Getting Around Beijing
The subway is a great way to get around in Beijing. Though it
can be very crowded at peak commuter hours, the service is
comprehensive and efficient. Line 1 and Line 5 can be used to
access many tourist attractions. The subway shuts down at midnight
and starts again at 5pm. Be aware that if you are carrying luggage
you will need to go through x-rays. You can buy a prepaid card
(Yîkâtông) that allows you to travel on subways and buses. The fare
is the same for the subway, but reduced for buses. The Beijing bus
system is comprehensive, but confusing for foreigners as most of
the signs are in Mandarin. Most buses operate from 5am to 11pm.
There are many taxis available, both official and unofficial.
They charge a base fee of around 10 yuan, and there is a surcharge
of one yuan on each trip. Tourists will generally pay more than
locals, but if you feel you''ve been cheated, ask for a receipt to
make a complaint with. All official taxis have license plates that
begin with the letter B. It is a good idea to have your destination
written in Mandarin to show the driver, as most do not speak
Driving in Beijing is a complicated and sometimes frightening
process, with few English signs and non-stop traffic jams in the
city. Visitors are not permitted to drive in Beijing without a
Chinese driver''s license, which you can get at the airport or
transportation police stations.
Cycling is also a good alternative with numerous bicycle rentals
around the city, and well-defined bike lanes, bike parks and the
company of millions of other cyclists, especially at rush hour. It
may look intimidating, but can be the best way to get around for
the more adventurous traveller. For the Olympics in 2008, 50,000
brand new bicycles were made available and can now be rented at
outlets close to subway stations, commercial districts, Olympic
venues, hotels and office buildings.