Beijing Capital International Airport can be described in superlatives - it is China’s most important international airport, the busiest airport in Asia, houses the second largest airport terminal in the world and, all in all, is the second busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic (as of September 2014). The home base of the country’s national carrier (Air China), it handles some 70 million passengers annually and accommodates more than 70 airlines, with flights to hundreds of cities globally.
The airport’s mammoth structure includes 3 terminal buildings; Terminal 1 is used for domestic flights, whilst Terminal 2 handles international flights. Terminal 3, the newest and largest terminal, was built in 2008 to handle the extra traffic for the Beijing Olympics and is second only to Dubai’s International Airport terminal in terms of size.
Located only about 25 kilometres from Tiananmen Square - the iconic city square in the heart of Beijing - getting from Beijing Capital Airport to the city is a breeze. Tourists may choose to take the Airport Shuttle, which boasts 9 different bus routes to various destinations within the city as well as the Beijing Railway Station. Those heading over to cities outside of Beijing have the option of taking the airport’s inter-provincial coaches instead, which provide direct connections to cities such as Tianjin, Tanggu, Langfang and more at reasonable fares. Otherwise, the Airport Express Subway Line is also a popular option; passengers can board the train from Terminal 2 or 3, and arrive at downtown subway stations Sanyuanqiao and Dongzhimen in about 20 minutes. From there, passengers can easily transfer over to the main Beijing Subway line to continue their journey into the city. For tourists preferring convenience and comfort, airport taxis can also readily be found at taxi stops just outside the airport terminals.
What to see and do
A city bursting with history, ancient architecture, natural beauty and unparalleled economic growth, Beijing should definitely be there on your bucket list. The capital city is a mesh between old and new, tradition and modernity, and this dichotomy can be witnessed throughout the city; ancient temples and tombs are juxtaposed next to spanking-new skyscrapers and flashy high-end malls. Take a stroll or guided tour through the gorgeous and mysterious Forbidden City, an ancient imperial palace built in the 1400s that boasts more than 9,000 rooms spread over 250 acres of land. Once the home of Chinese emperors, the Forbidden City is today classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.
Next, get yourself to Tiananmen Square, another icon of Beijing. Used as a massive gathering place for parades, rallies and protests, it is one of the largest city squares in the world and the site of countless historic Chinese protests (most notably the Tiananmen Square Protests which unfortunately led to the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989). On top of that, it was also the place where Chairman Mao first proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China in front of thousands, all the way back in 1949. Feel the weight of history on your shoulders as you walk this square that has witnessed so many monumental events and historical decisions that have shaped Chinese history, and made the People’s Republic of China what it is today.
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