Let’s go for a ride !

On July 11, 2012, in Beijing, Getting Around, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Getting around the Chinese capital city is not that convenient since it is continuously growing. I think that taking subway is the fastest and the best value for your travel to Beijing, even if you have to line up to access to the platform (and line up again to get in the train) at peak […]

Getting around the Chinese capital city is not that convenient since it is continuously growing. I think that taking subway is the fastest and the best value for your travel to Beijing, even if you have to line up to access to the platform (and line up again to get in the train) at peak time. But subways stations are quite far from each other, and closes from 10:45pm until 5:30am, so if you want to go somewhere you’ve never been before or go home late at night the better would be taking a taxi. There are more than 70,000 legitimate taxis working in town. Hailing taxis is an art, so here are my advices not to waste time waiting for it and not to be fooled during your Beijing tour.

How to recognize them ?


Beijing cabs are green, blue, white, or black with a large yellow stripe, it differs according to the company. On every cars of one of those companies you can find a meter and a big lever behind the rear-view mirror to start or stop the meter. When the meter is on, a small red sign behind the windshield appears or lights up at night, and the taxi top light turns off. Moreover on the dashboard in front of the passenger’s side a placard with the driver’s registration number and name is stuck, every official taxi displays their license in front the passenger seat. Other thing, all Beijing cab license plate begins with “京B”. But be careful, Beijing is full of black taxis, make sure of all the details above before enter in one of those cars. Some are just random cars with a little red signal, other really looks like real ones in the appearance but they can’t give you a printed receipt, just a hand written one, so you should always asks fabiao 发表 (give receipt) before he starts driving.

How much is it ?

On daytime (from 5am to 11pm), the meter starts at 10RMB which equals to 3km, and then it’s 2RMB for each additional kilometer, and 3RMB charged for each additional kilometer after 15km. And from midnight until 5 in the morning, the meter starts at 11RMB for 3km, it costs approximately 0.5RMB more than on daytime for each additional kilometer. Stops due to traffic lights or traffic jam will be charged too, each 5 minutes will counts as a kilometer.

Other tips

First, you should know that empty taxis can’t refuse to take passengers, fix a certain amount of money for the ride before driving, or not to give you a receipt. Second, Chinese taxi drivers can’t speak English, they can’t even read pinyin, so if you don’t know how to say the name or the address in Chinese of your destination, make sure you have it written in Chinese with you. Thirdly, avoid taking a taxi at rush hour from 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning and 16:30-19:30, you will waste your time and stuck in the traffic jam. Hailing some cabs while it’s raining or snowing and in the middle of a highway is very difficult too, you’ll probably have more chances to hail some near the crossroads or just to be patient. And one last thing, you can ask the driver to put the radio on to spend a comfortable moment, I always ask for 88.7 (babachi) the China Radio International hits radio station.

I hope that this article could make you enjoy convenient taxi rides in you China travel !

Tagged with:  

Discovering China by Railway

On May 25, 2012, in Tips & Ideas, Transportation, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Travelling by train in China is often a convenient and fast way to get around on your China Tours and usually train tickets are a lot cheaper than airfare. Not all routes are super quick but if you travel overnight and you can get some rest on the way you don’t really lose time and […]

Travelling by train in China is often a convenient and fast way to get around on your China Tours and usually train tickets are a lot cheaper than airfare. Not all routes are super quick but if you travel overnight and you can get some rest on the way you don’t really lose time and you can even safe one night’s accommodation. Other positive aspect about travelling by train is that you get to see more of the countryside and personally I think it’s an interesting part of any china travel experience.

One thing about train tickets is that you can’t buy them more than ten days in advance, so depending on the length of your stay you might not be able to buy the return ticket before your departure. For popular routes and especially on national holiday weekends tickets sell out quickly, so make sure to get your tickets early enough. You can buy them either directly at the train station or at special train ticket offices where you will be charged an extra 5 RMB service fee per ticket. If you don’t speak any Chinese and want to make sure to get the right ticket you should probably book it thorough a travel agency. They will also charge you a service fee but it makes things easier and safer for yourself. To buy tickets you will have to present the passports of all travelers.

The bigger cities usually have several main railway stations, so make sure you know which one to go to. Some are very modern and in many ways more like an airport than a train station and very big but well-organized. The train rides are announced on the boards and by speaker (most of the time in Chinese) and you have designated waiting areas for your train ride just like on airports. At the railway station and on the train itself you can always get boiling hot water, so you can enjoy a tea at any time of your trip and instant food where you just need to add hot water and stir is very popular. You can get food at the railway stations and usually also on the trains, most have a dining car, but it’s still best to bring your own food, just in case. During the ride you should always keep your ticket with you because you’ll have to present it more than once during your journey, often again when you get out of the train station once you’ve arrived. Before entering the train you will also have to present your passport which you have used to book the ticket.

There are different train ticket categories: hard seats (might sound uncomfortable although they are just like normal train or plane seats), soft seats (first class seats, softer, bigger and with more leg room) and then there are two different ‘bed’ categories, called hard sleeper and soft sleeper. Hard sleeper compartments are open and have six bunks; sheets and pillows are provided. It can be noisy at times but still this way of travelling is very cost effective. The soft sleeper category is more comfortable with only four bunks in separate compartments with a door towards the aisle. Depending on your budget and your need for comfort you can choose which train category is best or if you still prefer the China Flights.

Tagged with:  

Shanghai: On the Bus

On May 3, 2012, in Shanghai, Tours, Transportation, by Jack Li

Travel to Shanghai and you will realize it is not too dissimilar from London or New York in terms of its cosmopolitan charm (and the occasional need to carry an umbrella). The city presents a blend of East and West with its Asian food, modern brands and strong European influence in much of its architectural style. Just […]

Travel to Shanghai and you will realize it is not too dissimilar from London or New York in terms of its cosmopolitan charm (and the occasional need to carry an umbrella). The city presents a blend of East and West with its Asian food, modern brands and strong European influence in much of its architectural style. Just by looking at the trees lining the streets, anyone who has been to France will surely be able to make associations with Shanghai. A bus tour may sound like a cliché activity for any newcomer to a major city, but it can still be an effective way to learn about a destination relatively quickly, especially if your stay is short before departing on your Shanghai flights.

The good things is, most tour buses operate a hop-on-hop-off service which means you can see the whole city at your leisure without the arduous task of feeling obliged to sit there for potentially three hours. The open-topped roofs of the buses are half covered, so the back of the bus is left open. Despite the event of finding a wet seat from the rain; the back of the bus is, arguably, where the best views can be seen as you there is no window to hamper photo-taking. The company you meet on the bus often makes the tours a more memorable experience, for better or for worse. Unfortunately my audio did not work on one seat so, naturally, I moved to another with the result being the person next to me falling asleep on my shoulder – fun!

People’s Square acts as the bus route change-over which is ideal if you want to browse some shops before jumping on your next tour with the buses departing every thirty minutes. However, (from personal experience), it’s useful to remember where you put your (paper-thin) ticket and headphones for the next tour. Without the discomfort of listening to a tour guide throughout the tours, bus rides can be a very relaxing affair. All you need to do is switch on your audio set into the seat in front, select the language of your choice and enjoy the ride.

Overall, Shanghai tours are an convenient way to reach areas which are difficult to see via the subway. The spiralling Nanpu Bridge interchange, for example, is a thrilling section of the city which can best experienced on a tour. I sometimes found that the audio was out of sync with the actual landmarks, but on the whole it is easy to follow the descriptions. Besides the seeing the marvellous sights of The Bund with the Oriental Pearl Tower as the centrepiece; the tours passes lessen known features of the city like the former residence of Sun Yat-sen.

 

 

Ready – ‘Steady’ – Go!

On May 2, 2012, in Beijing, Getting Around, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

With the rapidly increasing number of vehicles on Beijing’s roads controlling traffic has become a real challenge. Even building new roads and extending the subway system still can’t cope with the rapidly growing number of road-users. When you travel to Beijing you will certainly see a difference to many other big cities. The best way […]

With the rapidly increasing number of vehicles on Beijing’s roads controlling traffic has become a real challenge. Even building new roads and extending the subway system still can’t cope with the rapidly growing number of road-users. When you travel to Beijing you will certainly see a difference to many other big cities. The best way to experience it is probably to try out as many ways of transportation as possible on your Beijing Tours. And taking a taxi can really be exciting!

Within the last years Beijing Municipal Government has made some adjustments in an effort to reduce traffic jams and increase the average speed on the road. Introduced as a temporary measure in July 2008 for the Olympic Games all private cars were banned for one out of the five weekdays according to the last digit of their number plates to improve the air quality and the traffic situation. After positive results of these measures this system has been extended and is still in effect today.

 

When you find your way around in Beijing’s traffic it might seem that there are a lot fewer rules and people just go whenever they want. But that’s not quite true. In general, more important than the rules and traffic signs are the things going on around you. There is not just a lot of traffic; there are also all kinds of vehicles… and lots of pedestrians. There are cars, many of them taxis, buses, bikes, rickshaws, motorcycles and in rare cases even carriages and everybody is determined to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

 

So here is some general advice for people new to Beijing:

1. If you want to get around the city center during rush hour times, between 7 and 9 am and again from around 5 to 7 pm taking the subway is usually the better choice compared to taking a taxi. In many places even walking can be faster than going by car. There are times when traffic at the Second Ring Road just doesn’t move at all. The subway is also very crowded but it still won’t get caught in traffic jams and many subway lines go nearly every minute during rush hour.

2. Keep your eyes open and look into every direction before you cross a road. Even if the pedestrian traffic light is green other vehicles usually go first. They are not only stronger but also faster, so watch out for bikes, motorcycles and cars in the turning lanes!

3. Just like green doesn’t mean you get to go first, red doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wait. If there is no traffic or a big gap between the cars, why should you waste your time waiting? Just walk depending on the situation and not so much depending on the color of the traffic lights.

4. On roads with several lanes it’s not unusual for people to walk to the middle of the road when there is a gap in the oncoming traffic and then wait in between the lanes with cars all around for an opportunity to cross to the other side.

5. Honking is used more as a warning, or to get people’s attention, as a ‘watch out, here I come’, and usually not meant in an offensive way or as a reaction to bad driving of another road user. And in Beijing you’ll hear a lot of honking!

6. If you’re not sure how to behave, you can learn all the tricks from the locals. Just observe, follow the others and learn.

The way traffic works is probably not better or worse than in other places, just different and a lot more flexible. Not all bigger Chinese cities have a subway system, so that’s a big advantage of Beijing’s public transportation. You’ll see some differences between Chinese cities if you take the opportunity to go on China Tours. In any case, some patience helps but Chinese traffic is not a problem but an experience!

Drifting on the Beijing Subway

On April 11, 2012, in Beijing, Getting Around, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

In every bigger city in the world there is a subway system and in general they are not that different from each other. But it still needs some getting used to, to find your way around. In most cases it’s a rather cheap, fast and easy way to get around town because it’s pretty much […]

In every bigger city in the world there is a subway system and in general they are not that different from each other. But it still needs some getting used to, to find your way around. In most cases it’s a rather cheap, fast and easy way to get around town because it’s pretty much independent of weather and traffic conditions. When you travel to Beijing you’ll see that the subway system is, unlike some other cities, quite modern, clean and easy to use. When you go on one of the Beijing tours you can experience travelling by bus and being on the road. Taking the subway offers different opportunities and another view of Beijing. If you haven’t travelled by subway you’ve missed one part of the Beijing experience.

One of the hardest parts might be getting the ticket because the machines are quite easy to use but there is no English version. All lines have different numbers and different colors, so if you know the name of your stop in Chinese characters it’s not difficult to use. On the top part of the touch screen you can find all lines, line 2 being the most important one, going in a circle around the center of the city. If you click on it the screen it will show you all stops of this line. By clicking on your stop it tells you the price and you can insert the money. To pay you can either use 1 ¥ coins or 5, 10 or 20 ¥ bills. But pay attention, some machines don’t give change so you have to insert the exact amount. If you don’t have any change or only 1 ¥ bills you can also get a ticket at the ticket booth.

The tickets are only valid for a short period of time after you buy them, so you shouldn’t buy more than you need exactly at that time. Another option instead of the single tickets is a rechargeable ticket card which you can also get at the ticket booth. You have to pay a 20 ¥ deposit for the card and then you can put the amount of money you need on it (10 ¥, 20 ¥, 30 ¥…). When exiting the subway the machine will show how much is left on your card.

One thing that might come unexpected is the security check before entering the gate and the number of police officers. Your bags will be scanned or for smaller handbags and during busy times you can present it opened to the officer. To enter the gate you need to hold your card against the machine to open the barrier.

Once you’re at the gate you just need to find the right direction but there are maps with all the stops in characters and English names. Usually the trains for one line are on one gate right opposite each other going to opposite directions. On the train you’ll find maps above all doors indicating all stops and the transfer lines. Those maps are in English and Chinese and so are the announcements for the next stop.

When you exit the subway you first need to decide which exit to take. There are up to four different ones, A, B, C and D, indicating the direction, e. g. south-west. If you take the wrong exit you might have to cross the road to get where you want, but in general the exits are not that far from each other. To get out you need your card again, if it’s a single trip card you need to insert it, the rechargeable cards only need to be swiped again at the barrier.

At rush hour times, for example on a Friday afternoon, it can happen that at the crowded stations in the center of the city one entrance is closed and only serves as an exit so you need to go to another entrance to get in. That way there is a one way system underground to bring some order into the crowded place. Not only in Beijing but also in other cities, if you travel to Shanghai or Xi’an for example, you’ll see how many people can actually fit into the subway trains. At busy times they are really packed with people and even if it looks full, you’ll still find a way to fit in.

Tagged with:  

The Survival Guide to the Beijing Subway

On September 6, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Getting Around, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

  The Beijing subway is the one of the most surreal experiences I have ever come across on my Beijing Tour. It is the 5th busiest in the world and currently consists of 14lines and some 209 miles of operating lines which intends to keep growing until 2015. The busiest line, Line 1, cuts through the entire […]

 

The Beijing subway is the one of the most surreal experiences I have ever come across on my Beijing Tour. It is the 5th busiest in the world and currently consists of 14lines and some 209 miles of operating lines which intends to keep growing until 2015. The busiest line, Line 1, cuts through the entire city centre, including stations at Tianenmen Square and Guomao (where the notorious Silk Market is based). On 4th March 2011, a record breaking 6.82million people rode the subway. Getting to a subway station is very easy as most Beijing Hotels and landmarks are close to one. There are 172 subway stations across the city and 2 further lines are to open in 2012

 

 

Tickets & Security

You can either pay for each ticket individually or invest in a Beijing subway card (similar to a London Oyster Card) which can also be used on buses. A return on the subway is 2RMB no matter how far you are going. Before paying for your ticket, you place your bags on the conveyor belt, similar to that of airports to scan your bags for suspicious items. The subway is one of the very few places in Beijing where you are not allowed to smoke.

 

 

 

Rush Hour

Rush hour in Beijing is what the Beijing subway is most known for. There are mass amounts of people crammed into trains, to the extent that there are specialised security officers to push people into the train, making everyone packed like sardines, similar to that seen on the Tokyo subway. There are ways in which you can avoid these busy times (by avoiding major lines such as line 1 or avoiding traveling at that time completely) but it something to experience by those who want a grasp of everyday life in Beijing.

 

 

 

Tips to Enjoy your Subway Ride

Be safe – As for any subway, use your common sense. Keep all bags zipped and valuables hidden and just keep your subway card in your pocket to avoid rummaging in your bag at the station.

Push – In Western culture, we are prone to queuing – this is not the case in Beijing. Pushing will get you places teamed with shouting ‘ràng yī xià’ which means ‘Please move’.

Get a good spot – The quietest spots on the subway are normally the middle carriages, if you are stuck in a busy carriage, getas far away from the doors as possible to stop being pushed from every possible angle by the large amount of people getting on and off the tube.

Be prepared – When the doors open for the station before you are due to get off, get as close to the door as possible to avoid the struggle at your actual stop and missing your station.

Occupy yourself – On longer subway trips, kill some time by reading a newspaper or talking to a friend to make the journey a little faster.

 

China travel is something to be experienced by all everyone so hop on a subway and visit all the sights of Beijing in a fast, cool and cost-effective way!

 

Tagged with:  

Beijing Train system

On October 20, 2010, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Getting Around, Transportation, by Jack Li

Taking a trip on the subway is a must for anyone who wants to experience real Beijing, It’s very easy to navigate with signs and online announcements in English and Chinese. Also onboard some of the newer modern trains there are LED displays which indicate the current position or the train. I would suggest for […]

Taking a trip on the subway is a must for anyone who wants to experience real Beijing, It’s very easy to navigate with signs and online announcements in English and Chinese. Also onboard some of the newer modern trains there are LED displays which indicate the current position or the train. I would suggest for those people who want to avoid getting squashed or the claustrophobic among you to avoid rush hour as this is the busiest time on the subway and when I say busy I mean it you cannot move and its really hot!  I think Chinese people missed the memo about personal-space!

The subway Train

The subway system is the oldest and busiest subway in mainland China, however it has recently undergone a major revamp and extension mainly thanks to the olympics. There are currently 11 lines in operation with 100 stations servicing 5 million people daily. The extension work is still ongoing estimated completion 2015, the planned work will allow a whopping 3million more people to get the train and will be 561 km of track making it bigger than most other major cities including London and New York. On April 30, 2010, the subway delivered a record 6.4 million rides making it the busiest of its kind.

The subway is very cheap at a flat far rate of only 2.00RMB regaurdless of where you go or how many changes are made. Apart from the newly installed airport Express which costs 25 RMB one way, children below 1.2m in height ride for free when accompanied by a paying adult. If you are staying in Beijing for a long period I would suggest to get a top up card for the subway. This card will make it easier and quicker to multiple trips. It is 20 RMB deposit which is refundable plus whatever amount you want to top up the card with. This can be very useful as sometimes during rush hour the line to get tickets can be up to an hour long.

Waiting for the train

The subway is very reliable and can be very useful when in a hurry especially at rush hour, it beats getting on the road and can be much faster than a taxi. Keep in mind the subway is generally closed after midnight, unless some special occasion prompts extended operating hours.The first trains depart terminals at around 5 am and the last leave at around 11 pm on some lines this can be as early as 10.30pm. For precise hours and frequency of service, check the official schedule.

The Beijing Subway system is also a great for anyone who is on a budget and wants to do some cheap sight seeing as it does connect some of the major tourist destinations such as Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City, Wangfujing, the Lama Temple,  the main train station and the Olympic Park.

Beijing subway map


Beijing’s subway lines generally follow the checkerboard layout of the city. Most lines run parallel or perpendicular to each other and intersect at right angles

If this account has inspired you to want to travel Beijing but don’t know where to start for some great low cost travel idea’s go to China Tours. Or if you need advice on hotels go to China Hotels

Tagged with:  

More trains to Lhasa in time for summer demand

On July 5, 2010, in Lhasa, Tours, Transportation, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Travel agents in Shanghai have hailed the increase in the frequency of direct trains between Shanghai and Lhasa as demand for tours to the Tibet Autonomous Region increases. From today, there will be a train departing at 8 pm daily for Lhasa from Shanghai Railway Station, arriving two days later. Previously, there was one train […]

Travel agents in Shanghai have hailed the increase in the frequency of direct trains between Shanghai and Lhasa as demand for tours to the Tibet Autonomous Region increases.

From today, there will be a train departing at 8 pm daily for Lhasa from Shanghai Railway Station, arriving two days later. Previously, there was one train every two days. The most expensive berth costs around 1,400 yuan ($209), and the cheapest seat 406 yuan ($60).

Summer is the best season for visiting Tibet, according to an agent surnamed Liu from Shanghai Travel Agency, and the newly-added trains could bring a 20 to 30 percent hike in the number of Tibet package tours his agency sells.

“Most of our customers choose to take the train to Tibet not only because it’s cheaper than flying, but also as a way to gradually adapt to the higher altitude,” Liu said. “The scenery along the route is also very beautiful.”

Travel agencies in Shanghai offer tours from six to 12 days in length, at prices of up to almost 6,000 yuan ($896).

According to information on the Lhasa Railway Station website, trains from Shanghai to Lhasa in the next two weeks are fully booked.

The 40 hotels in Tibet listed on Chinese travel booking website Ctrip.com have taken 32 percent more bookings in the second half of June than during the same period last year, according to statistics provided by Ctrip.com.

Yu Nengda, an events manager from Hunan, went to Tibet in 2008 without using a travel agency, as he believed the package tours would not be a good option.

“I made many enquiries with agencies, but I did not think their itineraries were interesting,” said Yu. “Tibet is more about the culture, which is rooted not only in the palaces and temples, but also in the lives of local people. However, I didn’t see any packages that would allow me to spend time with locals,” Yu said.

Yu added that he lived in a Tibetan house during his travels, and that his hosts had been very kind and willing to tell him many things about their culture.

However, Zhang Wu’an, a spokesman from Spring International Travel Agency, told the Global Times that agencies can not offer such tours so easily.

“If there were a misunderstanding between our customers and locals because of their cultural differences, it could be a very serious headache for our travel agency,” Zhang said.

Tagged with:  
Page 1 of 11

Full width widgets selected but no widgets have been added.