4 hours may seem like a lot of transition time, but in reality its not that much to get through customs, head out somewhere and get back in time for the next flight.
If you had a little longer, I would suggest heading out to the 798 Arts District (with some dim sums on the way).
Rememebr though if you do plan on leaving the airport - you will need to apply for a transit visa beforehand. about 7 years ago
I agree with Lisa, depending on the time of arrival in Beijing, it may take you up to an hour just to get through customs and you would have to be back at least 1.5-2 hours before to check-in. Since the airport is so big, it might take you 30mins just to get to the gate.
I would highly recommend staying at airport. Most people in the airport will speak English but if you get stuck, write this down. 我吃素的。Which means "I am vegetarian".
Safe travels! :) about 7 years ago
I agree with the first 2 posters - stay in the airport! You don't have enough time to get out and back and transit visas can be expensive - and not worth the hassle for such a short time.
Vegetarian in Beijing can be really tricky, so I'd pack some stuff just in case you have no luck. almost 7 years ago
I was there 2 days ago and a) you will need to pay for a visa to leave the airport, b) you will not have enough time to see anything. We had a 6 hr layover and managed to fill in time at the airport. People watching is as much fun as sightseeing! almost 7 years ago