ON THE GO
Traveling by plane
The airplane is indispensable for long distances in domestic traffic. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is the umbrella organization of the three main airlines Air China (CA) (Internet: www.airchina.com.cn), China Southern Airlines (CZ) (Internet: www.airchina.com.en / en) and China Eastern (MU) (Internet: www.ce-air.com), which connect over 150 cities, including Beijing.
There are regular flights from Beijing and Guangzhou (Canton) to Hong Kong. Since the lifting of the travel ban, the Taiwanese China Airlines (CI)Direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Canton, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Ningbo, Zhengzhou, Shenyang, Changsha and Xian to Taipei (Taiwan). Air China flies directly to Taipei from Tianjin, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing. There are Air China direct connections from Beijing to Lhasa (Tibet) as well as three domestic connections, Beijing-Daqing, Chengdu-Zhuhai and Shenzhen -Dazhou.
Cathay Dragon (KA) offers a flight from Hong Kong to Guangzhou twice a day.
Check-in counters open 90 minutes and close 30 minutes before departure. All provincial capitals can be reached by plane.
Note on air travel
Air tickets are usually purchased from the tour guides and are included in the travel expenses. Individual travelers can book through the local CITS office, which charges a small commission, or purchase the plane tickets from the airline’s office. Advance booking is recommended in April, May, September and October. Tourists pay a 100% surcharge for plane tickets.
Airport fees: Peking (Beijing): 50 RMB ¥. Shanghai: 50 RMB ¥ (mostly included in the ticket price). Children under 2 years of age are exempt from the fee.
On the way by car / bus
Right-hand traffic. Approx. 80% of the Chinese towns are connected to the road network, with the exception of Motno and Tibet. The roads are not always good, vehicles should be perfectly roadworthy. It’s easy to underestimate the distances. China is an agricultural country and auto repair shops do not meet western standards. It is 1,461 km from Beijing to Shanghai and 1,139 km from Beijing to Nanjing. An express highway connects Beijing with Tianjing. A four-lane toll highway leads from Hangzhou to the port city of Ningbo in Zhejiang Province.
Long-distance bus: Bus connections exist between the larger cities and some places that are not accessible by trains, but the buses are often overcrowded. There are also connections with expensive luxury buses. The main long-haul bus station in Beijing is Liuliqiao (Tel: (010) 83 83 17 17). The new long-distance bus station on Zhongxing Road in Shanghai is located at the northern end of the main station (Tel: (021) 66 05 11 11).
Rental cars only with chauffeur are available. Driving a rental car yourself is problematic because the car rental companies withhold the driver’s passport and foreigners are only allowed to drive in special cases. According to youremailverifier, driving in China is only allowed to members of a travel group who have a special permit.
Traveling in the city
The official tour guides make every effort to ensure that the use of public transport runs smoothly. Buses are very cheap, but often overcrowded. There are subway networks in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.
A magnetic railroad connects Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) with Metro Line 2 at Longyang Station (travel time: 8 minutes) on the outskirts of Shanghai.
There are trams or trolleybuses in numerous other cities.
Taxis are found in the big cities and are easy to find. A sticker on the outside of the car door provides information about the kilometer price. You should make sure that the taximeter is switched on. There is a basic fee and a route-dependent price. If possible, the price should be negotiated before departure. However, the taxi drivers rarely understand a foreign language. Therefore, travelers should ask their hotel to give them an address in Chinese for their destination and a business card for the hotel for the return journey. Taxis can also be hired all day.
Motorcycle taxis, motorcycle tricycles, and bicycle rickshaws are available at train and bus stations. Cycles can be rented in larger hotels and certain shops. Cyclists have to drive slowly and keep ringing the doorbell.
On the go by train
Trains are the main means of transport in freight and passenger traffic in China and are usually safe and punctual. The main routes run from Beijing to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Harbin, Chengdu and Urumqi. There are direct connections from Beijing via Guangzhou to Hong Kong, from Beijing to Shanghai and from Beijing to Tianjin.
The 1,318 km long new high-speed line of China Railways between Beijing and Shanghai connects the two metropolises in just 4 hours and 48 minutes. Four fifths of the route is over bridges. Stopovers are in Nanjing, Tianjin, Jinan and other major Chinese cities.
There is also a high-speed link between Beijing and Tianjin (travel time: 30 minutes); a night train runs between Beijing and Shanghai (travel time: 9 hours 15 minutes).
As part of the new Beijing-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed axis currently under construction, the Beijing-Wuhan-Guangzhou line is already in operation. The high-speed trains only need 8 hours for the route from Beijing to Guangzhou. For the Wuhan-Guangzhou section only 3 hours 30 minutes.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway connects Lhasa with the province of Qinghai. From the end point Golmud there is a connection to Beijing. The driving time to Beijing is 48 hours. At over 5000 meters above sea level, it is the highest railway line in the world.
There are two classes: wooden seat (2nd class), upholstered seat (1st class), hard couch (2nd class) and soft couch (1st class) (hard or upholstered beds). Upholstered beds are twice as expensive as firm beds. Tickets: Tickets can only be purchased 10 days before departure. Discounts for children are practically calculated: children who are shorter than 1 m travel free; Children under 1.30 m pay 25% of the fare. Tourists pay a 70% surcharge for train tickets. There are special counters with English-speaking staff at the major train stations. The ticket for the onward journey must be purchased at the transfer station. Baggage regulations: Adults max. 20 kg, children max. 10 kg and diplomats max. 35 kg.