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Beijing Living Tips
Beijing, as the capital and a municipality of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is a transportation hub, with a sophisticated network of roads, railways and a major airport. Four completed ring roads encircle a city with nine express ways heading out in virtually all compass directions, supplemented by eleven China National Highways. Going to Beijing is very easy and straight forward.

Getting around Beijing

Getting around Beijing is quite easy, cheap and convenient. Please pick the options you would like to choose as follows:

Taxi

Beijing taxi drivers have a reputation for tricking tourists, especially from the airport, so always make sure you're in a metered cab and don't accept negotiated fares. That said, the city government has begun enforcing regulations in advance of the Olympics, and cabbie behavior has reportedly improved. Fares start at RMB 10 during the day and RMB 11 after 10 p.m. After the first three kilometers (about 1.7 miles), each additional kilometer is between RMB 1.20 and 1.60, depending on the make of the taxi. Foreign visitors to Beijing can usually afford to take a taxi everywhere they want to go. The price ranges from 10 - 35 RMB for most destinations. Airport can set you back up to 140 RMB. Still, when you convert it back into local currency is still cheaper than most places in the world. The main problem is communication. Be prepared to have your destination written in Chinese characters to hand to the driver. English is almost non-existent and even place names all have their own unique Chinese name.

Subway

As of 2007, the system was comprised of Lines 1, 2, 5, 13 (light rail) and the Badong Line. Lines 8, 9 and 10 are slated for completion in 2008. Line 1 (the east-west line) runs past Tiananmen Square from the West Pingguoyuan Station to Sihui Station in the east; Line 2 (the circle line) runs around the center of the city with a Beijing Railway Station stop at its southeast corner. Subways run from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm. As of 2008, all fares are RMB 2. The system has undergone upgrades to accommodate a new yikatong (a "one card pass" smart card) system—buy a card for a RMB 20 deposit and add value in RMB 10 increments. Some taxis now also accept yikatong payment. It costs 3 RMB to most destinations, with outlying suburbs costing 4 or 5 RMB. By 2008 there is likely to be 13 lines in Beijing covering the whole city and the airport. Right now, the subway is a great way to beat the growing Beijing traffic chaos.

Bus

Beijing's 12 long-distance bus stations provide numerous options for travel to cities around China; however bus travel can be quite tricky if you don't speak some Mandarin. The main bus stations include Xizhimen, Dongzhimen and Zhaogongkou. Local buses are cheap but often slow because of traffic and almost always crowded. Fares are usually RMB 1 or 2; some routes charge extra for distance. A yikatong card saves money, bringing base fares down to .40 RMB for most routes. Tour buses can be arranged through travel agents and hotels.
In and Out of Beijing

Plane

Beijing Capital International Airport is located in Shunyi District, 26 kilometers northeast of the city center; about 40 minutes drive (one hour during rush hour). If taking a taxi, 90 Yuan is needed at least.
The cheapest way to get to the city center is to take the airport shuttle. The shuttle bus can take you to and from the airport every 30 minutes and a one way ticket costs about 16 Yuan. There are several lines running to different locations throughout Beijing, including Xidan Civil Aviation Building, Beijing Railway Station intersection and Chinese Art Gallery.

Train

There are two main railway stations in Beijing: Beijing Railway Station (Beijing Zhan) and Beijing West Station (Beijing Xizhan). One is in the centre and can be reached by Subway and another is in the Southwest of Beijing that is easily accessible by bus. Beijing Railway Station serves major destinations including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Harbin as well as Russia. Beijing West Station connects to long-distance destinations to the south and west including Vietnam and Hong Kong. Beijing West Railway Station must be the largest and busiest one in China. Along with Beijing Railway Station, the West Railway Station sends express trains to all the main cities in China by train, including Lhasa in Tibet, except for Hainan and Taiwan Province. Purchase tickets at the foreign passenger ticket office in the main station's soft-seat waiting room or ask your hotel or travel agent to arrange train travel for you.

Long-distance Bus

Beijing's 12 long-distance bus stations provide numerous options for travel to cities around China; however bus travel can be quite tricky if you don't speak some Mandarin. The main bus stations include Xizhimen, Dongzhimen, Zhaosongkou, Liuqiao and Muxiyuan Long-Distance Bus station. Local buses are cheap but often slow because of traffic and almost always crowded. Fares are usually RMB 1 or 2; some routes charge extra for distance. A yikatong card saves money, bringing base fares down to .40 RMB for most routes. Tour buses can be arranged through travel agents and hotels.


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