If you want to experience Chinese culture try riding on a bus with the local...particularly at rush hour.
I took the bus during my stay in Beijing or walked. The bus is very very very cheap but you'll be just amazed how many people the can pack in there. I was lucky enough to get a seat once and I was crush against the windows and was thinking to myself, what the heck am I thinking !?! But it was all good.
If you want to go to some tourist site around Beijing by bus , it's easy!
Logo on www.bjbus.com , click "english" , you can find how to go to various parts of great wall and other sites out of Beijing , also the ticket price is listed .
This service is run by Beijing municipal government, it's safe and reliable!
The site is quite clear, take the hot line number, ask the hotel staff to help you if you need information .
Thousands of public buses cover the whole city and are cheap at mostly 1 Yuan per journey. The vehicles are modern and well designed but can get extremely full at peak times. Unless you know what you're doing they're quite difficult to use. The routes are at times mind-bogglingly complicated, so make sure you grab hold of a bus map from your hotel. There are long distances between stops and don't bank on just getting on and asking where to get off - few of the conductors speak English. The destination signs are mostly in Chinese (although this is slowly changing). Most tourist sites are located in a reasonably central area of Beijing and the buses serving the centre have one or two digit numbers. Routes 1-6 are particularly useful for tourists. Triple digit numbers are generally heading for the suburbs and of less use to visitors.
My new found friend Kimmo from Sweden and I made some plans to visit the Summer Palace. We checked out of the hotel we were staying at and brought our back packs to the train station to store them for the day. Then we went to the newly opened Subway to get to the Lama Temple to visti it on the way but we got off at the wrong stop! We hopped on a bus when we couldn't find our way there. We also tried asking a few people and that didn't work either! We had a bus map and found the bus that was going to the Summer Palace so we hopped on that! It took us three and a half hours to get there!! LOL Normal time is about one and half hours on the public bus! We had a very warm day for this and lucky I wore my clothes in layers and was able take a few off. The day before it was Very cold! In the photo is a picture of the Long Corridor. It is a 7228 Meter long corridor with paintings of Mythical Scenes. Very nice and interesting.
I got up early around 6:30 am to get my butt to Qianman Square to find a bus that was going to the Great Wall at Badaling and the Ming Tombs. I had been told that the buses leave about 7:30 am so I got there early to ensure I could get a seat. There was a guy there (tout) that spoke a little English and I told him where I wanted to go and he directed me to the correct booth. My ticket to the Wall and the Ming Tombs cost 6 RMB (US$1.20) That didn't include admission to the sites the 6 RMB was just for the bus. Very Cheap!! This was on a Chinese Tour bus and there was actually a person on the bus telling about what we were seeing through a loudspeaker! (Lucky for me, I had the back seat!!) but unfortuantly I didn't understand a word of it!! It was great as there were a couple of people on the bus that spoke a little English and they were trying to be helpful and explain but it didn't really matter to me. I was enjoying the sights! It was very,very cold on the day that I chose to go!! One of the bad things about taking this sort of transportation is the time allowed at the sights! I only had about an hour at the Ming Tombs which was plenty for me. And we had 80 minutes at the Great Wall which was kind of short for me. I couldn't see much at the Great Wall anyways as the Fog was so thick!!
If you really want to save money, riding the bus can be considered an option. However, buses in Beijing are extremely crowded and it's hard to move around in the buses. The bus system is complicated and the driver and ticket seller on the buses likely do not speak English. As a foreign tourist, you will probably find the bus system difficult to use unless you ask a person at your hotel about the routes to take, and where to get on and off, prior to boarding a bus.
The tickets for each ride cost 1 yuan each and you buy them on the bus from a ticket seller.
To take the bus in Beijing (or in China) can be an experience in itself. Indeed, they are often over-crowded but it's interesting to do as the locals and not be afraid of it.
On every bus there is a person whose main role is to sale tickets. However, a few bus lines don't have a person selling tickets and it is written on bus windows. In these cases, we need to give the exact amount.
Bus routes are pretty complexed but thanks to the "route board" at each station, we can easily find our way. Or, ask the ticket person if the bus goes to your destination, it's the safest way to make sure it's right. So when you buy your ticket, you have to tell your destination to the ticket person.
There are different prices following the distance and the type of bus (air conditionned buses are of course more expensive). Generally, it ranges from 1to 5 RMB.
Take advantage of the bus system! It is wonderful - and cheap!! The picture shows an old bus with the new clean gas buses on either side. The bus route 120 is the one I took to work every day, it costs just 1RMB for the whole length. It is kind of fun, too!
Beijing has many busses. It may not be easy to go around Beijing by local bus, when you don't speak Mandarin. But there are also special busses for tourist, which go to all the important touristspots.
How to get to Simatai. Getting to the Great Wall of china at Simatai on a backpacker's budget is no easy task. It involves getting on a minibus from Beijing to Miyun. At Miyun, you can hire a miandi driver to take you the rest of the way. The picture taken by a local above is of the miandi driver and me. On a little side note, Miandis are no longer allowed in Beijing as part of a pollution reducing effort by the city in preparation of the 2008 Olympics (Congratulations Beijing!).
Buses in Beijing are best. They are cheap, comfortable and safe. Also local taxis are in good condition but are expensive!
.....is always crowded. A dream of any public transportation enterpreneurs, but sometimes a nightmare for laowais who are not adjusted to the situation!