Travel Tips to Beijing

I arrived in Beijing for Sun Tech Days earlier this week. Here are some travel tips:

  1. The Beijing city has Tina'anmen Square and Forbidden City at it's center. Rest of the city is structured in multiple ring roads around the center. Each tourist place can be located as between X and Y ring road easily.
  2. If you are a Wells Fargo banker, take the Access Code from Customer Service before boarding the flight. This code allows you to talk to a Wells Fargo banker in USA from anywhere in China. There are separate codes for North and South China. Dial the access code, get the operator, mention the 800-869-TO-WELLS and voila you are connected to the network.
  3. Nichole & Renita were gracious to let me share the ride from airport to the hotel so I missed that part of the experience. But it's recommended to walk out of the airport and get a Taxi from the Taxi Stand instead of getting lost in rooks within the airport. It's also recommended to have your hotel name written in Mandarin because the Taxi Drivers may not be able to read/speak English. Once you checked into the hotel you can use your hotel key to show the address (which has the address written in Chinese) to move around the city.
  4. Took a guided tour from the hotel to Forbidden City and Great Wall of China. It covered Transportation, Lunch, Parking tickets and Tolls and an English-speaking guide. You can do the same using a private taxi but it may turn out to be slightly costly and most likely you will not get an Mandarin-speaking driver and therefore no guide :) As part of the standard tour, they may take you to a Silk Emporium and Jade Factory, they are fun places just to learn how they are all manufactured.
  5. Shopping is a LOT of fun in Beijing. There is a great variety of clothes, toys, gadgets, etc. at local shops. And no shopping is complete without bargaining and that too HARD bargaining. For example when shopping at touristy places, such as street-side shops near Great Wall, bargain HARD. The rule that I followed was to quote the price to 10% of the original. Here are some examples:
     
    Item Quoted Paid
    Tee-shirts 1 for 130 RMB 3 for 50 RMB
    Cashmere Scarf (can't be original ;) 1 for 160 RMB 5 for 80 RMB
    Great Wall Memento 350 RMB 20 RMB
    Refrigerator Magnet 20 RMB 5 RMB

    Generally the shopkeepers will give a counter offer but be straight-faced and maintain your price. To keep it easy, just stick to your price and pretend walk away. In all the cases, I was approached with my quoted price :)

  6. If you plan to visit Great Wall during November, make sure to carry good warm clothing including gloves and an ear-long cap and a good hiking/walking shoe. It is extremely windy and certain portions of the Wall are really steep.

  7. There is no tipping in restaurants and taxi. Don't be surprised if you see a confused look on the person serving if you leave the tip.

And here are the pictures so far:

Sun Tech Days Beijing kick started this morning and a subsequent entry will talk about that.

Technorati: conf traveltips beijing suntechdays

Comments:

Great tips.

One more : it is also a good idea to tell your bank that you will take a trip abroad, as otherwise you might find that they suspend your card ! This happened to me twice now.

I really enjoyed the Tech Days in both Beijing and Shanghai - both are fascinating cities.

Posted by Steve Clarke on March 02, 2008 at 07:27 AM PST #

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.


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