Transportation in China is actually quite efficient for a country so vast, with a series of planes, high-speed trains, and buses. Within cities in China, there are numerous options for local public transportation including taxis, bicycles, and buses. But one of the most popular ways to get around big cities is to use the subway in China (sometimes called the metro).
Major cities such as Beijing, as well as smaller cities like Hefei, have their own subway system. The China subway is quite easy to use. You will find signage all around town pointing to the subway, and maps of the subway system. Signage and maps are also in English, and all of the stops are noted in both Chinese characters and Pinyin (a latin alphabet spelling of the Chinese words). This way, non-Chinese speaking individuals can navigate the subway system in China quite easily.
The subway in China is surprisingly modern, since they are relatively new, and the trains and stations are clean and quite orderly. During peak periods, you will often see staff and security around the trains to assist you, if you need them.
When it comes to buying a ticket for the subway in China, there are a couple ways you can do it. Firstly, there are ticket machines available at the entrance which also have an English button non-Chinese speakers can use. Simply choose the English option, select the line number and then tap your destination on the map to see the price. Insert your money, and your ticket will come out.
If you plan to be in the city for a while, you can also go to the customer service window and buy a metro card. This way, you can put a larger amount of money on it and not have to buy individual tickets each time.
Sometimes, it's just better to see for yourself. So we've partnered with one the schools that we work with, First Leap, to create this useful video for you. Collin, a teacher at First Leap, will take you on a tour of the subway in his city, Hefei. Click below to watch it on YouTube.
Below are links to some of the biggest and most popular subway systems for visitors and expats living in China. Click on any of them to learn more and explore each subway system further. Many of these systems also have a SmartPhone app that you can download for free as well, which will give you additional information and an offline map that you can use during your visit. Another app that may be helpful is MetroMan