In China, subways are found only in metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Although the subway lines are not fully developed in mainland of China and the coverage is limited, it is still a convenient way to get around, as the subway takes you to the city’s major places where you can conveniently transfer to other means of transportation.
Taking the subway is also a good way to avoid frequent traffic jams, but please try to avoid it during rush hours (7– 9 AM / 5–7 PM) when the carriages are packed with people.
Taking the subway might not be easy due to language barriers, but you can overcome the difficulties and enjoy the riding experience by following the guidelines and tips below.
Guidelines for Taking Subway
Find the nearest subway station.
You can easily find the sighs of subway station for they are usually located in conspicuous places and have metro images and station names written in Chinese. English names are also provided most of the time.
Buy a ticket.
The ticket area is also easy to find in most stations. Simply follow the signs that lead you to the ticket area. You can buy the tickets from either a ticket machine or the ticket window.
The ticket machines are quick and easy. The screen presents you with a map of the metro lines marked with station names, luckily in both Chinese and English. Touch the screen and follow the instructions. After you’ve chosen your destination and paid the fare, the machine issues you a ticket. The ticket is a thin piece of plastic, like a credit card or a coin, or sometimes a slip of paper.
If you have difficulty with the machine, or the machine is not working, you can always buy tickets at the ticket window. Simply tell the clerk your destination, how many tickets you need, and pay the fare. You can also write the station names on a piece of paper beforehand to show the clerk.
Go through the ticket entrance.
Then follow the signs to get to the ticket entrance. Swipe your ticket over the scanner or insert your ticket into the slot, and then go thorugh the turnstile. Be sure to pick up your ticket before you leave the turnstile, as you might need to use it again at the station exit.
Go to the platform and wait.
You can find the platform by follow the escalators, stairs and the instructive sighs on wall. The trains on either side run in opposite directions, therefore you need to find out the correct train by locating the route indicator or by simply ask others for help.
Board the train.
As the well-known public rule in other countries, you have to let people get off the train first then get on when the train arrives and the door opens. Be prepared to board as soon as you can. When the train is about to depart, the light above the gate flashes and the buzzer rings as a warning. For your safety, if you still haven’t boarded by this time, please retreat to the platform and wait for the next one, which is only a few minutes away.
Get off the train.
Be careful to listen for your station to be announced. The announcement is made in both Chinese and English. It is better to have a rough idea of how many stops to go, and be prepared to move close to the door about one stop before yours. Once the door opens, disembark as soon as possible.
Exit the subway.
Follow the signs to the exit. Insert your ticket into the slot and go through the turnstile. This time, leave the ticket in the slot. Many stations have many exits, and there are signs showing the destination of each exit. If you are confused, ask others for help or simply go upstairs to get your bearings.
Be sure to get your ticket before you leave the turnstile when you pass through the ticket entrance, as you might need to use it again at the exit..
If the train is so crowded that you cannot board on train, please don’t worry. The next train is only a few minutes away.
Move close to the door before the stop you should get off, so that you can get off as quickly as you can.
Pickpockets hang out in subways. Don’t carry your on your backpack on the back, but in front of you, and keep an eye on it to ensure your valuables safe.