Transport in Beijing

Beijing, China

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Transport in Beijing

With the growth of the city following economic reforms, Beijing has evolved as an important transportation hub. Encircling the city are five ring roads, nine express routes, eleven China National Highways, several railway routes, and an international airport.

Public Long Distance Buses to tourist sites

To: Badaling Great Wall (65 minutes, about 14 yuan)
From: DeShengMen (near JiShuiTan subway)

To: Mutianyu Great Wall (about 80 minutes)
From: Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station

To: JieTaiSi and TanZheSi (2 picturesque and quiet temples situated in the western mountains) (about 50 minutes)
From: PingGuoYuan Bus Station (near PingGuoYuan subway in the west)

Beijing Capital Airport

Beijing's main airport is the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) near Shunyi, which is about 20 km northeast of Beijing city centre. Most domestic and nearly all international flights arrive and depart at Capital Airport. The Capital Airport is the main hub for Air China.

The airport is linked to central Beijing by the Airport Expressway and is a roughly 40 minute drive from the city centre in good traffic conditions. In preparation for the 2008 Olympics, another expressway is being built to the Airport, as well as a lightrail system.

The Airport Shuttle Coaches

From the Capital International Airport to Beijing along the airport expressway. Fast and cheap (about 20 yuan). Departures are roughly every 30 minutes. Some run late into the evening. The ideal way for independent travellers to get from the airport into the heart of Beijing. Check the following routes to choose the best one for you. If you're not sure, take whichever is about to depart until you are inside the fourth ring road and then get off and take a taxi from there.

Route A :

Xidan Civil Aviation Mansion, SanYuan Bridge (SanYanQiao), Capital International Airport

Route B :

Renmin University Cross-section, SanYuan Bridge (SanYanQiao), Capital International Airport

Route C :

(To the Airport): West gateway of Beijing International Hotel, Dabeiyao, Sanyuna Bridge, Capital International Airport

(From the Airport): Capital International Airport, SanYuan Bridge (SanYuanQiao), YuYang Hotel, Kunlun Hotel, DongZhiMen, DongSiShiTiao, ChaoYangMen, the west gateway of Beijing International Hotel

Route D :

GongZhuFen XinXing Hotel, AnZhenLi, BeiTaiPingZhuang, Capital International Airport

Route E :

WanFuJing Art gallery, SanYuan Bridge (SanYuanQiao), Capital International Airport

Beijing Subway

Beijing has an impressive, modern and very efficient subway train network; and it is still growing.

The subway is very cheap; aside from the airport line, there is a flat fee of just 2 yuan for any single journey, regardless of how many lines changes or number of stations passed.

For stations, look for the big light blue sign.


Beijing has three major railway stations: Beijing Railway Station (or the central station), the new Beijing South Railway Station, and Beijing West Railway Station. If you are in Beijing for some time, visit either of these stations to marvel at their huge size. Beijing West Railway Station has a large market style shopping area on one of the lower floors.

The central station at night

Beijing is a railway hub. There are railway lines from Beijing to GuangZhou, Shanghai, Harbin, Chengde (a beautiful and historical summer resort) and QinHuangDao (by the sea).

International trains, including lines to cities in Russia and Korea all run through Beijing. Direct trains to Kowloon, Hong Kong also depart from Beijing. Construction on a Beijing-Tianjin high-speed rail began on July 4, 2005 and is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

Sleeper cabins

In 2006, a new Beijing to Shanghai rail project was approved. This high-speed rail link, designed for speeds of up to 350 kilometers (220 miles) per hour, will stretch over 1,320 kilometers. It is expected to shorten train travel time between the two cities from 13 hours to less than five.

Now running is the $4.2 billion Beijing to Lhasa in Tibet line, which opened at the start of July 2006. This line has advances in both track and train to be the world's highest - the train is pressurized when crossing a 16,640-foot pass in Tibet's Tanggula Mountains, part of the Himalayas.


All taxis are metered - official taxis sporting red stickers on the window - you'll pay around Y10 for the first 4km and 1.6 yuan for each km thereafter. Always take a dual-language map with you, as many drivers don't speak English. Tipping isn't expected and generally you should not do so.

At some places, such as outside the Summer Palace, there are a few fake taxis - even though they have (possibly modified) meters. It's easy to identify them: real taxis have license plates starting with the letter 'B', whereas fake ones start with other letters, usually 'C', 'E', 'F', 'G' or 'J'. Also, look to see if the sign on the roof is permanently fixed. In general, do not take a taxi that is hanging around - real ones can easily get plenty of work.

If you find you hired a fake taxi and are overcharged, don't argue if you are alone, pay the driver and remember the car's license plate number, then call police later. Hence it is wise to always a carry a pen or digital camera. If you have a dispute with a normal taxi, take note of the driver's ID number from the dashboard and keep the receipt which has a complaint telephone number.

To avoid being taken advantage of, it is a good idea to know the rough direction, cost and distance of your destination. You can easily find this out from a map or by asking locals before calling a cab. Verify these values with the taxicab driver to show them that you are in the know, and are probably too much trouble to cheat.

Having said this, rogue taxis are rare.


There are over 600 bus routes in Beijing. If you are in Beijing for an extended period you will become familiar with routes that could serve you well.

The cost is 1 or 2 yuan depending on the luxury level, which depends not on on-board TV, but on air-conditioning. Not ideal for beginners, but a good idea for those who like a little adventure!


An enjoyable way to whizz around the city is by bike - not as foolhardy as it seems, because Beijing enjoys more dedicated cycle lanes than any other city in the world. And there are plenty of places to hire a bicycle throughout the city.

You can even join a guided bicycle tour and really get to discover all those secret alleyways and sidestreets you simply won't discover on your own. Although there are mountains to the west and north, the city itself is as flat as a pancake, so you have no excuse!

Beijing Guide