New terminal helps Beijing raise the bar
See our 2012 shopping guides to Beijing Capital Terminal 2 and Shopping in Terminal 3You have to hand it to the Chinese. When something needs doing, it gets done and fast. Take the example of Beijing airport’s cavernous new $2.7bn Terminal 3, which opened in time for the 2008 Olympics. It went from drawing board to receiving its first flights within four years. The shimmering edifice of glass, aluminium and steel is far from a rush job, however.
Designed by world famous British architect Norman Foster, Terminal 3 blends high-tech features such as a 50mph automated passenger mover, which speeds people between its far-flung satellites, and a state-of-the-art baggage system with elegant Chinese touches. Flourishes such as the building’s dragon-like scaly gold roof and the giant red columns, which front the building, are clearly meant to echo the country’s imperial past.Now handling the bulk of the airport’s international flights, Terminal 3 has catapulted Beijing’s previously congested and overstrained airport into one of the world’s most modern and passenger-friendly super-hubs. Overseas travellers will find signs are helpfully in both English and Chinese, and while airport staff’s English skills can be a bit ropey, the terminal gets full marks for a smooth check-in service, and speedy connections downtown (the monorail service will whisk you there in 30 minutes).
‘What about the shopping?’ we hear you ask. Well, the line up of 84 shops and 64 restaurants on offer on both sides of security is now a world away from the limited selection available in the airport’s other two terminals. Pre-security it’s luxury all the way with standalone boutiques from the likes of Chinese American fashion designer Anna Sui, watches from Omega, men’s skincare products from Biotherm, menswear from Hugo Boss and fragrances from Yue Sai, the Chinese American actress.
After security in T3 the focus is very much on generic duty-free shops although there are plenty of mono-brand boutiques to choose from too (Bally, Dunhill, Lancel, Lacoste and Piaget). It is worth noting that shop prices are displayed in Chinese RMB only, but luckily the stores will accept other major currencies such as the US dollar, Japanese yen, the Hong Kong dollar and the Euro.Head over to Sunrise Duty Free in T3E for the airport’s biggest selection of perfumes and cosmetics. The range of brands stocked there rivals the largest of duty-free shops in either Europe or the Americas, and features blue-chip brands such as Chanel, Estée Lauder, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Burberry and Vera Wang to name but a few.
The duty-free tobacco and spirits offer in the many Sunrise Duty Free shops dotted around T3 is also top-notch. When it comes to cigarettes, you will find the likes of Mild Seven, Marlboro and Davidoff, while the drinks selection unsurprisingly veers towards high-end Scotch whisky, Armagnac and Cognac featuring Ballantine’s, Chabot, Royal Salute, Hennessy and Martell.
There is also an excellent range of premium Chinese spirits and wines. Try Moutai, one of China’s most famous spirit brand and often served to visiting dignitaries and VIP’s, which is made from fermented sorghum. With its soy-sauce like fragrance, it is an acquired taste, but the superb packaging makes it an excellent gift for friends and family back home.If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, why not buy a bottle of Zhuyequing, a distilled rice wine steeped in Chinese herbs, which is claimed to have any number of medicinal benefits from fighting fatigue to pepping up your liver?
The shopping in Beijing airport’s other two terminals, which are dominated by Chinese airlines, is of a more limited nature, but the duty-free shops (although smaller than in Terminal 3) do carry a decent range.
Also worthy of note is the specialist Cigar House in Terminal 2, which is located near to Gate 12. It boasts a proper in-store humidor so the delicate, handmade Cuban cigars it stocks should be in tip-top condition. The extensive range of brands stocked includes Cohiba, Montecristo, Bolivar, Davidoff and Partagas.
We also like the traditional Chinese tea outlet, also located in Terminal 2. It sells a wonderfully presented and packaged selection of Chinese teas, stocking well-known varieties such as jasmine to exotic and rare Chinese styles, which will delight tea enthusiasts everywhere.Check Our Tax Free Travel Shopping Guides to …