Guangzhou subway system is the backbone of the city. It stretches far out in the suburbs even to the nearby city of Foshan and connects Guangzhou Baiyun airport to the three major railway stations (Guangzhou East train station for trains to Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Guangzhou South train station for destinations on the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed rail line and the downtown old train station for the regular slow trains) and the bus terminals of Tianhe, Jiaokou. In addition, most of the tourist sites and places worthy of visit are located near or within walking distance of a subway station.
All the stations have detailed maps in English and Chinese with clear directions to the most important landmarks and buildings as well as a list of the connecting bus lines in the immediate surroundings. There is no way to get lost.
Ticket and Fare Price
Guangzhou subway fare price is calculated according to the distance you cover. The further you go, to more you pay. Maximum fare is 14 RMB, however for short trip in the city’s core urban district average fare never exceed 5 RMB.
Depending on your usage of the subway system and the amount of time you spend in Guangzhou, you have four options.
- Single ticket (单程票)
Available from the vending machines. Press English on the right-hand side of your screen and buy as many tickets as you want. One ticket is valid for 4 hours.
- One day pass （一日游）
It costs 20 RMB and allows you to ride the subway system without limitation for 24 hours after the first use of the ticket.
- Three day pass （三日游）
It costs 50 RMB and allows you to ride the subway system without limitation for 72 hours after the first use of the ticket.
- Yangcheng Tong （羊城通）
The Yangcheng Tong is a rechargeable card that gives you 5% off discount for the first 15 subway or bus rides and an extra 40% after the 16th ride (within a calendar month).
Buy single tickets directly from the vending machines. One-day, three-day passes and the Yangcheng Tong (羊城通）are available and rechargeable (充值) at the subway stations’ convenience stores and the Tiantian Xiyi laundry places (天天洗衣) which harbor a ‘羊城通直销’ sign.
The so-called ‘customer service centers’ are useless and the label is misleading. In fact the’Customer service centers’ do not provide any type of service or any assistance whatsoever to customers. I am still trying to find out what’s their purpose.
Handy subway map
For those afraid to get lost, there is a free Guangzhou Subway app available via the Apple store. The app consists essentially in calculating the shortest route and fare price between two stations.
The app is in English and has all the subway stations name in English. Useful for those who don’t read Chinese.
Guangzhou Subway Etiquette and Rush Hour behaviour
The good (or bad thing) about Guangzhou subway is that there is no obvious subway etiquette.
- In the escalator, the standard ‘stand on the left, walk up/down on the right’ common in large cities is non-existent.
- When getting off the trains, many people barge their way in and push exiting passengers back inside.
- Unfortunately, the construction of the subway system and the extension of existing subway lines did not take into account the population growth of the city and during rush hour there are no obvious queues on platforms and the only way to enter or exit a train is by pushing your way in or out.
- Although most passengers have a rather civil and harmonious behaviour (文明和谐), a minority of Guangzhou subway users do lack common sense and act like they are the only ones.
In spite of a few shortcomings and unruly passengers’ behaviour, Guangzhou subway is still the best way to get around fast and cheap. Now it’s your choice to get stuck in the back of taxi during the rush hour messy traffic jam or rough it up underground.