Getting round in China – Lonely Planet

Video Getting round in China – Lonely Planet

Regardless of its huge distances and big number of landscapes, getting round in China is handy and cheap. Glowing bullet trains zip to all corners of the nation, whereas buses join smaller cities and villages. Air journey can be handy and usually inexpensive from most main cities.

A mixture of ridesharing and environment friendly metro methods will get you round Beijing, Shanghai and the bigger metropolitan areas; you may as well use a extra historically Chinese language mode of transport: two wheels. Right here’s all the pieces it’s essential find out about getting round in China.

Trains are all over the place in China, however you will see the perfect of native tradition on slower, extra conventional trains © DuKai photographer / Getty Photos


Practice journey is much and away one of the best ways to get round China, for consolation, comfort and sustainability. China has the world’s longest and most-used high-speed railway community (practically 2300km/1429mi). In between, slower specific, native and in a single day trains join many smaller cities.

Upgrades and expansions to the railway community proceed apace, with 1000’s of kilometers of recent observe laid annually, making it attainable to get virtually wherever you need by rail. Excessive-speed trains are often model new and ridiculously environment friendly, with each enterprise and common class sections snug and clear.

Nevertheless, it’s on the slower, extra conventional trains that you just’ll see the perfect of China’s practice tradition, and have the prospect to fulfill locals, trade snacks and be taught one thing new as you trundle by the Chinese language countryside.

5 epic practice journeys to soak up China

Chinese language practice numbers are typically prefixed by a letter similar to the kind of practice. G, D, and C trains are luxurious high-speed trains, whereas Z, T, Ok are various specific and quick trains. Unnumbered companies are the very slowest, with a lot of stops.

Non-high-speed trains have an array of seat and sleeper choices, starting from onerous seats (the most cost effective and least snug) to mushy sleepers (a four-bed compartment equal to first-class). Practice tickets are bought a technique solely and will be bought from as much as 30 days prematurely. Tickets are collected with a passport on the station on the day of journey.

Tip for vacation practice journey: In case you plan to journey throughout one among China’s nationwide holidays, particularly Spring Competition, purchase your tickets as far prematurely as attainable, as most promote out quickly and companies are extraordinarily busy.

Buses are comparatively snug in China, starting from specific coaches to smaller minibuses and in a single day sleepers © Haitong Yu / Getty Photos


For extra distant elements of China and small villages, long-distance buses are sometimes the one possibility. Bus journey tends to be less expensive than practice or air tickets, and it is comparatively snug, with autos starting from specific coaches to smaller minibuses and in a single day sleeper buses.

Intercity companies are sometimes modern and clear with bogs and snack choices, whereas in distant areas, notably within the far west of the nation, you possibly can nonetheless expertise a bygone age of rattling minibuses careening from village to village.

China is main the way in which in electrifying its bus fleets (a whopping 99% of all the electrical buses on the planet are in China), with round 500,000 electrical buses in operation across the nation, most of them in cities.

Tip for purchasing tickets: Most bus tickets will be bought at ticket home windows on the day of journey, however are tougher to get throughout nationwide holidays.

Most of China’s airports are modern, trendy and straightforward to navigate © d3sign / Getty Photos


China’s airline trade has grown quickly over the previous decade, and there are actually greater than 240 airports – one in virtually each provincial capital and main metropolis. The relative newness of China’s air trade signifies that most airports are correspondingly modern, trendy and straightforward to navigate.

Airports are sometimes situated a ways exterior of town middle, often linked by both a metro system or devoted specific bus companies from the terminal. A rising variety of funds airways have additionally begun operation after China deregulated its airfares in 2018.

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China’s main home airways embrace China Southern, China Jap, Air China, Hainan Airways, Juneyao Airways, Shanghai Airways and Shenzhen Airways. Tickets will be booked on-line at (Ctrip inside China) or eLong.internet.

Solely these with a Chinese language driver’s license are allowed to hire a automotive in China © chinaface / Getty Photos


Solely these with a Chinese language driver’s license are allowed to hire a automotive in China, which makes street journeys off-limits to most worldwide guests. In additional distant elements of China, notably the far west, it’s attainable to rent a personal automotive with a driver (and typically a tour information) to go to areas which are tough to succeed in in any other case. This could often be booked by an area lodge, hostel or journey company.

Most of China’s largest cities and provincial capitals have wonderful public transportation networks, together with buses and trams © itsskin / Getty Photos

Public transportation in cities

Most of China’s largest cities and provincial capitals have wonderful public transportation networks that often embrace subways, metropolis buses and bike-share methods, in addition to tram, mild rail or maglev in some locations. Metros in China are typically shiny, new, clear and air-conditioned.

Within the largest cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, native top-up playing cards can be utilized on most strategies of transport, together with buses. Tickets and transport playing cards will be bought from machines in most subway stations, and bilingual signage in English and Chinese language is ubiquitous.

China has put an enormous quantity of funding into greening its public transportation networks. For instance, in 2018, town of Shenzhen accomplished a holistic conversion to electrical transport, with 16,000 e-buses and 22,000 electrical taxis.

When hailing a taxi on the road, non-Chinese language audio system ought to make sure that to have their vacation spot written down in Chinese language ©Artur Debat/Getty Photos

Didi and taxis

Uber will not be current in China, however the native reply to ride-sharing is the Didi Chuxing app. Didi capabilities in English and has assist for worldwide bank cards, in addition to the WeChat app pockets for cost. Didi vehicles are usually extra snug than native taxis, and the app eliminates language barrier angst, making it the only option for guests.

Nevertheless, you possibly can nonetheless hail a taxi on the road in a bind – non-Chinese language audio system ought to make sure that to have their vacation spot written down in Chinese language (such because the enterprise card of your lodge).

Bicycles have at all times been a conventional methodology of transport in China ©Greg Elms/Lonely Planet


Bicycles have at all times been a conventional methodology of transport in China (see: the 2001 movie Beijing Bicycle) and are nonetheless a wonderful method of getting round inside a metropolis. The bike-sharing financial system usually began in China, and also you’ll discover heaps – typically actually – of colourful rental bikes on road corners.

Although extraordinarily low cost and handy, these can typically current issue for worldwide vacationers, because the apps don’t at all times assist English-language or international-payment strategies.

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Bike touring and long-distance biking are additionally attainable in China and are more and more well-liked amongst locals. Given the distances in China, many cyclists go for mixed journeys by bike and rail. Be sure to come well-equipped with flat-tire kits and backpacking gear and don’t count on to wild camp with out making ready prematurely – you will want the right permits and permissions for tent tenting. There are just a few areas of China off-limits to worldwide guests, primarily within the far northwest, so long-distance cyclists should plan accordingly.

Ferries and boats, such because the Star Ferry in Hong Kong, will be an effective way to see China © Takuma Oohamazaki / Getty Photos/ iStockphoto


Journey by boat is more and more uncommon in China, because the nation has upgraded and added street and rail bridges in lots of areas. Some outlying islands – round Hong Kong, for instance, or Putuoshan close to Shanghai – are reachable by quick ferries. Tickets can typically be bought on the terminal on the day of journey.

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There are a number of scenic boat journeys across the nation, together with rafting the Li River close to Guilin and canal excursions of Suzhou. Multi-day cruises down the Yangzi River, by the magnificent Three Gorges, stay well-liked and vary from luxurious ships with all of the frills to easy, native boats for a less expensive value. Vacationers ought to perceive the numerous environmental and cultural impacts that the Three Gorges Dam challenge has had on the native space and communities, although, and take these into consideration earlier than reserving a cruise.

Accessible transportation in China

By and enormous, China stays a difficult place for accessible journey, with restricted choices for wheelchair customers. The largest cities have obtained important upgrades, notably Beijing, because of the eye surrounding town’s internet hosting of the 2008 and 2022 Paralympic Video games. Metro methods are typically new and often have level-access platforms and elevators or stairlifts inside.

Entry from road degree can usually be harder, nonetheless, as not each entrance has a raise. Accessibility choices are sometimes very restricted on rural transport and wherever exterior of main cities.

Without spending a dime downloads, together with a phrasebook and a basic information to on-line sources, go to Lonely Planet’s Accessible Journey portal.

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