11 Top Tips to Travel on Beijing Subway Like A Boss
The Beijing Subway has to be the quickest and cheapest way to get around Beijing and is clearly marked in English for travelers.
The subway is crowded most of the time in Beijing. Riding Beijing subway can be a pretty miserable experience.
If you are an older traveler, you may wish to consider taking a taxi or booking a private car tour, if you can afford it.
If you are a person in a wheelchair, you could not even contemplate using this part of the subway because there are no provisions at all to cater to your special needs.
There is an unwritten code of behavior for traveling by subway in Beijing. It’s easy to pick it up though – follow these “survival” tips you can enjoy your subway ride:
1) Don’t Travel During Rush Hour.
Morning: 7:00AM-9: 30AM, Afternoon: 5:30PM-8: 30PM. There are mass amounts of people crammed into trains during rush hour.
If you want to explore the country’s capital at your own pace, you may want to do so after rush hour to avoid queuing, overcrowding and some unhygienic man’s revolting armpit in your face.
If you do, you’ll face long queues, overcrowded carriages. It spoils your day.
2) Let Everyone Off Before Boarding.
This tip really should not come as a surprise. It’s just common courtesy but it’s important to step aside and let passengers get off the train before you try to get on it.
However, this is often overlooked by tourists who fear the subway doors will close on them.
People always push their way out as it’s crowded, it’s difficult to try to push your way in through the crowd.
Trust me, there will be enough time for everyone to exit and everyone to enter. Have a little faith in the subway gods and you’ll be just fine.
3) Get as Close to the Door as Possible Before You are Due to Get off.
Getting off the train is not the time to stare at the world around you. It’s move it or lose it, people.
You don’t want to struggle at your actual stop and missing your station when your stop arrives.
Saying ‘xià che!’ when approaching your stop can also help by letting people know that you will be getting off.
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 less than 4 stops, it’s probably better if you stay close to the door.
If you stay at the middle carriages it’s difficult to push your way through the crowd when your stop arrives.
Just make sure you stand off to the side of the exit when you get outside.
5) Wait First in Line for the Next Train if You Are not Rush.
Check the indicator for the next train time before crushing into a crowded train.
The main thing to know is to proceed to the next train, which may be full but will surely offer a more agreeable ride.
Sometimes an extra minute on the platform brings along a much emptier train.
6) Don’t Stand on the Left on Escalators.
Stand to the right, walk on the left. Don’t be the one who holds everyone up because they are standing on the left of the escalator.
Don’t stop and stand at the bottom of the escalator to check your map or look for the correct platform.
Remember hundreds of people are being propelled towards you and they can not stop!
7) Don’t Crowd Around the Doors on Longer Subway Trips.
Move to the center of a crowded train if possible as staying close to the door you could be pushed from every possible angle by a large amount of people getting on and off the subway.
As hard as it may be, try to keep up with the fast pace. It’ll make things so much easier and the Beijingers won’t be mad at you.
8) Take Your Backpack Off.
If you are wearing a large backpack or carrying parcels, take care that they do not interfere with the space of others.
It is generally best to take the bag off back, and place bag between legs, or at the very least, against your legs in the front or to the side, especially during times when services are particularly crowded.
9) Have Your Ticket Ready.
When you approach the ticket barriers, make sure you have your ticket already in your hand.
Get your ticket ready on entrance and exit, so you don’t have to stop and fumble in your bag or purse looking for it, creating a traffic jam behind you!
If you stop to search for your ticket, the impatient commuters behind you may start tutting as they wait for you to find it.
10) Move Down the Platform.
Move down the platform as best you can during peak travel times.
11) Keep on Moving. Don’t Stop.
When walking around subway stations, make sure you consider the people behind you. Don’t stop at the top of escalators or after ticket barriers as this stops the flow of traffic behind you.
While you may have to push your way onto the train at any hour during the day, it’s especially common during the morning and evening commute.
Please be aware that during peak hours most people are only interested in getting from A to B and usually travel at great speed with their heads down. Don’t take it too personally if someone is rude after they have just run into you, just accept that their pace of life isn’t as peaceful as yours.
Nevertheless, if you have a problem understanding it, or are confused about making connections while actually using the subway, the station attendants and most locals will advise you of the direction you need to take: it is only a matter of you asking for help.
Have a tip to add about the Beijing Subway? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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