Anyone staying more than a couple of weeks and intending to use public transport regularly
should consider buying a swipe-style transport card ( 一卡通 , yīkǎtōng). Available from
subway stations, these are valid for bus and subway journeys, getting you a 60 percent dis-
count on the former; they can also be used in taxis, and for payment in some convenience
stores. The deposit is ￥ 20, which you receive back when you return it, and you can put as
much money on the card as you like.
Getting around Beijing by bus can be a bit of a challenge - destinations are not marked in
English at stops or on the buses themselves, and services can be packed to the gills at rush
hour. The city's two hundred-plus bus and trolleybus services cost ￥ 1, or an incredible
￥ 0.4 when using a transport card. Double-deckers ( ￥ 2), operated on some services, are
comfortable - you're more likely to get a seat on these - and run along main roads. Luxury
buses ( ￥ 3-10), which run to certain tourist sights, are modern, air-conditioned, and quite
pleasant. Tourist buses ( ￥ 10-60) - which look like ordinary buses but have route numbers
written in green - make regular trips (mid-April to mid-Oct) between the city centre and cer-
tain out-of-town attractions, including sections of the Great Wall; we've listed useful routes
in the Guide.
Taxis cost ￥ 2.3 per kilometre, with a minimum fare of ￥ 13, and tips are never expected.
Using a taxi after 11pm will incur a surcharge of 20 percent. You can pay either by cash or
using a transport card . Drivers are generally honest (except the ones who hang around trans-
port links), but if they don't put the meter on, you can insist by saying “dǎ biǎo”. If you're
concerned about being taken on an expensive detour, have a map open on your lap, or on
Don't let yourself get hustled into a taxi, as unscrupulous drivers look out for newly arrived
foreigners with luggage; walk a short distance and hail one, or find a rank (there's one out-
side each train station). If you feel aggrieved at a driver's behaviour, take his or her number
(displayed on the dashboard) and report it to the taxi complaint office ( 010 68351150).
Indeed, just the action of writing their number down can produce a remarkable change in de-
These days, it can be a little hard to get a taxi in certain places at certain times of the day.
Wangfujing can be a nightmare to escape during the day's shopping hours, while it can be
just as hard to move on from the Forbidden City; buses and subways are on hand to solve
these problems, though this cannot be said for the Sanlitun bar area around kicking-out time -