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One day in Beijing with 20 euros in our pocket

On our way back home from Philippines, we had 11 hours stop in Beijing. We already flew through Beijing on our way to Philippines, but the waiting time between flight was shorter (8 hours) and Míša didn’t feel well, so we stayed at the airport. This time, we both felt good, especially after 5 hours of sleep in the plain.

Beijing was a fun experience from every point of view. We were running low on cash, so first, we had our last cash Filipino money exchanged for Chinese yuans. We worked with total budget of 220 yuans, roughly 28 euros. We thought, we’ll be fine, we had our credit cards, oh boy, we should have done more research.

First, we had to go through the registration process, filling out some form, giving our fingerprints and our passports were thoroughly checked too. The lady behind the desk was mainly worried about the stamps from United Arab Emirates. We explained it was just a stop-over, like what we want to do in Beijing, so she let us go. The whole experience of getting out of airport felt a bit unsettling. There were many soldiers and it looked like smiling is forbidden, because no one from the Chinese stuff has smiled, not even slightly.

Almost every building we saw had some kind of similar decoration.

After that, we needed to change our clothes. Coming from tropical Philippines to freezing Beijing was quite a change. We put as much clothes as possible. I had my swim shorts with long pants, two t-shirts, hoodie, and jacket. Míša had three different pairs of pants on her, plus t-shirt, two hoodies and jacket. We looked funny. Add to that our colourful buffs and we were standing out a lot. Especially since vast majority of people all around us wore black or dark shades of blue.

Fun thing was that out of the 220 yuans we had, the train from the airport and back cost 100 yuans. So, we arrived into the city centre with 120 yuans to spend. We were worried about getting lost in metro, but in the end, the trip was smooth.

Tianmen square with Mao Zedong portrait.

We exited at the Tianmen Square, which is named after eponymous Tiananmen ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") located to its north, which separates it from the Forbidden City. To get there, we also had to go through the metal detector frame, which was unexpected since it’s an open area, but well, it’s China.

After that, we wanted to enter the Forbidden City, which is a palace complex with numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples. I looked up some information and it seemed that the entrance fee was low, but it wasn’t. I read online about 4 yuans entrance fees, but it was way more than we could afford, unfortunately, I don’t remember how much. Anyway, some guy approached us offering guided tour. We told him about our limited budget, but he said it won’t be a problem. He can pay for us and we will give to him later as there is several ATM within the Forbidden City. We didn’t like that idea and tried to politely refuse, but he then got really annoyed. He started talking about the high salaries in China compared and it’s no problem for him to pay for poor Europeans. He was forcing it a lot adding that we can only learn proper history from someone local and we won’t read anything misleading on the internet. Well, we continued refusing until he gave up.

We did not get in, but Fortbidden City is impressive even from the outside.

So, instead of entering the Forbidden City, we just went around its massive walls. There we started chatting with two Chinese ladies who wanted to invite on a hot tea or coffee, but we had only few hours left and preferred exploring the town. We ended up in the opposite site of Forbidden City just by the Jingshan Park located on the hill above the Forbidden City. The entrance fee there was just 1 yuan, so did it and were very happy about our decision. From the hill and the temple on the top, you can see the whole Forbidden City in its glory! I can only recommend that.

After descending back in the city, we felt hungry and wanted to enjoy some proper Chinese food. However, even after trying numerous ATM’s, tourist offices and even post office, we simply could not get any more money. Nowhere they accepted our Visa and Mastercard, so our only option left was KFC restaurant in which we spent the rest of our money.

Jingshan Park was the best part of our day in Beijing, because it is the only place we could afford to enter with our limited budget.

Then, we just continued walking around. Park Pej-chaj was our last stop before getting back to the airport. Nothing super cool or interesting is there, but for us Europeans, even regular Chinese park is great place to visit.

Walking through Beijing city centre was exhausting, especially since we spent the previous day in similar manner, only in Manila. We slept almost throughout the whole flight back to Barcelona expect the breaks for food, so the whole 11 hours long flight felt much shorter. Anyway, that’s our short adventure in Beijing. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions and check our video from Beijing on our YouTube channel here.

Hopefully, there will be more travel adventures to write about soon. Until then, stay safe and be happy!

Summary of expenses: We had total of 220 yuans (28 euros):

Train: 100

Metro: 30

Jingshan Park: 4

Foto: 10

KFC: 60

Starbucks at the Airport where they accepted our card: 59

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