Must begin this with a very BIG THANK YOU! to my VT friend sugarpuff (real name Vicky though my mum would say why shorten a beautiful name like Victoria) who helped me master at least one aspect of the Beijing Subway.
It's a bit limited at the moment given there are only 2 lines; Line 1 the east-west line; & Line 2 the circular line. The nearest station to the Beijing International Hotel, where I was staying was Jiangoumen which was handily located on both lines so I could use it to save time walking to Wangfujing shopping area (Line 1 east-west line)& I also used it to go to Dongzhimen where I met Vicky & Charles to go to dinner in Restaurant Street.
Now for the cheap bit. It's only 3 RMB - Yuan - Quai (local slang pronounced Kwai easy for us Aussies to remeber because of the Bridge over the River Kwai) no matter how many stations you pass through to get to your chosen destination.
If your Chinese is limited or, like mine, virtually non-existent have your money ready & hold up your fingers for the number of tickets you want. Don't worry if you don't have exact money holding up your fingers will indicate how many tickets you want. You don't buy return tickets soif you want a return journey just hold up 2 fingers to get your return ticket in advance. Or buy it at the station you are coming back from.
The other hint here is that you need to know which exit you need to come out of as I think Exit A will take you in one direction while Exit B will take you in a different one from the station. Again if you read this & I am wrong please drop me a line so I can not only correct this for others, but know for my own benefit on my next Beijing trip.
All announcements whilst on the train come first in Chinese & then in English so you won't have to be peering out the window trying to catch sight of your station name as you come into the platform. You will be ready to get off.
The Beijng metro is one of the most efficient metro systems there are. It's easy to use, easy to transfer to and all the signs and announcements are written or said in English and Chinese. One single ticket costs 2 RMB and you can transfer unlimited times (but I don't know how long the ticket is valid for). On every station there's a map showing the 4 exits you can take and sometimes including some landmarks or points of reference so that you can decide which exit is the most convenient for you.
You can buy the ticket from the machines or the manned counters. On entering the metro, place the ticket on top of the machine to open up the (sort of) turnstile and pass. On exiting the metro, insert the card in the machine.
I really like that they reuse the cards but a card that's been reused too much might not work properly sometimes.
You can ride the subway anywhere in Beijing for the same cheap price regardless of distance travelled. The subway stations are clean and have English signs directing tourists to the exits near places that you are likely trying to find.
With that in mind, here is a list of the top 5 subway stops with tourist attractions that are best reached by simply riding the subway:
1. Tiananmen Square (2 stops, west and east)
2. Yonghegong: Lama and Confucius Temples
3. Gulou: (Drum Tower) Hutong Tours
4. Junshibowuguan: (Military Museum)
5. Jianguomen: Ancient Observatory
WARNING: On October 1 you might be surprised to discover that the subway stations at Tiananmen Square and Qianmen are closed.
Once you have found the Subway station, you can go down the stairs towards the ticket booth in order to buy a Subway ticket.
The price for a ticket was 3 Yuan. And of course you can change from the red line on to the blue line with the same ticket.
So that was not expensive at all.
So once you have bought your ticket, you can proceed towards the ticket control. This control is not done automatically, no no, a person is manually controlling each ticket by tearing off the small part.
Of course there are a lot of Chinese, and they all need a job . . . .
Then you can go down the stairs towards the platform. And here you need to choose left or right. But luckily for us the destinations are also written in English, so it is not so difficult to find your way. Also there are maps in every station (if you do not have one of your own).
In Beijing there are two Subway lines, the blue line named the circle line, which goes around the city centre, and the red line which goes from east to west.
With a good Beijing map it is not so difficult to find a subway station. But as the circle line goes around the city centre, you sometimes need to walk a few blocks before you reach the station.
The subway stations are marked with a blue sign (see picture) with a kind of special G on it.
At the platform there are digital signboards, which display the destination and the estimated time of the next train.
At certain times (rush hour) it can be very, very busy in the metro stations and trains. And at those times you really need to push yourself in and out the train. Do not be afraid to push as the Chinese also push. Like this I had some advantage in stepping in and out of the trains as I am a bit bigger and heavier then most Chinese.
So it happened at one station when I wanted to get out of the train, a few more Chinese also left the train (without wanting it) as I passed by . . .
The thing about Beijing's subway is, it very rarely takes you where you want to go. If you want to go to the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) or Tienanmen Square, the red line will take you right to it. Luckily for me there was a stop near my hotel on the red line.
But if you wanted to go anywhere else, boy are you out of luck! the purple line (line 2) I believe will take you around the 2nd ring road, the road that encompases most of central Beijing. The main focus seems to be getting the subway ready to take people to the olympics in 2008. If memory serves, the Orange line (line 5) will eventually take people to the airport. But from there, it is a quick hop onto the red line and off to the stadiums.
The subway here is much cleaner than those in America, more friendly than those in Japan, less useful than Japan and Korea's, but seemingly the happiest and friendliest subways on earth.
The subway was very easy to use. We went to the counter and said where we wanted to go –usually it cost 3 Yuan.
Tickets were paper checks not plastic cards as used elsewhere. Train signs with station names are on the platform including the direction the train is going. Directions for exits –large location maps are near the exit signs.
In my opinion the subway network of Beijing is not as great as Tokyo/Hongkong but it's the fastest, punctual, reliable, economic means of transportation touring Beijing .
You can find metro map and all stations
Most visitors, Chinese or foreigners will find the subway train clean, fast and relatively comfortable, except during weekends or rush hours, when the subway train is very crowded. The subway runs every 4 or 5 minutes daily from 5:00 to 22 or 23:00, according to different first stations and the fare is 3RMB per ride for any distance. There are two subway lines in Beijing: one runs under Chang'an Avenue and its line extends from Sihuidongzan in the east to Pingguoyuan in the west; another one circles under the northern part of the Second Ring Road. You can transfer between these lines at Fuxingmen station and Jianguomen station with no transfer fee.
To find a subway entrance, you can study your map first, to see which intersection is the nearest station. At each station there are usually four entrances in four directions. Then you should look for a large blue sign with letters BD inside a circle. If you still can not find it, you may ask a Chinese "di tie". Then walk down stairs to enter a station and go to get the ticket. The tickets are sold above the platform. When going down to the platform, hand your ticket to the checker at the top of the stairs. On both tunnel walls of the platform, you can see signs and maps in Chinese and Pinyin indicating the next station and helping you to decide which subway train to take. Over the door inside the train you also can find complete system maps in Chinese and Pinyin, and an announcement tells you the name of the next station both in Chinese and English. So if you find you are on the wrong way, you can just get off at the next station, (It usually takes about 4 or 5 minutes to travel between stations.), and get on the train running to the opposite direction. No transfer fee will be charged.
Here I put a complete subway system map for you.
Beijing's subway network extensively covers the city and surroundings. If you will need to travel around the city a lot, subway can be your preferred choice. The pricing is not based on distance, it is a fixed price of 2 Yuan. You may change some subway lines and travel from one corner of the city to the other corner and it will only cost you 2 Yuan. Of course if you take the subway for a couple of stops, it will still cost the same. Beijing subway is very user friendly, you can find English signboards everywhere (thanks to Olmpics). The available lines are Line 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 13, Olympics Line and Airport Express. Airport Express charge is of course different than the fixed price of 2 Yuan. Beijing subway is the cheapest I have travelled so far.
Beijing is a large city, several suway line is under construction preparing for 2008 Olympic Games and for future city development. Line 1,line 2,line 13 and Ba Tong line is opening now, line 5, line 4, line10 and Olympic spur line will be done before Auguest 2008.
Beijing's subway is a very easy way to get around in this big city. Avoid the rush hours, then it is also very pleasant. Thanks to the Olympic Games in 2008 every sign, every station has English. Also the announcements of the stations is in English.
Buying tickets: there are vending machines, which only take 1-Yuan-coins or 10-Yuan-Notes. A ticket cost 2 yuan. It is still almost impossible to get 1-yuan-coins, so you need to go to the nice lady in th einformation booth to get your ticket. Only if you are 5 people, then you could buy 5 tickets with a 10-yuan-note. Beware, if you buy 5 tickets for you alone with the thought, that you can use the tickets the next day,too. That you can not! The tickets bought are only to be used from the station, where you bought them, and only for the same day.
The website takes you on a tour to all the stations and their surroundings. Very interesting.
after Olympic, there are 8 subway lines: line 1, 2, 5, 10, 13, batong, olympic branch, and airport lines.
line 1: connected to xidan (for shuttle bus to beijing airport), tiananmen square, forbidden city, and wangfujing street
line 2: connected to beijing train station, xizhimen (for summer palace), jishuitan (for badaling great wall), yonghegong (lama temple), dongzhimen (transfer station for airport line)
line 5: tiantandongmen (temple of heaven), yonghegong (lama temple)
line 10: beitucheng (transfer station for olympic branch line)
olympic branch: start from beitucheng (transfer station for line 10)
airport lines: start from dongzhimen (transfer station for line 2, 13) to terminal 3 and then terminal 2.
Ticket cost 2 yuan, regardless of destination, except for airport line (cost 25 yuan).
run from 5am to midnight daily.
route signs are bilingual: chinese and english. route sign also blinked to show the stop station.
I've got the subway map from the below website.