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Beijing Transportation

Beijing, the capital city of China, has a highly developed transportation system for traveling within and through the city. There are two airports (Beijing Capital International Airport and Nanyuan Airport), four railway stations and dozens of long-distance bus stations in Beijing.

Beijing bullet train platformBeijing's train stations offer high-speed and regular options to fit your travel needs.

For traveling within Beijing, subways, city buses, taxis, rental bicycles and tourist buses are all available. The Beijing Transportation Smart Card is also convenient when traveling within the Beijing urban area. China Highlights is here to help breakdown the many ways to travel in and through Beijing to ensure your visit is a pleasant one.

Intercity Transport

Air Travel

Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is the largest airport in China, the busiest in Asia, and second busiest in the world in terms of passenger output. It is located about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of central Beijing. The following are all options for traveling from the capital airport to Beijing city proper: 

The Airport Express

China airportBeijing's airports are some of the busiest in the world.

The Airport Express is a subway line, 28 kilometers (17.4 miles) long, and opened in July, 2008. It links Dongzhimen (东直门) and Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 of the Capital Airport, via Sanyuanqiao (三元桥). The highest speed is 110 kph (68.4 mph), and it only takes about 20 minutes from the airport to Dongzhimen. The ticket price is 25 yuan. Passengers can transfer to Line 2 and Line 13 at Dongzhimen or transfer to Line 10 at Sanyuanqiao.

Operating Times for Terminal 2 and Terminal 3

  • T2: 06:35–23:00
  • T3: 06:20–22:50
  • Dongzhimen: 06:00–22:00

Frequency

Every 10 minutes during the periods from 09:30 to 12:30 and from 16:00–18:40 and every 12 minutes during other periods.

From Capital Airport to Sanyuanqiao or Dongzhimen

  • Follow the signs to the Airport Express Train Station.
  • Rent a subway card and enter into the waiting hall.
  • Get off the train and return the subway card.
  • Exit from the subway station or purchase another ticket to transfer to Subway Line 2, Line 10 or Line 13.

From Dongzhimen to Capital Airport

1) Enter into the subway station from Entrance E at street level and take the elevator downstairs to B1.
2) Purchase a ticket and go through the security check.
3) Take the elevator downstairs to B4.
4) Wait and board the Airport Express.

If you transfer to the Airport Express from Subway Line 2 or Line 13 at Dongzhimen, you have to return your subway card which costs 2 yuan. Then go to the ticket office and proceed from 2) above.

Note: Passenger on the Beijing Subway needs to rent a subway card from the ticket office or the ticket vending machines which have Chinese and English service. Due to the ticket will be reclaimed when passengers exit the subway. There is a 250 yuan replacement charge if the subway card is lost or damage.

Hotel Shuttle

One of the easiest ways is to go by hotel shuttle. Most major hotels will have this service. When making a hotel reservation, be sure to ask for airport shuttle service from the airport.

Airport Taxi

The legitimate taxis form a long queue outside the Arrival Hall, but taxis move quickly so you won't wait long. At the head of the line a dispatcher will give you your taxi's number, which is useful in case of complaints. The charge will be at least 100CNY, but pay according to the meter, which includes an expressway toll of 15CNY. After 23:00, you will pay more.

Airport Shuttle Bus

The airport shuttle runs every 30 minutes from early 5:30 to 20:00, and cover different routes, including Beijing Railway Station. It costs 16 yuan (about $2).

The Best Option — China Highlights Transfer Service

The best way to get from Beijing International Airport to Beijing City is to use our comfortable airport transfer service. We will provide you a private English-speaking guide and driver. Our guide will meet you at the exit of the airport with your name on a sign. They will be on hand to help all the way from the airport to your hotel. We are experienced in dealing with unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage tracing, visa problems, etc. 

Train Travel

China Train Search
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Although not in Central China, Beijing is probably the best-served city in China with train links. See our Beijing train schedule for details of over 200 services to and from Beijing ranging from hi-speed to regular services to accommodate all travel budgets and itineraries.

See below bullet trains between Beijing and Xi'an, and Shanghai:


Train travel may be difficult for some because very little English is spoken on most trains. However, there are four main railway stations in Beijing that are convenient for reaching many parts of China by regular and hi-speed means: Beijing Railway Station (serving the east), Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station (also called Yongdingmen Station, not to be confused with Yongdingmen Long-Distance Bus Station) and Beijing North Railway Station (also called Xizhimen Station).

Buses

Beijing Capital Airport Intercity Buses

From Beijing Capital Airport to Tianjin

Buses depart from Gate 15 of T2 and Gate 3 of T3, the fare is 70 yuan per person, it takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Buses run from 07:00 to 23:00. Before 09:00, the bus departs hourly, and after 09:00, the bus departs every 45 minutes.

Tianjin to Beijing Capital Airport

The bus service from Tianjin to Beijing Capital Airport departs from Tianjin Tianhuan Bus Station (天津市天环客运站), located at 228 Hongqi Road, Nankai District (南开区红旗路228号), telephone number: 022-8761 2376. Buses are available from 06:00 to 18:00, departing every 30 minutes, and the fare is 60 yuan per person.

From Beijing to Tianjin Cruise Port

Tianjin Cruise Port (also called Tianjin International Cruise Home Port) is an international cruise pier, and one of the largest ports in China. Many well-known international cruises such as Caribbean and Costa Cruises dock at the Port. Tianjin Cruise Port is about 30 km from Tianjin Tanggu Railway Station, 70 km from Tianjin city center, 180 km (2 hours and 30 minutes drive) from Beijing center, or 200 km from Beijing Capital International Airport.

Passengers can first take inter-city bullet train from Beijing South Railway Station to Tanggu Train Station in Tianjin, then take a bus (No. 102, 6:00-21:00) or taxi to the port. China Highlights provides pick up and transfer service between Beijing and the Port, which can take the hassle out. We can also combine tours with transfer services. Read details on how to get from Beijing to Tianjin Cruise Port

Buses to Attractions

Beijing has more than 20 different sightseeing buses. Click here for their routes. Major hotels have tourist bus services to major attractions like the Great Wall.

Transportation Within Beijing

Beijing Transportation Smart Card

The Beijing Transportation Smart Card can make buying public transport tickets easier for tourists. The card is available for use on the subway, city buses, some taxis (with the sign of ‘Welcome to Use IC Card’), and the airport express train. Passengers can get 80% discounts when paying for the city-bus fare with this card. The Transportation Smart Card can also be used at some designated supermarkets, restaurants, department stores, book stores and so on similar to a debit card. 

How and Where to Apply for the Card

Travelers need bring their ID card or passport to the designated site to apply for a Beijing Transportation Smart Card. Beijing has more than 170 sites, which are located at the ticket offices of every Beijing metro station. Some bus stations and some super markets also allow you to purchase a card. Travelers who do not have their ID card or passport cannot buy a card, but they can rent one. However, the card will not be registered with the user’s name and refunds will not be returned.

When applying for a card, 20 yuan is paid as a deposit, which will be returned when the undamaged card is returned. Do not leave too much money on the card because if it is lost there is no compensation. We recommend for tourists that they apply for the card without using an ID card or passport.    

Return the Card

Users can return the card at 62 sites which are located in metro stations, bus companies, and the branches of China Citi Bank (中信银行). If the card returned is without damage, the guaranteed deposit (20 yuan) will be returned together with the remaining balance.

Note: If remaining balance is more than 100 yuan, 10% of the value will be charged as procedure fee. If not, no procedure fee will be charged. You can only get the remaining balance 7 working days after the day you return the card. Hence, the returning of the Beijing Transportation smart card is really not convenient for tourists.

Subway

the Beijing MetroThe Beijing Metro is an efficient way to see the popular areas of the city.

During the build up to the 2008 Olympics, Beijing's Subway has been extensively developed from 2 lines to 10 lines. You may reference the Beijing Subway Map and Beijing Subway Line 8 (Olympic Line) for a better idea of what the system looks like today.

City Buses/Trams

Sightseeing Buses: Beijing has more than 20 different sightseeing buses that offer many routes through the city.

Public Buses: The city buses run from 5:30 A.M. untill 23:00 P.M. daily. Taking buses in Beijing is cheap, but less comfortable than a taxi or the subway. The flat rate for a tram or ordinary public bus is 1 yuan. Buses equipped with air-conditioning or of a special line are charged according to the distance. Few foreigners like getting around by bus, because it is always crowded, especially during rush hours (6:30-9:00 and 17:00-19:00). On some buses recorded announcements give the stop's name in English. Having your destination in Chinese characters will help. When squeezing onto a crowded bus take care of your wallet, etc.

Minibuses, running from 7:00 to 19:00, charge the flat rate of 2 yuan guaranteeing a seat. They are faster and more comfortable.

Taxis

Beijing taxiTaxis are a popular way to see the sights of Beijing.

Though Beijing does suffer from congestion, its taxi drivers will find the fastest way to your destination. Bring the name of your destination in Chinese characters if your spoken Chinese is not good. 

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Pedi-cab is a good choice for sightseeing, especially for visiting the narrow Hutongs. You will find pedi-cabs on the street. You should agree on a price with the driver before starting the journey. Legally registered pedi-cabs can be identified by a certificate attached to the cab and the driver will have a card hanging around his or her neck.

Bicycles

Beijing hutong pedicabMany roadways are optimized for tourists traveling by bike... and old fashioned hutong pedicabs.

China used to be called the sea of bicycles and in Beijing today the bike is still a convenient vehicle for most people. 

Renting a bike may be a better way for you to see this city at your own pace. Bikes can be hired from many hotels for 20–30 yuan/day. A deposit will be required. You can also rent bikes at some bicycle shops. Their charge for renting bikes is lower as the bikes are not as new. 

When needed, you park your bike in a bike park, which can be easily identified by the large amount of bikes on roadsides. The charge is about 1 yuan.

Walking

Forbidden City, BeijingTraveling within Beijing is easier once you know the best methods.

Beijing is a huge city, but some attractions can be linked together with a short walk, e.g. Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and Beihai Park. If the weather is comfortable, it can be nice to take in the sights and sounds of the streets of Beijing by foot, such as the beautiful Badachu Park. The park features attractions and natural vistas that are easily explorable by foot. If you're into exploring by foot, consider taking part of your time and hiking the Great Wall. This is an experience not to be missed. 

However you choose to visit Beijing, China Highlights is there to help...

Contact our travel advisors for help with navigating China's transport network, or book a Beijing tour and let us take the hassle out of planing your travel plans.