While travelling to a giant city in short time looks tedious, efficient planning is what twirls entire fuss into fun. Of all the greatest pursuits of solo travelling, responsibility always makes on top, because it is the primary element that makes travelling independent.
It means, only you are there to take care of everything during the entire travel. The idea of travelling alone to foreign land seemed daunting to me, initially, but only to believe later that it will change the pieces within you in such a way that your horizon will swell far, failing to fit back after the trip ends. While for most, it is boring or stressing to travel alone.
Whatever be the case, this read is for the ones who have lesser days to spend in Beijing and want to make the most out of it.
What underscores your travel: relaxing vacation spirit or hungry travel bug within you? Mine was the latter one.
Start the day as early as possible.
I am rarely a morning person, but I started my days early in the morning all three days, leaving the hostel by seven. I felt that every extra minute of sleep would cost me a chance to see something new there.
Each snooze of my alarm in the morning said that I can always sleep an hour more when I get back home, and I did not come so far to pointlessly spend my precious stay in social media.
Get subway tickets.
Travelling around Beijing is very convenient, efficient, reliable and affordable because of subways. I purchased “Beijing Transportation Smart Card”, at CNY 20 which is a refundable deposit. Then, I topped up CNY 50 for 3–4 days’ stay. Since it was obvious that I’d be using subways multiple times, buying a ticket for each travel would cost extra time, so the one-time purchase of a ticket is recommendable.
The price is charged according to the distance. It is CNY 3 for the first 6km (3.7 miles), CNY 4 for 6 to 12km( 3.7 to 7.5 miles), CNY 5 for 12 to 22km (7.5 to 13.7 miles), CNY 6 for 22 to 32km (13.7 to 20 miles), extra CNY 2 for every additional 20km (12.4 miles) if distance over 32km (20 miles).
Get your subway maps and apps ready.
Subway apps or maps are must! I depended on “Metro Beijing Subway” app on my phone, which I installed in my mobile and got familiarized with before leaving to China.
You can also obtain subway maps from stations, but only a few stations have it in the English version.
Mark places and make a cluster on the map.
It saves time visiting places falling under the same cluster. I did a prior homework marking locations of my interest on a map, then, toured accordingly.
Calculate the time required to cover each attraction.
There are several places that are spread along a long stretch.
Get a language translator app.
Chinese are independent of foreign languages, so a language translator is extremely handy even to order food at local restaurants, and basically everywhere in Beijing and most parts of China.
Get both offline and online maps installed in mobile.
This makes navigation so much easier. Maps.me and Google Maps are great apps, however, VPN is required for all Google apps.
Save the places that are open until late evening for strolling at night.
All the palaces and museums close quite early, some even before 4 pm depending on which season you are there. And there are streets that look lively during evening lights. So, taking care of opening hours is very important, and the ones that are not restricted by time can be saved for early mornings or late evenings.
Travel Light but don’t miss the essentials.
This is a staple advise to travel as a backpacker. Walking with loads on your back is so painful, but your personal essentials (e.g. toilet paper, chargers, power bank, water bottle) cannot be missed either.
There is no luggage storage in all subway stations so make sure you carry only unavoidable belongings.
I strolled around Pearl Market ( Hongqiao Market) and was surprised that the seller can drop up to 80% of the prices they initially say. Most of the local markets are great to buy gifts, and equally bargain-able.