Beijing is a massive city and has a ton to see and do. Public bus schedules can be tricky to figure out, but lucky for you the metro is easy, cheap, and gets you to all the places you're wanting to see.
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Getting to the Pearl Market, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Olympic Park has never been easier thanks to the metro system. But before you tackle all the sites to see in Beijing, you should know a couple of things about how to make the most of the metro.
- Using The Metro
- What Top Spots Can I Visit?
- How Much Is It?
- Helpful Hints
Using Beijing's Metro For The First Time
Do I have to speak Mandarin?
Don't speak Mandarin? No worries, they've got you covered! Beijing is a major international city so they're expecting quite a few English speakers looking to find their way. On station subway maps they have the stop's name listed in both Mandarin characters as well as the English alphabet.
Buy Your Tickets
Another tip for us non-Mandarin speaking visitors. You can buy all of your metro tickets using a kiosk that switches between Mandarin and English. That way you don't have to worry about any miscommunication if you're trying to buy a ticket at a booth.
Prices depending on how far you are going (the farther you're going the more expensive). If you're in Beijing for a short trip, we recommend buying a separate ticket each time you ride the metro. If you'll be visiting for more than a day or two (or plan on vacationing here several times), you can get a metro card that allows you to load cash onto. The benefit here is that you don't have to buy a ticket at a kiosk every time you want to ride, instead you just swipe your card as you enter (instead of the paper ticket). Get more info on buying these cards here, on Travel China Guide.
Use This App
We also love using the MetroMan app for getting around in Beijing (and other cities in China). You can download the app for Android here and Apple here, but basically you can type in the metro stop you're at, and the one you're trying to get to, and it will tell you your route, how much it costs, how to long it will take to get there, etc. Very handy.
What Top Spots Can I Visit?
Basically all of them! The Beijing metro 22 lines that span throughout this major international city. No matter where you go in Beijing there is a stop within walking distance from where you want to go. And don't worry because they took into consideration the fact that so many people want to get to the most popular spots.
Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Temple Of Heaven, (Yonghegong) Lama Temple ... you name it, you can get there.
We've got a guide to planning your trip to Beijing that you'll probably be interested in. That post includes metro stops for each of the main sites we love seeing.
Check out this website for a way to explore each individual subway line, where it stops, and how to transfer, etc. It's nice to pull this up and look at it big on a screen so you can plan as a group.
Allow yourself time to get from place to place. If you want to be somewhere at a specific time give yourself a bit of wiggle room. The subway is really reliable but sometimes things come up like you get off the wrong stop and need to re-route.
Keep small bills and change on you to pay for each of your one-way tickets if you're not buying the loadable card. 1RMB coins, 5RMB bills and 10RMB bills are good to have on hand.
Come experience China for your semester abroad!
During the fall and spring ILP volunteers head out to go teach English, travel, and live together in China for about 4 months. It's a really unique and affordable way to see this part of the world.
Click the button below to learn more about what volunteering in China is like and if ILP is the right program for you.