Guangzhou Metro Information for Tourists

Tourists can use the Guangzhou Metro system to tour and enjoy all the excellent highlights of this important city. What's more, the cost for the transportation is quite low compared to the rest of the world. Guangzhou’s subway network covers much of the city center. The MTR is a foreign tourist's friend to enjoy your time in Guangzhou.

  • World's sixth busiest metro system in terms of ridership.
  • Undergoing rapid expansion to cover most of the city.
  • Fast line to nearby Foshan city.
  • About 2.5 billion rides a year
  • Guangzhou subway map 2016

Guangzhou's Subway Is Useful

  • English: Some signs, announcements, and calls are in English, and there are some helpful English speaking staff. If you have questions or get lost, just talk to the staff or the locals who might speak English too.
  • Airport and train stations: The subway connects to the airport. It also connects to the regular and bullet train stations, so you can continue your tour in China conveniently.
  • Inexpensive: The ticket ranges from 2 Yuan to about 14 Yuan (30 cents to 2.15 USD) depending on distance traveled.
  • Tourist activities: Excellent shopping, the large Guangzhou zoo, super tall skyscrapers and their malls, and major wholesale shopping venues can all be reached on the metro. Most of the most popular tourist spots are also connected. See the lines information below.

You can save a lot of time, money, and hassle by taking the subway and get around quickly.

The 11 Operational Lines and How They Are Useful for Tourists

Baiyun International AirportBaiyun International Airport

Most useful lines: Lines 1, 2, and 3 are the most useful to tourists because these three lines run east-west or north-south across the city center and go to major transportation facilities and tourist spots. As of 2016, these are the 11 operational lines:

  • Line 1 has 16 stations. It was the first line built through the central city, and it goes to many places popular with tourists such as Chen Academy that is reached at Chen Academy Station 陈家祠站.  
  • Line 2 is important for travel. It goes north and south and has 17 stations. It connects Guangzhou Railway Station 广州火车站 and Guangzhou South Railway Station 广州南站. Guangzhou South is a major national bullet train hub, and Guangzhou Station has a bullet train for Shenzhen as well as regular trains.
  • Line 3 is also important for travel. The northernmost station is the Airport South Station at the Baiyun International Airport (广州白云机场), and it connects with Line 1 at the Guangzhou East Station and the APM at the Canton Tower. The Canton Tower at is Guangzhou's second most popular tourist spot according to TripAdvisor.
  • Line 4: This north to south line has 15 stations with six more under construction.
Guangzhou ZooAn elephant in Guangzhou Zoo
  • Line 5 stretches east and west and has 24 stations. Important tourist sites include the Guangzhou Zoo at Dongwu Park Station 动物园 and Guangzhou Railway Station that is next to a nationally important wholesale clothing market area.
  • Line 6 is a new line opened in 2013. There are currently (2016) 22 stations with 10 under construction.
  • Line 7 is a short new line opening in 2016 with 10 stations in Panyu. Guangzhou South Station 广州南站 with several bullet train lines is one terminus, and it connects with Line 2 at the station.
  • Line 13 is planned to be opened in 2016 or 2017. It is an eastern line with 11 stations that helps to connect Huangpu District and the central city with Zengcheng in the east.
  • Guangzhou APM is a short special track paralleling Line 3. It interchanges with Line 3 at Linhe West and Canton Tower. It is mainly standing room only, and a ride takes 10 minutes to complete. The Canton Tower is one terminus.

Metro Lines for Popular Tourist Sites

You can use the subways to tour Guangzhou. It is faster to ride the metro than a taxi to many popular spots. It is difficult to get lost, though travel might be bewildering if you catch the wrong train. It is probably safer since the taxi drivers are known for keeping a lookout for foreign tourists who they find to be easy to scam or cheap since the locations, fares, and currency are unfamiliar.

As a tourist, you'll probably want to see the main highlights and shop during your trip, so here are some quick travel trips to various popular places.

Chimelong Circus, Resort, Amusement Park, and Safari Park

Chimelong ParkChimelong has some of the world's best rides

This is far and away the city's favorite tourist place with the 1st, 3rd and 4th favorite things to do on TripAdvisor in 2016. It is so popular because the circus with animal acts, the safari park, and the amusement park are unusually good. Visitors compare it favorably with the best they've seen in the world. The one drawback is the crowds, so it is best to do during a regular working day and when there are no holidays.

Take Line 3 and go the Hanxichanglong Station 汉溪长隆. From there, you can take a free shuttle bus or walk there.

Shangxiajiu and Beijing Street for Shopping

hong kong island skylineShangxiajiu on Line 1 and nearby Beijing Street are the most popular shopping streets for tourists

These are the two favorite tourist shopping streets. These two shopping areas are about 4 kilometers away from each other. Shangxiajiu 上下九步行街 is for cheap retail bargains (not wholesale shopping), and Beijing Street 北京西路 is more of a tourist street with old buildings to sightsee. The two streets are about 3.5 kilometers from each other.

Beijing Street shopping is reached on Line 1 at Gongyuanqian Station 公园前, and the Shangxiajiu shopping street is at Changshou Station 长寿路. From Hong Kong or Shenzhen, simply get off the bullet train at East Rail Station and take Line 1 for a quick ride to Gongyuanqian for Beijing Road or Changshou for Shangxiajiu.

The Canton Fair for Wholesale Shopping

This is China's #1 trade fair and the most important.  Xingangdong Station 新港东站 and Pazhou 琶洲站 are at the Canton Fair venue at the Pazhou Complex. See more about it in China's Top Trade Fairs.

Shamian Island

shamian islandOld European-built building on Shamian Island in Guangzhou

Shamian Island (ranked 5 on TripAdvisor in 2016) can be reached from Huangsha Station 黄沙 on lines 1 and 6. Like Shanghai's International Settlement, Guangzhou had an international settlement where governments and wealthy people built stylish buildings on Shamian Island. Now it is a favorite place for tourists to sightsee.

Suggested Payment Methods for Tourists

Unless you are planning to spend more than just a few days, simply using single trip tickets and cash for transportation is recommended to avoid the hassle of getting the metro card and losing any deposit money and unused money on the cards. But if you are staying longer and planning to use the metro and buses a lot, a metro card can save you time and money.

Single Trip Tickets

Single-trip tickets is most often used by tourists. It is only valid on the day when you purchase it. You can buy a ticket from a machine by paying cash appropriate for your destination. The ticket machines only accept 5 and 10 RMB notes and coins of 0.5 RMB (5 Jiao) and 1 RMB. Then simply insert your ticket at the gate to enter.

Metro Smart Cards

ct-bg-02sGuangzhou's Canton Tower and very tall skyscrapers light the skyline with color

The metro cards (Yang Cheng Tong) can be used for buses and taxis and for paying for products at participating stores, but most taxis won't accept them. It comes in useful for visitors if they are going to be using the metro and/or buses a lot since after the 16th ride in a month, the ticket prices for rides drop by 40%. You can recharge these at 7/11 stores.

The deposit is 30 RMB for the card, and you can return the card for the deposit only if you have the receipt. Unused balance isn't refundable. Payment for adding card value is in 10 RMB increments. It will save you time lining up for the ticket tokens.

Subway History and Future Expansion and Modernization

Foreign companies and imported technology were employed for the first line, Line 1. They began to build it in 1993. Line 1 cost 12.75 billion RMB.

Construction of Line 2 started in July 1998. The greater participation of domestic companies helped to cut the cost of construction which made the subsequent rapid construction program feasible.

As of 2016, 11 lines are operational including the line connecting the Foshan metro. By 2020, four more lines may be operational: Line 9, 13, 14, and 21.

Touring Guangzhou with China Highlights

If the Guangzhou metro doesn't sound like the way you would like to tour Guangzhou, see our Guangzhou tours, which can include private transport from/to your hotel. Our tours let you see more of Guangzhou's highlights above ground. To create your own Guangzhou experience with our help tailor make your tour>>

A Better Local Transport Option: Private Car — free of hassles, more flexibility

private tourChina Highlights' private transport service

Private drivers: Hiring a private driver might be the best option if you want to do a lot of touring or business in Guangzhou. A private driver or aid from an English speaking guide/interpreter is relatively inexpensive compared to Western countries and Japan. It is the most convenient and pleasant way is to travel.

But pick a reputable company like China Highlights. You can arrange for our driver and guide to wait for you. Your guide will arrange your entry tickets and any transport tickets in advance and save you a lot of time and trouble lining up. We are known for providing hassle free and individualized help for our customers.

Top Guangzhou Tours