In line with our previous entry on public transportation for London, today we would like to offer an overview of Beijing Subway, as well as to inform you about the main features you will need to be aware of when travelling to the capital of China.
As you can see on this map, more than a dozen well-connected lines will take you almost anywhere within the most visited areas of Beijing. Tip: always use comfortable shoes, as even when the name of the stop corresponds to the spot or tourist attraction that you wish to visit, you must be prepared for a long walk from the moment you leave the train until you reach your final destination. Distances are huge in Beijing.
Unlike the transport services of other cities quite as large as Beijing, in this city, the price of the ticket will depend on the kilometres travelled and you will not get any special price when purchasing transportation smart card called 一卡通(YIKATONG). The fare will not be cheaper than when purchasing a single journey ticket, but this card can be used both in the subway and the bus, the train to the airport and even the bicycle network that extends throughout the length and breadth of the city.
In any case, the minimum rate is CNY 3 (approximately € 0.40) and the maximum rate does not usually exceed CNY 10 (€ 1.30). Normally, the range of kilometres travelled by tourists does not exceed CNY 5 or 6 per journey. Having said that, if you are interested in a transportation smart card, you can buy it at any subway station. Initially, you must pay a refundable deposit of CNY 20 (€ 2.59) and top it up with a minimum of CNY 20, that is, a total of CNY 40.
The deposit can be returned in certain offices, not all of them. Therefore, if you are only going to stay in Beijing for a few days, it may be more convenient to pay for each journey by buying a single ticket in the self-service machines at the entrance of the station. You can switch the language to English.
In this case, when accessing the station, you should approach a self-service machine, switch the language to English (or Chinese, if you want to get some practice) and click on your destination station. After that, the price for the journey will show up. Once paid, a single-use white card will be delivered, and this must be returned when inserted into the exit barrier of your destination station.
In order to access the train, first you will need to pass through a security control, which is mandatory in every station. Please also take into account that the subway starts very early, normally before 6am, but it closes around 10.30pm and 11.30pm depending on the line.
When communicating with the subway staff, Chinese language will most probably be a must, since most of them do not speak English. It is advisable to have the name of your stop written in Chinese characters, as well as any question you want to ask. In all stations, you will find signs both in English and Chinese, and all stops are also announced in both languages.
In addition, we recommend downloading the OFO app to move fast through the streets of Beijing by bicycle. We could say that riding a bike is safer than walking in Beijing, as there are special paths for bicycles, which makes them a very useful means of transport.
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