How to take subway in Beijing

Are you thinking of planning a Beijing subway tour, and visiting Beijing by using the rapid transit rail network? The subway is the fastest, cheapest way around Beijing in comparison with Beijing taxis and easier to manage than the daunting Beijing public buses.

Below are some practical tips on how to take the subway in Beijing:

1. Subway fare in Beijing

Ticket fare:
within 6 km: 3 yuan
6 -12 km: 4 yuan
12 -22 km: 5 yuan
22 – 32 km: 6 yuan
32 km up : extra 1 yuan for extra 20km

Beijing airport express trains: RMB25.
Children below 1.3 metres in height enjoy free rides accompanied by a paying adult.

Note: If you stay in Beijing for quite a few days, or want to have more transport convenience when you traveling Beijing, you are highly recommended to buy a Beijing bus IC card, a kind of transportation smart card. Basically you are eligible for 10% discounts using “Yikatong” to pay for subway and buses.

A bus IC Card can be also used to pay for Beijing taxi, Beijing subway and S trains to Badaling Great Wall. The official name of the IC card is called “Yikatong”, which means “one card pass” in Chinese, similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card, Singapore’s EZ-Link, or the Oyster Card used by TfL in London in United Kingdom.

More information on “Yikatong” card:
1. Par value RMB100.00 ( including RMB20.00 deposit )
2. When you leave Beijing or don’t want to use the card anymore, you can return it to places which are appointed by Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card Co. Ltd. Then they will refund you RMB20.00 if your card is not damaged.
3. You could refill the bus IC card from over 700 places including the ticket counters at Beijing subway stations, railway stations, most post offices, big supermarkets and so on.
4. Yikatong Service phone number: 88087733 (mainly in Chinese).

2. Find a latest Beijing Subway map

Try to find a latest Beijing subway map, physical or online. Beijing subway is on a constant change. Very often either online subway maps or ordinary maps are hard to catch up with the latest version of Beijing subway.

3. Basic information on the subway lines in Beijing

Try to locate your hotel, attractions and your business places in Beijing with the help of Beijing subway lines.

Subway Lines serving Beijing urban area

Subway Line 1:
a straight east-west line under Chang’an Avenue passing Tiananmen Square, dividing the city into two parts – north and south. Line 1 links major commercial centres – Beijing CBD, Dongdan, Wangfujing, Xidan and Financial Street.

Subway Line 5:
one of straight north-south lines, but mainly running just east of the city centre. It has some important stops such as the Temple of Earth, Lama Temple, Dongdan and the Temple of Heaven.

Subway Line 6:
Running between Haidian Wuluju (Haidian) and Caofang (Chaoyang)Line 8: Phase I (Olympic Branch Line) branches off Baitucheng Stop of Line 10 with three stops in the Olympic Green.

Subway Line 9:
Running between National Library (Haidian) and Guogongzhuang (Fengtai)

Subway Line 10:
an inverted L-shaped line running east-west. Starting from the west, it runs along the Yuan dynasty city wall in the north, passing by the south of the Olympic Green and runs south at Sanyuanqiao, following the eastern 3rd Ring Road passing through the embassy district and Beijing CBD.

Subway Lines serving Beijing suburbs

Subway Line 13:
an arcs line running the suburbs north of the city and takes commuters to Xizhimen and Dongzhimen where interchange for Line 2.

Subway Line 14:
Running between Zhangguozhuang (Fengtai) and Xiju (Fengtai)

Subway Line 15:
extended from the Line 13 at Wangjing West, then running northeast to suburban Shunyi District.

Batong Line:
extended from Line 1, running eastward from Sihui to suburban Tongzhou District.

Changping Line:
extended from Line 13 at Xi’erqi, running north to suburban Changping District.

Daxing Line:
branches off Line 4 south to suburban Daxing District.

Fangshan Line:
is at the moment unconnected with the main lines in Beijing, standing alone line in southwest Beijing that linking Dabaotai in Fengtai District with suburban Fangshan District.

Yizhuang Line:
extended from Line 5’s southern terminus to the Yizhuang Economic & Technological Development Zone in the southeastern suburbs.

Airport Express:
linking the Beijing Capital International Airport ( 25 km northeast of the city), with Line 10 at Sanyuanqiao and Lines 2 and 13 at Dongzhimen.

Beijing Subway Map

Beijing Subway Map

4. Beijing Subway Operation Hours

The first trains depart terminals at around 5:00 am and the last leave at around 11:00 pm. The Airport Express train starts at around 6:00am and ends at 10:30 pm.

5. Get to the Subway Station

Make sure you are heading to the closest station. The subway signs are easily to be recognized.

Beijing Subway Sign
Beijing Subway Sign

Subway Station Exterior

Subway Station Exterior
Subway Station Exterior

6. Buy a subway ticket

You may buy a single-ride ticket or use a Beijing Transportation (Yikatong) Card, similar to the oyster cards in UK.

If you stay in Beijing for a longer period, it is advisable to buy Yikatong card.1) You may buy a single ride ticket through automated machines which take coins and small bills. or you may buy it at the ticketing windows.

A single ride Electronic ticket
A single ride Electronic ticket

(2)If you stay in Beijing for quite a few days, or want to save money when you traveling Beijing by subway or bus, you are highly recommended to buy a Beijing bus IC card, a kind of transportation smart card. A bus IC Card can be also used to pay for taxi or subway.

The correct name of the IC card is called “Yikatong”, which means “one card pass” in Chinese, similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card, Singapore’s EZ-Link, or the Oyster Card used by TfL in London in United Kingdom.

7. Get to the platform and choose the right track

Swipe the card across the sensor, or insert the ticket in the turnstile to enter through the fare gate.

Basically, there are two tracks for trains running for opposite directions, so you should follow the sign and choose the correct side of the tracks.

Waiting on the platform

8. Inside the Trains and transfer

Once taking the subway, the display screen inside the each car of the train will show arrival times, destination information, and show short television programs.

If you want to transfer, just look for a sign that says “Transfer” and follow the directional arrow on the sign.  

9. Leave the subway station

After you leave the train, you are required to insert the single-ride electronic ticket in the turnstile, or swipe the transportation card over the sensor.Next, look for the signs which show how to exit the station.

Usually, there are four exits for each station; each exit leads to a different direction. Find the direction of your destination and choose the right exit to get out of the station.

10. Try to avoid taking subway in rush hours

You’d better avoid taking subway during rush hours. Beijing Rush Hours: 07:00am – 09:00am), and 6:00pm – 08:00pm.

Beijing subway is getting extremely crowded at rush hours
Beijing subway is getting extremely crowded at rush hours

Beijing is a very overcrowded city. Beijing subway is getting extremely crowded at rush hours.

11. Important Places accessed by subway

1) Beijing South Railway station: Subway Line 4
2) Beijing West Railway Station: Subway Line 9
3) Beijing North railway Station: Subway line 2, 4 and 10
4) Beijing Railway Station: Subway line 2
5) Beijing Capital Airport: Express Train + Subway Line 2
6) Summer Palace: Subway line 4 and 10
7) Badaling Great Wall: S Trains ( from Huangtudian Railway Station ) Line 8 or 13
8) Temple of Heaven: Subway Line 5
9) Tiananmen ( Forbidden City): Subway Line 1
10) Lama Temple: Subway Line 5
11) Olympic Park: subway 8

Add on

Beijing Public Buses
Beijing taxi
Badaling Great Wall by train

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings

How to Plan a Trip to Beijing
Best Time to Visit Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

Chinese version of the travel guide:


63 thoughts on “How to take subway in Beijing

  1. Hi John,

    1) You may take airport shuttle bus No.03 ( 24 yuan per person ) and get off at the final station of Beijing Railway Station ( Beijingzhan 北京站). Your Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel is just across the train station. It is okey to roll your two pieces of 2 luggage to your hotel. But for me, it is better to take a taxi, fast and comfortable, with a taxi fare of about 100 yuan against the 48 yuan for the shuttle bus.

    2) You can buy Yikatong card to be used for the shuttle buses, but without any discounts and you have to pay 20 yuan for the card as a deposit. If you want to buy Yikatong card for more uses in subway and public buses, it is all right to buy one.

    3) Yes, in Beijing, during peak hours, we have special lanes for public buses including airport shuttle buses.

  2. How much is a Ticket from the “Beijing Railway Station” to the “China International Exhibition Centre” ?

  3. Hi Adrian Hire,

    Which “China International Exhibition Centre”? Is this exhibition center located at 6 Beisanhuan Donglu ( There is no direct subway line linking Beijing Railway Station to China International Exhibition Centre.

    Basically you first take the subway line 2 from Beijing Railway Station, then get off at the 4th station of Dongzhimen ( 东直门) and exit from Exit G. Walk about 890 meters to reach the bus station of Dongzhimen North (东直门北站), jump on Bus NO.130 and get off the 5th station of International Exhibition Centre (国际展览中心). Transportation cost: 5 yuan (subway ) + 2 yuan ( bus ) = 7 yuan ( It takes about one hour ).

    Alternatively, a 15-minute taxi ride takes you from Beijing Railway Station to the exhibition center, about 35 yuan ( 11 km ).

  4. Hi can we use the smart card for kids and will they be charge of regular fares? and can we use only one card for all of us using the subway or we have to buy each person a card? Thank you.

  5. hi could you please tell me how should i travel from beijing capital airport to beijing west railway station? i know there is shuttle bus from airport to beijing west but how long does it take? and the fare? if I take airport express and transfer to beijing west, would it be faster?

  6. Dear Jenson,

    1. Beijing Capital Airport – Beijing West by taxi: 50 minutes and 130 yuan

    2. Beijing Capital Airport – Beijing West by direct shuttle bus: one and half hour and 24 yuan

    3. Beijing Capital Airport – Beijing West by Airport Express + subway ( two connected lines: line 2 and 4 ): one and half hours and about 30 yuan.

    The above is just for your reference!

  7. When was this guide published? Wondering because other web sites state all subway fares (except Airport Express) cost 2 yuan regardless of distance. This guide states the fare calculation is more complicated and nuanced. Just trying to get the most accurate picture in 2019. Thanks!

  8. Tim H,

    Thanks for your inquiry!

    A few years ago, as you mentioned, all subway fares (except Airport Express) costed 2 yuan regardless of distance.But now, subway fares in Beijing are calculated per distance as listed in the article:

    Ticket fare:
    within 6 km: 3 yuan
    6 -12 km: 4 yuan
    12 -22 km: 5 yuan
    22 – 32 km: 6 yuan
    32 km up : extra 1 yuan for extra 20km
    Beijing airport express trains: RMB25).

    Have a nice time in Beijing!

  9. Metrocazar is a navigation system for subway networks (installation of an app is not required).
    Perhaps usefull for those visiting Beijing for the first time. 🙂

  10. Dear Daniela,

    Thanks for your inquiry!

    Dongcheng? Dongcheng is a large district in Beijing. Do you have any particular place to go? Anyway, your hotel is about 570 meters to the east of Zhangzhizhong Station of Subway Line 5. Just walk to the station and go visit many places by subway ( interchange ).

    Have a nice time in Beijing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.