Public bus, Beijing
Buses are extremely comprehensive and cheap (starting from Y1) but can get extremely crowded and all the routes are in Chinese. Bus maps are available to help you out or ask your hotel for which bus you should take for the appropriate destination.
There is a direct bus from the airport to the Beijing West train station. Bus #7 runs from all terminals every 1/2 hour between 7:20am-12:00am. In terminal T3 (international) the bus leaves from the 1st floor, just look for all the other buses and find the number 7 sign. Tickets are bought at the Bus Ticket counter on the 2nd floor. The one way fare is 16 Yuan, the trip takes about 100 minutes and the last stop is near the train station. However it is about a kilometer away so either factor in the walking time or take one of the pedicabs that meet the bus (the asking price is 10 Yuan but it can be bargained down).
What an experience and one that the locals don't experience too often with us Westerners onboard - judging from the stares we were getting.
It was a lot of fun being the only Westerners on board though and I was most impressed by how many men would stand up to give me their seat.... chivalry who would've thought it existed in China???
When boarding the bus you put 1rmb per person in the slot and I would strongly suggest you let the driver know where you are heading and sit/stand as close to the front of the bus as possible - 9 out of 10 drivers or passengers will tell you when your stop is coming up.
Beijing Hub of Tour Dispatch is an established and reliable tour company that provides bus services to Great Walls including Mutianyu, Badaling and other top attractions in Beijing.
I was traveling with them to Mutianyu Great Wall. I went to the Beijing Sightseeing Bus Center near Xuanwumen Station around 8am. I took the metro to the station, exit B, the bus center is right there. I was asking people around which bus was going to Mutianyu. One of the person had directed me to the right bus. First, the tour guide gave a short briefing and collected bus fares from each passengers. It cost Y50 return to Mutianyu Great Wall. We had to pay our own admission and other charges. Y50 only covered the return bus fare. We were given 3 hours to sightseeing there. I thought it might be too short to see the Great Wall within 3 hours, but at the end of the trip, I found it manageable. When we reached Mutianyu, the bus driver had informed everyone that the bus would leave at 2pm. He warned us that they were not responsible for anyone who missed the bus. The bus journey took 2 hours each way.
You can check out its website for other attractions. My advise is that If you want to go with their daily tour package, you have to be there early, between 7am to 8:30am. I found it quite practical if you wish to visit somewhere far from the city.
There are many ways to get to the Great Wall. One of the easiest and cheapest in by public bus (I'll get the number soon!) (619?). You pick up the bus at a specific location in Beijing, but you can also get on farther north along the road to Badaling. Anyway, it's a great way to go, and will drop you off at the entrance.
There are tours offered by many hotels, but those are best for limiting options. Sure, everything's taken care of, but you may not have the time you want or need.
You can also catch a tourist bus from the southwest corner of Tienanmen Square, across the street to the west of the square.
the Metro system in Beijing is becoming better and better, they are building new lines and it is a fast way to get around beijing during traffic hours, which are... well from 8:30 am-8:30 at night in some parts of the city!
if you're going to be in Beijing for sometime, i would suggest investing in a card, you can take all metro lines, buses, and even some taxi's with this card (though it is easier to pay with cash when on a taxi and there is no discount)
the subways have all become 2 RMB since... march? of this year and you can take it to any stop you like (one time use only)
if you are new to this city and do not speak Chinese, take the subway or a Cab, though the subway is often crowded it is pretty simple to get from point A to point B and will be quicker btw 4:30-7:00pm
taking the bus very cheap (starting at 1 rmb, or 0.4 rmb with a card) is also easy once you figure out the routs, check out bjbus.com for more info
the card is 20 RMB (refundable) and you can add however much money you want to it. this can be bought at any metro stop.
The Beijing bus service is awesome.
My hotel was 5 mins from a bus stop, and the fare to the centre of town was only 1RMB.
Service was like every 10 mins.
Who could ask for more.
The bus's can get crowded, but don't despair, it's only a short ride and worth it :)
Traveling by public buses in Beijing is relatively inexpensive, a flat fare is usually CNY 1.00 for the whole line and it applies to downtown public bus/trolley bus/night bus No.1 to No.212 (this No.212 is a night bus).
Bus operating time is from 06:00 to 23:00 every day.
Who doesn’t remember a few years ago those long worn-out buses in Beijing always crowded and looking ugly and dirty? Today is totally different.
Beijing authorities have been gradually replacing them with energy-saving green buses equipped with electronic bus-stop announcements, IC card readers, electronic monitors, and passenger-monitoring devices. Some of them even have mobile television with live broadcast televisions. Just amazing.
The bus system in Beijing is divided in the following way:
- Urban lines - bus No.1 to No. 122
- Night buses - bus No. 201 to 212
- Suburb lines - bus No. 300 to No. 949
- Air-conditioned buses - beginning with '8'
- Double-decker buses - beginning with the character 'te4', what means 'special'
- Tourist buses traveling along special lines heading to many scenic spots
Although some buses along the route of Chang'an Jie or places where there are a lot of foreigners announce the stop names in both Chinese and English, however, most of the buses in Beijing make announcements only in Chinese.
Besides, buses drivers usually don’t understand English and the names of bus stops are written in Chinese characters. So, if you want to go to a specific spot, show the driver or other passengers a piece of paper with the Chinese name of your destination in advance, I assure you that they will gladly help you when the bus approaches the place where you want to go.
You should also know that buses during peak hour (06:30-09:00 and 17:00-19:00) are very crowded.
Theft is also a problem on buses. Pay special attention to your purse, mobile phones, small bags, pockets, etc., especially when boarding and exiting the bus.
Some buses in Beijing (especially the newest ones) are installed with IC card readers (Check NOW my ‘Subway IC cards’ tip).
However, most of them don’t have this equipment and therefore must be the conductor the one responsible for the ticketing. Usually there is one conductor on common public buses and two conductors on long buses.
Before boarding the bus, you must pay attention to two things:
1. Check the bus sign or the exterior of the bus if it is marked self-service ticketing.
2. Make sure you have the correct change ready.
Using a 'Yikatong' IC card it is a nice deal because you can enjoy:
- 60% discount in 447 bus routes (including the buses beginning with 'dong4 tong1' characters)
- 20% discount for other bus routes
- You will spend at most CNY 0.4 for your trip instead of the former CNY 1 or 2 for the lines which have the flat fare system
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to long distance buses.
Bus is very cheap (cost 1 or 2 yuan), but it is really time consuming.
Not only because of the jam, but also because of the bus route.
So the better way to go around beijing is by subway.
Some bus has bilingual destination (chinese and english), but still it is better you ask to the conductor to warn you when you've got the destination.
If you need to use bus, write the destination in chinese caracter and show it to the bus driver or conductor (you can ask to the hotel staff to write it for you).
Using a traffic card will be very easy.
We will not many cashes everyday.
Usually a distance less than 12 kilometers will cost 1 yuan in cash, and it will cost 0.4 yuan when you using the traffic card.
All the buses under No.500 have the same price for cards owners. Every passenger should pay 0.4 yuan for one time.
You should pay bus No. 1 to No. 499 only 0.4 yuan for one person a time with your card.
But if you pay in cash, it would be 1 yuan or more than 1 yuan.
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.
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.
- In some Beijing buses you can only board from the middle door and exit from the front and back, so, be careful.
- You have to pay an extra ticket if your baggage occupies the area equal to a standing passenger.
- Keep the ticket with you whilst traveling on the bus because in some public buses when you get off there might be a conductor examining the passengers' tickets. Be careful.
- On a bus stop board, you can find information such as the number of the bus, departures, terminus, first runs, last runs, and the name of the current stop.
- If your final destination is a little bit long, I suggest you take first the subway and then transfer to the public bus.
- Some Beijing maps have detailed information about bus numbers and bus routes, though most of them are in Chinese.
- In Beijing public lines re-routing often occur, therefore, if you want to confirm ask the conductor or a passenger for help.
If you don't want to take a taxi, hire a driver, or take a tour that will also take you to one or more factory tours and gives you two hours at the wall, then take Bus 919 to the Great Wall.
Before you pay for your subway ticket, get one of those electronic card / prepay card at the station agent. Fill the card with $$ (for four day we filled it with $100 and had plenty of money left over) and you will need to leave a deposit of 30 yuan but you can get the money back when you return the card. Take subway and exit at Jithustan on Line 2 and use Exit A. Exit left (or right) of the building and then right (or left) and follow the sidewalk EAST for 2000 ft as the bus stop for the Great Wall is located north side of a huge monument - Deshengmen Watchtower to be precise. You will see three 919 bus stops as you walk along this sidewalk and don't stop to think if one of them will go to the Great Wall. If you do, scammers will surround you like vultures to confuse you. They will highly suggest you take their bus/car to the Great Wall at $$$$$. Continue to walk until you the sidewalk curves left to the Deshengmen Watchtower. There is a cross walk to the watchtower and be careful in crossing the street as pedestrian don't have the right of way here. When you get to this spot there are two rows of buses and the 919 bus stop is on the left side - Look for the 919 bus stop sign (in both English and Chinese) or look for tourist with guide books. Someone in the bus will assist you in scanning or taking your bus fare. Find a seat- note that these bus seats are tight for an average size American!! We had an old lady coming in the bus to sell drinks at local prices. So if you don't have water with you this is the time to get it. Or else force to pay triple the price when you arrive at the Great Wall. On the side note, there is a food stall behind the exit A building that sell these chinese burritos for 5 Yuan filled with bean sprout and pork / chicken I think. Pack some to go if you want cause that is the last food place I saw until the Great Wall. Also across from it you can buy drinks at local prices - bottle water is 2 yuan.
When you arrive, go to the ticket office and purchase you ticket. You will be dropped off (as I was) at the Bus terminal on the Southside of the Badling Great Wall. There are stores, Animal - Bear Zoo, Ticket booths, and the sliding car up/down to/from the Great Wall. If you plan to take the same bus back into the city decided if you want to circle around the Great Wall by taking the Sliding Car up to the wall and walk should I say climb around and down back to the Bus terminal or take the sliding car back. I choose the former and it was well worth it. It may take up to four hours (must I add plenty of photo opportunities) so keep that in mind when the last bus will be. If you take the sliding car roundtrip then two hours will be enough. Do negotiate the price on souvenirs when you are at the wall! They will also take foreign currency since I couldn't locate an ATM.
Pictures below will give you a visual idea on locating the bus stop.
BTW, our bus fare to the Great Wall using the electronic card was 4.8 Yuan. Cash fare I think was $12 yuan.