• Salah Elbaba

The Transportation Nation - Getting Around China

As huge as China is, getting through and around is fairly easy. Whether you get on a bus for a more authentic (though often frustrating) experience, or you travel the Maglev at 268 mph, China's transportation will get you where you need to go!


Travelling by train is one of the cheapest ways to travel on some of the long distance routes in China.

The Shanghai Maglev Train was the first commercial maglev line in the world, and as yet, it is the only working commercial line. It was listed by Guinness Records in 2003 as the fastest train in the world in commercial use. It can reach 431 km/hr (268 mph) during the journey.


Buses go everywhere in China and are generally quite economical. Road conditions are usually very good, but be prepared that in remote areas such as Guizhou, Tibet and Xinjiang, the roads might be poor.

The good and the bad:

Fares are very cheap (usually ¥1 to ¥2) but buses may be packed.

In cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, a locally purchased transport card can be used on the buses.

Navigation is tricky for non-Chinese speakers as bus routes at bus stops are generally listed in Chinese, without pinyin.

In Beijing and Shanghai and other large tourist towns, stops will be announced in English.


Since they are simple to use, safe and quite inexpensive (a ticket may be as low as 30 cents USD). About 23 cities have subways lines, and more subway systems are under construction in other cities. The top two longest subways are in Shanghai and Beijing.


Taking a taxi is a comfortable and secure way of getting around. They're fast and convenient. You can find taxis in almost every city, and the fare is relatively inexpensive. Simply wave your hand and a taxi will stop for you. Prices vary by city but are usually very cheap. The meter should always be activated. Pay the driver upon arrival. Tipping is not the custom.

Whichever way you choose to travel, China is an amazing place with so much to explore.


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