Beijing March Weather, China Travel Tips and Things to Remember

I'm home-bound again waiting for take-off as I write this. I just spent almost a week in Beijing and it's weird to be connected again after having no access to Blogger, Gmail, Facebook and other sites that I don't really need to get around... This is part of my latest trip notes and things to remember list so that it's easier when I go back to China :) I hope it becomes useful to you too. 

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  • There's no time difference between Manila and Beijing. The flight is around 4 to 4.5 hours (PAL flights to here arrive early usually).
  • Options from the airport to main city include the airport bus (I took this), airport express and taxi (I took this going back home). Taxis add the toll fees. Fare estimates one-way - Airport bus to Yonghegong / Lama Temple / Andingmen 21RMB per person, Taxi from my hotel near Lama Temple / Andingmen Nei Hutong 76RMB + 10 RMB toll (taxi accommodates normally 4). I found all the BCIA (Beijing International Airport) limousine / shuttle / airport bus details I needed here 
  • Bring scarves, bonnet, gloves, ear muffs, mask or Headware (more for the cold for me), thick or bubbly coat and boots. Temperatures were up to 0 Celcius during my trip (1st to 2nd week). March, they said is the season change from winter to spring so expect sudden varying temperatures and wind (chilly, goes deep into the bone as I put it). Heaters are still on in establishments and transport systems so it's always nice to go inside. You can also turn on the airconditioning to around 30 degrees Celsius for the heater effect.
  • It is also very dry in Beijing so lather up with lotion and drink lots of fluids. One good thing about it is that wet towels dry overnight and you can put it inside the room to add some moisture in the air ;)
  • I have an IC card 一卡通(pronounced yikatong) - all-in-one transpo card for bus, subway, public telephones and some stores. Around 50RMB to 100RMB is enough for first load with deposit of around 20RMB. Not sure if you can buy this in all subway stations but there's one just outside the Andingmen subway station.
  • At the bus stops with lots of buses, there might be bus numbers written on the floor for the boarding spot. Tap the IC card twice when using the bus and subway - one in, one out. If the bus has 2 doors, the front is for going in. If the bus has 3 doors, use the middle to go in. You can pay for a ticket just look for the conductor and you have to know which stop, just no change I think. Some buses have English announcements. Just take a picture of the bus route at the stops before you board or count the number of stops if you don't know Chinese.
  • If you're okay to walk a lot then take the subway. I personally don't like walking up and down and transfer stations. I like buses, it's just colder outside during waiting times and you'll bump into traffic during rush hour. The subway closes at around 10 to 11 p.m. Some buses stop at around 8:30 p.m. then there are night buses which come in longer intervals and different routes. When you just want to get there and be warm, riding a taxi isn't bad either (just ask for the meter receipt).
  • There's little or no free WiFi outside (maybe some in restaurants) but most sites like Google, Gmail and Facebook (Instagram and Twitter also I think) are blocked so you won't need it anyway. But if you need it badly, there are suggestions that worked or other ways. Viber, OpenRice and Tripadvisor (offline, outdated) worked. Baidu can substitute for Google and the Du (also Baidu's) map application Baidu DiTu 百度地图works, esp. if you need bus, routes, location, subway, map information and restaurants (cannot search if offline so you search it first if you have Wifi then put stars that can be seen offline).
  • Plump, yummy and sweet strawberries are in season! Prices range from 12 to 25 RMB per 500g to 1 kilo or box :) Check for bruises! Buy some cute little oranges (kiat kiat) coz they're in season too! I saw old ladies buying them and they are seedless and super sweet. They're around twice the size of marbles and very orange ;)
  • To keep warm, eat lots of lamb hehe. Chuanrs 串(those that come in long metal barbecue sticks) are the best ;)
  • When you need a restroom, go to the subway station. There are also lots of public restrooms near the hutongs (old alleyways and communities) for some reason...
  • I don't know if you can stay outdoors for too long given the chilly conditions so you might want to choose more indoor attractions.
  • Take note of the terminal number before you go to the airport because they are far from each other. Mine was Philippine Airlines and it was Terminal 3 but it might just change so check your ticket always. We did web-checkin (didn't print) and were able to use the Business class counter. Yey!
  • Leave enough time for food, check-in, train to gates, immigration check, long lines in security check, duty free and walking to far gates in that order if you're at Gate E.
  • Put your power bank (also lighters, extra camera batteries and over 100mL cosmetics) inside the check-in luggage. Mine was confiscated because I put it in my carry-on :(
  • The window seat for the flight home (Seat F in a 3-3 configuration Airbus A320-200) back to Manila has a nice view of mountains. My plane (Tuesday) isn't full :)
  • Expect a little peace and quiet that comes with having little to no access to my laptop, social media sites, Google, your work email and mobile phone. Surprisingly, the by-product is freedom from writer's block, the inspiration to blog again and 3 blog post drafts finished in one sitting on the plane ride home haha. Because there is no need for a lot of pictures and editing, I am able to squeeze this post in. 
  • Lastly, remember to check and/or print the trip notes before arriving there because this blog is hosted on Blogger (Google) so it might not show up on searches once within China.

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