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Last updated : Nov 2009
Beijing Getting Around
Getting Around Beijing - TravelPuppy.com
Public Transport

The public transport system, particularly the bus system, is rarely tried by foreign visitors unless they can understand Mandarin Chinese. Travel by subway or taxi (see Taxis below) is definitely the best option.

City buses operate between 05:30-23:00 and are extremely crowded, especially during rush hours (06:30-08:30 and 17:00-19:00). There is also a limited night service between 23:00 and 05:30 hours. Fares of RMB1-2 within the city (up to RMB2-10 for suburban bus routes) are paid to the driver. Air-con buses in the city cost between RMB2-8 depending on distance travelled. It is very important to have the destination written in Chinese because the driver almost certainly will not speak English.

>Clean, fast and efficient, the subway (05:30-23:00) is an attractive alternative, however, be aware that the trains can be packed during rush hours. The subway has two lines: the East–West Line operates from Pingguoyuan to Sihui, and the Ring Line follows the Second Ring Road. Entrances can be located by looking for the logo of a square inside a ‘C’ shape and there is a flat rate of RMB3 for each trip. irrespective of distance travelled. Tickets can be bought from the ticket offices above the platforms and, as tickets are not dated and valid for all journeys, it is well worth buying a few at once to save queuing for every journey. However, by the end of 2002, individual tickets are due to be replaced with prepaid cards that will have to be inserted into a machine to gain access to the subway system. Announcements and signs are in Chinese and English.


Taxis are plentiful, metered and cheap. They wait near major department stores, hotels and train stations and can be hailed on the street. Taxis in Beijing are small, red hatchbacks or saloons (known as Xiali) and usually, the older and smaller the car is, the cheaper the fare. All taxis display a sticker in the back window that specifies the rate per kilometre, but the normal rate is RMB10 for the first four to five kilometres and RMB1.2-1.6 per kilometre thereafter. There is a 20% surcharge after 2300. It is vital to write the destination in Chinese as most drivers don't speak English. Taxis can be booked in advance through Beijing Taxi Co (tel: (10) 6852-4088).

is not expected but always appreciated.


CITS, CITS Building, Fuxingmennei Avenue (tel: (10) 6601-1122 or 8292) can organise limousines for US$90 per day within the city limits.

Driving in the City

Not many short-term visitors to Beijing attempt to drive there, as hiring a car is a difficult process, parking is a problem and car hire is restricted to the city limits. Visitors also need to have a Chinese driving licence, which can only be acquired by those holding a Resident’s Permit.

Driving regulations do exist, however they are regularly ignored and it is common to see aggressive lane-changing by buses and taxis or even traffic going the wrong direction on roads or roundabouts. Theoretically, traffic drives on the right but on smaller streets this is not always the case. Not many road signs are in English and it is important to be aware that in the case of an accident it will be assumed that the foreigner is at fault 100% of the time.

Car Hire

Visitors who want to hire a car in Beijing will have to hire a car and driver.

CITS, Fuxingmennei Avenue (tel: (10) 6601-1122 or 8292), and CTS, 2 Beisanhaun East Road (tel: (10) 6461-8959), can organise car hire with a driver and the cost per day in the city limits starts at US$50-60.

Hertz (tel: (10) 6595-8109) also have an office in Beijing at the Jianguo Hotel, 5 Jianguomenwei Avenue, however, cars still have to be rented with a driver for about US$90 per day.

Bicycle Hire

China has the most bicycles of any place in the world, it also has a huge supply of bicycle rental outlets. Although Chinese roads are unpredictable and at sometimes fairly dangerous, renting a bike can be preferable to relying on public transport. Bike lanes are on all main roads in Beijing, although these are occupied by thousands cyclists during rush hours.

Bicycles are available for hire from hotels, including the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wangfujing Dajie (tel: (10) 6513-3388), for RMB20 per hour; the Peace Hotel, 3 Jingyu Hutong (tel: (10) 6512-8833), for RMB40 per half-day; and the Palace Hotel, Jingyu Hutong (tel: (10) 6512 8899), for RMB10 per hour but free for their guests.

Shops are usually cheaper but rates can vary greatly. A deposit is always required.

Bicycles must be parked in the special bike parking areas, which are guarded and are very inexpensive (RMB0.20). Bringing one’s own cycle lock is recommended.
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