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City Guides

See Beijing’s top attractions by subway

By Xinzhu Xiao

April 13

When planning a tour of Beijing, the subway could be the most effective means of transport. Here are several subway lines that can help you get around.

When planning a tour of Beijing, the subway could be the most effective means of transport. Here are several subway lines that can help you get around.

Line 1 

Beijing Subway Line 1 is the oldest and one of the busiest lines of the local mass transit rail network. Line 1 runs underneath Chang’an Avenue (长安街), the city’s grand east–west thoroughfare, right through the heart of Beijing with stops on either side of Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen East Station (天安门东站) is the stop for Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park, and National Museum. Leave from Exit C and you will see the National Museum of China flanking the eastern side of Tiananmen Square.

The museum, covering Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty, has a permanent collection of 1,050,000 items. Visitors can get free tickets with a valid ID card. If you have time, you can also visit the Great Hall of the People and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall.

Tiananmen Rostrum [Image Credit:]
Going the opposite way and emerging from the underground passage you will see the Tiananmen Rostrum. It opens at 8:30 a.m. and you can rent an audio guide to better understand the site.

Go forward about 500 meters and you will see the Forbidden City gate. It opens at 8:30 a.m., so queue up around 8:15 a.m. when the site is not too crowded for good photos.

National Grand Theater [Image Credit: VCG]
At the National Grand Theater you can enjoy a fabulous Peking Opera performance. It is Beijing’s largest such venue and is encompassed by a manmade lake that resembles a liquid halo when moonlit. The Peking Opera’s blend of makeup and masks, drama and history transports audiences to a time and place once forgotten.

Line 2

Beijing Subway Line 2, also called Ring Line, runs the rectangular shape of Beijing’s Second Ring Road, renowned as the boundary of old-Beijing city center.

Gulou Street Station (鼓楼大街站) is located on the North Second Ring Road, to the north of the Bell and Drum Towers.

The Bell and Drum Towers (钟鼓楼) are a group of ancient buildings located to the north of Beijing’s north-south central axis, where people struck the time in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

Shichahai (什刹海), located to the south-west of the Bell and Drum Towers, is a popular tourist spot. Take your time in this area and try the various local snacks to experience the real, traditional Beijing culture. If you are tired of walking, you can rent a bicycle or tricycle to visit the surrounding hutongs.

Yonghe Lama Temple [Image Credit:]
If you are interested in Buddhist culture, get off at Yonge Lama Temple Station (雍和宫站) and walk a short distance to see this magnificent and eye-popping Tibetan Buddhist temple.

Line 4

Take Subway Line 4 and get off at Beigongmen Station (北宫门站), leave from Exit D and keep to the left side of the road to reach the north gate of the Summer Palace, the largest and best-preserved royal garden in the world.

Stunning spring scenery of the Summer Palace [Image Credit: VCG]
Most people spend half a day there because there is so much to see. You can take a 10 minute boat-ride to visit an island temple, sit and watch a traditional Chinese performance in a restored theater, or explore the recreated traditional shops by the river.

Line 4 also takes you to the East Gate of Peking University Station (北京大学东门站). Visit Peking University and Tsinghua University and leave from the southwest gate of Tsinghua University. You can have dinner over there, there are many delicious exotic cuisines sold in the area.

Line 8

Subway Line 8, formerly known as the Olympic Branch Line (奥运支线), is a rapid transit line in northern Beijing. Get off at the Olympic Center Station (奥林匹克中心站), and you can walk to the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube from Exit B2. The Bird’s Nest is the Chinese National Olympic Stadium and Water Cube is the Chinese National Aquatics Center.  After 2008 Olympic Games, they have been public tourist attractions.

Indoor Water Park at the Water Cube [Image Credit: VCG]
It’s worth recommending the Indoor Water Park at the Water Cube, a place where you can have a lot of fun trying Tornado Rides, Bullet Bowl, Aqua Loop, Speed Slide, Kid’s Pool, Lazy River and Passion for Stage.

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