Transport network

In a country as vast as China, all modes of transportation are often available from short to long distances. Whether you choose a plane, train, boat, bus, car, subway, bike or just your feet, below is some information on the commuting options in China.

1. Plane

If your itinerary includes domestic flights, we will take care of booking while finding the best schedules and airlines for your trip. The price of the tour that we propose, therefore, takes into account these additional costs.

An array of airline options are available in China and connect travelers to most regions in China. This can be interesting when planning major movements, especially considering that the train is slower in comparison. National and regional companies provide transit options. With these companies, it is possible to travel from most major cities. Otherwise, you will have a stop going to your destination.

Generally, there are 150 airports that connected to Beijing by air and it is estimated that there will be 230 airports connected to the city by 2015.

You should know that it is common for an aircraft to be late traveling to China. Thus, it may occur, which could affect the course of your trip. We strive to ensure that your scheduled tour guide will help you at the airport and try to reorganize any visits you may have missed that were scheduled.

The Chinese standard for luggage is 40 kilograms for first class (88 pounds), 30 kilograms for business class (66 pounds) and 20 kilograms for the economy class (44 pounds). All customers usually take one 5 kilogram piece of hand luggage (11 pounds), except for passengers in first class because they can take two.  Be careful to respect the limitations posted by airlines because some airlines are stricter than previous years in enforcing rules and regulations.

In case you have excess baggage, additional charges will be your responsibility. In addition, the rules required that all bags in China have a locking system. Failure to comply with this rule may result in denial of baggage that you would like to transport on the aircraft. Thus, please double check to ensure that your luggage meets the standards of China’s General Administration of Civil Aviation.

2. Train

With an excellent rail network that upgrades on a daily basis, the train is a great way to travel. Unlike aircrafts, passengers that commute by train do not often experience delays so you are sure to arrive safely without encountering delays. With the help of European companies, the high-speed trains used in China are modern on main routes such as Beijing - Shanghai, Shanghai - Hangzhou, Shanghai - Xiamen, Beijing - Wuhan, Wuhan – Guangzhou, Urumqi - Lanzhou. among others. At the forefront of technology, these China Railway high speed (CRH) trains are clean and pleasant.  They also often exceed 350 kilometers per hour!

For routes to less popular cities in China, a traveler may ride the train for very long distances yet, these trains travel at slow speeds such as 80 kilometers per hour on average. It is possible to travel across China taking a train with the duration of 48 hours.  One must also be careful, however, because some trains are less modern and are sometimes not as clean as newer model trains. The squat toilet, the national culture of littering and spitting on the ground can shock some reluctant travelers in less developed trains. In this case, it is better to take the airplane that will shorten the journey along with a much cleaner experience.

Nevertheless, this means of transportation is fully accessible to people who have spare some time during their travels and want to save a few hundred Yuan. You will also have a unique experience commuting with a larger part of China’s population, thus, discovering a culture that is quite different than yours.

In high speed and slow trains, you will usually choose between four classes:

- Hard Seat: This is the cheapest and least comfortable option. In slow trains, seats are hard, as the name suggests, and you can only face forward without the ability to extend your chair in a more relaxed inclined state. It is therefore not advised to take this class, especially for a trip of more than an hour.

- Soft Seat: For first class customers, these seats are wide and comfortable.

- Hard Sleeper Berth, also known as a “Hard Sleeper:” To travel for several hours or at night, you can request a berth. It is a rather thin mattress or "hard" berth available for passengers that select this option. Each compartment has six berths. Considering the discomfort and lack of space, we rarely reserve this option for our customers.

- Soft Sleeper Berth, also known as a “Soft Sleeper:” This option consists of a private compartment space designated for 4 people. Its berths are composed of wide and thick mattresses. Although a good night's sleep is not guaranteed due to the rolling of the train, at least it is comfortable.

Trains offer a diner where you can buy Chinese meals, traditional food (e.g. instant noodles) and various snacks. An employee also walks throughout the train selling water and other products, however, you may prefer to buy your products in advance, as the prices are quite high when buying on board.

The guide will usually accompany you to the station to help you find your entrance area. It may happen, however, that the authorities will not let him/her go inside, considering that you have a to order a ticket in advance to be permitted in the departure hall. In this case, you should look for your train number to find the docking area. With the exception of modern stations where the signs are displayed in English, you may have to find your docking station based on the name of the city you’re heading to.

If you decide to go to the station by yourself, plan enough time in major cities to go through the security section, find your dock and get to your train. If this is the first time you will be going to the station, it is best to arrive an hour in advance. Be sure not to throw your ticket, as you will sometimes be requested to provide it upon boarding, during the train ride and/or during your departure from the destination city's station. As in all public places, remember to also take toilet paper with you.

In terms of the weight of cargo, the official regulation is 20 kilograms per person in the cabin and 50 kilograms for recording but controls are rare.

3. Boat

China is a large country full of rivers and bordered by more than 10,000 kilometers of sea. It is possible to cruise for several days on the Yangtze River, which is the third longest river in the world and the longest in Asia. We can also organize a boat trip on the Yellow River, which  is also very long. Additionally, many water parks and cities offer the opportunity to take a short cruise on the canals or rivers. For example, in Hangzhou you can take a canoe ride on the West Lake.

During your trip in China you will have the opportunity to ride in a boat for a single voyage or a cruise. If you book your plans yourself, make sure that the companies provide your transportation at the national level and are committed to using vessels that are in good condition.

Safety rules are observed even on small boats, whereas you will be asked to wear a lifejacket.

4. Private Vehicles

All of our tours offer private vehicles within different cities and regions. Only paths between remote areas or your own application will be by plane or train. With a private driver at your service most of the day, you will be free to go where you please while also saving time.

Vehicle size is dependent on the size of your small group. Whether traveling by car or minibus, you can enjoy the comfort of being alone with your guide and driver.

If you plan to travel with large suitcases, it is best to let us know in advance to ensure that we offer a large enough vehicle upon your arrival.

In terms of the quality of roads, it remains to be an issue in many regions. From the moment you step outside of major cities and highways, you may find that the road to good fortune and adventure may also be bumpy and dusty. If you have any back problems and/or are concerned for your back during any bumpy rides, we recommend that you plan to take a seat belt with you that you can keep while traveling, if you can’t find the place to buy a seat belt, please let us know in advance, we will prepare one for you.

5. Coach and bus

Some routes that are not accessible by planes or trains can be reached by bus. These routes would be placed on your itinerary through your request or our recommendation. The comfort of the bus and the road quality will depend on the region where you travel. We will always keep abreast of any conditions regarding these vehicles. Some buses offer berths, reclining seats, toilets and air conditioning while others offer nothing other than non-reclining seats and permit smoking. The journey can be very stressful but, for travelers with a small budget, you're in the right scenario to meet people, chaotic roads, worn shocks and possible faults.

For travelers that chose a trip in big cities without private car, the option to take the public bus to get to some sites are often available.  This is an economical way to get around, as the average rate is 1 or 2 Yuan.

We advise against taking the bus during rush hour because the buses will be so packed it’ll be hard for you to move.

The guide will provide all detailed information to find your bus and stops, but be careful because nothing will be said in English on bus.  Thus, you have to be resourceful to identify Chinese characters and the sound of a desired stop.

6. Taxi

The taxi is a very affordable and convenient way to get around the city. Each city sets a minimum price and average cost per kilometer. However, a run of 3 km generally remains below 15 Yuan in large cities, which is less than US$3!

Plan to take a paper with the address written in Chinese characters and pinyin because most drivers do not speak English. With the address written for them, they can just read it from your paper. The pinyin will be written for you in case you would like to read the address to the driver to see if he/she understands you or not.

Always make sure that the driver turns on the taximeter in their taxi and that it begins at minimum price. You can also try to negotiate the price with driver in advance, which may be more practical for long distances.

7. Metro

Very large Chinese cities including, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, are equipped with a well-developed underground metro system that have been around for many years. Secondary cities now have at least one subway line already built and others along that are waiting to be developed. This is the case for Wuhan, Hangzhou, Xi'an and Chengdu. With these additional means of transportation, it is very easy to get around downtown and avoid traffic jams during peak hours.

Metro stops are generally labeled in Chinese and English stations. The stops are often announced in both languages as well.

Do not buy multiple "single ride" metro tickets at a time to avoid having to wait in line because tickets bought will be valid only for the day.  If you attempt to use that ticket during the next day, it may not work.

8. Bike

You've probably seen pictures of Chinese cities where bikes outnumber cars. Well, what you’re seeing is accurate. In any city where you travel, you will see cyclists everywhere.  Sometimes the roads are a mix of car and bike lanes because bicycles are the most economical means of transportation for low-wage Chinese people.

In most cities and tourist sites, you will find small shops with bicycles for rent. Be sure to adhere to the rental time and conditions of any return of your deposit.

The con of bicycle renting is often quality of the bicycles that are offered. Bicycles with antiquated brakes do not always work.  Other items to check for on your bicycle are rust and functioning lights, considering that many bicycles in China have this issue. Thus, be very careful when selecting a bike to rent, especially if you go for a ride for a long distance because it may result in you being stuck somewhere that is far from the bike rental shop.

9. Walk

What better way to soak up the atmosphere of China than to explore the towns and countryside by foot.  By walking on foot, you can take the time to enjoy the scenery, meet people and get lost in the narrow streets of old quarters. Be sure to pay attention when crossing a road because traffic can be dense and dangerous in some areas.  Many bikes and electric scooters run in both directions and may surprise you at any moment.

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