General Question

jazzjeppe's avatar

Have you been to Beijing recently?

Asked by jazzjeppe (2598points) June 23rd, 2009

Going in two weeks and a bit curious on
– prices on items (electronics, eating out, clothing (real brands)
– sights you recommend

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4 Answers

Fyrius's avatar

A classmate / friend of mine hails from Beijing. He told me everything is really cheap there by comparison to the Netherlands (and presumably also to the States). As in, you can go to a restaurant there and get a very decent meal for the equivalent of five dollars or so. Apparently the Chinese RMB has a pretty low exchange rate.

I feel kind of bad for him, studying abroad in a country where everything is so much more expensive than it would be at home.

cookieman's avatar

Don’t know what you consider recent, but I was there in late 2002.

Not only is everything inexpensive compared to the US, but almost everything is negotiable. If you like to haggle, you will do exceptionally well at most stores and street markets.

Eat where the locals eat for a more authentic experience, but be prepared for some surprises (chicken came with the heads, for example).

The street markets are an adventure. All manner of roots and spices for sale as well as shoes, linens and housewares. Street market food we saw included scorpion, rabbit, turtle and dog.

As for sights, you have to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall (even though they’re touristy). Also, take a ferry to the Summer Palace and stroll through Old Beijing.

Have a great time.

whitenoise's avatar

Definitely go see the summer palace, the forbidden city and the Wall. I don’t know how adventurous you are, but if you do not have accommodations yet, I can share the address of a lovely little hostel we (my wife two children and I) stayed at in the hutongs.

There are of course numerous places of modern architecture you need to check out. The bird’s nest (Olympic stadium) the swimming stadium and the CCTV building.

And don’t forget to talk to the locals… and enjoy.

You should consider taking a train or a plane to Shanghai or Xian for a copuple of days. Xian is interesting since it harbors one of the biggest ancient wonders preserved to date: the stone army. Shanghai is just impressive from being the huge modern city it is, mixed with little wonders like Yu Yuan garden. That will be dependent on your budget, however, I guess.

jumpo7's avatar

If you stay near tourist areas and in a western hotel then actually prices will not be cheap. They will charge at rates comparable to what westerners expect, maybe a bit lower. However, you can probably walk a block away and find stuff that local Chinese buy and then yes, it will be very cheap. As @cprevite said you can and should negotiate in the street markets. You should always be prepared to walk away.

Also be aware if you are buying a brand name item, that there are counterfeits. So while you may bargain the price down, you may not be getting the real thing. Things have changed more recently where this has been cut down, but it is still common enough that you should be cautious. @whitenoise answer is also very good. Enjoy your trip and if you can see other parts of the country, you should. Like most parts of the world you can probably find enough to fill your whole trip in Beijing.

So for prices… in your hotel a restaurant meal can go between $6 for a snack to $30+ USD for a full dinner. A couple blocks away the same size meal will be $5. Beer at the hotel $4–6 per bottle or on tap. At the local restaurant away from the tourist section $1.25 USD for the same size beer.

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