Master the Beijing Subway: A Beginner’s Guide

beijing subway guide
Explore Beijing on a Budget: The Subway’s Secret Travel Hack

The Beijing Subway is an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers, as it is the quickest and cheapest way to get around the city.

However, it can be crowded during peak hours, so it’s best to avoid those times if possible.

If you’re an older traveler or have mobility issues, consider booking a private car tour or taking a taxi for a more comfortable experience.

Unfortunately, the subway does not cater to wheelchair users, so it may not be a feasible option for them.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with essential tips and information to help you make the most of your subway experience in Beijing.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

Beijing Subway System

The Beijing City Subway System is a rapid transit system that serves the urban and suburban areas of Beijing, the capital city of China.

The subway system currently has 23 lines and over 400 stations, making it one of the largest subway networks in the world.

The system covers a total distance of over 700 kilometers, with lines connecting major commercial, cultural, and residential areas in the city.

The Beijing Subway provides an affordable and convenient mode of transportation for millions of commuters and visitors every day, with trains operating from approximately 5:00AM to 11:00PM daily.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

What is not Beijing Subway System

There are several transportation systems in Beijing that are not part of the Beijing City Subway.

One example is the Beijing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which consists of bus-only lanes that allow for faster and more efficient bus travel through the city.

Another example is the Beijing Capital International Airport Express, a non-stop train service that connects the airport with the city center.

Additionally, taxis and ride-hailing services such as DiDi and Uber are also available in Beijing for transportation.

Understanding the Geography of Beijing City

Understanding the geography of Beijing City is important for navigating the city’s subway system and planning your travels.

Beijing is located in northern China and is divided into 16 districts, with a total area of over 16,000 square kilometers.

The city is bordered by mountains to the north, west, and northwest, and the North China Plain to the southeast.

The central area of Beijing, where many of the major tourist attractions and commercial areas are located, is surrounded by the 2nd Ring Road and the 3rd Ring Road.

The subway system connects many of these areas, with lines running both east-west and north-south.

To the south of the city center lies the Beijing South Railway Station and the Beijing West Railway Station, both of which provide transportation to other cities in China.

The Beijing Capital International Airport is located northeast of the city, while Daxing Airport is in the south of the city.

Both airports can be accessed through the airport express line of the subway system.

Having a basic understanding of the geography of Beijing can help you plan your travels and choose the most convenient subway lines and stations to reach your destination.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

The Subway Lines and Services

The Beijing City Subway System currently has 23 lines and over 400 stations, with plans for expansion in the future.

The lines are numbered from 1 to 19, with additional lines designated by letters (such as Line S1 and S2). Each line is identified by a different color on subway maps and signs.

In addition to regular subway service, the system also offers express lines, airport lines, and intercity lines that connect Beijing with surrounding cities.

Most lines operate from approximately 5:00AM to 11:00PM daily, with trains running every few minutes during peak hours and every 6-10 minutes during off-peak hours.

It’s important to note that during peak travel times, subway cars can become crowded, and commuters are advised to be aware of their surroundings and follow basic etiquette rules to ensure a safe and comfortable journey.

Beijing Subway Ticket Prices

The ticket prices for the Beijing subway vary based on the distance traveled.

The base fare for a single journey is 3 RMB (approximately 0.47 USD) for the first 6 kilometers, with an additional 1 RMB (approximately 0.16 USD) added for each additional 6 kilometers.

For example, a journey of 10 kilometers would cost 4 RMB (approximately 0.63 USD).

There are also options for purchasing a rechargeable transit card or a one-day pass, which can provide additional savings for frequent riders or tourists.

Additionally, children under 1.2 meters in height ride for free when accompanied by an adult.

It’s important to note that ticket prices and policies are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check for updates or inquire with station attendants before purchasing tickets or using the subway in Beijing.

Beijing Subway Timetable

The Beijing subway operates from approximately 5:00AM to 11:00PM daily.

However, the exact timetable and frequency of trains can vary by line and station.

During peak hours, trains typically run every 3-5 minutes, while during off-peak hours, trains may run every 6-10 minutes.

It’s always a good idea to check the timetable and frequency of trains for your specific line and station before planning your journey.

This information can usually be found on subway maps, at station kiosks, or through smartphone apps.

Additionally, station attendants and locals are usually happy to provide guidance and assistance to those in need.

Useful Moblie Apps

There are several useful mobile apps for navigating the Beijing subway system.

One popular app is the “Beijing Subway Map and Route Planner,” which provides a detailed map of the subway system and allows users to plan their routes and check for any delays or disruptions.

Another helpful app is “Explore Beijing Subway,” which offers real-time information on train schedules, locations, and estimated arrival times.

For tourists, the “Beijing Travel Guide and Offline Map” app provides not only a subway map but also information on popular tourist attractions, local dining and shopping options, and language translations.

These apps, along with many others, can be downloaded from app stores such as the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Top 11 Tips to Travel on Beijing Subway Like A Boss

If you’re planning to use the Beijing subway, it’s important to know the unwritten codes of behavior to make the most out of your ride.

Fortunately, these “survival” tips are easy to follow and will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

So, read on to learn about the essential etiquette for traveling by subway in Beijing.

1. Don’t Travel During Rush Hour

If you’re planning to explore Beijing’s many attractions, it’s important to avoid traveling during rush hour.

During peak times, such as the morning rush from 7:00AM-9:30AM and the evening rush from 5:30PM-8:30PM, the trains are packed with commuters, and you may have to queue for a long time to even get on the train.

Not only is this experience unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it can also spoil your day and make it difficult to enjoy the city’s sights and sounds.

To avoid the rush hour crowds, try to travel outside of these times.

Early morning and late evening can be excellent times to explore the city and experience its beauty without the hassle of overcrowded trains.

Additionally, some attractions offer extended hours, so it’s worth checking their schedules to see if they are open later in the day.

By planning your travel around the rush hour times, you can make the most out of your time in Beijing and have a more enjoyable experience.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

2. Let Everyone Off Before Boarding

One of the most important subway etiquette rules in Beijing is to let everyone off the train before trying to get on.

Not only is this a common courtesy, but it’s also essential for the smooth and efficient flow of passengers.

Unfortunately, this rule is often overlooked by tourists who fear that the doors will close on them or that they will miss their stop.

However, pushing your way onto the train before letting others off is not only impolite but can also be dangerous.

The crowded conditions can lead to accidents, and it can be difficult to find space to stand or hold onto something for balance.

By waiting patiently for everyone to exit the train, you can avoid the rush and find a more comfortable spot to stand or sit.

Trust the subway system and have faith that there will be enough time for everyone to exit and board the train safely.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more enjoyable and avoid any unnecessary mishaps.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

3. Get as Close to the Door as Possible Before You are Due to Get off

To ensure a smooth and stress-free exit from the train, it’s important to get as close to the door as possible before reaching your stop.

This means being aware of your surroundings and preparing to move when the train approaches your destination.

It’s not the time to stare at the world around you or get lost in your thoughts.

By getting close to the door before your stop, you can avoid struggling to get off the train in a crowd and reduce the risk of missing your station.

Additionally, saying “xià che!” (which means “getting off the train” in Mandarin) when approaching your stop can alert other passengers and help you make your way to the door more easily.

Remember, the Beijing Subway can be busy and crowded, especially during rush hour, so it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and ready to move when needed.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more efficient and avoid any unnecessary delays or frustrations.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

4. Stay a little Close to the Door if You’re Going Less Than 4 Stops

If you’re new to the area or have a short journey of fewer than 4 stops, it’s best to stay close to the door.

This makes it easier to exit the train when you reach your stop and reduces the risk of struggling through a crowded carriage.

If you’re in the middle carriage, it can be difficult to push your way through the crowd and make your way to the door in time.

Once you’ve reached the door, make sure to stand off to the side of the exit and allow other passengers to get off before you board.

This will help to ensure a smooth and efficient flow of passengers and reduce any potential delays.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more efficient and avoid any unnecessary stress or frustration.

5. Wait First in Line for the Next Train if You Are not rushed

If you’re not in a rush, it’s always a good idea to check the indicator for the next train time before boarding a crowded train.

Waiting for the next train may take an extra minute or two, but it can offer a much more comfortable and agreeable ride.

By waiting for the next train, you can be first in line and have a better chance of finding a seat or a spot to stand with more room.

Additionally, the train may be less crowded, allowing you to avoid the rush and enjoy a more relaxed ride.

Remember to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the train indicators.

By taking a few extra minutes to wait for the next train, you can make your subway ride more enjoyable and reduce any potential discomfort or stress.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

6. Don’t Stand on the Left on Escalators

When riding escalators in Beijing, it’s important to stand on the right side and walk on the left side.

This allows those in a hurry to pass through and prevents unnecessary hold-ups and delays.

Standing on the left side can block the path for others and cause frustration and inconvenience for everyone.

Additionally, it’s important to keep moving and avoid stopping at the bottom of the escalator to check your map or look for the correct platform.

Hundreds of people are being propelled toward you, and they cannot stop or avoid a collision if you suddenly come to a halt.

By moving to the side and finding a safe and convenient spot to stop, you can avoid causing a bottleneck and ensure a smooth flow of people.

Remember to be mindful of others when using escalators in Beijing.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more efficient and enjoyable for everyone.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

7. Don’t Crowd Around the Doors on Longer Subway Trips

On longer subway trips in Beijing, it’s important to move away from the doors and towards the center of the train if possible.

Crowding around the doors can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, as you could be pushed from every possible angle by a large number of people getting on and off the subway.

Additionally, it’s important to keep up with the fast pace and avoid slowing down the flow of passengers.

Beijingers are accustomed to moving quickly and efficiently through the subway system, and slowing down or stopping in the middle of the crowd can cause frustration and inconvenience for others.

By moving towards the center of the train and keeping up with the fast pace, you can avoid unnecessary discomfort and stress and ensure a more efficient flow of passengers.

Remember to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the needs of others when riding the subway in Beijing.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more enjoyable and pleasant for everyone.

8. Take Your Backpack Off

When riding the subway in Beijing, it’s important to be mindful of your belongings, especially if you’re wearing a large backpack or carrying parcels.

These items can take up valuable space and interfere with the comfort and safety of others.

To avoid causing any inconvenience or discomfort to fellow passengers, it’s generally best to take off your backpack and place it between your legs or at the very least, against your legs in the front or to the side.

This not only frees up space for others but also reduces the risk of accidental bumping or collisions.

During times when services are particularly crowded, such as rush hour, it’s even more important to be mindful of your belongings and keep them out of the way.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more pleasant and comfortable for everyone.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

9. Have Your Ticket Ready

When riding the subway in Beijing, it’s important to have your ticket ready when approaching the ticket barriers.

This not only helps to speed up the process and reduce delays but also ensures a smoother and more efficient flow of passengers.

To avoid causing any inconvenience or delays for fellow passengers, make sure to have your ticket ready at the entrance and exit.

This means keeping your ticket in your hand or easily accessible in your bag or purse, so you don’t have to stop and fumble around for it, causing a traffic jam behind you.

If you do stop to search for your ticket, the impatient commuters behind you may start tutting and become frustrated as they wait for you to find it.

By being prepared and having your ticket ready, you can help to create a more positive and stress-free environment for everyone.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

10. Move Down the Platform

During peak travel times, it’s important to move down the platform as best as you can.

This means walking towards the center of the platform and away from the entrance/exit areas.

By doing so, you can help to reduce congestion and create more space for passengers to enter and exit the subway train.

Remember to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to any announcements or indicators that may provide guidance on where to stand or wait.

By following this simple etiquette rule, you can make your subway ride more efficient and enjoyable for everyone.

11. Keep on Moving. Don’t Stop

When walking around subway stations in Beijing, it’s important to keep on moving and avoid stopping in areas where there is heavy traffic.

This means being mindful of the people behind you and avoiding stopping at the top of escalators, ticket barriers, or other areas where there is a high volume of foot traffic.

By doing so, you can help to keep the flow of traffic moving smoothly and avoid causing any unnecessary delays or congestion.

During peak travel times, such as the morning and evening commute, it’s especially important to keep on moving and avoid stopping in areas where there is a high volume of people.

This may mean pushing your way onto the train or navigating through crowded areas with care and attention.

FAQs

1: Is the Beijing subway safe for tourists to use?

A: Yes, the Beijing subway is generally safe for tourists to use.

However, it’s important to be mindful of your belongings and keep them close to you at all times.

2. Can I use my foreign credit card to purchase subway tickets in Beijing?

A: Yes, most subway stations in Beijing accept foreign credit cards for purchasing tickets.

However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash with you as a backup.

3. What is the best time to ride the Beijing subway to avoid crowds?

A: The best times to ride the subway in Beijing to avoid crowds are outside of rush hour, which is typically from 7:00AM-9:30AM and 5:30PM-8:30PM.

4. How do I know which subway line to take to get to my destination in Beijing? A:

You can use a subway map or a smartphone app to determine which subway line to take to get to your destination in Beijing.

Additionally, station attendants and locals are usually happy to provide directions and assistance.

5. Is it necessary to speak Mandarin to ride the subway in Beijing? A:

While it’s helpful to know some Mandarin when riding the subway in Beijing, it’s not necessary.

Most subway signs and announcements are in both Mandarin and English, and station attendants and locals are usually able to communicate in basic English.

Complete Guide to Beijing Subway

Final Thoughts

When riding the subway in Beijing, it’s important to be aware of the fast pace and behavior of commuters during peak hours.

Most people are only interested in getting from A to B and traveling at great speed with their heads down.

While this may seem rude or impersonal, it’s simply the reality of the fast-paced urban environment.

If you do have a problem understanding the subway system or making connections, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Station attendants and locals are usually happy to provide directions and assistance to those in need.

Remember to be patient and understanding when riding the subway in Beijing.

By being mindful of the fast pace and seeking help when needed, you can make your subway ride more efficient and enjoyable.

Your Thoughts?

Have a tip to add about the Beijing Subway? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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