So what do you do when you find yourself stuck in Beijing for 24 hours?
Be a SUPER tourist and make the most of your situation!
Below are some tips on how to have ALL of the fun on an unexpected 24-hour adventure in Beijing.
Fun China Tip #1 – Don’t use Air China to Get to Beijing.
Even though our flight took off 2 hours late and I am pretty certain that we will miss our connecting flight to Thailand. We leave NYC looking like this…
Why, because we are ooooooooon VACATION!
Secretly, I am mildly panicking on the inside about the travel drama that we will have to deal with once we land in Beijing. To get my mind off of it, I get excited about the tasty beverage cart and the fun ethnic food that I will get to experience on the plane. Unfortunately, my dreams were immediately crushed, and I am told that my food options are duck or pork rice even though I ordered a vegetarian meal. So I ordered duck and gave it to Derika. That’s OK! I planned ahead and can eat Kind Bars for the next 14 hours. No big deal, and besides plane food is not that great anyway.
So I look on the bright side, there are still free tasty beverages to look forward too, even if it does make me use the restroom 376 times! Derika is the only one sitting next to me, so I can have ALL of the cocktails! Bam! Just like that I am winning again, but not for long. If you are used to free-flowing alcohol on international flights, don’t expect it when you fly with Air China. You get one glass of wine or beer with dinner, and then the cart goes into hiding. I think that it is probably hanging out with my vegetarian meal. About 12-13 hours into our flight and about an hour before we land, they toss me exactly 6 slices of white bread without the crust. Each slice has one random cucumber or tomato slice in between each piece of bread. Maybe this is the vegetarian option (ignore the incredibly sleepy looking girl in the photo below, and just look at all that white bread)?
Of course we arrive to Beijing late, where we find out that we have missed our connecting flight. No problem, right? We will just catch the next flight or jump on a partner airline flight. Not so easy when Air China refuses to book us on a partner flight, and the next flight that they can get us on isn’t until 24 hours later. If you are noticing any sarcasm here, it is in fact happening and I highly highly encourage you to never fly with Air China.
Thankfully, I wore my Compression Pants on the long flight, so now I can look super FAST next to all of the oversized statues around the airport.
Seriously though, these pants have been a game changer for me when I am flying. Not only do I look fast ALL of the time, I do not get cankles or puffy toes when I am traveling…Winning!
Fun China Tip #2…Enjoy a Local Beer.
Beer makes everything better and it also helped us to get over the Golden Phoenix…the creepy hotel in the middle of nowhere that Air China booked us into. We grabbed a local beer and started to hash out an adventure plan while we waited in line for the keys to your room. Oh yeah, I almost forgot! If you were traveling alone, you were asked to share a room with a stranger or you had to pay for your crappy room…Wait, what!? I wish I were joking about this one, and thank god I was traveling with Derika. There were about 10 people stuck in Beijing with us, and a few were traveling by themselves. Air China actually asked them to room together!! Most of them refused, and most of them ended up paying for their own rooms at a crappy hotel in a city they had not originally planned on spending the night in!?
Fun China Tip #3…Navigate the Subway!
Since we only had 24 hours in Beijing we did not have much time to coordinate how we were going to navigate our adventure, so the subway was our best bet. We made a new friend on this adventure named Regina, who was also stranded in Beijing courtesy of Air China. So we invited her to come along with us on our Beijing adventure. To my surprise, the Beijing subway was pretty easy to navigate, especially if you can navigate the NYC subway. There were many sardine packed train rides and some comical moments when I could not figure out how to buy a ticket through their automated machines, but all in all we were able to navigate the subway like pros in no time.
Fun China Tip #4…Visit the Forbidden City!
But first you have to get through this line!
If you have an issue with people getting into your personal space, then this is not the place for you. Actually, I don’t think that you would like China at all. We quickly realized that personal space does not exist in China, and it will always feel like the person standing behind you is hitching a ride in your backpack. They also like to push and cut, and pretty much walk right through you. So hold onto your valuables and enjoy the ride!
Fun China Tip #5…Visit Tiananmen Square!
We originally wanted to go to The Great Wall, but we weren’t 100% confident that we could make it there and back in time to catch our new flight to Thailand. There was no way in hell that I was taking a risk and missing our next flight. So we headed to the heart of Beijing, where we could go shopping, grab lunch and visit a couple of touristy things. This is how we ended up at Tiananmen Square. It was pretty cool, if you ask me. The square was huge with some of the most amazing flower displays that I have ever seen. It was also a great place for people watching, and the perfect opportunity for the locals to snap secret photos of the blonde girl as she walked by.
Fun China Tip #6…Eat at a Local Restaurant!
I love checking out the local cuisine when we travel, so we decided to be adventurous and try a Hot Pot for lunch. A hot pot is basically a boiling vat of water that sits in the middle of your table simmering with spices. You then order sauces and whatever your little heart desires to boil in the pot. We got a bunch of meat and seafood for Derika and Regina, and a bunch of veggies and tofu for me. We ended up ordering our meal by just pointing at the photos on the menu like 3-year-olds. It was a neat experience, and the staff was super patient with us.
While you are waiting for your meal to arrive make sure you run to the bathroom, because public restrooms are few and far between.
Don’t forget to bring your own toilet paper and hopefully you are not wearing pants. If you are, good luck keeping them dry!
Fun China Tip #7…Eat Some Fried Rice.
Well, you are in China aren’t you? Of course we got to the airport early, due to our mad subway navigating skills. I could not spend 24 hours in China, and not test out how authentic Chinese fried rice compares to the one you can get in the US. So to be fair, I got this fried rice at the airport while I was waiting for our connecting flight. It was good, but not epic. To my surprise, there wasn’t much difference between this fried rice and the fried rice that you can get in the US. Which I guess is a good thing.
Before you hop on your flight to Thailand, stop off at one of the many vending machines to stock up for your flight. Just in case your vegetarian meal is hanging out with the MIA tasty beverage cart again.
The vending machines in China are amazing! You can grab a beer, buy some soup and even grab a new shirt if yours is dirty! I wish the vending machines in the US would get on this bandwagon!
All kidding aside, we had a good time in China and we even made a new friend that lives in Florida; Derika’s home state…go figure! In fact, China was not anywhere near the top of our list for places to visit. So to get a random opportunity to run around China for 24 hours on a one day visa was a pretty cool experience.
Happy Traveling and Here’s to Making the Most of Random Travel Adventures!