There's no other way to get around Beijing.
The Beijing subway began its first run on January 15, 1971. The first line ran between the Beijing Railway Station and Gongzhufen.
Only the privileged with credible letters of a proven and established work and Party history were permitted to use the subway.
You'll find a list of routes, the stations they stop at and the cost of getting to your destination on this page.
Today, the subway in Beijing is a Rapid Transit Rail Network that is simply the easiest, most convenient and affordable transportation for tourists who travel to Beijing.
If you are searching for other tourist destinations that aren't directly accessible from the subway lines, it's still a good idea to take the subway and get as close to the site as possible before getting a taxi the rest of the way.
By using the Subway for the bulk of your travel, you'll save an awful lot of money because the cost will be much higher if you take a cab directly from your hotel.
Finding a hotel in a location nearest subway lines or specific areas of Beijing city can also save you a lot of hassle.
But it can be difficult to find a good budget room on arrival and outright brutal if you're arriving at night. Just write down a few addresses so you at least have a destination in mind.
Get more information on every budget hotel across Beijing.
Get their maps out and choose a place nearest what you want to see most.
More than three million people ride this subway on a daily basis. It serves both the urban and suburban areas around Beijing.
Even though it's not as long as the Shanghai Subway, the Beijing Subway is by far the busiest. Just go for a ride at 4pm on a Friday evening. It's the most chaotic, stuffed presence of humanity you'll ever see.
The only way to completely eliminate transportation hassles is with a good, stress-free budget tour.
The best tours focus on:
The best benefit might be the air-conditioned bus that will pick you up at your hotel and return you in worry free comfort. Some things are worth paying a little extra and the tours I found were good value from a well-known name.
Find out more about the best budget tours of Beijing. The reviews are worth reading.
Beijing Subway Fares
It's a flat fare of ¥2RMB to enter the Beijing Subway system. That fee gives you unlimited transfers throughout the Metro system.
As long as you stay in the subway system, you can ride all day but as soon as you exit the station, you'll have to pay the same ¥2RMB to get back in.
The flat fare was first introduced on October 7, 2007. Before that the fares ranged from ¥3RMB to ¥5RMB, depending on how far you were going.
Kids Shorter than 1.2M in height ride for free as long as they are accompanied by an Adult.
Automatic Fare Collection System
In May 2008, the Beijing Subway did away with Paper Tickets and replaced them with Magnetic Strip Cards and Mass Transit Smart Cards. The greatest benefactor is the environment because millions of tickets used to be discarded everyday before this system was implemented.
Electronic tickets are now sold on touch-screen vending machines. Just walk up and touch the English button in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Then either purchase a single-ride ticket or add credit to your Yikatong frequent user card.
The Yikatong card is an integrated circuit card that on which you can store credit for multiple rides. Sometimes there are long lines at the ticket vending machines for the single-trip tickets so a Yikatong card may be right for you if you travel to Beijing and end up staying a while.
Standing in line for Subway tickets in Beijing is an event. People simply don't get the concept of courtesy but with such a huge population, you have to adjust when you travel to Beijing.
You can buy tickets and add credit to a Yikatong card at ticket counters and vending machines in every station. Yikatong is also accepted on many of the public city buses.
Beijing Subway Hours Of Operation
The first train departs at five in the morning, and the last train runs at around 10:45 PM.
PINGGUOYUAN (SHIJINGSHAN) - SIHUIDONG (CHAOYANG)
Stops on both sides of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Panjiayuan Ethnic Market.
SIHUI (CHAOYANG) - TUQIAO (TONGZHOU)
The entire 'Batong Line' is a surface commuter line that runs mostly along the median of the 'Jingtong Expressway'.
This is a line that loops around the city through the Beijing Railway Station (Dongcheng), tracing the route of the Ming City Wall and stopping at the Beijing Zoo along the way.
TIANTONGYUANBEI (CHANGPING) - SONGJIAZHUANG (FENGTAI)
Line 5, which is sure to be one of the most used lines in the summer of 2008, makes stops at the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Amusement Park, Beihai Park, and the Olympic Park.
XIZHIMEN (XICHENG) - DONGZHIMEN (DONGCHENG)
Beijing Subway line 13 connects the Northern Suburbs of the city to the Center of Beijing. It stops at the Beijing Zoo, the Summer Palace and the Beijing Botanical Gardens.
BAGOU - JINSONG
Line Ten connects the university district and Beijing's version of Silicon Valley (Zhongguancun) with the Embassy District. This is so that new Grads can apply for work visas in a more expedite manner. :-)
BEITUCHENG - SENLINGONGYUAN
The Olympic athletes will use Line 8 to get from the Olympic Village to a connection terminal on line 10, North of the city.
DONGZHIMEN - AIRPORT TERMINALS 2 AND 3
This is the eagerly anticipated Express Rail Link that connects the Beijing Capital International Airport to the finer regions of Beijing.
If you are spending any amount of time in Beijing and want to get around the city quickly, easily, and safely then you should print out the map on this page which shows the different lines and destinations.
It can save a lot of frustration if you plan your routes early.
Line One cuts through central Beijing. It runs horizontally from East to West beneath The Grand Chang'an Avenue, intersecting Line 2, Line 8 and Line 5 along the way.
It begins at the foot of the Western hills in heart of the industrial district of Shijingshan. The line continues West, past the Military Museum in Haidian District and then the banking center of Xidan in Xicheng District before reaching Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city.
The Beijing Subway stops on both sides of Tiannamen Square before continuing East past the huge shopping centers at Wangfujing and Dongdan in Dongcheng District
Onto Chaoyang District, where you'll find the Silk Street at Yonganli and the office towers at Guomao. Line 1 terminates at Sihuidong (Sihui East), which is a residential neighborhood just beyond the fourth Ring Road.
Current Line One Stations:
Pingguoyuan, Guchenglu, Bajiao Amusement Park, Babaoshan, Yuquanlu, Wukesong, Wanshoulu, Gongzhufen, Junshibowuguan, Muxidi, Nanlishilu, Fuxingmen (Interchange to Line 2), Xidan, Tian'anmen West, Tian'anmen East, Wangfujing, Dongdan (Interchange to Line 5), Jianguomen (Interchange to Line 2), Yong'anli, Guomao, Dawanglu, Sihui (Interchange to Batong Line) And Sihuidong (Interchange To Batong Line).
The Batong Subway line is an extension of line 1. It runs from Sihui station in Chaoyang District to Tuqiao in the Eastern suburban District of Tongzhou. The Batong line is completely above ground and runs mostly along the median of the Jingtong Expressway.
Current Batong Line Stations:
Sihui (Interchange to Line 1), Sihuidong (Interchange to Line 1), Gaobeidian, Broadcasting Institute, Shuangqiao, Guanzhuang, Baliqiao, Tongzhoubeiyuan, Guoyuan, Jiukeshu, Liyuan, Linheli And Tuqiao.
Line Two runs entirely underground so the views are not great. The Line actually follows the same path of the old Inner City Wall, which was flattened and paved over for Modern day 2nd Ring Road and Qianmen Avenue.
Line 2 encircles the old city center districts of dongcheng and xicheng and skirts the northern of edges of chongwen and xuanwu.
Current Line Two Stations:
Xizhimen (Interchange to Line 13), Chegongzhuang, Fuchengmen, Fuxingmen (Interchange with Line 1), Changchunjie, Xuanwumen, Hepingmen, Qianmen, Chongwenmen, Beijing Railway Station, Jianguomen (Interchange with Line 1), Chaoyangmen, Dongsishitiao, Dongzhimen (Interchange with Line 13), Yonghegong (Interchange with Line 5), Andingmen, Guloudajie And Jishuitan.
Line 5 begins in the far North in Tiantongyuan suburb. As it comes in toward Beijing, it crosses line 13 at interchange station Lishuiqiao.
This line is quite useful as it stops at the Yuan Dynasty City Wall, The Temple of Earth, Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Eastern Entrance to the Temple of Heaven.
Line Five Stations:
Tiantongyuanbei (Tiantongyuan North), Tiantongyuan, Tiantongyuannan (Tiantongyuan South), Lishuiqiao (Lishui Bridge)(Interchange with Line 13), Lishuiqiaonan (Lishui Bridge South), Beiyuanlubei (Beiyuan Road North), Datunludong (Datun Road East), Huixinxijiebeikou (Huixin West Street North Intersection), Huixinxijienankou ((Huixin West Street South Intersection) (Interchange with Line 10), Hepingxiqiao, Hepinglibeijie (Hepingli North Street), Yonghegong (Yonghe Lamasery)(Interchange with Line 2), Beixinqiao, Zhangzizhonglu (Zhang Zizhong Road), Dongsi, Dengshikou, Dongdan (Interchange with Line 1), Chongwenmen (Interchange with Line 2), Ciqikou, Tiantan Dongmen (Temple of Heaven East Gate), Puhuangyu, Liujiayao, Songjiazhuang (Interchange with Line 10).
Line 13 curves northward out of the city center, connecting it with the residential suburbs in haidian and chaoyang districts. Most of the tracks and stations are located above ground.
Line 13 goes to the University District, past the busy Shopping District in Wudaokou And Zhichunlu.
You can transfer onto Line Two At Xizhimen station.
Line 13 Stations:
Xizhimen (Interconnects with Line Two), Dazhongsi, Zhichunlu, Wudaokou, Shangdi, Xi'erqi, Longze, Huilongguan, Huoying, Lishuiqiao (Interconnects with Line Five), Beiyuan, Wangjingxi, Shaoyaoju, Guangximen, Liufang And Dongzhimen (Interconnects with Line Two).
Line ten starts at Bagou near Wanliu Park in Haidian District. It runs Eastward along where the Northern section of the Mongol City Wall runs and then goes South, following the 3rd Ring Road.
This line connects the University District and Zhongguancun (Beijing's Silicon Village) in Haidian with the Embassy District in Chaoyang.
Line Ten Stations: (Starting From The North West)
Bagou, Suzhoujie, Haidian Huangzhuang, Zhizhunli, Zhichunlu (Interchange To Line 13), Xitucheng, Mudanyuan, Jiandemen, Beitucheng (Interchange To Line 8), Anzhenmen, Huixinxijie Nankou (Interchange To Line 5), Shaoyaoju (Interchange To Line 13), Taiyanggong, Sanyuanqiao (Interchange To Airport Line), Liangmaqiao, Nongye Zhanlanguan (Agricultural Exposition Hall), Tuanjiehu, Hujialou, Jintaixizhao, Guomao (Interchange To Line 1), Shuangjing, Jinsong.
Line 8 connects the Olympic Village with Line Ten, North of the city. It will run from Beitucheng to Senlingongyuan.
Line Eight Stations:
Beitucheng, Olympic Park, Olympic Center, Forest Park.
This is the Airport Express Rail link that runs from Dongzhimen to the Beijing International Airport, Northeast of the City.
The line runs for 4km underground and 23km on an elevated track.
Line L1 Stations (Airport Line):
Dongzhimen (with Interchanges to Lines 2 and 13), Sanyuanqiao (Interchange to Line 10), and Airport Terminals 2 and 3.
This a short video of the Beijing subway. Hopefully it will give you a better Idea of what to expect before you travel to Beijing.
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