Survival Tips for the Beijing Subway

The Beijing subway is one of the most cost-effective and efficient means of getting around the city. As one of the busiest subways in the world with more than 6.4 million riders each day, arm yourself with these need-to-know points.

Besides hoards of people, here’s what else you can expect from the Chinese capital.

A blue sign marked with ‘北京地铁 (Beijing Subway)’ indicates that there is a subway station nearby. Access to the subway station is marked by a square grey pillar on top of which is a lighted blue sign with the letter ‘B’.


Each journey is 2RMB regardless of the transfers between lines. You can either purchase a ticket at the  manned desk or use the machines. Single tickets are issued for one-day use only.

A Transportation Smart Card is available. To top up just take the card and the amount you wish to load onto it to the desk and hand it to the attendant. To use the card you simple scan to release the barriers.

Finding your way around

Beijing subway stations are clean and have English signs directing tourists to the exits and nearby places that you are likely trying to find.

Commonly, there are four entrances in four directions for each stop. So, you  should make sure which one to take when getting out of the station or you will probably get lost. Exit A is generally North-East, Exit B North West, Exit C South East and Exit D South West.

Working out the route you need to take is much like connecting the dots; find your nearest subway station, find the station you need to get to and follow the lines. It is very simple and the stops are announced in both Chinese and English.

If you have experience using the London Underground, then using the Beijing subway will be a doddle – once you have adjusted to the millions of people that is.

 Top Tips

1. Know the rush hours

Morning 7.00am-9.30am
Afternoon 5.30pm-8.30pm
It is always wise to avoid Line 1 during rush hour sinces it the craziest line. It is also the line I have to use for my daily commute to and from work – lucky me.

2. Stay close to the door

If your not going far stay near the door, its a good idea to try and get the corner right next to the door for easy exit. Always be preapred for your stop, start getting close to the door a couple of stops ahead of your intended stop.

3. Develop your stance

Beijing commuters are not afraid to push and shove, and they certainly won’t wait for you to exit the train before they try getting on. Get your elbows up and your stance wide.

4. Friends

Travelling with friends makes the situation much more bearable, particularly if its crazy hectic. Having a friend there to laugh it off and let go of the stress will definitely help you survive. I would recommend taking your first subway ride with a friend accompanying you.

5. Protect your Belongings

Pick pocketing isn’t overly common, but it also isn’t uncommon, especially near the tourist areas. The best way to protect yourself is by putting your bag in front of you.

6. Keep out the way of yellow line

when you are waiting for the subway – unless you want to get hit by the train.

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