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Getting Around in Beijing


Beijing has an extensive subway system that is currently being renovated. All of the signs in the stations are written in both Chinese and English. Tickets can be purchased at any subway station, with fares varying according to line. Single tickets cost ¥2 and are only valid on the same day from the station they were purchased. Single-journey ticket machines are very simple to use; just press the numbers along the left side of the screen to choose how many tickets you want to buy, insert cash into the machine and press the green button then collect the ticket and change. The machine does not accept ¥1 bills but if you pay with a ¥10 or ¥20 bill you will be given a handful of coins which you can use for future journeys. You must pass your ticket through the turnstiles upon entering AND exiting the station, so make sure you don't lose it.

If you intend to use the subway often, the best idea is to purchase a Public Transportation Card, called a Yikatong. The minimum deposit for a Yikatong card is ¥20, and it can be refilled as needed at select subway stations.

The Beijing subway is comprised of five main lines: Line 1, Line 2, Line 5, Line 13 and the Batong Line. Line 1 runs in a straight line from east to west, through Tiananmen Square and other major commercial areas. Line 2 runs in a loop following the old city walls, with stops at each of the gates, most major tourist attractions and the Beijing Railway Station. Line 5 runs in a straight line from north to south and also stops at various tourist attractions. Line 13 runs through the northern end of the city. The Batong Line runs from the eastern end of Line 1 to the suburbs. Line 8, also known as the Olympic Branch Line, runs south to north from the National Art Museum through the main Olympic areas, including Olympic Park. Line 10 runs along a larger loop around Line 2. The Airport Line will run from the centre of the city to Beijing Capital International Airport.


Understanding how the bus system operates can be confusing since there are hundreds of different routes. A first-time tourist may want to use the subway or take a taxi. If you have a comfortable understanding of the bus lines, however, you'll be able to navigate your way around the city quickly. Lines 1 through 199 are used for day transportation in the inner city. Lines 200 through 299 are used for night transportation in the inner city. Lines 300 through 399 are used throughout the outer city and suburbs. Lines 400 through 599 travel from the inner city to the outer city. Buses numbered below 200 charge ¥1. Buses between 300 and 599 charge ¥1 for the first 12 km and an extra ¥0.5 for every 5 km after that.

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