Beijing Airport for 10 hours

Feb 7th, 2010, 09:30 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Beijing Airport for 10 hours

Since I am not staying overnight in Beijing, I've been told by a tour company that I can't exit the airport without a visa. In looking at the prices, I don't think I will. So, what does one do for 10 hours in the Beijing Airport assuming they won't let you out of isolation? Is it just a room or are there any amenities? I'd be willing to pay for food, internet, a comfy chair, and maybe even a bed for a nap, but can I even get to any of those on my stay?
megwestlake is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 03:37 PM
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Never assume that you'll get accurate information from a tour company. While visa regulations do fluctuate, if your onward flight is an international one leaving within 24 hours (48 hours in Shanghai) you'll find a visa office on your way from plane to immigration where on showing your onward ticket you should be able to get a stamp allowing you out of the airport.

'Is it just a room or are there any amenities?' A little Googling will easily find you the Beijing Airport site. Terminal 3 is the largest airport terminal in the world, and able to swallow all of Heathrow's terminals put together, for instance. There are beds/bedrooms available by the hours in each of the airport's three terminals, and plenty of restaurants land-side at terminal 3, in the basement of terminal 2, and so on.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 03:16 PM
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PeterN_H could you further go into detail about this visa office in the airport? My friend and I have a 12 hour layover on our flight from Bangkok to NYC in the Beijing airport (from 1am-1pm though) so we have a very limited time to see the city and sites as it is. Everything I have found has told me that we would need to get a visa here in the US before departing. At $130 for a visa with only 5 hours to really tour the city at a decent time (and college students with minimal disposable income as it is), we are not feeling very inclined to pay that much in addition to what we would be paying to get around the city quickly to see a few places. If it is possible to get a stamp (at a cheaper cost/free?) I would love to get confirmation on this as it would make it worthwhile for me to plan something for our layover. Literally I have called consulates, searched endlessly online, and even gotten in touch with guides in Beijing to ask and it seems there is no one answer but this is the first I have heard of a visa office to stamp. Any more info would be great thanks!
MVM is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 04:08 PM
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You need to consult consular websites (while accepting that, typically for China, no one can be bothered to keep them up to date). The official statement on most is that you can transit in Beijing for 24 hours without a visa as long as you don't leave the airport. But in fact it seems that you may leave the airport, since the visa waiver consists of a stamp on your departure card as you pass through immigration. Once you're through immigration you're in the public areas of the airport and free to go where you please (although you wouldn't be able to check-in to a hotel, for instance). At Shanghai the allowed time is 48 hours, and there are no stated restrictions on leaving the airport, not least because international transit routes may require a change of airport there.

There are numerous accounts by people who have gone into Beijing on a visa-free transit arrangement, but I stress that I have no personal direct experience, nor have I personally quizzed immigration officials on this point.

I agree that US$130 is iniquitous for such a short stay, so perhaps your best policy would be to show up and see what happens. Costs for getting around once you leave the airport are minimal, though. ¥25 gets you very swiftly into town on the Airport Express (only ¥16 on assorted airport bus routes much less swiftly). Switching to metro you can reach the Forbidden City (for instance) for only a further ¥2. Other than for the Airport Express, all metro journeys are a flat ¥2.

Guides should under no circumstances be regarded as reliable sources of information, and you don't need one to get yourself around a few key sights in a short period of time. In fact, one would only be an encumbrance.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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Thank you! Yes I agree the best thing to do would be to have a semi-itinerary planned in the event that we can leave the airport. Appreciate all your help and will try to remember to update this post on how it goes so future readers know!
MVM is offline  
Jun 30th, 2010, 10:35 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 24

Can you comment on your experience traveling through Beijing airport? Were you able to exit the airport without a visa or could you buy one as you exited? I will be traveling through with a nine hour layover and would like to leave the airport.


mckie5150 is offline  
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