Transportation in China

You are likely to fly into China either with one of the international carriers or with Air China, which also flies several domestic flights. Other domestic companies include China Eastern Airlines, with Shanghai as a hub, and China Southern Airlines.

In the country, train and bus transportation are reliable ways of moving from region to region. Both infrastructures have been steadily developed in the last period of time. You can now ride the Guinness Records recognized Shanghai Malev Train, which goes at speeds of 268 mph, as well as bullet trains, both fast and not too expensive.

Buses are usually clean and affordable, although it is better to pay a couple of extra yuans to select a higher priced bus ride, which will likely have air conditioner and other amenities.

In the larger cities, the metro is a good alternative to surface transportation, but it should be avoided during the rush hour periods of 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm, when most of the people use it to get to and away from work. Buy a ticket from the ticket machine (where you will be happy to learn there are props in English to guide you), keep it for the ride, because you will scan it as you exit and pay attention when your station is announced (again, thankfully, in English as well).

Taxis are always a quick and relative cheap alternative in the larger cities to some of the transportation means we have talked about. In Beijing, the cost for a ride of 3 kilometers is 10 yuan, with everything over that distance being charged at 2 or 3 yuan (depending whether the ride is up to 15 kilometers or less than that) per kilometer. Similar costs for taxi rides are in Shanghai, while in Guangzhou or Guilin, this service is cheaper. You can get a taxi from the Beijing airport to downtown for about 100 yuan on average. Several things to remember when you are riding a taxi: the driver will likely not speak English, so materials such as maps or business cards will help get your message across as to where you want to go; always ask the driver to start the meter and demand a receipt at the end of the ride.

If you are brave enough, you always have the bicycle as the non-polluting alternative to all of the above (well, you can probably only ride it in the city). They are cheap and handy in the bustling urban traffic.