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Beijing was the first Chinese city to be equipped with a subway, in 1969. It has a total of 232 stations, and average ridership varies between 9.8 and 11.6 million on the 465 kilometers of track per day.
Beijing's Subway Network now has 17 subway lines (Some of which are named by numbers, and others are named after their final end-stations. One of the most useful lines may be the Airport Express line which runs from Beijing International Capital Airport to Dongzhimen via Sanyuanqiao) and runs smoothly, making transportation within Beijing extremely convenient. Currently, some of the lines are extending further into Beijing's growing suburbs.
Taking the subway is definitely the fastest transportation in Beijing, because passengers can avoid the frequent traffic jams on the surface. On top of that, taking the subway means that all language barriers are surpassed as you can plan exactly where you are going, and signs are all in English. Taking the subway is generally easier for tourists than taking taxis for that reason.
Taking the subway is especially good when going to train stations. You'll find Beijing Railway Station on Line 2, Beijing South Railway Station on Line 4, Beijing West Railway Station on Line 9, Beijing North Railway Station at Xizhimen Station on Lines 2, 4 and 13 and Huangcun Railway Station on the Daxing Line. Taking the subway here is great because it is reliable and the subway stations are generally located so that you are instantly within the same building as the train station. Getting taxis can cause a delay and slow you down.
The price for the subway is 2 yuan for a journey on one line, except for the Airport Express whose price is 25 yuan. Passengers also can pay by Transportation Smart Card, which also costs 2 yuan per journey. Tickets are issued for one-day use only.
Taking the subway is a very cheap way to travel around Beijing. See How to See Beijing's Top Attractions by Subway.
Exits: Generally speaking, each subway stop has four exits in four directions. Passengers should choose the most convenient exit, to avoid crossing roads on the surface, by reading the signage at the crossings of passageways. Most entrances are not wheelchair friendly as they either have stairs or escalators. For those unable to climb stairs, taking the subway in Beijing is not advisable. Not only because of the bad access, but also because there are gaps between the platforms and crowding can be an issue.
Subway logo: The Beijing subway logo, located at subway access points, is a white 'G' with a 'B' inside it on a square blue background.
Take good care of your personal things because there might be thieves operating, especially in crowded carriages have on rush hours.
Although the time of the last train depends on the station and line, most lines operate between 5am and 11pm with the Airport Express operating from 6am.
Crowding on the subway is inevitable, but can be avoided. Rush hour is quite extended, and runs between about 8 and 9 in the morning, although the subway is still quite busy between 7 and 10 in the morning. In the evening, 6 and 7 are the worst times, although between 5 and 8 it is also still busy. This is especially so for the major transfer stations, which can be really hectic, especially on public holidays. For the most pleasant subway experience, avoid the subway during these times.
Understanding subway etiquette will also make your trip easier. Firstly, there is no personal space - especially during rush hour people will squeeze in as much as they can. Secondly, there are no real rules to waiting for people to come off the subway before you get on the subway. Although there are arrows and lines on the ground at the platforms, people will crowd on and off how they please, so make sure that you are near the door when you have to get off if you do find yourself on the subway at rush hour, or else you may miss your stop.
Line 1 is perfect for visiting the central Beijing attractions, as outlined in this article, because it goes past Tian'anmen Square. To get here, exit at either Tian'anmen East Station or Tian'anmen West Station. From here it is also extremely easy to get to the Beijing Police Museum, and to get to Wangfujing Shopping Street.
Line 2 is great for tourists as it does the whole circle within the city's second ring road. From this subway line, you can get off at Yonghegong Lama Temple Station for the Lama Temple, and get off at Nanluoguxiang or Guoloudajie Station to see the remnants of old Beijing. To get a feel for the Beijing nightlife, get off at Dongzhimen and walk west along Dongzhimen Inner Street, which is also known as Ghost Street, to experience some of Beijing's most popular night time restaurants.
Line 8 was constructed especially for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, and is perfect for those keen to visit the Olympic Park and other popular tourist attractions, albeit the line is still expanding. As it is one of the newest lines, you'll notice that is it clean and well ventilated, making the ride one of the more pleasant ones. The line will soon open at the National Art Museum Station, and goes north past various tourist sites: traditional street Nanluoguxiang Station, Hutong neighbourhood Guluodajie Station, the Olympic Sports Center Station, Olympic Green Station, and South Gate of Forest Park Station.
|Line 1||Pingguoyuan–Guchenglu–Bajiao Amusement Park–Babaoshan–Yuquanlu–Wukesong–Wanshoulu–Gongzhufen–Military Museum–Muxidi–Nanlishilu–Fuxingmen–Xidan–Tian'anmen West–Tian'anmen East–Wangfujing–Dongdan–Jianguomen–Yong'anli–Guomao–Dawanglu–Sihui–Sihui Dong|
|Line 2 (Circle Line)||Xizhimen–Chegongzhuang–Fuchengmen–Fuxingmen–Changchunjie–Xuanwumen–Hepingmen–Qianmen–Chongwenmen–Beijing Railway Station–Jianguomen–Chaoyangmen–Dongsishitiao–Dongzhimen–Yonghegong (Yonghe Lama Temple)–Andingmen–Gulou Dajie (Drum Tower Street)–Jishuitan|
|Line 4||Gongyixiqiao–Jiaomenxi–Majiabu–Beijing South Railway Station–Taoranting–Caishikou–Xuanwumen–Xidan–Lingjinghutong–Xisi–Ping'anli–Xijiekou–Xizhimen–Beijing Zoo–National Library–Weigongcun–Renmin University–Haidian Huangzhuang–Zhongguancun– East Gate of Beijing University–Yuanmingyuan (the Summer Palace)–Xiyuan–Beigongmen Anheqiao North|
|Line 5||Tiantongyuan North–Tiantongyuan–Tiantongyuan South–Lishuiqiao–Lishuiqiao South–Beiyuanlu North–Datunlu East–Huixinxijie Beikou–Huixinxijie Nankou–Hepingxiqiao–Hepingli Beijie–Yonghegong (Yonghe Lama Temple)–Beixinqiao–Zhangzizhonglu–Dongsi–Dengshikou–Dongdan–Chongwenmen–Ciqikou–Temple of Heaven (east entrance)–Puhuangyu–Liujiayao–Songjiazhuang|
|Line 6||Caofang–Changying–Huangqu–Dalianpo–Qiannian Road–Shilibao–Jintai Road–Hujialou–Dongdaqiao–Chaoyangmen–Dongxi–Nanluoguxiang (Nanluogu Lane)–Beihai North–Ping'anli–Chegongzhuang–Chegongzhuang West–Baishiqiao South–Huayuanqiao–Cishousi–Haidian Wuluju|
|Line 8||Zhuxinzhuang-Yuzhilu-Huilongguan East Street–Huoying–Xixiaokou–Yongtaizhuang–Lincuiqiao–South Gate of Forest Park–Olympic Park–Olympic Sports Center Stadium–Beitucheng–Anhuaqiao–Guloudajie (Drum Tower Street)-Shichahai-Nanluoguxiang-National Art Museum (Opening Soon)|
|Line 9||National Library–Baishiqiao South–Baiduizi–Beijing West Railway Station–Liuliqiao East–Liuliqiao–Qilizhuang–Fengtai Dongdajie–Fengtainanlu–Keyilu–Fengtai Science Park–Guogongzhuang|
|Line 10||Xiju–Liuliqiao–Lianhuaqiao–Gongzhufen–Xidiaoyutai–Cishousi–Chedaogou–Changchunqiao–Huoqiying–Bagou–Suzhoujie–Haidian Huangzhuang–Zhichunli–Zhichunlu–Xitucheng–Mudanyuan–Jiandemen–Beitucheng–Anzhenmen–Huixin Xijie Nankou–Shaoyaoju–Taiyanggong–Sanyuanqiao–Liangmaqiao–Agriculture Exhibition Center–Tuanjiehu–Hujialou–Jintaixizhao–Guomao–Shuangjing–Jinsong–Panjiayuan–Shilihe–Fenzhongsi–Chengshousi–Songjiazhuang–Shiliuzhuang–Dahongmen–Jiaomen East–Jiaomen West–Caoqiao–Jijiamiao–Shoujingma-Fengtai Railway Station-Niwa|
|Line 15||Fengbo–Shunyi–Shimen–Nanfaxin–Houshayu–Hualikan–Guozhan–Sunhe–Maquanying–Cuigezhuang–Wangjing–Wangjing West|
|Batong Line||Sihui–Sihui East–Gaobidian–Communication University of China–Shuangqiao–Guanzhuang–Bali Qiao–Tongzhoubeiyuan–Guoyuan–Jiuke Shu–Liyuan–Linheli–Tuqiao|
|Changping Line||Nanshao–Shahe University Park–Shahe–Gonghua Cheng–Zhuxinzhuang–Life Science Park–Xierqi|
|Daxing Line||Gongyixiqiao–Xingong–Xihongmen–Gaomidian North–Gaomidian South–Zaoyuan–Qingyuanlu–Huangcunxi Dajie–Huangcun Train Station–Yihezhuang–Biopharmaceutical Industrial Base–Tiangongyuan|
|Fangshan Line||Guogongzhuang–Dabaotai–Daotian–Changyang–Libafang–Guangyang Cheng–Liangxiang University Town North–Liangxiang University Town–Liangxiang University Town West–Liangxiang Nanguan–Suzhuang|
|Yizhuang Line||Songjiazhuang–Xiaocun–Xiaohongmen–Jiugong–Yizhuangqiao–Yizhuang Cultural Park–Wanyuan Jie–Rongjing Dongjie–Rongchang Dongjie–Tongji Nanjie–Jinghailu–Ciqu South–Ciqu-Yizhuang Railway Station (Opening Soon)|