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What is the fastest way to learn about the city? The answer is “get a cab.” Cab drivers in Beijing know every road, are mostly local and love to talk with passengers. But it’s best that you speak at least a little bit of Chinese Mandarin, because most of them only know how to say “Hello” and “Thank you” in English. For travelers who don’t know Chinese and wish to learn about Beijing from locals, you can book a room or a bed with guesthouses, where travelers rooms together. The staff at these locations usually speak English and are more than happy to chat with you.
Similar to the cab drivers, many Beijing locals from the older generations only know some English used in daily greetings, thanks to the booming interest in English study and free English education provided by the government during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If you find yourself lost and need to ask for directions, go to the younger generations, they all tend to speak some degree of English.
Transportation in the city is much more hassle-free if you have apps like the taxi-hailing app DiDi or the bike-sharing app MoBike or Ofo in your phone. Nowadays, in Beijing, there are few occasions when you’ll need cash, because with Alipay and WeChat pay, all you need to do is scan and go. But the downside is that these apps have to be bound with Chinese bank cards. But many stores have Apple Pay as well.
As for dining, as we all know it can sometimes be painful for solo travelers, because your stomach can’t satisfy your desire to try more delicious food. But there are quite a lot of restaurants in Beijing where dishes are served small (and most importantly cheap). For the best restaurants in Beijing you can search on our website; there are plenty of them, covering all kinds of cuisines.