Getting Around

On Foot: Although traffic and modernization have put a bit of a cramp in Beijing's walking style, meandering on foot remains one of the best ways to experience the capital—especially the old hutong neighborhoods.

By Bike: Some 1,000 new automobiles take to the streets of the capital every day, bringing the total to more than 5 million vehicles. All this competition has made biking less pleasant and more dangerous. Fortunately, most streets have wide, well-defined bike lanes often separated from other traffic by an island. Bikes can be rented at many hotels and next to some subway stations. (And the local government has said it will reduce the number of new license plates by 40 percent by 2017).

By Subway: The subway is the best way to avoid Beijing's frequent traffic jams. With the opening of new lines, Beijing's subway service is increasingly convenient. The metropolitan area is currently served by 14 lines as well as an express line to the airport. The subway runs from about 5 am to midnight daily, depending on the station. Fares are Y2 per ride for any distance and transfers are free. Stations are marked in both Chinese and English, and stops are also announced in both languages. Subways are best avoided during rush hours, when severe overcrowding is unavoidable.

By Taxi: The taxi experience in Beijing has improved significantly as the city's taxi companies gradually shift to cleaner, more comfortable new cars. In the daytime, flag-fall for taxis is Y13 for the first 3 km (2 miles) and Y2 per km thereafter. The rate rises to Y3 per km on trips over 15 km (8 miles) and after 11 pm, when the flag-fall also increases to Y14. At present, there’s also a Y1 gas surcharge for any rides exceeding 3 km (2 miles). Be sure to check that the meter has been engaged to avoid fare negotiations at your destination. Taxis are easy to hail during the day, but can be difficult during evening rush hour, especially when it's raining. If you're having difficulty, go to the closest hotel and wait in line there. Few taxi drivers speak English, so ask your hotel concierge to write down your destination in Chinese.


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