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5 cheap and cheerful Beijing hostels

January 24, 2012 - Casey Hynes

INTREPID travelers know that backpacker hostel experiences run the gamut from really great to really, really terrible. Sometimes it can be difficult to anticipate which of those it will be. The following five hostels are sure bets in Beijing, receiving positive reviews from travelers and boasting friendly staff who will help arrange sightseeing ventures, including hiring a driver to take you and your crew out to the Great Wall and booking tickets to Peking opera and acrobatics shows.

Beijing Downtown Backpackers
In terms of all-around service, Beijing Downtown Backpackers pretty much offers it all. Located along the popular cultural and nightlife street Nanluoguxiang, it’s situated in an ideal spot for sightseeing, shopping, dining and nightlife. Accommodations are clean, comfortable and reasonably priced, ranging from 75RMB (US$12) for a bed in a dormitory room to 230RMB (US$36) for a private room. All rooms have private bathrooms, and guests are entitled to a complimentary breakfast. The decor is extremely backpacker friendly: the walls are decorated with signatures and messages from previous travelers.

The Beijing Downtown Backpackers offers plenty of perks for travelers who stay there.

Leo Hostel 
The Leo Hostel, a staple of the Beijing backpacking scene, is one of three Leo Group hostels in the city. This cozy hostel is located in an old hutong, and is within walking distance of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China. The small in-house bar next to the hostel’s common room makes it convenient to grab a drink and socialize or watch a movie when you’re taking a break from eating jaozi and visiting Mao’s tomb. Prices range from RMB50-280.

Ming Courtyard
This charming, clean and classically decorated hostel is a cut above the others when it comes to serenity, and is a place to truly unwind in Beijing. Situated in a hutong neighborhood near Beixinqiao subway station on line 5, Ming Courtyard is ideal for those who are traveling on a budget but value a bit of peace and quiet on their journey. The hostel is close to the Yonghegong Lama Temple, Drum and Bell Towers Houhai Lake and Ghost Street, the city’s famed restaurant row for Chinese cuisine. Rooms are clean, tidy, and fairly modern. Prices range from RMB50-290.

No. 161 Hostel 
The rooms here are private and clean, with options for either two twin beds or one double bed for RMB199 per night. All rooms have a private bathroom, and a No.161 staffer emphasized the privacy aspect of their accommodations, which is not always the case when it comes to budget travel. They bump prices up slightly during holidays, so bear that in mind when making travel arrangements. No. 161 is also home to Hong Cafe, a charming lofted space where you can order one of their tasty pastries and desserts, tea or booze.

No. 161 Hostel makes a nice place to rest your head, and includes the quaint Hong Cafe on its grounds.

Happy Dragon Hostel
This courtyard hostel boasts an excellent location, a short subway ride to many of the city’s attractions, including Tiananmen Square, Ghost Street, and Wangfujing, where you can try some of Beijing’s exotic street foods. One of the newer hostels in the city, the Happy Dragon is an attractive, comfortable and friendly place to stay. It’s also a short taxi ride to areas such as Sanlitun, Gulou and Nanluoguxiang, where most of the ex-pat and backpacking nightlife happens.

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