Don’t Drive in Beijing—Take the Subway

Believe me when I say to avoid driving in Beijing (or taking a taxi) unless it is midnight and the city is sleeping.  According to Belinda Goldsmith writing for Reuters, Beijing is one of the three-worst cities to drive in.

We’ve been stuck in Beijing traffic watching the taxi’s meter adding yuan to the bill when we could have crawled faster.  The other choice is Beijing’s subway built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which we prefer. It’s fast and efficient. Wear a money belt though.

Beijing Subway Map

Guangzhou (once known as Canton by the West) subway map

Chongqing Metro Map

Shanghai Subway Map

Information about getting around in Xian

Last time we were in Xian, the subway system was under construction. I learned that of the four lines planned, line one is scheduled to be running by the end of 2013 and line two by the end of 2011.

According to Michael Wurth’s Blog, Xian was boring and “very” hot. Wurth talks about renting a tandem bike and riding it on the wide, ancient Xian city wall claiming to make the ride in under 4 minutes, which is surprising since the wall runs about 17 kilometers.  Personally, when we were on the wall, I enjoyed the experience but we were there in the Fall and the weather was perfect.  If you want to visit China, plan for the Fall or Spring and avoid any of China’s national holidays.

See Visiting Xian


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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4 Responses to Don’t Drive in Beijing—Take the Subway

  1. Interesting! I might be riding BART next week for a job interview. I wonder if the power of suggestion will make me feel alone as well. 🙂

    Pushing is the key to success during rush hour on the subway. Usually, I am carried off my feet and I wonder which part of my body will hit the ground next. I told my coworkers there was no need to press my suits anymore. All I need to do is take the subway and the wrinkles in my suit are squashed away! Haha!

  2. I completely disagree with Mr. Wurth that Xian is a boring visit. I thought it was completely fantastic! As a city, it still screams historical authenticity. There is too many wonderful streets to wonder down and find wonderful bbq food, ancient Muslim mosques, wonderful museums, the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Terracotta Warriors, and other amazing sights.

    Maybe it was the weather, but I went in February during the Chinese New Year and it was a bustling wonderful place to visit even then.

    Concerning the subway in Beijing, I agree! Especially because no matter where you travel the cost is always the same low price of 2 yuan. That’s pretty amazing.

    Guangzhou’s subway system is still developing, but has grown by leaps and bounds in preparation for the 16th Asian Games. However, I commuted for about a month before I gave up and moved closer to work. It is just terrible to commute on because of how many people are packing into each subway car. When it is hot and you are packed in with a bunch of people who don’t wear deodorant, and you don’t know if someone is touching you because you are being squeezed so tight that your feet are barely touching the ground is quite the alarming experience.

    But those are just my opinions!

    • When we take the subway in Shanghai or Beijing, and there were no seats available, I pushed my way into a corner and placed my back in that corner. All my valuables like passport, credit cards and money are in a money belt. My camera is in my hand–held tightly. And yes, when crowded, the subways in Shanghai and Beijing show what it must feel to be cramed to capacity into an elevator or a telephone booth. After our last trip, when I returned to the US and rode from the airport on BART to our home, I felt like I was alone in the BART subway car. All those seats and only one or two people. However, to be fair, I have been on BART during rush hour and it is standing room only but never as crowded as I’ve seen it get in Shanghai.

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