How to Enjoy Beijing in Just 20 Hours: Layover Adventure Guide!

Woman sitting in airport and waiting for her flight, woman using phone in airport departure area


Maximize Your Beijing Layover: Top Tips & Spots

Got 20 hours in Beijing? Make them count!

Visit iconic historical landmarks, indulge in delicious local cuisine, and enjoy the city’s energetic atmosphere.

With smart planning, your short stay will be packed with Beijing’s top experiences, creating lasting memories even in a tight timeframe.

Get ready for a layover that feels like a mini-vacation!

Before You Go

Ready for your quick trip to Beijing? Let’s make sure you pack just right:

  • Check the weather for your layover day. If it’s chilly, grab a cozy jacket. If it’s warm, a light shirt and sunscreen are the way to go.
  • Comfort is key. Wear shoes you can walk in all day without getting sore feet.
  • Keep a water bottle with you to stay hydrated while you explore.
  • Carry a power bank – your phone will be your tour guide and camera.

And don’t forget your phone! With it, you can:

  • Use maps to find your way around without getting lost.
  • Have translator apps ready to help you talk to new friends or read signs.
  • Look up travel guides that tell you all about the cool places to see.

With these tips, you’ll have a great time in Beijing, even if it’s just for a few hours.

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Quick Tips–Things to Do in A 20-Hour Layover in Beijing


  • Start your day with a visit to the majestic Mutianyu Great Wall. Breathe in the history and beauty of this less-crowded section for a serene experience.


  • Around noon, treat yourself to authentic flavors by trying local dishes near Mutianyu. Savor traditional cuisine and energize for the afternoon’s exploration.


  • Next, immerse yourself in the rich culture at the Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square. Witness the grandeur of China’s imperial past and its present-day significance.

Early Evening

  • As the day winds down, stroll through Nanluoguxiang for a glimpse of old Beijing, or opt for Wangfujing Street to experience the bustling modern market life.
How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Morning–Mutianyu Great Wall

Embrace the adventure of the Mutianyu Great Wall on your Beijing stopover.

This stretch is renowned for its stunning preservation and the lush greenery that surrounds it, offering an authentic glimpse into China’s vast history.

Less crowded than other parts, Mutianyu provides a more peaceful experience, allowing you to truly connect with the spirit of ancient China.

Maximize your Beijing layover with a visit to the iconic Mutianyu Great Wall:

  • Travel Time: Just a 1.5-hour drive from the airport.
  • Historic Wonder: A prime example of the Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall.
  • Visitor-Friendly: Restored sections with facilities like a cable car, chairlift, and a fun toboggan ride.

Opening Hours:

  • Mar 16 – Nov 15: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Nov 16 – Mar 15: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Tips for a Smooth Visit:

  • Aim for an early-morning flight to Beijing.
  • Allocate 2-3 hours for a relaxed visit, including rest and photos.
  • Climb to Tower 20 for a stunning panoramic view.


  • Entry: 45 RMB
  • Shuttle (round trip): 15 RMB
  • Special rates for kids between 1.20m and 1.40m tall.
  • Free for kids under 1.20m tall.

Enjoy a quick yet comprehensive peek into China’s majestic past without the rush.

Remember to check the weather for that perfect, clear-sky view!

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Noonish–Sample Local Dishes Near Mutianyu

Feeling peckish after exploring Mutianyu Great Wall?

Enjoy a tasty and affordable meal at one of these nearby spots:

Local Eats Near Mutianyu:

  • Zhao Tai Xiang Restaurant: A 20-minute drive away, offering dishes like Kung Pao Chicken and BBQ Fish. Budget-friendly at roughly 50 RMB per person.
  • Xiaolongpu Restaurant: Just 10 minutes from Mutianyu. Sample varied Chinese flavors from Sichuan to Beijing for about 40-50 RMB per person.
  • Fish Chef: Known for its rainbow trout BBQ, this eatery is a 15-minute journey and costs around 50 RMB per person.

All these restaurants provide a good value for your money and are conveniently located for a quick stop before or after your Great Wall adventure.

Delight in the local cuisine to complete your visit!

Chinese home made meal: Overhead flat lay. Four dishes, rice and decoration. Striped potatoes, Cucumber with garlic, fried green beans, fried pork with red onions


Afternoon–Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square

Dive into history at the Forbidden City, China’s most celebrated museum, second only to the Great Wall in tourist fame.

What’s Inside:

  • A royal residence for Qing and Ming emperors for 500+ years, until 1911.
  • Opened to the public in 1925 and crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
  • Home to over a million art treasures spread across 720,000 square meters.

Plan Your Visit:

  • Opening Times: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, closed on Mondays.
  • Tickets: Summer – 60 RMB, Winter – 40 RMB.

Just south, Tiananmen Square awaits, a monumental gateway to the Forbidden City’s wonders.

This vast space is steeped in history and not to be missed.

Extra Tip: If time allows and you’re a history buff, the nearby National Museum is also worth a visit.

This itinerary ensures that history enthusiasts can marvel at ancient splendors and the stories they tell.

Bronze lion at the Forbidden City,Beijing,Chinese cultural symbols


Early Evening–Nanluoguxiang or Wangfujing Street

For a lively night out in Beijing, Wangfujing Snack Street and Nanluoguxiang are buzzing spots to explore:

  • Wangfujing Street: Offers a mix of familiar fast-food joints and unique local delicacies, like skewered scorpions and starfish for the adventurous eater!
  • Nanluoguxiang: A blend of history and modernity, this area is dotted with restaurants and shops where you can find everything from traditional crafts to contemporary goods.

Feeling the beat? Catch a taxi to:

  • Sanlitun Bar Street: Known as the city’s original bar hub, it’s brimming with American and European bars featuring live music, alongside a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Wrap up your evening in this vibrant neighborhood, where the night comes alive with global vibes.

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover of Beijing


Tips and Tricks for the Layover Traveler

Exploring Beijing during a layover is exciting! Here’s what you need to know:

Speaking to Locals:

  • Say “nǐ hǎo” for hello and “xièxiè” for thank you — it’s friendly!
  • Use your phone for translation; pictures work great, too!

Managing Your Time:

  • Pick two main places to see so you won’t have to rush.
  • Always leave plenty of time to get back to the airport.

Avoiding Mistakes:

  • Stick to buying small souvenirs; big items are hard to take on the plane.
  • Eat where lots of people are dining; it means the food is yummy and safe!

Remember, a smile is the same in any language. Have fun, make friends, and enjoy every minute in Beijing!

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Departing Beijing

When your Beijing layover adventure wraps up, getting back to the airport on time is key. Here’s what to do:

Heading Back:

  • Plan to leave for the airport 3 hours before your flight. This gives you plenty of time just in case there’s traffic.
  • The Airport Express train is quick and leaves you right at the terminal.

Before You Fly:

  • Think about the best parts of your trip. What was the coolest thing you saw?
  • Share your favorite moments with friends or jot them down in a travel journal.

Chill at the Airport:

  • Check out the airport lounges – some might let you in for a small fee.
  • Look for free charging stations to top off your phone’s battery.
  • Try some airport snacks or shop for last-minute gifts.

With these tips, you’ll end your Beijing layover relaxed and ready for your next flight. Safe travels!

Final Thoughts

As you get ready to say goodbye to Beijing, let’s wrap up all the amazing stuff you did!

You wandered through history at the Forbidden City, ate some super tasty duck, and maybe even made a new friend or two

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s how to make your next layover, wherever it is, just as awesome:

Write Down Highlights:

  • What made you go ‘wow’? The Great Wall? The busy markets? Write it down to remember!

New Friends:

  • Did you meet someone cool? Add them on social media to stay in touch.

Next Time:

  • Think about what you’d do differently. More snacks? Different places? It’ll be handy for next time.

Share Tips:

  • Tell your buddies what worked great. Like, using a map app to get around.

Beijing was just the start. Every layover is a chance for a mini-adventure. So, where to next?

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What can I realistically see in Beijing during a 20-hour layover?

A: You can visit famous spots like the Forbidden City, take a quick trip to the Great Wall, or explore the local markets. Just pick a couple of must-sees and enjoy!

Q: Do I need a visa for a layover in Beijing?

A: Depending on your country, you may not need a visa for short layovers.

China offers 24-, 72-, and 144-hour visa-free transit in some cities, including Beijing. Always check the latest visa rules before your trip!

Q: How do I manage transportation within the city during my layover?

A: Easy! The Airport Express train, taxis, and buses are there to help you zip around.

Remember to have some local currency handy for tickets and rides.

Q: Are there safe places to store my luggage while exploring Beijing?

A: Absolutely! The airport and some train stations offer secure luggage storage for a small fee.

Q: What are some quick traditional foods I should try?

A: Definitely grab some Peking duck, jianbing for a tasty snack, and don’t miss out on the delicious dumplings!

Q: How can I respect local customs and traditions as a visitor?

A: Simple things matter, like being polite, not pointing with your fingers, and taking off your shoes when entering someone’s home. Just smile and be nice, and you’ll be fine!

How to Enjoy Beijing During A 20 Hour Layover


Q: What should I do in case of a medical emergency during my layover?

A: In an emergency, dial 120 for an ambulance.

It’s a good idea to have travel insurance and know the address of a nearby hospital.

Q: Can I leave the airport during my layover in Beijing?

A: Sure can! If your layover is long enough and you have the right visa, feel free to explore.

Q: What are the best options for overnight stays during a layover?

A: Look for airport hotels or nearby hostels. Some even offer day rooms to freshen up or take a nap.

Q: How can I make the most of my layover if my time is during the night?

A: Check out 24-hour spots like Wangfujing Street for some night shopping or see if there’s a night tour.

Or just relax in a lounge at the airport.

Interested in discovering Beijing on a layover? Dive into our latest posts for in-depth insights and practical tips:

Most Popular Posts

Which part of the Great Wall is the best to visit

When is the best time to visit the Great Wall of China

Mutianyu Great Wall travel guide

Where is the best location to stay in Beijing

How long should I stay in Beijing


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>