Chengdu is the newest tier one city in China, with a population of more than 21 million. Living and working in this this massive metropolis of a city was made all the more convenient by its remarkable rapid transit system, making the city easy to travel, commute and navigate. We are of course talking about the Chengdu Metro which serves an estimated 8 million trips per day. There’s literally a metro station every 15/20 minutes away that can take you to some of the hottest tourist attractions in Chengdu. Let’s find out more!
The Chengdu metro is relatively new with the first line opening in 2010 and now it has more than 12 lines in operation with a total length of more than 500km, making it the fourth longest metro system in the world, and there is more expansion to come. Each station feels modern and clean using state of the art technology, with excellent designs that fuse traditional and modern China. Speaking of technology, you cannot skip line 9, the first fully automated and unmanned metro line in western China. It’s worth going to the front so you can see through the window into the underground.
Each metro line has its own designated colour. Line 1 is dark blue, line 2 is orange, line 3 is magenta, line 4 is green, line 5 is purple, line 6 is brown, line 7 is sky blue, line 8 is chartreuse, line 9 is earth yellow and so on. The cool part about Chengdu’s metro is each station has its own unique design and style, sometimes combining ancient Chinese elements, creating a different feel and experience each time.
My personal favourite station is Jinsha Site Museum station of line 7, named after the world-famed museum it is close too. I like it not because of its convenience to the museum but also because the station uses murals to recreate various life scenes of ancient Shu people, including casting, poettery and jade making. This station is of course specifically deisnged for the Jinsha site and also features themes of sun birds and green jade pillars. As soon as you step off the metro you’ll feel the vivid world of ancient Shu culture.
What’s more the Chengdu metro is very easy to use and very convenient for tourists and foreigners with bilingual signs featuring English along with Chinese. And if you need assistance there’s always staff in the kiosk or I’m sure a local Chinese will be willing to help. You can find ticketing machines easily in each station and they come with an English option too. You just choose your destination and the machine will calculate the cost, then you can pay by cash or via mobile payment e.g. WeChat or Alipay. The price starts from 2 RMB and will increase according to the distance you travel.
If you’re here for the long-term I’d recommend getting Tianfu Tong Travel Card and then you can top up your card once a month to use on the metro just to save time. Usually these are available from the kiosks of major metro stations or at the airport. After staying in the city for a while, you will start to notice that most people don’t use a physical ticket or card, they just use their phone to pay for the ticket, via scanning the QR code on your phone. This is a little more advanced, to do this, you will need to download the app called Tianfutong or your can access the transport section of Alipay if you have it, this way you can get some discounts on your travel costs.
We hope this has given you a rough idea of Chengdu’s amazing metro system and we look forward to welcoming you to explore Chengdu via its metro. If you do have any questions related to this topic or on teaching English in China, please drop us an email at [email protected]