If you are not scared to die you can take a taxi in China. Just kidding, but they drive like lunatics usually. It is very cheap though, compared to most other countries. Usually in the big cities they start with 10-13 kuai and then you pay a little per km after that. Suburbs will start from 5 rmb. E.g. If I take a cab from the airport to my house, which is a 70 minute drive, it costs me about 150 kwai. In The Netherlands they will drive you about 10 minutes for that amount.
A taxi is available when you see a red light in the window. But still, when a driver stops and asks you where to go, he will not always take you. This is nothing personal, but just not the direction he was planning to go. Or too close by, which doesn’t make him enough money. We once rented a taxi for the whole day to go to a tourist attration. He was so happy to have foreigners in his car that he wanted a picture, which he is probably showing to all his passengers. Bless.
Once you get in and have agreed on where to go, he will switch on the meter. You can hear the sound and a white ticket will come rolling out. 9 out of ten times you get treated fairly and just pay what the meter says. Sometimes they try to squeeze out more, but don’t bellieve any of that. There are no additional charges for luggage etc.
So how do you tell them where to go? Well, little chance that they speak English. So unless you speak their language, you should be well prepared. The address in Chinese characters, or the location on (the Chinese version of ) google maps will do. Some taxis don’t go all over the city, so they will drop you off at another taxistand where you can continue your journey. Only happened a few times to me, but don’t be surprised if it does occur.
Different kinds of taxis are the tricycles, mopeds or bicycle rikshas. They are okay for short distances, but haven’t got a meter. Chances are high you will pay way more than needed.
The metro has many different names, in English as well as Chinese, but most common are Lightrail, Metro or MTR (ditie in pinyin).
They usually come every 3 minutes and are very often quite busy. Avoid traveling during national Hoildays, because then the crowds are INSANE! Stops are written in characters and pinyin. The stations are also announced in both Chinese and English. They even tell you which side the doors will open. It doesn’t get any easier than that right?
You have to put your bag through a scanner and there is always lots of security present. If you have a bottle of water or any other drinks, you should keep those in your hands(not in the bag) and give it to one of the security people. They will scan it and give it back to you. When that machine is broken, they ask you to drink a sip and if you survive that, you can be on your way.
If you stay for a week or longer in one city it might be a good idea to buy a travel card on which you can put money. This way you don’t have to buy separate tickets every time and it gives you a discount. The card costs 20kuai. Travelling by metro is very cheap and convenient. For most big cities I have added a metro map in pinyin under the “What to do in…..” button.Transit stations are usually very busy, so if you have to get off, make sure you are close to the door. You could be walking up to ten minutes to reach the other line, that is how extremely big these metro networks are.
Next time more about busses, trains and planes.
Good luck travelling and try not to get frustrated!