Beijing's quick and efficient subway system is an excellent way to get about town. After operating for years with only two lines, the network is growing exponentially, with eight lines servicing the inner city, a further eight heading out into the suburbs, and several more due to open over the next few years.
Lines 1 and the newly expanded Line 6 run east–west across the city, stopping at tourist destinations such as Tiananmen Square and Beihai Park. Line 2 runs under the Second Ring Road, making it a good way to circle the city center. North–south Line 5 gives access to the Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven. Line 8 runs through the Olympic Village all the way down to Gulou, and Line 10 loops past such destinations as Sanlitun and the antiques market at Panjiayuan. In the west and south, Line 4 stops at the Summer Palace and also Beijing South station. The Airport Line connects the Dongzhimen interchange with the airport—now a 20-minute jaunt for Y25. The remaining lines are mainly used by commuters and are less useful for sightseeing.
Subway stations are marked by blue signs with a "D" (for ditie, or subway) in a circle. Signs are not always obvious, so be prepared to hunt around for entrances or ask directions; Ditie zhan zai nar? (Where's the subway station?) is a useful phrase, but sometimes simply saying ditie with an inquiring look may get you better results.
Stations are usually clean and safe, as are trains. Navigating the subway is very straightforward: station names are clearly displayed in Chinese and pinyin, and there are maps in each station. Once on board, each stop is clearly announced on a loudspeaker in Chinese and English.