Getting Around

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Getting Around

On Foot: Though traffic and modernization have put a bit of a cramp in Beijing's walking style, meandering remains one of the best ways to experience the capital—especially the old hutongs that are rich with culture and sights.

By Bike: The proliferation of cars (some 1,000 new automobiles take to the streets of the capital every day bringing the total to more than 4 million vehicles) has made biking less pleasant and more dangerous here. Fortunately, most streets have wide, well-defined bike lanes often separated from other traffic by an island. If a flat tire or sudden brake failure strikes, seek out the nearest street-side mechanic, easily identified by the bike parts and pumps. Bikes can be rented at many hotels and next to some subway stations.

By Subway: The subway is the best way to avoid Beijing's frequent traffic jams. With the opening of new lines, Beijing's subway service is becoming increasingly convenient. Beijing now has eight lines, and an express line to the airport. Most tourist spots are located close to Line 1, which runs east-west through Tiananmen Square, and Line 2, which runs in a loop tracing Beijing's ancient city walls (and the Second Ring Road). Transfers between these lines can be made at the Fuxingmen and Jianguomen stations. The subway runs from about 5 am to midnight daily, depending on the station. Fares are Y2 per ride for any distance and transfers are free. Stations are marked in both Chinese and English, and stops are also announced in both languages.

By Taxi: The taxi experience in Beijing has improved significantly as the city's taxi companies gradually shift to cleaner, more comfortable new cars. In the daytime, flag-fall for taxis is Y10 for the first 3 km (2 mi) and Y2 per km thereafter. The rate rises to Y3 per km on trips over 15 km and after 11 pm, when the flag-fall also increases to Y11. At present, there is also a Y1 gas surcharge for any rides exceeding 3 km. Be sure to check that the meter has been engaged to avoid fare negotiations at your destination. Taxis are easy to hail during the day, but can be difficult during evening rush hour, especially when it's raining. If you're having difficulty, go to the closest hotel and wait in line there. Few taxi drivers speak English, so ask your hotel concierge to write down your destination in Chinese. You can also use the translations throughout this book; simply point at the Chinese character and your cabbie will know where to go. Be sure to take a hotel card with you for the return trip.

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