Getting around in Beijing, China

Getting around in Beijing, China

Great, you are planning a trip to Beijing and like to know the best way to get around. For sightseeing or for meetings, it is always good to know where to go and what to expect.

Per (E-) bike 🚴

Are there really 9 million bicycles in Beijing? We would say at least 9! And motors, and cars. When walking around in Beijing, you will definitely notice the yellow bikes spread all over the city. The bikes are “Ofo” bikes. The bikes were first introduced only at campuses, but recently started expanding all over the city.

With the use of the ofo app, you can pick a bike up when you see one, drive it around and leave it anywhere in the city once you are finished. The down payment for the bikes is 99 Yuen only, and driving it around will cost you 1 Yuen per hour. How does it work? You may wonder. Well, it is quite simple:

  • You download the ofo app;
  • Punch in the bike number on the app;
  • you will receive a 4-digit code to open the bike lock; and
  • pay via Alipay or WeChat.

You may know that many social media sites and apps are banned in China. WeChat is pretty big and has multiple purposes nowadays; from chatting to paying. Do note that the Ofo app is not yet available in English, so brush up your Chinese!

Picture: Beijing yellow bikes in front of the forgotten city Picture: Beijing yellow bikes in front of the Lama temple 

Per taxi 🚗 

Taxis are generally not expensive in Beijing for Western standards. As a guideline: For 35 Yuen you should be able to travel from the third ring around Beijing to the center: the forbidden city. Taxi meters start always at 13 Yuen.

For foreigners, always check whether the driver turns the meter on. If a driver requires a fixed amount, it is usually (way) too much. For example, one driver asked us 200 Yuen for the above mentioned 35 Yuen trip. Just let them turn on the meter.

Also, always make sure that you have your hotel address written on a piece of paper with you in the local language. Many (older) Chinese folks (like most taxi drivers), cannot speak English, at all. And we mean: not a word.

As another tip, at the arrivals on Peking airport, do not take any other taxis than the official ones that are gathered on the official taxi stand place. As an example, next to the official taxi place is an information desk. We were with two people. They asked us wether we wanted a taxi – we assumed the information desk was related to the taxi place – before we knew it, they arranged a mini-van for us, costs: 250 Yuen (Should be 50Yuen). Of course we did not need an expensive mini van. The thing is: when you arrive new to a foreign country- you don’t know what is normal and you are tired from the flight and just want to go to the hotel asap. Unfortunately, people still try to make use of that.

When you take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, there is an airport express highway which takes you quickly to the Beijing city rings. There are three highway “rings” around Beijing.

Per subway 🚊

The Beijing subway system is very efficient and clear. There are many signs that tell you your whereabouts and subway routes. There are currently 18 routes plus an airport express.

The purchase price of a subway ticket is based on the distance:

  • 3 Yuen for the first 6 km (3.7 miles);
  • 4 Yuen for 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5 miles);
  • 5 Yuen for 12 to 22 km (7.5 to 13.7 miles);
  • 6 Yuen for 22 to 32 km (13.7 to 20 miles); and
  • 2 Yuen for every additional 20km (12.4 miles).

In many of the stations you can buy a ticket via a machine. It is recommended to have small bills or coins with you to purchase the ticket. The machine accepts 1 Yuen coins and 5 and 10 Yuen bills.

The subway signs are in blue with a “D” in a white circle. Many stations have several exits related to alphabet letters.

Per Bus 🚌 

There are over 1000 bus lines in Beijing.

When it comes to prices, the first 10 kilometers are 2 Yuen, followed by an extra 1 Yuen per additional 5 kilometers.

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