Beijing Travel Essentials: Subway
Because of Beijing's congestion problems, the subway is often the quickest way to get around. Beijing's metro system is cheap, but extremely crowded during the rush hour. It's also a great place to person-watch.
Older stations on the network rarely have seats on the platforms and there are presently no toilets. Announcements are in both Mandarin and English and subway maps have both Chinese and English script.
The subway runs from 5am-11pm daily. Tickets are purchased from manned ticket counters though electronic ticket machines are available on the newer lines.
Some of the older paper tickets may become collector's items as they are phased out for standardized issue. Occasionally special paper tickets are issued which can be particularly attractive.
Beijing currently has 7 subway lines. Line 1 runs East-West, through (among other stops) Dongdan, Xidan, Wangfujing and Tiananmen.
At Jiangoumen and Fuxingmen Line 1 intersects Line 2, which is a circle line encompassing Central Beijing. The third line, Line 13, travels through the northern suburbs from Dongzhimen looping back to Line 2 again at Xizhimen.
The new elevated airport skytrain line runs from Dongzhimen on Line 2 and Sanyuanqiao on Line 10 to both Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 at Beijing International Airport.
Line 5 runs from Songjiazhuang in the south to Tiantongyuan North in the north over a distance of 27.6km stopping at 23 stations.
Line 8 runs north from Beitucheng to the South Gate of Forest Park.
Line 10 runs from Bagou in the north west of the 3rd Ring Road east to Taiyanggong and then south to Jingsong.
Line 13 runs from Xizhimen on the north west 2nd Ring Road north to Longze and then south to Dongzhimen on the north east 2nd Ring Road.
Single fares to any destination cost 2RMB.
Massive extensions have taken place to the underground system before and after the 2008 Olympic Games. There will be at least four new underground lines, and an extension linking Beijing Capital Airport to Dongzhimen. The planned extensions will include two more lines through the centre of Beijing, and better access to the suburbs.
In Chinese, subway/underground is Ditiĕ, and it's written 地铁.