Getting around Beijing is pretty easy, whether you take public transportation, do ride-sharing, or just walk (which in Chinese is humorously referred to as taking the number 11 bus, because your legs look like the number 11).
The Beijing subway is user-friendly, safe, and cheap. Even when there are a ton of people using the subway, I haven’t encountered any major problems. Before swiping your subway card, you pass through a quick security check and pass your bag through security as well.
Sometimes if you have a water bottle (or especially if you have more than one), the security guards will ask you to let them inspect it further. Once on the way to a trip I had an aerosol can of mousse in the side pocket of my backpack and that got confiscated, but other than that I haven't had any problems.
Buses are pretty easy to use as well, but are more of a hassle when there are a lot of people. A very important phrase to know before getting on a public bus (or the subway for that matter) in China: “下车!” xià chē， which lets others know you’re getting off the bus or subway car.
While riding a crowded bus in Tianjin, our stop wasn’t a very common stop so the driver just barely slowed, opened the door, then kept going, and if it weren’t for other passengers helping us yell “下车!” we would have ended up who knows where. Buses are also even cheaper than the subway, only 1 or 2 kuai whereas the subway is 3 to 6 kuai.
Besides the typical public transportation, Beijing also has some other interesting new alternatives. One is a ride-sharing app called 滴滴 Didi, which is basically like Uber but much more commonly used. Put in your location and destination, and a driver will show up within minutes.
More unique, though, is a bicycle-sharing service, the most popular of which is called Ofo, nicknamed 小黄车 xiǎo huáng chē or little yellow bike. These bikes are everywhere in the city. Scan the code on the bike, punch in the code the app gives you, and voila, it unlocks and you’re ready to ride. When you reach your destination just relock the bike and find a new one when you need to leave again.
These little yellow bikes are a huge part of current Chinese youth culture. Unfortunately our university, BFSU, just banned them on campus, but they’re still plentiful just outside the gate! It’s not a big deal for me, though, I don’t really fancy riding a little bike through Beijing traffic with no helmet, though it is nice to take them on a nice little ride around a college campus, which we did with friends we met in our Tianjin hostel!
However, no matter what form of transportation you take, traffic is normally a nightmare, so sometimes it’s faster just to walk!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I'm a junior majoring in Asian Studies and minoring in Graphic Design and Leadership Studies. My favorite hobby is language learning, specifically Asian languages! I also enjoy making music and taking photos.</p>