I always enjoy taking public transportation to and from the airport because it is inexpensive and fun.  When travelling abroad, public transportation is an opportunity to observe and interact with the local population.  It is a great introduction to the culture of a city.  Furthermore, the train or subway is often the fastest way to the city center because it avoids traffic jams that are all to common on airport expressways in many large cities.

Most major cities abroad also make it easy to use public transportation to and from the airport.  Beijing is no exception.  The Airport Express Train runs from Terminals 2 and 3 at Beijing Capitol Airport to Sanyuanqiao (line 10) and Dongzhimen (lines 2 and 13) subway stations in central Beijing.  These subway lines provide connections to all parts of Beijing.

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Airport Express route map

The Airport Express costs 25 Yuan, or about $3.75 compared to a taxi cost of 130 Yuan or about $19.50 to go to/from the airport to central Beijing.  Trains run every 10 minutes during peak morning and afternoon hours and every 15 minutes at all other times.  The first train from Dongzhimen leaves at 6:00 a.m. and the last train from Terminal 3 leaves at 11:10 p.m.

Departing from the Great Wall Sheraton, it is a two block walk to Liangmaqiao subway station on Line 10.  Signs on the subway and Airport Express are in English as well as Chinese.

Entrance to Liangmaqiao subway station

Liangmaqiao station is on subway line 10, which connects to the Airport Express train at Sanyuanqiao station.

Langmaqiao station

The fare from Liangmaqiao to Sanyuanqiao is 3Y or about $.50.  Tickets  for the subway can be purchased at a machine or at a ticket booth.

Beijing subway ticket machines

Attendants at the ticket booths speak some English.  When purchasing a ticket though it is a good idea to have a subway map and point to the station you want to buy a ticket for.

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Beijing subway ticket booth

Subway routes are displayed in the stations and on trains.  On the trans, the map has lights that show the exact location of the train making it easy to see what the next stops are.

Route display inside the train on Line 10. The red dot is the location of the train.

At Sanyuanqiao station signs direct riders from the subway to the Airport Express.

Connection to the Airport Express at Sanyuanqiao station

Like the subway, tickets for the Airport Express can be purchased at a machine or a ticket booth.  Once I had my ticket I went through the turnstiles to the platform on the lower level.

Airport Express platform Sanyuanqiao station

On the platform signs display the time and the time until the next train arrives.

Sign alternates between Chinese and English. Nine minutes until the next departure.

The cars are modern and clean.  The seats are comfortable.  The one deficiency is a lack of places to put luggage.  Travelling with a backpack and a carry – on was no problem.  In central Beijing the Airport Express is underground.  The majority of the trip however is on the surface

Airport Express train to Beijing Capitol Airport

American Airlines operates from terminal 3 at Beijing Capitol airport.  That is the first stop after Sanyuanqiao station.  It is only a 20 minute ride.  Much faster than driving.  After disembarking at the terminal, it is a five minute walk to the check in area.  Moving walkways assist in the journey.

If you like saving money, enjoy a bit of a challenge, appreciate an opportunity to mingle with the local population, and want to avoid traffic jams and adding to pollution problems, taking the Beijing Airport Express is a great experience..