Guide to transport in China

Posted by on January 17, 2013

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Who said that a travel blog should only focus on tropical islands and luxury hotels? What travelers care most is to have all the necessary information in order to enjoy their trip. There is no better info than the transport guide to the most populated country in the world. The public transport system in China is quite efficient but it can be difficult to understand at first glance. I provide you with some advice from my own experience in China:

China Transport

China Transport

In Shanghai and Beijing several metro lines cross the city in all directions. It ‘s definitely the most easy means to avoid being stuck in rush hour traffic even if the trains are often crowded. The ticket the price of which varies depending on the stations covered is very cheap and only costs a few tenths of a euro. There are vending machines at each station where you have to select the point of departure and arrival (fortunately in English) and enter the amount. Be prepared to fight for your place on the car.

Hongkong Central Station

Hongkong Central Station

The taxi is a good way to get around town but at peak times it can become impossible to find a free one. Always get yourself a sheet with the address of the hotel, restaurant or museum written in ideograms otherwise you could not ever get there. In China it is mandatory to use the metro but sometimes someone will try to get smart and offer rates of the “ad hoc” to rip off a few euro. The cost is very low.

Shanghai Bicycles

Shanghai Bicycles

One can not miss experiencing the thrill of a ride in a rickshaw. To be suddenly immersed in a stream of bicycles, electric scooters, tricycles and wagons carrying and whizzing around the streets flush with the car and the bus is somewhat scary. A chaos of wheels and pedals that somehow goes without too much trouble.

High Speed Train

High Speed Train

China is crossed by a network of efficient high-speed trains. It’s a perfect means of transport. The trains are modern and clean and allow you to see the views of the Chinese countryside at 300 km/h. The difficulty lies in obtaining the tickets. They must be booked well in advance so you have to go to a station two or three days before and wait for at least 30 minutes and hope to find a spot: the system provides that the inhabitants of the city take precedence. As foreigners can not buy tickets online but you have to go to force the doors with the passport. If you do not speak the local language  things get complicated because communicating with employees is virtually impossible. We had the good fortune to have a Chinese friend who helped us in these situations but more than once we had to change our plans because the trains were fully-booked.

Hong Kong Buses

Hong Kong Buses

Bus

Bus

The bus is an experience a little off-limits to foreign tourists. If the system to book trains is cryptic, one for the bus is even more and does not always guarantee more places available. However it has its own charm. The prices are about half those of the trains but the times are increasing.

Chungking Train Station

Chungking Train Station

Given the vast distances to be covered, the air is often the fastest way. At least in theory because often they end up being hours late. Here the booking system is simple. Chinese companies have websites in English which, however, applies a higher rate or rather the rate is increased for those without a Chinese credit card. If you do not have any local friend you’ll have to pay a little more but prices are still acceptable. The advantage is that it allows the aircraft to plan ahead to avoid travel and exhausting queues.

China photos: Alexnadr Kamensky, James Sebright, JW Amsterdam, Lei Guo, Steve Forbes, bernard_in_va, Lou_in_China.

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