Whether arriving or departing from the city, with the air, rail or road transportation, Beijing has all of them fully developed, with China’s largest airport located here and numerous national roads and expressways radiating. Traveling around the urban area is also improved, and there are a lot of ways to do it, so you may choose city buses, bicycles, taxis, subways or tourist buses. Since Beijing is an enormously populated area, there are certain periods during the day that should be avoided, usually early in the morning and the late afternoon, during the rush hours. The transportation system in Beijing is improving and changing incredibly fast, so make sure you have the latest information.
Beijing Transportation Smart Card (Yikatong)
Beijing Transportation Smart Card (or Yikatong; 北京市政交通一卡通; www.bmac.com.cn; CNY20 deposit) can bring a lot of conveniences when going around the urban area. This card may be taken at all metro stations, at some bus stations and supermarkets, and can also be top up there. It can be used to pay for subway, bus, taxi, and in some supermarkets and restaurants. Using this card will provide a discount of 50% for the bus ticket, whereas the metro discount depends on the monthly consumption. The card can be returned and deposit taken at most metro stations, but if the balance is greater than CNY100 when returning, 10% of the balance will be charged.
From and to airport
Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场; en.bcia.com.cn) is located about 30km northeast of Beijing’s city center. There are several ways reaching Beijing’s main air hub, but most popular are Airport Express, Airport Shuttle Bus and taxi.
Airport Express line (北京机场轨道交通线) is the metro line from the airport to Sanyuanqiao (三元桥站) and Dongzhimen (东直门站) stations, and vice versa. It is the fastest connection between airport and city center. There are stations in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 of an airport. Ride between airport and city center (Dongzhimen station) takes about 20 minutes. Trains operate on every 10 minutes from Terminal 2 (6:35-23:10), Terminal 3 (6:20-22:50) and Dongzhimen (6:00-22:30). The fare for a single ride is CNY25.
There are over 10 shuttle bus lines between airport and downtown. Tickets range from CNY15 to CNY24, depending on distance. Buses operate on every 20 or 30 minutes.
Line 1 (airport-Fangzhuang (方庄) 7:00-1:00; Fangzhuang-airport 5:10-21:00), via Dabeiyao (大北窑; near World Trade Centre, CBD)
Line 2 (airport-Xidan (西单) 7:00-00:00; Xidan-airport 5:10-21:00), via Lama Temple (雍和宫)
Line 3 (airport-Beijing Railway Station (火车站) 7:00-00:00; Beijing Railway Station-airport 5:10-21:00), via Dongzhimen (东直门), Dongdsi Shitiao (东四十条), Chaoyangmen (朝阳门)
Line 7 (airport-Beijing West Train Station (西客站) 7:20-00:30; Beijing West Train Station-airport 5:10-21:00), via Yongan Dongli (永安里东街)
Line 10 (airport-Beijing South Railway Station (南站) 9:30-21:30; Beijing South Railway Station-airport 7:30-19:30), via Kaiyang Bridge (开阳桥)
There are taxies outside all three terminals. Tell the driver to use taxi meter (计价器; jìjiàqì) and expect to pay about CNY100, including CNY15 highway toll, for a drive between airport and city center. Between 23:00 and 5:00 cost per kilometer rises for 20%. Make sure you have your destination written in Chinese because very little taxi drivers speak English.
With total 18 subway lines and 527 km, Beijing Subway (北京地铁) is one of the most useful transportation means in Beijing. It is highly recommended because it is very good and cheap. It is also efficient, clean, and easy to use. At the subway station signs are written in Chinese and English, and station announcement and trains are bilingual too. During rush hours (around8 and 18) crowds can be large, but it should not worry you because you will not wait long for the trains, though the trains themselves can be rather crowded at times.
Different lines have different working hours, but generally trains operate from 5:00 to 23:00.
For distance up to 32km single journey tickets fares range from CNY3 to CNY6, depending on the distance traveled. For greater distances you will be charged additionally one yuan on every 20 km. If you are an adult traveling with a child below 1.3 meters in height, you may get the ride for the child for free.
Bus service is one of the cheapest forms of public transport in Beijing. There are many bus lines and buses to reach almost every part of Beijing. However, crowds in buses can be large, buses are not the most accurate, signs are not written in English, and a large number of lines of the bus system in Beijing is not simple to use for those who stay in this town for a short period. Nevertheless, for those adventurers who want to look over the city while traveling from point A to point B without being under the ground, this may be an interesting way of transportation. Most bus routes operate from 5:30 to 23:00. Tickets cost from CNY2 (up to 6 km), plus CNY1 every 5 km.
Beijing Dangdang sightseeing trolleys
These vehicles in vintage style are attraction themselves, and they serve to carry tourists through some of the main downtown sites, which have to be visited while in Beijing. There is a tour guide on each of these vehicles, introducing the places, their historical and current importance, in both, English and Chinese. There are two lines that these trolleys go round, and those lines are:
Line 1 (8:00-17:00; on every 5-10 minutes; CNY10; CNY5 with Beijing Transportation Smart Card): Yongdingmen – Xiannongtan – Tianqiao – Zhushikou South – Dashilar – Tiananmen Square East – Tiananmen West – West gate of Zhongshan park – West Gate of Forbidden City – Beihai – Forbidden City – Shatanlukou West – Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital – Nanheyan – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen Square West – Qianmen – Dashilar – Zhushikou South – Tianqiao – Yongdingmen
Line 2 (8:00-17:00; on every 5-10 minutes; CNY15; CNY10 with Beijing Transportation Smart Card): 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 – Donganmen Street West Exit – New Dongan Market – Wangfujinglukou North – Tiananmen East – Tiananmen Square West – Qianmen
There are thousands of taxis (出租车; Chūzū chē) flowing through the Beijing streets and finding one wouldn’t be a problem. The exception are rush hours (around 8, and 18-23). Usually, drivers will use the meter, but if they not find another taxi. Make sure you have your destination written in Chinese because very little taxi drivers speak English. Flag-fall rate is CNY13 for the first 3 km, after that CNY2.3 will be added on every one kilometer. Night fare (from 23:00 to 5:00) is CNY2.76 per kilometer.
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