While my previous tip was a warning that was easily avoided this one is more serious with consequences for your well being.
As you read in my intro I refer to the maelstrom of motorists' madness & also city of few accidents by only a couple of coats of paint. While I said these things half jokingly they do have a very serious element to them.
My observations made me be very careful crossing the road because Beijing motorists don't obey traffic signals etc like the vast majority of Australians, Americans & Europeans. When you are walking & need to cross the road I strongly suggest you only do it while mixed in the company of a group of locals & still keep your wits about you.
I only had one close call where the couple of coats of paint were nearly my skin!!!!!!
Beijing traffic is pretty heavy most of the time. I still marvel at the way people seemed to negotiate it & I refer here to both motorists & also pedestrians. Of course being a pedestrian you don't have the protection of a metal barrier that the drivers have so once again I warn you to please take care while crossing the road. REMEMBER...... Just because the light says you may walk doesn't mean for a second that the cars won't come through. THEY WILL! You don't won't your stay ruined/complicated by being hit by a car so please be careful.
This has happened to me sometimes while I am in taxi, the driver answered his mobile call while he is driving on road ignoring that this is a violation to the traffic rules and it may be very dangerous .......
In case this happens to u, I would suggest u to stop the driver, show him stop talking!!
There are plenty of people in Beijing and driving can be an adventure. I was glad to have our driver Mr. Zeung. He was a very daring professional driver who would use the whole of the road. Cars honk their horns just to let you know their there not necessarily in offense of poor driving like in the states.
Mr. Zeung would drive on the shoulder and easily cut in when he needed to and there were no complaints from the other drivers that I saw, they just accepted it whereas this would incite road rage back home.
that's really crazy, i'm speechless..all i can say..Try not to get killed crossing the streets!!! and i was thinking that Moscow's drivers were the craziest and most impolite, even in Almaty the drivers whom are not following rules at all are nice at least! ok, i'm trying to give the idea what it's like...you are crossing the street on the green light of course and at that exact moment you see lots of cars coming at you from all the possible directions..unfortunately human anathomy doesnt allow you to have full overview of the situation around...ah, just try to survive.. i did...!:)
Beijing means not just wonderful sightseeings and beautiful architecture... means also traffic.
Depending on the hour, you can find yourself stuck into a traffic jam without comparison with western ones...
But most of the time there is heavy traffic but it at least flows...
The driving in China is positively frightening. The drivers are not only careless, they take tremendous risks seemingly without regard to the consequences.
If you're not driving, (and I wouldn't) there's not much you can do to ensure your safety. Drivers there were making extra lanes out of nothing, coming so close to our vehicle that they hit our rear view mirror. We saw 15 accidents in one day which was only about 3 hours of driving, one of which was only about 200m in front of us on a 110kph highway. It could have been us if the timing had been seconds different. A car had left the opposite side of the road, crashed over the barrier and landed on its roof on the roof of the car travelling in the same direction as us. It turned out that at least 5 people were killed that day.
The picture shows you how close the traffic is. The drivers take no notice of the road markings and create additional lanes.
In overall, Beijing is a very safe city. The only real danger we spotted was traffic. No, luckily we didn't see or get into accidents, but it looks like the only rule is that there are no rules.
In the intersections, the pedestrians move inches near bikers, rickshaws and cars. Apparently, the Chinese developed some kind of kungfu dexterity, because they seem to be very calm about it.
Examine closely the attached picture. It's taken on the bridge near the Hongqiao market. The cars don't form a straight line. Here and there you see people and bikes.
However, there are visible efforts to keep the situation under control. Since the traffic lights are mostly used as decoration, there are policemen on the liveliest spots. They are obeyed.
Whenever possible, use bridges or underground crossings.
Watch it on green light, cars may very well still run over you. If there is no policeman in sight they will drive on red light with the great confidence that you are more unsure of your life than the driver is for his car. Taxis especially are notorious. Cars can legally turn right on red light, pedestrians in the zebra crossing or not. As a pedestrian you have few rights in Beijing
I found it strange that many tourists who came to Beijing did not tell which taxi is a legal one. Especially when they went out of the Summer Palace,they took a 'taxi' and shouted to the driver:'read the meter'.The driver replied:'yes,yes,read the meter'. But how can they read the meter when the 'taxi' is a illegal one?
In half an hour when I was there, at least 4-5 groups of foreign tourists got on illegal taxi. I did not know what happened to them at final,but at least I know they would be charged more.
So, as a local, I decided to tell you which one is legal in Beijing.
you can tell the legal ones from the illegal ones as below:
1. the color of the legal taxis is special.
2.the number of the legal taxis is special. It begins with ‹žB XXXXX. The Chinese '‹ž' here means Beijing. 'B' here means tourist cars, including tourist buses and taxis in Beijing.
3.the lamp of the legal taxis is fixed on the top of the taxis.
Do you remember those?
Traffic is already a big problem with the growing number of vehicules and a real danger to one's life...
... do pay a lot of attention when crossing the streets - there are lots of cars and innovative drivers there...
I would recommend to visit Beijing in winter time as the pollution is really bad when the air is hot!!
Everything is true what people here on VTs wrote about traffic in Beijing.
My small contribution is this photo. I tried to cross street, it was green light and I had to stop couse light change and vehicles couldn't wait for pedestrian to finish crossing. Always estimate how much time you have on green.
The bus ride to Chengde took about 5 hours! Not only it is long and tiring, some of the roads are very bumpy and rough. As the bus will travel along the outskirts of Beijing. However, one will get to see some nice scenery of mountains and some unrestored parts of the Great Wall.
It is better to travel by train as it took less than 3 hours to reach Chengde from Beijing and the express trains are quite comfortable too.
Be aware that the traffic jam can make you loose a lot of time.
If you have decided to take a taxi to for example the Beijing Opera, then try to make a good timetable, so that you will not miss it because of all the traffic...
Pedestrians are lowest on the food chain on the streets of Beijing. You must watch out for everything. After pedestrians come bikes, then cars, then cabs and finally buses. Cabs stop for no one with the exception of buses. A friend of mine told me that his cab hit a guy on a bike. Most cars, especially cabs, will honk to let you know that they're coming. This is a warning to get out of the way. The will most likely not stop or even slow down. Even ifit seems that you have th righ of way as a pedestian a cab will just move on in. You will quickly learn how and when to cross the streets in Beijing. I'm amazed that I saw no accidents with cars, bikes or pedestrians when I was there.
Be careful on pavements -many holes, spikes, levels etc. You get used to it after a while
Be even more careful crossing roads -try and be with someone else or in a group
Potentially dangerous foods are everywhere -enjoy!
The worst is probably McDonalds and other 'western' cuisine. Pizza Hut is a possible exception.
Public transport is good esp subway. Busses are a good way of getting around.