This page is a work in progress; I will continue to update this page as I discover new tidbits of information during my time in Beijing.
Beijing makes it clear that China has arrived on the international stage. The country’s capital is emblematic of the huge changes that the country has gone through. Spending time here, it’s hard to imagine that most of the country is actually made up of relatively poor, relatively undeveloped villages.
As it develops, Beijing gets more and more comfortable for Westerners: more English is understood (though not so much outside of touristy areas), there’s a ton of good quality restaurants and accomodation, and things generally seem to function more efficiently.
But development does have its drawbacks: the ridiculous traffic, and the awful air quality.
Chinese people are still fascinated by foreigners, so don’t be surprised if you’re often started at and even photographed. And they are crazy for babies. And if your baby happens to have blond hair? Well he/she may as well be royalty!
By far the easiest way to and from the airport is the Beijing Capital Airport Express Train. The train runs very frequently rom around 6:30am-10:30pm, and takes about 20min to travel between the airport and city. The train makes two stops in the city: at sanyuanqiao subway station, and at dongzhimen subway station.
There are also a bunch of shuttle buses that offer transport between the airport and various city locations.
And there’s always the taxi option, if you don’t mind potential long waits at the airport, and fighting traffic to/from the city. If you do decide to go the taxi route, bypass the touts in the terminal and head for the official taxi stand.
Beijing is a huge, sprawling city that can be difficult to navigate with traffic often at a standstill. Taxis are cheap, but they can sometimes be hard to flag down (make sure you’re standing somewhere that the taxi can safely stop), and who knows how long it will take to get to your destination.
Beijing has an extensive public transit network. The subway is easy to use- signs are in both Chinese and English- and will take you pretty much wherever you need to go, but the trains are always packed and stations are never stroller-friendly. Buses are usually less-packed, but again require battling the traffic.
Beijing is a pretty pleasant city to walk around (when the pollution isn’t too crazy), with wide and clean sidewalks. But do beware crossing the street: cars do NOT stop for pedestrians, not even ones with strollers or small kids. The busier intersections have over- or under-passes which usually involve stairs (though some overpasses have ramps).
Given that Westerners, especially babies, are often gawked at when they’re just standing around or walking down the street, you can imagine the attention that a breastfeeder will receive. That said, Beijingers are generally respectful enough to keep their gawking discrete.
Parks and Playgrounds:
Beijing has some seriously awesome green spaces. Large, clean, and often including a children’s play area (with an entrance fee), they’re great places to while away a blue sky day. The most central parks include the Temple series (Temple of Heaven, Temple of Earth, and Temple of Sun), Hohai, and Chaoyang Park.
Public toilets in Beijing are hit and miss, and often only have squat toilets. Baby changing facilities are rare. This is likely because locals rarely diaper their kids, but prefer the slit-up-the-pants-and-poop-wherever-you-want method.
Locals love dining out with their little ones, so high-chairs are pretty much always available. Restaurant servers often love making googley faces at babies, and may even swoop them up and carry them away for a few minutes, allowing parents to actually enjoy their meal.
Diapers and baby food are readily available at supermarkets. When it comes to formula, beware of the recent melamine formula scandal and be sure to by imported brands.
China has also seen a fair share of food safety scandals. Especially when it comes to feeding little mouths, depending on your risk tolerance you may want to avoid buying street food, and consuming local dairy and meat products.