In the City
Beijing has an abundant bus network and private minibus routes, offering cheap travel to all parts of the city for between ¥1 and ¥2. It can be confusing since most services are only marked in Chinese but, as long as you can find the right bus number and show your destination to the driver, you should get where you want to go.
Bus travel affords a look at everyday Beijingers going about their everyday business, although services can be crowded and you should be wary of pickpockets.
Services numbered in the 800s are slightly more expensive luxury and tourist buses (¥3-10), which are air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter. If you have a student or working visa and will be using the buses a lot, you can buy passes at McDonalds and major bus terminals that allow unlimited travel on buses numbered below 400. Services run from and numbers 200-212 run through the night.
Some useful routes are as follows:
- Bus #52 – Beijing West Station (Xi Zhan) to Tian’anmen Square and along Chang’an Jie
- Luxury bus #802 – Beijing West Station (Xi Zhan) to Panjiayuan market
- Luxury bus #808 – Qianmen to the Summer Palace
Buses to Surrounding Sights
For buses out to sights such as the Great Wall it’s easiest to go on a tour or take a tourist bus, but there are also regular buses that depart from Dongzhimen Station on the eastern section of the second ringroad, Deshengmen in the north of the city and Pingguoyuan, way out west, all of which are connected by or close to the subway (see individual sights for listings). Tourist buses run from the Qianmen bus depot opposite Qianmen subway on Qianmen Dong Dajie.
Taxis come in a range of different colors and are abundant in Beijing, charging ¥10 for the first two kilometers (1.2 miles) and ¥2 per kilometer (0.6 miles) after this, but the city’s size makes it very easy to run up a meter fee of ¥40 and more.
Although Beijing has many times more cabs than equivalent-sized cities around the world, it can
still be difficult to find one when any of the capital’s manifold adverse weather conditions (rain, snow, sandstorm) hit. As private vehicle ownership increases, it is planned to nearly halve the number of taxis on the street, which will make competition at peak hours that much greater. In the run-up to the Olympics there is a program to help drivers speak English, but this seems to have had little impact as yet. You can also hire taxis for daytrips out to Beijing’s surrounding sights.
By Cycle Rickshaw
You’ll see cycle-rickshaws all over the city, but they have no meters so it can be very difficult for foreigners to get a fair price. Plus a ride through any of the city’s busier streets on these rickety little contraptions can be a hair-raising experience, so you’re better off in a cab. This said, three-wheelers make for a less perilous and fun jaunt around the old hutong areas, but beware that some wheelerdealer operators might try and take you for a ride, so establish a clear price at the beginning.
Although much of the modern city is over-run by traffic and flyovers, bicycles are still used by millions of Beijingers and there are quieter areas definitely worth exploring by bike. Standard bikes can be rented from backpacker hostels and outside some subway stations for as little as ¥10 a day, but major hotels and places at tourist sights will charge more. If you’re planning on heading to some rougher terrain, it’s worth renting a mountain bike, which can be arranged through Cycle China, who also runs bike trips in and around Beijing.
By Car & Motorbike
Unless you live here, driving in Beijing isn’t an option and, even if you do, negotiating its traffic-choked streets is easier in a cab. For tourists, options are limited to hiring a car with driver, which can be arranged through the major hotels or Hertz, who have outlets at the Jianguo Hotel (see p. 208; _ 010-6595-8109) and the Lufthansa Center at 50 Liangmaqiao Lu (_ 010-6462-5730). Far more fun and an option open to tourists is to rent a motorbike sidecar for a spin into the surrounding countryside. Bikes, guides, insurance and license can be arranged through CJ Motorcycle Club.
Getting to Beijing
The Forbidden City
The Temple of Heaven
The Summer Palace
Tian’anmen Square and Hutong
Jingshan Park, Shichahai, & Tibetan Lama Temple
Other places of interest in Beijing
Around Beijing : The Ming Tombs
The Great Wall, Great Wall pictures
The Western Hills
Zhoukoudian & Peking Man Site
The Qing Tombs
Chengde , Bishu Shanzhuang
Shopping in Beijing
Beijing Opera, Shows, and Nightlife
Beijing Travel Guide homepage
China Travel guide homepage