13-Hour Layover in Beijing, China

My Family at the Great Wall of China

On my recent trip to Thailand, I purposely scheduled a return flight with a 13-hour layover in Beijing. As you get to know me, you will find that I do this a lot. I absolutely love to schedule my flights and take advantage of long layovers. This is a great way to visit a city without having to pay for extra fare to get there.

The Sun Shinning at The Great Wall of China
Me and Bella

Our flight from Bangkok arrived in Beijing at 2 AM, after the 5-hour flight, of course we were exhausted, but very excited about taking a tour to see The Great Wall of China.  I had made arrangements with Beijing Tours Guide company to meet us at the airport and take us on a private tour to Mutianyu, to tour the Great Wall.  They picked us up promptly at 6 AM and we started our one-and-a-half-hour drive to the Great Wall.  It was a chilly morning in Beijing, the traffic of rush hour was in full force.  The pollution was so dense, we could barely see the sun rays come out, it was the first time I had ever visited a city where I could smell pollution.  It made me think about loving our environment and taking care of the beautiful resources we are blessed to enjoy.

Me and my Amore

It was a beautiful drive through the countryside of Beijing.  On our way, we witnessed hundreds of bicycles and motorcycles inundating the roads, rush hour in the outskirts of Beijing.  I could witness small noodles shops, with tiny tables and chairs outside, although it was a cold morning, there were people eating big bowls of fresh noodle soups outside the shops.  So many beautiful cherry blossom trees, and open spaces, the air was clear, just miles outside of the busy city, made such a big difference in the quality of air. 

Bella and my mother, The Great Wall to ourselves

We finally reached Mutianyu, and started our trek to buy the admission ticket.  From the admission booth, you can get to the wall by either hiking up the mountain for 40 minutes, or opting to take a cable car.  We opted to take the cable car.  The cost was 120 Chinese Yuan, round trip, about $20 US dollars.  The ride in the cable car was amazing, coming from someone afraid of height!  At first, I could feel my heart beating very fast, but as the cable car went up the mountain, a serene feeling surrounded me.  It is hard to explain, but it has been one of the most peaceful moments I have experienced.  The surroundings were perfect, the fresh air hitting my face, the sounds of the birds chirping, and the expression of my daughter’s face, mesmerized by the experience.   

View from The Great Wall

We were finally at the top of the mountain and then beauty stroke, it was such an amazing sight.  The mountains were breathtaking, the sun was coming out, and the rays of the sun were hitting the granite of the wall.  It was a wonderful sight.  It was about 8 AM when we stood in the wall.  It was perfect time, no crowds, we practically had the entire wall for ourselves.  We spent about 2 hours walking the wall, taking pictures and taking in all the magnitude of the architecture of the wall, plus the beautiful surroundings.  Coming down the wall, I opted to take the cable car back down, my husband and daughter preferred to take the fun route, and came down by toboggan.

Bella and Daddy/Toboggan ride
Cable Car at The Great Wall of China

At 10 AM we were on our way back to the airport, and at 1:30 PM we boarded our 14-hour flight back to Washington, DC.

I absolutely loved this experience and recommend anyone traveling to South East Asia to purposely book a ticket with a long layover and experience a little of Beijing, or any other city for that matter.

The Magnificent Wall of China


For a Beijing Layover Tour, we used www.beijinglayovertour.com

Cost: $75 per person for private tour + $20 roundtrip fee for cable car to the mountain +tip to your tour guide and driver.    Note: US Citizens require a visa to exit the airport in Beijing.  If your layover is 48 hours or less, US Citizens can obtain a 24 or 48-hour Chinese visa free transit permit stamp.  This would allow you to exit the airport and tour Beijing, without having to obtain a Chinese visa.  You would need to show proof of your connecting flight to be approved for a Chinese visa free transit permit stamp.  Allow ample time to process your visa and to return to your gate to catch your connecting flight after your tour, the Beijing PEK airport can be overwhelming.  I recommend allowing at least 2-3 hours to get to your connecting flight because immigration and security lines can be extremely long. 

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16 thoughts on “13-Hour Layover in Beijing, China

  1. Wow glad you made it home safely, I have never been to China, it is on my bucket list to go one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who never loves a well planned-for layover?! Your time at the Great wall must have been so great. China is on my bucketlist just for the same reason. I would also use a cable car ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dalene, the views from the wall are magnificent.


  3. that is so super-cool that you managed such a great trip during a layover 🙂 i recall having a similarly long layover last year in hong kong; and though there were sights to see which i could have managed, i did not end up doing it because 1) i was by myself and 2)not in the right frame of mind due to family health issues:(
    but now i am armed with the knowledge of what to do and your post inspires me too

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I try to avoid layover but I must say, you utilize that time so great. I love all your pictures and I can tell the whole family enjoyed the trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always admire people who use make use of their layover time. It is great to explore an entire place in such a short time. Cheers to travel and fun

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never been to this part of the world before. I would love to explore Asia one day.


  7. It looks and sounds like you all had a very fun and memorable time during your layover in China! I have always wanted to visit the Great Wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely clicks and looks like you guys had amazing time there. Would love to visit there sometime

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you can because it’s beautiful.


  9. Amazing post! I’ve been to Beijing before but that was years ago. I may or may not travel there again because of the pollution. I’m planning on visiting New Zealand more often haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Audrey. I had never experienced pollution as in China. I could almost taste it. It’s hard to explain.


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