little easier:
Hello / Good morning: Nĭ hăo
Good afternoon / Good evening: Wănshang hăo
Goodbye / See you soon: Zàijiàn
No, thank you: Bù le xièxie
Thank you very much: Fēicháng xièxie
I don't understand: Wǒ bù dǒng.
Could you repeat that: Qǐng zài shuō yíbiàn?
What time is it: Xiàn zài jĭ diăn le?
Excuse me: Duìbuqĭ
Train station: Huǒ chē zhàn
I'm (…): Wǒ shì (…).
I'm looking for (…): Wǒ zhăo (…).
How much is this: Zhè duōshăo qián?
Do you have (…): Yǒu méiyǒu (…)?
Where can I find (…): Wǒ zài nǎ li kě yǐ zhǎo dào (…)?
Where can I buy (…): Wǒ zài na li kě yǐ mǎi dào (…)?
I'd like (…): Wǒ xiǎng (…).
And what about tipping?
Tipping is not expected in Beijing's restaurants and cafés. On the other hand, it is quite common to thank tour guides and drivers by offering a small gratuity. Of course, the amount you choose to give is entirely up to you.