How to get around Beijing

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in China, Travel | 0 comments

How to get around Beijing

If you’re in Beijing but not sure of the best way to get around, read on.

 

1. Take the Subway

Pros: The subway is seriously cheap at 3 RMB to get most places (that’s about .60c AUD), so if you’re saving your pennies it’s the way to go.  It’s also very efficient with trains coming every couple of minutes, and best of all you know you won’t get stuck in Beijing traffic.

Cons: The subway ranges from being busy to ridiculously busy, depending on the time of day.  If you’re travelling in peak hour prepare yourself for the hunger games just to get on and off.  Getting in and out of a jam packed subway car requires skill (sharpen your elbows people!)  You’ll also be so up close and personal that you’ll get to breathe in the stale breath and body odour of those surrounding you – enjoy!

 

2. Ride a bike

Pros: Cycling around the city is a great way to get your bearings and understand where places are located.  You also have the freedom to come and go as you please, and it feels like you’re really part of the city as you tuck in with the other masses of bikes.  It’s also quite satisfying to gleefully ride past the standstill traffic jams.

Cons: You will be in the thick of it, literally.  The thick of the traffic, the smog, exhaust fumes, or occasionally the danger of being run off the road or smushed between two vehicles (I speak from experience).  You’re also obviously at the mercy of the weather, if it’s a rainy day you’re going to get wet (unless like some locals you are skilled enough to navigate the streets on your bike while holding an umbrella).  In winter below zero temperatures will have to be endured, along with some ferocious winds (which you will secretly be happy about because that also clears the smog).

 

3. Take a taxi

Pros: Very convenient as you can get dropped off at the door to where you are going, and in summer it’s often a pleasantly air conditioned respite.  You will need to know how to say where you want to go in Chinese or have it written down in Chinese as most taxi drivers don’t speak English.  More expensive than the subway, taxis are still very cheap compared to most other countries at about 25 RMB if you’re not going too far ($5 AUD).

Cons: If it’s a Saturday night you will struggle to get a taxi, and may end up waiting so long that if you went by another means you would be there already.  If it’s after midnight and you want to get a taxi home from Sanlitun (the notorious expat area) good luck, not only are they scarce but they will (often correctly) assume that you are intoxicated and won’t want you in their taxi.

 

4. Get a Tuk Tuk or Rickshaw

Pros: These guys will get you where you want to go and fast.  They will utilise the road, bike lane and footpath, and pull out any manoeuvre that will save time.  You need to negotiate the price before you get in, and price will be influenced by the time of day, where you want to go and the weather.

Cons: Safety is not paramount as you hurtle across the city, and on a hot summers day it can be quite stuffy.  If you are not good at bartering, you will pay more than what you should.  These guys can sense the desperation to get home at 2am after a few drinks and know when they have you.

 

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