Navigating Beijing with a dated map can be a little bit like trying to rendezvous with someone on Alderaan, the mythical planet that gets blown up by the Death Star before Luke Skywalker can make it there in Star Wars. The city is changing so rapidly that streets and restaurants and entire city blocks that may have been there last year are now gone -- replaced in some cases by modern -- if not entirely authentic -- shops and wider streets.

(Post Beijing Olympics 2008) The underground train (also called the subway or underground dragon) in Beijing is clean, efficient, cheap, air conditioned, easily navigated in English, and can be the fastest and most convenient form of transportation within the city. There is one fare - 2 RMB (Yuan) - to ride anywhere in the city. They can move as fast as 70 km/hr, which seems like the speed of light when compared to the buses in town. The only complaint: they can sometimes get very crowded.
You can use Google Maps to get a rough idea of what subway station lies close to your destination. (Although be warned that Google's satellite view and street view of Beijing differ a bit from each other.) Better would be to download a map of the Beijing Metro/Subway on your smart phone or take out a print and keep it with you while moving around. You can actually get to any destination in Beijing without any problem , provided that you mark your route in advance. The names of the stations are written both in Chinese and Pinyin and the automated voice will annouce the name of the next station in English too. Moreover the LCD display also flashes the name of the next station in Pinyin and Chinese. There is NO way that you can miss your station in Beijing subway.

If riding a bus is necessary, make sure to take a few precautions.  They can be extremely crowded, so be sure to secure your personal belongings.  Women should always keep a close eye on purses, and men should store wallets in front pockets instead of rear (it’s much harder to steal a wallet from the front).  Buses generally take their time, which means that passengers require ample patience to stay sane.  With hundreds of routes, navigating from point A to point B is not always easy.  Plan a detailed transfer route before beginning a voyage.

Finding a taxi in Beijing is usually not a problem except at busy times when it becomes impossible.  There are many available throughout the city, but make sure to bring a map and know the desired destination because few drivers speak English.  And at least a few drivers can't find destinations even when you give them the street address... written down... in Chinese. Make sure that the driver turns on the meter. Most hotels have taxi cards available with major tourist destinations written in English & Chinese. As well as trips by the meter you can also negotiate a price with the driver for the whole day - your hotel doorman can help you translate to reach an agreeable price. The taxi will also have his taxi number displayed inside the taxi as well as a phone number of the company. When getting into a taxi after a big shopping day you may want to write these down in case you leave something in the taxi. These details are also printed on the meter receipt. You can flag taxi's down or wait at one of the designated pick up zones.

Although riding a bicycle is a great way to explore the city, don't plan on doing so unless you are a master of the bicycle and are prepared for some dicey navigating.  Visit Bike Hire for a list of companies renting bicycles in the area. It's cheap -- no more than USD $10 per day -- but you'll also be taking your life in to your own hands.

Two notes on Beijing street signs. The signs above an intersection indicate the street on which you are traveling, not the street over which you are crossing. Also, be sure to learn the Chinese words for "north," (Bei 北) "east," (Dong 东) "south" (Nan 南) and "west" (Xi 西) as they will help you differentiate streets that may appear to have the same name. Much of Beijing is laid out in a grid fashion and streets running east-west are signed in red letters on a white background; streets running north-south are signed in white letters on a green background. Both Chinese characters and Romanised words (Pinyin) are given for street names but accompanying directional arrows just show Chinese script. And while the word "hutong" may translate to "alley," some "hutong" streets are actually major thoroughfares. 

A word of WARNING to new arrivals regarding taxis. There is a lot of bad feeling generated recently by taxi drivers because of the way they are operated. Most taxis are not owned by their drivers and the meters are set by the regulating authority. The companies that own them charge the drivers too much, So much in fact it is really hard for them to make a decent living. Their frustration is usually taken out on "foreign" travellers whom they perceive to be rich. They will quote you a flat fare without using the meter that can be 20x what you should pay. This problem is most noticeable at night. Best advice is to brave the subway (it is easy to navigate as everything is bilingual) , you can get to most places for only 2RMB or if you have a Chinese guide try the bus, it is quite an experience! Just be aware of the taxi problem before you go out at night! 

Also be warned to not use the rickshaw motorcycles or bicycles that offer quick trips around famous areas of the city or to your destination. Some of these operators have been known to work in gangs. They offer to take you a short distance for a quoted low price. Once they have you and your partner in the backseat, they will stop, make one of you to get out into another rickshaw due to 'weight' issues. Now there are two drivers who take the tourists into back alleys. There they make you get out of the rickshaws, sometimes claiming your destination is right around the corner, and demand 300 yuan per person. They also stop about 100 metres from one another so that one doesn't know what the other is doing.  They may suddenly pull out a card showing the 300 yuan price and claiming the misunderstanding on language difficulties.  This scene can get quite verbally violent, with the outcome usually not beneficial to the tourists, who usually ends up paying more than they expected and then must find their way out of the back alley.  One pair of tourists ended up paying 20 yuan each for a 5 - 10 minute ride to basically nowhere.  Just avoid these rickshaws, regardless how respectable or friendly the driver appears.