8 hour layover in Beijing: visiting the Great Wall
Do you have a layover in Beijing? Do you want to make the best of it instead of spending it at the airport? Why not take a short trip and see one of the wonders of the world? Here’s everything you need to know when you have 8 hour layover in Beijing.
This past November we flew to Bali with Air China. Their flights were the most affordable from Los Angeles. If you choose to fly with them to Asia, you most likely will have a long layover in Beijing. We usually pick the shortest layovers because we don’t like to spend too much time at airports. But we saw this as an opportunity to see a new place and check one more thing off the bucket list. Although we had a short 8 hour layover in Beijing it was enough for us to visit the Great Wall.
Take a tour or do it yourself?
The first thing we needed to decide was if we are going to take a tour or do it ourselves. After a good research on the web, we were sure that the best will be to take a tour and not have to stress about a thing. We made the best decision. After reading many positive reviews we booked a private tour with Layover Tour Beijing.
We couldn’t be happier with Layover Tour Beijing. The communication with Willy via email was prompt and very professional. He asked for our flight number, arrival and departure time. Then we received a confirmation with meeting time, location and helpful info going through immigration and customs. Depending on how long your layover is Layover Tour Beijing has many different options for tours. You can choose between the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Beijing city and more. Since we only had 8 hours and we didn’t know how long the immigration would take, we decided to just do the Great Wall tour.
We highly suggest booking a tour in advance. If you want to hire a taxi instead keep in mind that it will drop you outside the gates. Then you will have to walk for 10 minutes and wait for a shuttle bus which adds extra time especially if you have only 6-8 hours. The taxi driver will have to wait for you so that could be even more expensive. Only Licenced Tour Guides are allowed to have VIP pass, to be able to drive all the way up. Regular cars have to stop at the bottom, driving up it’s not allowed. By taking a private tour your guide will do everything for you. They will park inside and he will walk with you to the ticket office. He will get tickets for you and take you to the top. He will make sure you are back in time for your flight. Just save yourself the stress and enjoy the trip as you should.
Do you need a visa?
China is the perfect country for long layovers. If you want to go outside the airport you can get a 72-hour transit visa. All you will need is your passport, boarding pass with confirmed seats for your next flight to prove you are on a transit. Also, a completed arrival/departure form and visa application ( which you can fill out at the airport).
At the airport.
Visiting the Great Wall with Layover Tour Beijing
We left the Airport at exactly 9.35 and we had 3.5 hours to go see the wall and be back. Our driver Willy was amazing, we had some wonderful conversations during the ride. There wasn’t traffic and it took us one hour to get there. It’s about 40 miles/65 km from the airport. The Great Wall covers about 6000 km and we only saw the Mutianyu part in the Northeast of Beijing. We were pretty lucky to be there in December and not to be crowded. Willy helped us get our tickets and we took the chairlift up instead of the cable car, it was faster. It was really cool to finally be there and see this masterpiece with our own eyes. The views from there are awe-inspiring. After spending 40 minutes at the top we had to head down and that was the most fun part. We took the Toboggan slide. It’s absolutely a must, you won’t regret it and it’s safe. Everything was perfect and Willy made sure we are in the car at 12pm so we could head back to the airport on time.
*Disclaimer: This was a complimentary trip, but all the opinions and views presented here are entirely our own.
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