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China has fabulous luxury long-distance buses with air-conditioning and movies. However, buying tickets on them can be complicated if you don't speak Chinese, and you may end up on a cramped school bus. Taking a train or an internal flight is often much easier. Buses depart from the city's several long-distance bus stations. The main ones are: Dongzhimen (Northeast); Muxiyuan (at Haihutun in the South); Beijiao, also called Dewai (North); and Majuan or Guangqumen (East).
Note that information is not usually available in English at any of these phone numbers and sometimes the numbers don't even work. It's best to have your hotel or a travel agent make arrangements.
Beijiao (A30 Huayan Beili, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100191. 010/8284–6760.)
Dongzhimen (45 Dongzhimenwai Xiejie, Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100028. 010/6467–1346.)
Muxiyuan (16 Nanyuan, Fengtai District, Beijing, 100075. 010/6726–7149.)
Majuan (22 Guangqumenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100022. 010/6771–7620.)
Unless you know Beijing well, public buses aren't the best choice for getting around. There are hundreds of routes, which are hot and crowded in summer and cold and crowded in winter. Just getting on and off can be, quite literally, a fight.
The Beijing Public Transportation Corporation is the city's largest bus service provider. Routes 1 to 199 are regular city buses, and cost a flat fare of Y1. Routes 201 through 212 only run at night, costing Y2. Routes numbered 300 or higher are suburban, and fares depend on how far you're going—have your destination written in Chinese, as you have to tell the conductor so they can calculate your fare. If you bought an IC card for the subway, you can use it on buses. Most buses allow you to scan your card as you board. On the suburban buses you'll scan as you board and as you depart, calculating the fare. For buses that go even farther afield, there is a conductor onboard who will take your fare or scan your card. Newer, air-conditioned buses have an 800 route number; prices vary, but start at Y3. They also run more expensive tourist buses going to sights in and around the city—to the Summer Palace and Great Wall, for example. Prices start at Y40.
Beijing Public Transportation Corporation (29 Lianhuachi Xili, Fengtai District, Beijing, 100161. 010/6396–0008. www.bjbus.com.)