Updated last year

China has a modern and well-established transportation system connecting its major cities and provinces. From cheap airfares to quick bullet trains, getting around the country is easy and should not cost you an arm and a leg.

Aircraft

China has many international, national and regional airline companies, as well as major airports that ease the connection between the different Chinese cities.

Airplanes, as well as airports, are secure and comfortable, with the staff and airline crew usually able to speak both English and Chinese. There are also several low-cost airlines that can significantly bring down your travel costs.

 Attention:

Delays and cancellations are quite common in Chinese airports due to air traffic control, weather conditions and, occasionally, pollution.

 Useful links:

Qunar (ticket booking)
Spring Airlines
Air China
Chiba Express Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
Capital Airlines
Xiamen Airlines

Train

China has several train lines connecting its major cities. High-speed or bullet trains have significantly reduced travel time between major cities as well smaller towns to province capitals. A high-speed train can take you from Beijing to Shanghai in just 5 hours and from Shanghai to southern Guangzhou in under 7 hours.

If you prefer to spend more time on the road and time to explore the scenery, you can take a journey on the regular train. These would take longer — a trip from Shanghai to Guangzhou will be more than 16 hours. The price for the train tickets depends on the carriage you choose to travel in: there are hard seaters, soft seaters, hard sleepers and soft sleepers on most long-distance trains. Bullet train tickets are, understandably, more expensive.

You can purchase train tickets directly at the train station, online or through mobile payment apps like WeChat. Make sure to purchase train tickets in advance if you plan to travel during Chinese national holidays like Spring Festival, National Day, etc.

 Important:

You will probably need to use your train ticket to enter and leave the train station and there will be several ticket checks throughout the journey. You are advised to always have the ticket in your possession.

 Useful links:

Qunar (ticket booking)
China Railway Corporation
Daqin Railway Company Ltd
Guangshen Railway Company

Bus

Buses in China are cheap and fast and connect most cities and towns in the country. Most long-distance buses are very comfortable with soft seats, air conditioning, some even have onboard Wi-Fi. Typically, inter-city buses operate from 6:30am to 11pm but there are also night-time buses equipped with berths for sleeping. Most cities in China will have several bus stations in different parts of the city and you can purchase tickets directly at the station, online or through mobile apps.

 Useful links:

Jiangsu
Beijing Travels

Taxi

It is not difficult to find a taxi in China. You can make them stop anywhere as long as they are free. You will find differently coloured taxis in bigger cities in China — some of them are limited to certain districts and you may need to change taxis if going far away from the city centre.

You can also use one of the many popular taxi apps. Uber is available in most big cities in China .

When you get into the taxi, make sure that the driver starts the meter to calculate your taxi fee (some drivers may ask you for a fixed amount which is usually not in your favour). In certain cities, an additional petrol tax is applied to your taxi fee — usually 2-3 yuan.

Most taxi drivers only speak Chinese. Moreover, some of them may speak a specific Chinese dialect and may not be able to understand you if you try to speak standard Mandarin. It is strongly advised to be in possession of the address you have to reach written in Chinese.

 Useful links:

China Eastern Taxi Service
 

Rent a car

You are not authorized to drive a car in China, unless you have a Chinese driver's license. You are therefore advised to rent a car with a driver. Rental rates are around 500-600 yens per day. You will find rental agencies in most major cities.

Useful links:

Zuche
Europcar
Rental Car Group
Sixt
Hertz

Bike

Bikes remain a practical and cheap means of transport in this busy, fast and noisy country. Moreover, many Chinese go to work by bike in order to avoid traffic. It is also considered a great way to keep fit. There are a number of mobile applications in China that allow you to rent a bike anywhere in the city — in fact, you will see yellow, green, orange, blue and other bikes line the streets of most Chinese cities. You can hop on a bike anywhere and leave it in any place once you’ve reached your destination.

Download one of the popular bike apps and follow the registration process: you will be asked to provide a phone number, a picture of your passport a picture of you holding the passport and pay a deposit. Then, all you will need to start riding is scan the QR code on the bike to get the unlock code.

Rental bikes are very cheap — a one-hour bike ride will cost you less than one yuan.

 Useful links:

Ofo bike app

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