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Beijing Capital International Airport (T3)

Beijing, CN

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Getting around the airport

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Beijing Capital International Airport lies 32km north-east of the city centre, and is the world's second busiest airport. It has three terminals, in separate buildings (though a walkway links Terminals 1 and 2):

  • Terminal 1: Domestic flights by the Hainan Airlines Group (including Hainan Airlines, Grand China Air, Deer Air and Tianjin Airlines).
  • Terminal 2: Mostly domestic flights (mainly by China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Skyteam and Air Koryo) and some international ones.
  • Terminal 3: International and domestic flights, mainly from Air China, and members of Oneworld and Star Alliance. It has three concourses: Terminal 3C (domestic and international travellers check in here), 3D (gates for domestic flights) and 3E (gates for international flights). It's a huge terminal - the second largest in the world - meaning you'll need some help getting around! To travel between Terminal 3C and 3E, you can take the automated people mover train. The 2km journey takes two minutes and trains run every six minutes.

Travelling between terminals

You can take a free shuttle bus between all three terminals. Shuttles leave roughly every 10 minutes from 06:00-23:00, and every 30 minutes from 01:00-05:00. From Terminal 2 the shuttle stops at Terminal 1 Arrivals, Terminal 3 Departures, Terminal 2 Departures, and then Terminal 1 Departures.

Terminals 1 and 2 lie close together, and there's a walkway between them, requiring a walk of around 10-15 minutes.

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Getting into Beijing

Take a train or taxi

The airport is far from the city centre, and traffic in Beijing can be a nightmare, so if you're travelling light, we recommend taking the train. On the other hand, taxis are relatively cheap and if you have plenty time, can be an easier option if you want to avoid negotiating public transport, and arrive directly at your accommodation.

Train

The Airport Express Line of the Beijing Subway offers a reliable service - taking you from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, and then to the city with stops at Sanyuanqiao (for Line10) and Dongzhimen (for Lines 2 and 13) in only 16-20 minutes. From here, you'll have to take a taxi or public transport to your final destination, which can be difficult if you’re carrying a lot of luggage. Trains leave every 10 minutes. Running times are 06:35-23:10 for Terminal 2 and 06:20-22:50 for Terminal 3.

Cost: CNY 25 one-way 
Location: Airport Express stations in Terminals 2 and 3

Taxi

A taxi should take around an hour in regular traffic - but that time (and fare) can double during rush hour. Tip: Instead of waiting in long queues, you can call a cab while waiting for your luggage using the Didi Taxi app (滴滴打车), which is in Chinese as well as English. Or ask a nearby local who has the app. 

Cost: CNY 100-150 to central Beijing (including expressway fee of CNY 10)

Bus

For the heavily laden, yet budget-conscious traveller, it can be easier to take one of the airport buses, which will drop you off right to where you need to be. The routes that terminate at Beijing Railway Station or the International Hotel are the most useful for going to the city centre.

Cost: CNY 16
Buying tickets: The airport buses accept only paper tickets that are sold at each terminal and certain bus stops in the city 

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International flight connections

Allow at least two hours

When transferring between international flights, you will have to collect your new boarding pass and go downstairs to Departures. There is a queue designated to airside transit (don't use the immigration queue), which is to the right of the main passport control. There are generally only two people on the desk so getting through can take upwards of an hour.

Your passport will be stamped for China entry, at which point you will head downstairs and your passport will be stamped for China exit – typically by the same person. Allow two hours for the whole procedure.

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Visa-free travel

For 72-hour stopover

If you’re from one of these countries, you no longer need to get a visa in advance for trips less than 72 hours. Print out the details of your connecting flight and fill in an Arrival Form to enjoy visa-free travel for 72 hours in China. Other cities offer visas on arrival, for a fee, but this service is offered free to facilitate the travel of international visitors. Be aware that you must fly out of the same airport you flew into.

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Get through immigration quicker

Designated immigration lane for visa-free stopovers

Beijing immigration has a lane set aside for 72-hour, visa-free stopovers. When you arrive at the immigration control, be sure to have the boarding pass from your first flight and on onward plane ticket for a third destination (not a return flight) available to show to immigration officers. 

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Currency exchanges

Save money

If you need to exchange money, you’re better off waiting until you’re at your hotel. The airport exchange offices charge hefty fees, up to RMB 60 per exchange. Hotels, on the other hand, have cash points that allow you to exchange major currency (EUR, GBP, USD) for just RMB 20 in amounts up to USD 400.

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Café Sambai

A restaurant with a view

Café Sambai offers basic food – sandwiches, pasta, and burgers – but the coffee is divine. The café also happens to be situated at the apex of the airport, providing a great view of the airplanes, runway, and the surrounding areas (if you can see past the smog, that is).

Terminal 3E, after security, international departures, in the food court
Hours: 06:00-21:00 daily

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Lounges

Many lounges operated by local airlines

There are many lounges in Beijing airport, though most of them are operated by local Chinese or Asian airlines.

Terminal 3E

  • Dragonair and Cathay Pacific Lounge
  • The Emirates Lounge
  • Air China International Business Class Lounge
    Opening hours: 6:00-22:00 daily
  • Air China International First Class Lounge
    Opening hours: 6:00-22:00 daily
  • BGS Premier Lounge (Level 3, near Gate E19)
  • Business Traveler's Lounge
    Airside, across from Gate E10
    Opening hours: 24 hours daily

Terminal 3D

  • Air China First and Business Class Lounge
    Domestic, airside, Gate D10
    Opening hours: 6:00-20:00 daily

Terminal 3C

  • Air China Transit Lounge
  • Golden Century Lounge
  • Sichuan Airlines First Class Lounge
  • Air China Domestic First & Business Class Lounge

Terminal 2

  • China Southern Sky Pearl Lounge
  • China Eastern Domestic First Class Lounge
  • China Southern First Class Lounge
  • China Eastern Domestic Apron Lounge
  • China Southern First & Business Class VIP Lounge
  • Air China Business Class Lounge (Opening hours: 6:00-22:00 daily)
  • BGS Premier Lounge
    Airside, near Gate 11
    Clean showers, hot meals, and freshly brewed coffee. GBP 23 for 3 hours and GBP 25 for 5 hours
    Opening hours: 6:00-22:00 daily
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Sleep off the jetlag

Beijing’s sleep pods

Terminal 3 has sleep pods that can be rented by the hour. Rooms start at RMB 120/hour for a single bed with a shower room and toilet. A full day costs RMB 720.
Be aware that the pods are outside the security and immigration checkpoint, so you will need a visa or an onward flight within 72 hours to leave the secure area.

Terminal 3, landside

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Indoor garden

Relax

This indoor garden is styled like the imperial gardens at the Summer Palace. You’ll be able to relax in the feng shui designed garden that maximises the use of natural light. The Suzhou and Royal gardens also have ponds that house fish, which travellers are allowed to participate in feeding.
Feeding time goes from 9:00 to 15:00, daily, with staff handing out proper fish food.

Terminal 3E, airside, waiting area

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Power outlets

Throughout the airport

Beijing airport offers no designated work places or charging zones. There are power outlets all over the terminals though that are free to use.

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Showers

At different lounges

You can book a private room with a bed and shower access for hourly rates at the Hourly Lounges:

  • Terminal 3, landside, arrival lounge, level 2, west of the public space 
  • Terminal 3E, airside, east of the International Departures 

Alternatively you can use the public lounge in terminal 3, which also has a shower:

  • BGS Premier Lounge
    Terminal 2, airside, near Gate 11
    Entrance fee: GBP 23 for 3 hours and GBP 25 for 5 hours.
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Children Play Area

Great places to pass the time

In the Children’s Play Area can play with toys and watch cartoons throughout the day. 

Terminal 2, airside, domsteic departures, floor 2, near gates 10, 25 and 35

Terminal 3C, airside, near gate 10 and gate 30
Terminal 3E, airside, near the imperial garden

For nursing mums, the airport provides a private space for diaper changing, nursing, and napping. The nursing rooms are located beside the toilets, where you can use the baby care platforms, water pool, chairs and other facilities to help you take care of your baby’s needs.

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Use the facilities

The Hilton Beijing Capital Hotel

The Hilton can be reached on foot from Terminal 3 and you will have access to a spa, indoor pool, gym, and Chinese and Western restaurants – and the food will certainly be better than the options you’ll get inside the airport. While staying here is an option, the restaurants are open to the public and if you book a spa appointment, you will have access to the pool and gym without booking a room.


A shuttle departs from Terminal 3 near Gate 5 every 15 minutes. Rooms start at RMB 1,618 per night, including Wi-Fi and breakfast.

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Save on Your Car Rental

Lowest Price Guaranteed

Rental cars for international guests are not common in China. Driving requires a Chinese license which can be hard to get and traffic in China is often considered dangerous. Therefore there is no specific rental car center.

However there is a AVIS rental station in a hotel next to the airport:

Jinjiang Inn Hotel, Room 8012, Shunyi, Beijing, 101304, CN
Hours: 09:00-21:00 daily

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Bring a pen

Landing documents

Be sure to have a pen to fill out your declaration card if you are arriving at the airport from overseas. The airport does not supply them for passengers, so you’ll need to have one handy or ask someone to borrow theirs.

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Layover options

At least 8 hours

Take advantage of the airport's proximity to cultural sites by taking a tour from Beijing airport. You can hire a personal guide to take you to Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall of China. There are plenty of layover tours in Beijing that you can book, provided you have a minimum of 8 hours’ layover.

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Global Kitchen food court

Best to eat before security

At the food court called the Global Kitchen are 72 different restaurants with a combination of Chinese and Western Dishes. The food options throughout Terminal 3 are lacklustre, but you’ll get good variety here before boarding.

Terminal 3, before security, domestic flights end 

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