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A Solo Female Traveler's Guide to Beijing

Beijing painting
Beijing painting | © babysorry / Pixabay
China is an excellent country for solo female travelers, and the capital is especially ideal. In Beijing, there are rigid security checks at all train and subway stations, the locals are hospitable, and there is quite a robust street life during the day and at night. For more information on how to make the most of your solo experience in Beijing, here is the ultimate guide on what to pack, how to travel safely, how to interact with locals, and more.

What to pack

Beijing’s weather differs greatly depending on the season, but a quick check before you leave should help with packing. Although it’s true that Chinese people generally err on the more conservative side of fashion and don’t show a lot of skin – men in the summer being the exception – Beijingers have quite open attitudes and are rarely judgmental when people choose otherwise. Also, there’s no need to worry if you accidentally forget something at home, as Beijing has a very dense distribution of shopping malls.

Sanlitun is one of Beijing's most dynamic shopping areas © SPLCorp / WikiCommons

There are a few specific items that you should be sure to bring with you to Beijing. Bring tampons, as Chinese stores usually only sell pads, and if they do have tampons, they’re likely to be expensive. You’ll also want to have some tissue with you; many restrooms in China don’t provide it. And, bring plenty of underwear because the standard sizing in China might differ from your country of origin, and buying it while traveling might be a bigger hassle than it’s worth.

Staying safe

It’s generally very safe to travel in Beijing … except for the risk of theft. Here are some tips on staying safe.

Traveling between destinations

The safest way to travel between destinations is public transportation, such as the subway, bus, and taxis. Subway trains stop running at night, but there are night buses and taxis, which are quite safe. If taking a taxi, be sure it is licensed. Licensed taxis will always be a yellowish-brown color and will have a light box on the roof with “TAXI” or the taxi company’s name written on it. For the bus and subway, purchase a Beijing transportation top-up card at most subway stations, which can be used for both. Avoid hitchhiking, as it is not part of the Chinese culture and can be very dangerous.

Licensed taxis are easy to spot in Beijing © Vincent Poulissen / Flickr

General safety tips

Additionally, be sure to keep your personal belongings close in crowded places, such as tourist resorts, stations, etc., as theft can run rampant in these areas. Also, do pay extra attention when taking crossroads, as bikers and pedestrians might jaywalk, and you don’t want to get trampled by an electric bicycle. Although Beijing is generally safe, it’s always a good idea to avoid walking in the dark at night.

Resorts are usually much more packed with people © Goodfreephotos_com / Pixabay

Areas to avoid

Beijing, especially inside the 5th Ring Road, is generally safe for solo female travelers, even at night. No matter where you’re staying, try to keep to streets with plenty of light, as dark areas can be more conducive to crime.

How to meet others

One of the best parts of solo travel is meeting new friends along the way, and some of the best places to meet people are at hostels or other budget accommodations. Taking a guided tour is also a great way to meet people while learning about the city. If you don’t understand Mandarin, most companies offer tours in English. However, knowing some basic Chinese will surely make your time in Beijing much easier and more pleasant; start with 21 Essential Phrases You’ll Need in China and 8 Useful Phrases to Help You Speak Like a Beijing Local.

Beijing street at dusk © Erdenebayar / Pixabay