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How to See Beijing's Top Attractions by Subway

the great wall

Beijing is a traditional yet fashionable, stately yet energetic city, where ancient history meets modern times. Such a charming city attracts visitors from all around the world. Tiananmen (天安门), the Forbidden City (故宫), the Great Wall (长城), the Beijing hutongs (胡同), the Bird’s Nest (鸟巢), the Water Cube (水立方), Peking University and Tsinghua University are all well-known both at home and abroad. They are the face of Beijing. In order to help you to visit all these classic attractions when your time is limited, please find below some wonderful tips for traveling around Beijing quickly and economically by subway.

When planning a tour of the city, it’s a good idea to first choose and list all your desired destinations. Then, consult a map and research the experiences of those who have come before you to create your personalized tour path according to your own wants and needs. As the capital city of China and an internationally renowned tourist destination, Beijing possesses a convenient transportation system. Here are several of the subway lines which can help you travel conveniently around Beijing.

Route 1: Chairman Mao Memorial Hall → Tiananmen Square→ Xinhuamen → the Tiananmen Tower → the Forbidden City → Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park

This line is located on a straight axle line. You can enjoy yourself while exploring Beijing without taking any vehicles. Xinhuamen (新华门) is a little far from the main line, when you walking across Tian'anmen Square and get to the Tian'anmen Tower. Instead of going across the bridge to enter the tower, stand opposite the tower and walk for 3 to 5 minutes to reach Xinhuamen (新华门). After that, you can go back to the Tian'anmen Tower. While in the area, you can also visit the Great Wall of the People and the National Museum on both sides of Tian'anmen Square (天安门广场) if you have the time and would like to.

Where to eat and live?

Our suggested accommodation is Home Inn Ping’an Li Branch (平安里店). To get there, take subway Line 4, exit to the left at Exit D and continue toward Yude Hutong (育德胡同) for 70 meters. The hotel offers a buffet breakfast starting at 7:00 a.m. The price is 15 yuan per person. Supper (four people per table) is from 5:00 p.m., and the charge is about 100 yuan per person. You can also choose to go to Qingfeng Stuffed Bun House or Huguosi (护国寺), a nearby snack street, where you can eat various classic local snacks. Turn left from Yude Hutong (育德胡同) and walk for about 100 meters and you will also find several supermarkets, a medicine store, a bakery, some fruit stores and more.

Transportation

Starting at subway Line 4's Ping'an Li Station (平安里店), get off at Xuanwumen Station (玄武门站) and transfer to Line

Ride Line 2 until Qianmen Station (前门站) and then exit from Exit A. Go forward for about 300 meters and you will arrive at the entrance of Chairman Mao Memorial Hall.

Tips

  • Chairman Mao Memorial Hall: The hall is open from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. (closed on Mondays). It is free only if you show your ID card. Before entering the memorial hall, you should check your bag, camera, lighters and other things in the cloak room.
  • Tiananmen Tower: The tower opens at 8:30 a.m. and you are required to check your bag before entering.
  • You are suggested to rent an audio guide to better understand the sites and history. One guide should cost 20 yuan without a deposit.
  • When getting to Jingshan Park, in order to save your physical strength, we suggest visiting Wanchun Pavilion (万春亭), where you can look down on the whole scene of the Forbidden City -quite spectacular.
  • Considering that all these attractions on this line are along the same path, visiting them will take some time. Therefore, we suggest you prepare some bread, biscuits or other snack food before starting out, because there is food for sale only near Shenwumen (神武门).
  • When leaving Jingshan Park, you can choose to go for a walk, to go shopping or to have dinner on Wangfujing Street (王府井大街) before going back to the hotel. For transportation on the trip back, take Bus 103 at the Forbidden City Station opposite Jingshan Park and get off at Xin Dong’an Market (新东安市场). Walk to Wangfujing Street and Wangfujing Snack Street (王府井小吃街), then take subway Line 1 at Wangfujing Station. Transfer to Line 4 at Xidan Station (西单站) and get off at Ping’an Li Station (平安里站). Take Exit D to go back to the hotel.

Route 2: Summer Palace → Old Summer Palace → Peking University → Tsinghua University → Bird’s Nest → Water Cube

Transportation

the summer palace

Get on subway Line 4 at Ping’an Li (平安里) and get off at Beigongmen Station (北宫门), Exit D. Walk to the left side of the road to get to the north gate of the Summer Palace. When leaving the palace, walk out at Donggongmen (东宫门) and take Bus 690 at the Summer Palace Station. Get off at the south gate of the Summer Palace and walk across the road to get to the Old Summer Palace, then continue straight to the Xiyang Lou (西洋楼) ruins.

Go back the way you came to get to the Summer Palace subway station, then take Line 4 to the east gate of Peking University. Visit Peking University and Tsinghua University and leave from the southwest gate of Tsinghua University. Go back to the east gate of Peking University to take subway Line 4. Transfer to Line 10 at Haidian Huangzhuang Station (海淀黄庄站), then Line 8 at Beitucheng Station (北土城站). Get off at the Olympic Center (奥林匹克中心), and you can walk to the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube from Exit B2. To go back, return to Haidian Huangzhuang Station (海淀黄庄站), transfer to Line 4 and get off at Ping’an Li Station (平安里站).

The Summer Palace Tour Route: Beigongmen → Suzhou Street→ Longevity Hill → Kunming Lake → the Marble Boat → the Long Corridor→ Paiyun Dian → the Tower of Buddhist Incense → Hall of Longevity and Happiness → Wenchangyuan Garden → Renshoudian→ Donggongmen

There are many self-employed tour guides around these sites, and you are advised to employ one if you want to understand the park and its long history well. Hiring a guide will cost about 50 to 100 yuan, usually without a time limit. Decide on a tour path in advance, and make sure that the tour guide understands.

You can have lunch in the Summer Palace or bring your own food. For supper, the areas around Peking University or Tsinghua University are both good choices, as there are many delicious exotic cuisines sold in the area.

For the Old Summer Palace (圆明园), take the shuttle from the Xiyanglou Garden ruins. It charges 6 yuan per person, and you should get to the exit after a 10-minute walk.

Route 3: Badaling Great Wall → Ding Tomb

Transportation

the badaling great wall

Take subway Line 4 at Ping’an Li Station (平安里站) and transfer to Line 2 at Xizhimen.(西直门) Get off at Jishuitan Station and take Exit A, then walk to the left to Deshengmen Archery Tower (德胜门箭楼). Take the high-speed Bus 919 at Deshengmen (Deshengmen - Badaling Great Wall line) and get off at the Badaling Great Wall front gate parking lot. From the back mountain parking lot, take high-speed Bus 919 or 880 and get off at the west station of Changping Xiguan Huandao (昌平西关环岛). Walk along the bus road for about 50 meters to Xiguan Huandao (西关环岛), then go counterclockwise to the stop for Bus 314 or 872. Take the bus at the Ming Emperor Wax Museum Station (明皇蜡像馆) and get off at Ding Tomb Station (定陵). When finished sightseeing, take Bus 872 to get to Deshengmen (德胜门).

After getting out at the Deshengmen subway exit, you should walk to the back of Deshengmen Archery Tower (箭楼). From there you can take Bus 919 to visit around where there are tour guides describing the charming scenery. The ticket is 4.8 yuan.

Note: Since the bus stops at the front parking lot of Badaling Great Wall, you should go to the back mountain parking lot if you want to go to the Ding Tomb (定陵).

On the way to the Ding Tomb, you’ll see many peach trees. Vendors sell fresh peaches at the Ding Tomb front gate.

Route 4: Drum Tower (鼓楼) → South Causeway Lane (南铜锣巷) → Mianhua Hutong (棉花胡同), Mao’er Hutong (帽儿胡同), Ju’er Hutong (菊儿胡同), Tobacco Pipe Lane (烟袋斜街) → Yinding Bridge (银锭桥) → Houhai (后海) → Shichahai (什刹海)

the southern gong and drum lane

Visiting the Great Wall? See China Highlights' Great Wall tours.

Ping'an Li Station is near the Drum Tower (鼓楼), so it is more convenient to take a taxi than the subway. It will cost about 10 yuan.

Take your time in this area and try the various local snacks to experience the real, traditional Beijing culture. If you are tired of walking, you can rent a bicycle or tricycle to visit the hutongs - lots of fun!

There are many former residences of Chinese famous people and celebrities.

Want to travel to Beijing? See China Highlights' Beijing tours or let's help you customize a Beijing tour.

Also read a travel story of 6-day travel around Beijing and Tianjin.