Beijing/Beijing Capital International Airport
Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场 Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīchǎng, IATA: PEK) is the primary airport of the Chinese capital city of Beijing, for both domestic and foreign journeys. It is the world's second-busiest (as of 2013 data).
Beijing Capital International Airport is located in the suburban district of Shunyi (approximately 26 km (16 mi) to the northeast of the central districts).
The airport has three terminals which are broadly divided as follows:
The impressively huge, gleaming roof arching over Terminal 3 illustrates the expansion efforts made for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This terminal is considered to be one of the best designed airport terminal buildings in the world from an architectural point of view, and the sixth largest building in the world by area size.
Travel between Terminals 1 and 2 is via a long corridor with travelators. A fit person can walk the route in about 10 minutes. A free shuttle bus runs between Terminal 2 and 3. It departs every ten minutes or so (every 30 minutes from 23:00-06:00), and the journey time is about 10 minutes.
Terminal 3 is huge: it alone is bigger than all five of Heathrow (London)'s terminals. It includes an internal shuttle train. Additional time should be allocated when flying from here.
Do not take the train just to get between T3 and T2/T1, as it goes one way and costs 25RMB.
Minimum check in times vary, but generally close 30 minutes before departure for domestic flights, and 1 hour for international flight.
Beijing Capital Airport is well served by transport links via train, the Airport Expressway and other main roads.
If using a taxi to or from the airport, a regular taxi should be used. Try to get the Chinese name in characters of your hotel so that you can let your taxi driver read where you want to go. A taxi from the airport should cost ¥70-120. You will have to pay the fee shown on the meter (make sure the driver uses it) plus ¥10 toll for the airport expressway. Traffic jams may be experienced depending on the time of day so take note when flying out, but jams are typically short-lived. If you are arriving late at night (or departing early morning), taxis are your sole option as earliest arrival time at airport is 06:30 by public transport (taking first subway 05:30 depending on station and first Airport Express 06:00/¥25/~20-30min to T3 or T2)
Airport Express train runs in a one-way loop from T3 to T2 (there is no stop at T1, instead passengers with flights at that terminal can use the airport terminal transport free of charge to get to T2), then into the city and Sanyuanqiao Station (connected to Line 10) and Dongzhimen Station (Lines 2, 13). One-way fare is ¥25 and the trip takes about 20 minutes from T2 to Dongzhimen Station, about 30 minutes from T3. One-time Airport Express tickets, which differ from subway cards, can be purchased from the Airport Express ticketing station on B2 of Beijing Capital Airport. Subway cards can also be purchased if you plan to use the subway to get to your final destination. If you have purchased a Yikatong card and it has enough fare for the Airport Express, skip the queue and use it at the turnstile.
Although the last Airport Express train leaves airport to city at around 23:10, the subway lines normally stop operating before 23:00 on weeknights. You probably can not connect any subway line if you take a late Airport Express train and finding a legitimate taxi around the subway station during the night can be challenging. Therefore, if your flight arrives Beijing airport after 22:30, other transportation options may prove better depending on final destination.
Do not take the train just to get from T3 to T2/T1, as this will cost you the full ¥25; use the free shuttle bus instead. Trains are short and somewhat frequent. If getting on from T3 you will have a better chance at getting a seat. There are security checks before you get to the train turnstiles so if you have heavy luggage, bear this in mind.
A slightly cheaper way to get to the city centre is to take the airport shuttle (机场巴士 Jīchǎng Bāshì), ☎ +86 10 6459-4375 / 6459-4376, . Buses for each route leave every 10-30 minutes. There are several lines running to different locations throughout Beijing. The shuttle bus website also has a map available. ¥16 one-way. edit
The cheapest (¥2) way would be to take public bus #359, which runs from the airport to Dongzhimen, where you can catch subway Line 2 or 13, but this is not very fast or convenient (1h + 10 min walk from airport).
A number of hostels and hotels run their own shuttle buses services. If you are staying in a hotel near the airport, then this is certainly the case. Talk to your hotel about these arrangements beforehand.
Facilities on arrival include ATMs and money changers. There also shared computer and wifi zone with power outlets to access Internet (need either to scan your ID/passport, or get a SMS code by phone). Be aware that upon departure, porters may want ¥10 to wheel your bags 50 m to check-in and that most eating options are rather outrageously priced. Before you cross through security, if you want a bite to eat in Terminal 1 or 2, there are several restaurants. The restaurants in the basement have relatively low prices compared to what's above. A meal at any of these places should be around ¥50.
Signs throughout Terminal 3 are in both Chinese and English. Signs are also often shown in Korean as well. There are numerous restaurants, shops and business services.
There are several hotels located in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Use their shuttle bus service to arrive at the hotel.
Accommodation options partway between the Airport and Beijing's centre are in the Chaoyang District and Shunyi District. Note that the taxi drivers may not be very familiar with these areas so print out the name of the hotel in Chinese and a map if possible.
The airport is part of the way to the Great Wall of China from Beijing. It is possible to visit the wall via taxi or hire car by travelling about 50km North.
Alternative airports in Beijing
A far less commonly used airport in Beijing is Beijing Nanyuan Airport, which is served by only one airline and offers only domestic hauls. If you should find yourself having trouble getting into Beijing directly due to fully booked flights or scheduling issues, travelers may also consider Tianjin Binhai International Airport, which is in the first-tier city of Tianjin and connected to the capital by 35-minute express train.