The huge airport built in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games is very impressive in many ways. I would suggest you know which terminal you are heading to if you are getting into a taxi to take you to the airport. There are two main terminals for travel: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 is the one I always used when I started going to China. It isn’t as new as Terminal 3, but it functions quite well. Here are a couple of pictures of the terminals.
You need to know what airline uses which terminal and plan accordingly, especially if you have a connecting flight. I say that because it will take you at least 25 minutes to take the shuttle bus between the terminals. It can take more depending on traffic, the driver’s style of driving, and how long you have to wait for the bus to leave.
The shuttle buses are free but crowded because most people have luggage with them. You can meet some nice and interesting people on the shuttle buses. On my last trip, I overheard someone whom I assume was from western Europe telling a Chinese man about some cultural issue he had read about China. The Chinese man kept saying no, it wasn’t true, but the other man kept insisting it was true because he read it on the Internet.
There is a Terminal 1, but I am going to guess it is for cargo since I have never heard of a passenger flight being used from that facility. Also, don’t be surprised if your gate at either of the terminals has some stairs and an elevator near it. You may be instructed to go down a level and get on a bus that will take you to your plane, which is parked away from the building waiting for the passengers. The terminals are easy to use, and there are many signs in English directing you to where you want to go. Also, they have information booths, and usually the people can speak English.