How to Get around Beijing during Your Beijing Tour

Last updated: September,12 2018

Beijing, the capital city and popular destination, is undeniably one of the busiest cities in China and even the world. The city is constantly brimming with locals from all over China and with tourists from other countries. Getting around this hugely populated city where not a lot of people speak English may seem daunting. But worry not, Beijing has plenty public transportation and private transportation options that are efficient to use. The most popular means of transport used by both locals and travellers are: metro, taxi, and public bus. Here is a basic guide and few tips for getting around Beijing at ease and without confusion.

Travel Beijing by Metro

Beijing’ metro subway system is one of the best and hassle free ways to get around Beijing. It is the best way to avoid and beat the never ending, lock jammed traffic of Beijing streets. The 18 Metro lines are not only time saving they are also way cheaper than other means of transport. New routes are constantly being added; existing routes are being made more inclusive and efficient.

 Beijing MetroThe sign of Beijing Metro

The Metro line to Beijing Capital International Airport: : Airport Express Line (Dongzhimen – Terminal 3)

The Metro line to Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square: Metro Line 1

The Metro line to Summer Palace: Metro Line 4

The Metro line to the Great Wall: Recently, there is no metro line connecting the Great Wall with downtown Beijing.

Another reason why going by metro is best for travellers is that, you can find signs in both English and Chinese. Make sure you get your destination right before buying the ticket. Some areas have a couple of stops and make sure you get down at the right one, the one closest to your destination. When you travel by metro, you will have to walk a bit. Not all attractions are close to the subway station.

Some of the resources you can use to make your journey by subway easier are: a PDF map of the subway lines or online interactive subway maps and android/ iPhone applications that have train timings and routes. Make sure you have a pictorial representation, English, and Chinese characters of the attractions you are visiting so that it is easy to ask the locals if you get lost or get down in the wrong station.

Travel Beijing by Bus

Visiting Beijing by bus is even cheaper than travelling by subway. Some bus lines cost less than CNY 1. The buses of Beijing run all over the city and have very good connectivity. While getting on a bus might not save you from traffic, it is still better to travel by public transports. Like all places, public transports are very much crowded, and in a city like Beijing it might be hard to get on a bus during rush hours. Keep your passport and valuables close to you, hang your bag in the front and not in your back. Most buses have electronic boards displaying next stops in both Chinese and English. You can check the bus required for the destination you have to reach in Google maps.

 Beijing Sightseeing BusBus stop at Beigongmen subway station of Sightseeing Bus No.3

You can find bus stops and bus lines in metal boards in various bus stops but it is not written in English. When it comes to cleanliness, subways are definitely cleaner. But most of the buses running to main areas are newer and have comfortable seating and holding facilities. The buses are often crowded and if you are someone who doesn’t like people invading your personal space, taking a bus in China is not the best option. Since buses are still susceptible to Beijing’s traffic jam, they may not be the most time-friendly means of transport in Beijing.

Beijing Sightseeing Buses

Besides the ordinary public buses, there are also sightseeing buses in Beijing that connecting the major attractions together.

Route of Beijing Sightseeing Bus No.1
Yongdingmen Gate Tower – Xiannongtan – Tianqiao – Zhushikou South – Dashilar – Tiananmen Square East – Tiananmen West – West Gate of Zhongshan Park – West Gate of Forbidden City – Beihai Park – Forbidden City – ShatanLukou West – Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital – Nanheyan – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen Square West – Qianmen – Dashilar – Zhushikou South – Tianqiao – Yongdingmen Gate Tower

Route of Beijing Sightseeing Bus No.2
Qianmen – Tiananmen Square East – Tiananmen West – West Gate of Zhongshan Park – West Gate of Forbidden City – Beihai – Forbidden City – BeichiziBeikou – East Gate of Forbidden City – Dong'anmen Street West Exit – New Dong'an Market – WangfujingLukou North – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen Square West – Qianmen

Route of Beijing Sightseeing Bus No.3
Forbidden City – East Gate of Jingshan Park – North Gate of Beihai Park – Deshengmen Inner – Deshengmen – East Beichen Road – West Beichen Road Bridge North – Chengfu Road Intersection South – Chengfu Road Intersection West – Zhonguanyuan North – South Gate of Ruins of Yuanmingyuan – Beigongmen Subway Station

Beijing Tourist Buses

Starting from Qianmen, there are another 3 bus lines to the popular attractions near downtown Beijing, including the Great Wall and Changling.

Route of Long-distance Tourist Bus Line 1:
Qianmen – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen West - Badaling Great Wall

Route of Beijing Tourist Bus Line 2:
Qianmen – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen West – Dingling Tomb – Changling Tomb

Route of Beijing Tourist Bus Line 3:
Badaling Great Wall – Dingling Tomb – Changling Tomb

Join in our 10-day Tibet Tour by Train from Beijing to enjoy a wonderful sightseeing tour in Beijing.

Travel Beijing by Taxi

Compared to bus and subway, taxi is the most expensive means of travel for tourists in Beijing. Like how there is no dearth of traffic in Beijing, there are also no dearth of taxis in Beijing. It might be hard to get a taxi during peak hours, the cost might seem less compared to many other western countries. You can hail taxis from the taxi stands or through cab hailing apps. The local Beijing taxis are marked by a yellow band on the body of the car. Make sure the drivers use meter to reduce cost. The base rate for taxis is CNY 13 for 3 kms. You cannot pay by card, you can use cash or WeChat app for transferring money.You will find some black cars servicing as taxis, they are unlicensed taxis that operate at higher costs. When you travel by taxi, there is simply no way to beat or get through the traffic faster. The biggest downside apart the traffic is that the drivers don’t know English.Make sure you know give the destination correctly with proper pronunciation. Some drivers may not know the directions to your destination as Beijing is huge, but worry not they can always find the way around. While taxis might be the most comfortable means of transport, you will definitely get stuck in traffic for a long time.

 Beijing TaxiYou can hire taxis at the taxi station or through cab hiring apps.

New Ways to Explore Beijing City- Rent a Bike

Amid the growing traffic and slow moving private and public transports, a new form of transportation has been growing in China over the past couple of years—renting a bicycle. Exploring the city by bike is a fun way and eco-friendly way to travel. These bicycles that can be rented through apps facilitate pick up and drop of bikes in any corner of the city. Travel agencies are introducing bike tours doe travellers to make the experience hassle free and less confusing. Some of the popular bike tours include exploring Wangfujing, Central Business District, Xinhuan Road, Eastern City, hutongs, cultural and art centres etc. Before taking upon a bike tour, make sure you have a map and familiarise yourself with some basic phrases in local language to have an easy commute. Some of the most popular bike renting apps are ofo and Mobike. You can only pay for them online through Wechat or Alipay. You can spot these bikes near subway stations, near bus stations, and many main attractions like Forbidden City, Hutongs, Great Wall of China, Beihai Park etc. You will also find the public bike service centres near subway exits and bus lines from where you can pay and rent bikes for the day, this is an alternative for renting bikes through apps. They are available in most of the districts.

Rent a bikeBike-Sharing is a new form of transportation in China.

The above mentioned are the popular means of transport for getting around Beijing, each option has its own advantages and shortcomings. Choose the own the suits your needs and preferences. Whichever means of transport you choose, make sure that you know basic phrases and give the drivers proper name of your destination to avoid any confusion as not many locals know English. But worry not, people are really friendly and patient with tourists.

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