Travel in China – Part 2 : self Transport
This is Part 2 of my China Travel blog posts. Part 1 focuses on Communications. I’d focus in this one on self transport within big cities (I’d be using Qingdao as an example). In big China cities, self travel is easy. Firstly, I suggest that you get/buy a local map (typically available in airports, train stations, convenience stores, bookstores, etc for about RMB10) to orientate yourself like where your hotel is, where are the sights and what are the bearings, approximate distances, etc. I recommend walking if you can, strolling around local streets and attractions, people watching are the best way to explore the city and appreciate the local culture and lifestyle. As to transport, ….
Below are options:-
- Public bus – this is easy and they are very frequent along tourist and CBD areas, and usually several buses serve the same key routes. Their routes are very easy to explore (the typical city maps would show them along the major roads), also the stops each bus serves are clearly shown in order in each bus stop – usually they use either the major attractions like XYZ Garden, or major cross roads. So that you can easily locate yourself and where you’d like to go. The fares are most reasonable, e.g. most buses flat charge RMB1 for most journeys and RMB2 for longer journeys. Just make sure you have the exact change, otherwise you need to buy a local ‘bus card’ which normally saves you 20% of the fare. I’d just have many RMB dollar notes or coins. Don’t just assume you must take taxis, as I found taking buses is just as easy, convenient and quick. As most buses have auto system to announce every stop (sometimes in Putonghua as well as English), so getting off at the correct stop is not a problem. Otherwise, just ask the driver to alert you when your destination stop is near.
- Taxi – of course, just flag them down and check that they have meter. Don’t take unauthorised taxis (白牌)! And it’s best that they’re metered (always choose them if you have a choice), otherwise you must negotiate the price first before boarding. Many cities have different taxi classes – i.e. newer and more comfortable ones would cost more.
- Uber – is getting popular in major cities and they are your great private driver, and in some cities/cases, they cost less than the taxi. You also have a choice of normal and more luxurious cars. Just make sure that you have installed your Uber app in your mobile phone.
But if you have many bulky luggage, then the latter 2 options would be better.