Getting around China

Map of ChinaBecause of the sheer size of the People’s Republic of China, you will likely spend a fair bit of time and money traveling during your stay. Whether it be a giant adventure across the country or a city holiday, transportation is a vital part of traveling.

Fortunately China has a well developed public transport system for both ground, air and water traveling. This means that no matter where you want to end up, usually some form of public transport can take you there. While public transport covers the majority of China and is reasonably prices, it is not always the best and easiest way of getting around. There are language differences and unpredictable schedules that can make traveling a challenge. The majority of signs including those at public transport stops are likely to be written in Chinese only. So having a grasp on the local language definitely has its advantages.

One way to get around your transportation worries is to organise your trip through arranged tours as most will take care of all the traveling involved. While many think by going solo you won’t see as much of the real China, but truth being told, tours will likely let you see more of China as you won’t have to waste time organising separate trips. Most China tour company’s also have knowledgeable tour guides to give you an in-depth commentary on the sights you see that you would likely not get otherwise.

However many still choose to go the old fashioned way and go at it alone. So following is a brief guide to the public transport available in China to help you get around.

The most obvious transportation for both arriving in China and long distance travel between cities is going by air. Many choose to fly when traveling long distances for the simple fact that they are both efficient and a comfortable means of going long distances. With continued economic development there are new fleets entering the market all the time to give customers more flights to access and competition to keep prices low. Some of the airlines available are Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China Southwest Airlines and Spring Airlines. The only slight annoyance is flight delays which seem to happen far too often.

Another long distance form of transport is the large train system. The train can take you to most corners of China and is often a great way of getting around China. While they can become crowded at times and can have unpredictable timetables, all in all they make for a safe and economical journey. Just as flights normally have economy and business class, most China trains have a similar system with different ‘classes’. The ‘hard’ seats are the cheap seats which are often very crowded with locals, while the ‘soft’ seats are more comfortable with crowd control. One thing to keep in mind when using the train is to keep a sure eye on your belongings.

Buses are another great way of getting around China; whether you are traveling to a different city or within a city, buses are an inexpensive way to travel. What’s more, many bus routes make stops in small towns, places you might not have seen otherwise. The only hindrance is the potential breakdowns.

For those who would rather stick to taxis for around the city adventures, they are usually not that expensive. Many prefer to travel this way as they don’t have to worry about finding the right stop to get off at, all you have to do is show your driver the address in Chinese on a piece of paper and off you go.

So what ever way you wish to travel, tickets are best bought in China rather than overseas or online as these vendors usually charge much higher prices.

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