Getting round in Beijing

With a inhabitants simply shy of twenty-two million (and quick rising), one might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the thought of navigating a metropolis the dimensions of Beijing.

There’s the sheer magnitude and chaos of all of it, however the language barrier can also make it difficult for non-Chinese language audio system to find their method from A to B. However relaxation assured, not solely is Beijing a secure metropolis, it’s tourist-friendly too.

Right here you may discover loads of English signage to go together with a quick, low-cost and environment friendly transport system that makes getting round a breeze. Learn on for our greatest ideas for locating your method round this behemoth of a metropolis. 

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A few of Beijing’s extra central areas are made for strolling and supply a priceless alternative to have interaction in on a regular basis native life © Getty Pictures / iStockphoto


Beijing is an enormous, sprawling metropolis, so it’s not someplace you’d essentially describe as imminently walkable. That mentioned, among the extra central areas of Beijing are made for strolling and supply a priceless alternative to have interaction in on a regular basis native life. Getting misplaced among the many hutong’s labyrinth of alleyways is a quintessential Beijing expertise, for instance; for a deeper dive, join a half-day strolling tour with a good journey outfit resembling Bespoke Journey Co.

High Tip: Given Google Maps is blocked in China, Apple’s Maps is a extra accessible and correct choice for navigating Beijing’s streets.

Passengers at a Beijing subway station
Beijing’s subway is the world’s second-largest, linking up with all the metropolis’s premier sights and each of its airports © Shutterstock / testing


Whether or not dashing in from the airport or taking quick jaunts throughout city, Beijing’s trendy subway is each a quick and handy technique of getting about. Comprising 27 strains, it’s the world’s second-largest subway (behind Shanghai), and hyperlinks up with all of Beijing’s premier sights, in addition to each of its airports. It’s user-friendly too, with all signage, ticket machines and bulletins in English.

Fares vary from ¥3 to ¥8, relying on distance, so it’s low-cost as properly. It’s the world’s busiest subway, so count on issues to get crowded (particularly throughout morning and night peak-hour rush), and likewise keep in mind that traversing Beijing’s subway can contain a good bit of strolling – and much more so for those who select the incorrect exit! Trains run roughly 5am to 11pm.

High Tip: The subway web site has a visit planner, and there are additionally a number of apps with a helpful, interactive subway map.

Commuters and heavy traffic around Beijing's Guomao area during rush hour.
A brand new wave of cyclists is hitting the streets in Beijing, due to the rise of bike-sharing schemes, surging petrol costs and subway shutdowns throughout Covid © Shutterstock / testing


With its expansive community of devoted bike lanes and flat roads, Beijing is a good metropolis to discover on two wheels. Its bike tradition stems from a long time passed by, when it was often known as “the Bicycle Kingdom” – a time when cyclists took to the streets en masse in Mao fits moderately than Lycra, simply previous to automobiles and subway turning into the predominant modes of journey. Now we’re seeing a brand new wave of cyclists hit the streets, a pattern introduced on by the rise of bike-sharing schemes mixed with surging petrol costs and subway shutdowns throughout Covid.

Dockless bike-share apps come and go, however present choices embody Didi Bike, Hellobike and Meituan. Anticipate to pay round ¥1.5 to ¥2 per half-hour. To rent one, you’ll want a smartphone with a neighborhood SIM to obtain the app (frustratingly usually not in English) and to register utilizing your passport, as properly both WeChat or Alipay for fee – all duties which can be no imply feat for any short-term overseas customer. You probably have difficulties, employees at your resort or hostel can help, or make it easier to discover a bike elsewhere. 

High Tip: You’ll want to test brakes, pedals and seats earlier than selecting your bike, and at all times put on a helmet. 

Taxi and rideshare

These preferring the consolation and comfort of taxis or ride-share apps will likely be happy to listen to that it’s a reasonably inexpensive choice in Beijing. Nonetheless, the drawbacks are that you simply’ll need to put up with Beijing’s infamous visitors, and good luck looking for one if it’s raining!

Didi is the native model of Uber – barely cheaper than taxis and really helpful if in case you have a smartphone with information.

The fastened fare for taxis is ¥13 for the primary 3km and ¥2.3 per kilometer after that; charges are barely larger after 11pm. Make sure they use the meter, in any other case discover one other taxi. A taxi to the airport will price ¥90 to ¥140 to town middle (40 minutes to 1 hour), and is about ¥200 to Daxing Airport for the one-hour journey.

High Tip: For non-Chinese language audio system, it’s greatest to convey the title and handle of your vacation spot in Chinese language characters, and likewise your resort’s enterprise card to search out your method house once more.


Buses are a very good choice, each for many who like their experiences distinctly native and those that choose to have the ability to really see town – in contrast to when touring on the subway. It’s low-cost (¥2; half worth with journey card) and foreigner-friendly with English bulletins and indicators, but it surely’s a slower, more difficult choice in figuring out the place you’re going. Buses additionally run to each of Beijing’s airports. 

High Tip: Beijing’s sightseeing buses (1 and a couple of; coloured brown) do clockwise circuits of the Forbidden Metropolis, looping south to Qiánmén by way of Tian’anmen Sq. and the Temple of Heaven (¥15 per journey, ¥10 with a journey card).

Automobile and bike

Worldwide driving permits aren’t acknowledged in China, which just about guidelines out automotive leases for many overseas vacationers.

High Tip: Hiring a automotive with driver or taxi for the day is about the identical worth as renting a automotive, and a very good choice for these desirous to do day journeys to the Nice Wall or elsewhere in Beijing.

A rickshaw drives tourists around a Beijing hutong district during the Chinese Golden Week
Rickshaws are extra touristy, however they’re going to zip you round Houhai Lakes and the encircling hutong © Shutterstock / Jeff T Thomas


Different technique of getting round Beijing are extra touristy, resembling rickshaws that’ll zip you round Houhai Lakes and the encircling hutong (one hour, per particular person ¥100), You’ll additionally discover petrol- or battery-powered rickshaws that grasp round main vacationer sights and nightlife spots searching for fares, however they’re dearer than taxis.

Journey passes

In case you’re utilizing public transport, Beijing’s journey card (deposit ¥20) is a necessary buy, obtainable at any of the subway stations or bigger bus stations. You possibly can recharge them at most (however not all) subway stations and bus-station ticket kiosks.

Accessible transport in Beijing

Like all over the place on this planet, issues are at all times enhancing in Beijing for vacationers with disabilities, however there’s nonetheless an extended solution to go. Although many sights have ramps and subways stations have level-access platforms and elevators or stair lifts inside – particularly following each the 2008 and 2022 Paralympic Video games – not all are totally accessible. An growing variety of Beijing metropolis buses are wheelchair-accessible with a ramp offered on the rear door, however in any other case taxis will likely be your greatest method of getting round.

Without spending a dime downloads, together with a phrasebook and a common information to on-line sources, go to Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel portal.