Getting around in Beijing: info, costs and advice

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Beijing, the cultural and political capital of China, possesses a highly developed, modern and efficient transport network. There is an embarrassment of choice for a tourist who decides to move around the city, from the fast and fast subway, to buses and taxis, to traditional rickshaws and bicycles. But be careful to organize your visit in the best possible way, especially based on the time you have available: Beijing, in fact, given its immensity, is a very busy metropolis, especially during rush hour. So choose the fastest public transport and be prepared to sometimes travel long distances from one attraction to another.

We just have to give you all the useful tips on how to get around in Beijing, with info, costs and advice, and wish you a good trip!


  1. Useful Tips
  2. How to get from the airport to the center of Beijing
  3. How to get around on foot
  4. How to get around by bicycle
  5. Con i mezzi pubblici
  6. By car
  7. User questions and comments

Useful Tips

The ideal way to get around Beijing would be to use the metro, while to move in the most central areas you can move comfortably on foot, as the streets in the perimeter of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Beihai Park are completely pedestrian.

To facilitate the purchase of public transport tickets, you can choose to purchase the Beijing Transportation Smart Card, rechargeable prepaid card that can be conveniently used to pay for the metro, the Airport Express, city buses and some taxis (those with the 'Welcome to use IC Card' sign). Allows you to travel at discounted prices of 50%

Finally, the use of the rental car is not recommended, as you could get stuck in line due to metropolis traffic, thus wasting precious time.

  • Recommended solutions and means: metro, bike sharing for the center, on foot in the individual districts
  • Solutions and means not recommended: bus
  • City cards and season tickets recommended: Beijing Transportation Smart Card (rechargeable, card cost 20,00 yuan / € 2,50)

How to get from the airport to the center of Beijing

The reference airport for Italian visitors is the Beijing Capital International Airport and is considered the largest in the whole of China: every day, in fact, thousands of travelers from all over the world pass through.

Beijing Capital International Airport

  • Distance from the center: 30 km / travel time: 45 min;
  • By metro: Airport Express line to DongZhiMen Station / ticket cost: 25,00 yuan (€ 3,20)
  • By taxi: average cost 1250,00 yuan (€ 16,00) / travel time: 45 min
  • By bus: average cost 30,00 yuan (€ 3,80) / airport shuttle line 2 (to Beijing South Station), line 3 (to Beijing South Station), line 5 (to ZhongGuanCun), line 7 (to Beijing Station West)
  • Private transfer: private airport transfer

How to get around on foot

Beijing is a huge city and, for this reason, to turn it entirely on foot is not possible., However some distances can be covered without problems, such as more central and popular tourist itineraries, for example the stretches between Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Beihai Park. Do not forget the classic walking tour among the typical hùtongs of the city, where public transport cannot really pass.

Being a very large city and also chaotic due to traffic, for a first approach to the city we recommend that you take part in a private and personalized guided tour, thus allowing you to get used to it!

How to get around by bicycle

Also cycling is very common in Beijing, thanks above all to the spread of bike sharing, a convenient choice for visiting the city without the stress of public transport. Apps like Ofo, Mobike, Hello Bike etc, or rent a bicycle at the hotel, this service will cost around 50,00 yuan (€ 6,40) per day plus a deposit.

If you want to try to discover Beijing by bike, to move in total safety and get used to it we recommend that you take part in an e-bike tour of the city, where you can explore the Old Town and you will always be accompanied by a local guide!

Con i mezzi pubblici

To move to the different areas of the city is It is advisable to use public transport, such as the metro, bus or taxi, which has a very affordable cost. Always be careful to organize your visits in the best possible way because between one tourist attraction and another it could take at least half an hour of travel.


The Beijing subway is the second by extension in China. Also called the Underground Dragon, it is the fastest way to get around the city.

Opened in October 1969, it currently has 18 lines, however lines 1, 2, 5 and 6 are the most used for tourism purposes. Red Line 1 stops near Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing District; blue line 2 makes a circular route in the city center and connects Lama Temple, DongSiShiTiao and Beijing Station; purple line 5 stops near the most famous temples; finally, the yellow line 6 that reaches Qianhai lake and Nanluogu Xiang.

To use the metro it is recommended to purchase the Smart Card, a prepaid card whose cost varies based on how many trips you make. Purchasable at all metro stations, a deposit of 20,00 yuan (€ 2,50) is required upon issuance, and must then be recharged with a minimum amount of another 20,00 yuan. The deposit and any remaining credit will be refunded when the card is returned.

  • Downloadable map: Beijing-metro-map
  • by 5: 10 23 to: 40
  • Ticket / single ride cost: from 3,00 yuan (€ 0,40) to 7,00 yuan (€ 0,90)
  • Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: Smart Card (minimum amount 20,00 yuan / € 2,50)

2 - Bus

Beijing has an extensive bus network, the cheapest choice for getting around the city but, at the same time, more stressful and less comfortable than the metro. At peak times, (6: 30-9: 00 and 17: 00-19: 00) they are very busy and it is common to get stuck in traffic.

Furthermore, the drivers hardly speak English, the ideal would be to always have at hand the destination to reach written in Chinese to be able to show him. On lines most frequented by tourists, stops are announced in English.

  • operational from 5:00 to 23:00
  • Ticket / single ride cost: 2,00 yuan (€ 0,25)
  • Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: Smart Card (60% discount on the ticket)

3 - Taxi

Taxi in Beijing is a simple to use, fast and inexpensive vehicle unlike the other metropolises of the world, even if, especially during rush hours, it could be difficult to find a free one. Choose to use taxis to cover large distances e make sure they are always official taxis, therefore with regular license. Alternatively, you can opt for the services offered by Uber or Didi Taxi, via the app.

Again, as with buses, it is it is advisable to bring with you the name of the destination written in Chinese as many taxi drivers do not speak English.

  • available 24 hours a day
  • Ticket / single ride cost: base price 13,00 yuan (€ 1,65) first 3 km + 2,30 yuan (€ 0,30) each km. From 23 pm to 00 am there is a small night surcharge
  • Smart Card: it is possible to pay with the Smart Card on taxis marked with 'Welcome to use IC Card'

By car

Getting around by car in Beijing is a rather not recommended solution.

First of all because of the extremely congested city traffic especially at peak times.

Also, to drive in China one must be in possession of a driving license issued by the Chinese authorities, however, in recent years, ad hoc temporary driving licenses have been issued for travelers who are preparing to visit China for a few days; this service is only offered by international rental companies, so rely on Hertz or Avis.

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