Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is on a high-profile visit in Beijing this week, took a ride on the capital’s notoriously crowded subway on Tuesday and said he found it even more “crowded” than the Tube in London.

“It was not the peak hour, yet the traffic was comparable to the rush hour in London,” he said.

Johnson and his crew travelled on Beijing’s No 1 line from Xidan to Gongzhufen in the afternoon, a total of five stops, according to Chinese media reports. He was lucky enough to have secured a seat, after being hailed by curious travellers.

Yet Johnson admitted that he was impressed by the “orderliness” and “cheap cost” of the subway, where riders are charged a flat fare of 2 yuan.

“I’ve long heard that you take public transportation to work, and you get my full respect,” wrote a blogger.

A keen cyclist himself, Johnson pointed out in a speech he gave earlier this week in Beijing that Chinese visitors were attracted to London because of multiculturalism, fine universities and “beautiful communist bicycles”.