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Chinese Silk Fan

Zhaoqing at Night - Seen from 7-Stars Lake and Crags

Modern Underground Trains - Pictured  are the Platform Safety Doors in ShenZhen

Making a Silk Fan by Hand In Guilin

Lion Dance

Rural Chinese Ferry

Ancient and Modern Mix in Foshan City

Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an

The Forbidden City, Beijing

Washing Clothes in the Li River, Guilin

Luxuary Night Cruise, Guangzhou

Girls Out Shopping in Hong Kong


Terraced Rice Fields, Yunnan Province

Motorcycle Taxi, Complete with Rider Taking-5. This Machine Appears to Feature the Latest in Ergonomic Design

Tourists Cycling Along The River Li in Guilin

Local Fisherman of the Li River, Guilin. The Cormorant's are trained birds used for fishing! They can count up to 7 fish, after which time they will not dive again unless fed!

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Great Wall of China. Not Only is this a Very Long Wall, But it also was used as a Transportation Route

Guangzhou at Night

A Scavenger woman and her Tricycle, as pictured taking a break on my local streets in Foshan

Hmmm! - A Bamboo People Carrier Pictured in Rural China

A Chinese Junk in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong

When the Pavements get too Crowded, Pedestrians Should Use the Road. Foshan 2007

Passengers Often Ride Side-saddle on  Bicycles in China
Useful Advice for Tourists Visiting China
This page offers general advice for Tourists Visiting China (September 2008)
The aim of this section is to give those travelling to China for the first time the general information they require to enjoy their stay

China has very good transportation systems with excellent airlines, rail and inter-city coaches for longer haul destinations. Ferries can also be common for short and medium haul destinations. Chinese favour buses for local travel, whilst foreigners may find taxi's more convenient, reliable and secure

1. Before you leave your hotel or apartment, please ensure you can get back there, as you will have to do this by reading and speaking Chinese!
2. Take your hotel business card with you, or alternatively have someone write your address in Chinese
3. Ensure each person in your party has this address, just in case you get separated
4. Collect business cards for all important places; or if a side street location, the business card of somewhere nearby on a main road
5. Learn to recognise the Chinese characters for your home City (Or district)
6. Have an emergency telephone number and share it with your party


Air transport is normally very safe and of high standard. The major operators are Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern. All of these carriers offer modern planes with excellent service. Most airports are either new or have been renovated during the last few years

International airports offer travellers high class services, and include Bureau de Change (To RMB only), numerous restaurants, and smoking areas. Regional airports are normally for linking to other Chinese cities, or occasionally to neighbouring countries. Most cities have local airports solely for use by small aircraft

Note: When in China fares to other International airports are usually higher than to neighbouring regional destination airports - which may turn out to be closer to your final destination also


Main Lines
Railways link all major cities and specific national industries (Coal and Power Stations). Otherwise the rail network is largely under developed, but recently revealed plans will see many new lines coming into service over the next few years. New railways tend to feature high-speed rail links such as the Chinese version of Japan's Bullet Train, which are built in association with German technology.

The trains themselves have three standards of coaches, but you will normally only be offered First Class. Third class is not always available. Fares are relatively cheap, and both First and Second Class offer comfortable modern coaches. First includes and army of staff to each coach, and in cases of border crossing as into Hong Kong, these are dealt with using a minimum of fuss. A seat is allocated for you, and you will be guided to it. Longer haul trains also feature sleeping cars

This is what Chinese call Metro, Tube or Underground. Major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have well developed systems which are also being heavily expanded over the coming years

Fares are normally very cheap, excepting airport links. Most stations now feature safety doors on the platforms, whilst coaches have some seating and a lot of standing room. At peak times these can become very crowded. Major planned extensions mean these systems will grow considerably, connecting with suburbs and also nearby smaller cities

Light Rail
I do not think China has any monorails that twist and sway over city streets. Correct me if I am wrong please

Many new light railway projects are currently under development all over China, and these are designed to integrate with Subway systems and other transportation networks and hubs


There are basically only two forms of ferry: Modern Sea Cats and local river boats that may also take a few cars on deck.

Sea Cats are designed solely for passenger use, and are used on major inter-city routes. Services are regular and the prices are very reasonable. In Guangdong they offer fast reliable transport between such places as Guangzhou or Shunde to Hong Kong. Their main hub is located in Hong Kong, where Sea Cats travel to many regional cities, and also to Macao. Check availability at times of flood or typhoon, as very rarely services are cancelled due to bad weather. Although services run several times in each direction each day, if you have an appointment to keep it is best to book a seat the day before

Local ferries are used on smaller rivers, and carry passengers, produce, and sometimes cars to the opposite bank or an island. These may appear old, but they are usually well serviced and controlled by skilled operators. Many offer 24 hour services, but do check sailing times in advance. In rural settings, these can be quite chaotic affairs, with ferries laden with all manner of items and little room for passengers - see photo on left


Buses are by far the most popular means of transportation in China, and are used extensively for local, district, and regional travel by nearly all Chinese people

Inter-City Coaches
Main operators run fleets of modern western style coaches, which come complete with licenced 'Bus TV' films and usually a western type toilet. They often have an attendant who will bring you a small bottle of water, and in the morning a free Chinese newspaper. They normally operate between the city's major bus stations, and will travel to all major towns and cities within a Province.

Some longer haul coaches are also available, especially from provincial capitals and other major cities to other major centres. Often these are sleeper-coaches which offer two tiers of bunks, and you should remove your shoes when using, and take refreshments with you. These coaches usually stop every couple of hours for a toilet break (Cigarette break for smokers).

Private equivalents of both also run on all major routes, and often connect via other towns and cities not serviced by official coaches. These are normally of an equally high standard and offer both normal and sleeper version depending upon final destination. On shorter routes of only a few hours, these will not have toilet or TV. However, they are usually a lot cheaper than official coaches, and can be caught at bus stops along major highways, corners of main road junctions in towns, and some suburban bus stops in large cities.

It is well worth looking for Private coaches, as in Foshan I can catch one of these on my doorstep to virtually any destination - thus saving me the long treks to and from the main city bus depot

Please note most of these coaches (Excluding sleeper and long haul of course), usually only operate between 7am and 7pm (Start time), and consider them as all returned to depot by 10pm (Specific exclusions)

District Travel
By this I mean local routes connecting neighbouring towns and cities, usually of no more than 2 hours duration. This section does overlap with the one above, but also includes other options not previously mentioned

Cross country coaches often support more unusual routes and are operated by small bus companies. They will use normal coaches that can range between excellent and appalling - take your pick! Charges are very low, normally around Y5 per hour, regardless of the state of the coach. These will have both driver and ticket assistant whom you will pay in cash

Mini-buses are very common also, and again service more local and / or unusual routes. These will either be 16 seater Toyota type things which are ok-ish, or small rectangular contraptions which normally have metal seats! These again have a ticket person, who often tries to drum up business at bus stops. The good thing about these buses is that they run for longer hours each day, and especially later into the night when all other coaches have been put to bed

Airport Express
Most major cities within a couple of hours of main International airports will over dedicated, scheduled coach links. These often operate for longer periods, and may have a separate booking office and departure point; within the main city bus depot. Check times yourself, but consider these may be open from 6am until midnight

Local buses
Chinese people usually use buses, which are very cheap, frequent, and service all city areas. City buses will have a standard charge, regardless of destination - often Y2 per trip. These are well used, and will probably be standing room only during rush hours. Most services begin around 7am, and most are finished by 9pm with very specific exceptions

Other Versions
Some cities like Guangzhou use Trolley buses, whilst others like Hong Kong Island have a Tram service. These are usually very cheap and reliable, but obviously run over restricted routes

Local Transportation

Excepting buses and other modes mentioned above, you will find:

Locally taxi's are usually a very good and safe means of getting around, just pay the price on the meter (Plus a small, official fuel surcharge). For longer trips you can haggle for a fixed price, but this often works out higher than the meter charge. Try to avoid using taxi's during rush hours as they can be very difficult to flag down on the street. Conversely; between 9pm and 7am, taxi's are probably your only means of transportation.

Taxi's usually operate 24hours a day, even in smaller towns. However, these may only have one or two specific places you can catch them. In cities they will cruise major streets all through the night. All work 24 hours and are normally shared by two drivers. Shift change is nominally 7am and 7pm, so expect a few minutes disappearance for changeover and refueling at these times

Motorcycle Taxi's
There are also motorcycle taxi's, which should be about half the price of a normal taxi fare, but they will try and inflate the price if they do not know you. They can also be excellent, especially during rush hours when they are able to squeeze through the traffic

Motor Tricycles
Avoid these guys as they are total rip-off merchants! Expect to pay ten times the normal taxi fare if you are stupid enough to try them. They should charge about the same as ordinary motorcycle taxi's

Motor Car Tricycle Taxi's
What can I say - these are basically tricycles with a modern miniature car body on top. They are only common in more rural cities and foreigners are unlikely to see them. If you do, treat them as you would a normal taxi

Private Drivers
Consider hiring a private driver for business trips, airport transfers, and day excursions. They can be excellent and many speak some English. You will have to haggle for a fair price, but they usually are pretty honourable and looking for repeat business. When you find one you like, ask for his business card

Note: Arriving at a factory in your own car is seen as very good 'Face' by Chinese Bosses

Private and Goods Vehicles:

Cars are very common on most Chinese roads and congestion is becoming a very serious problem. Most are the latest 'Top of the Range' models, and many are specifically made for the Chinese market. Chinese love big cars with boots, or MPV's and off-roaders. Features like air-con, Chinese Sat-Nav, and kerbside camera's for parking are normally standard equipment. Old cars are rare, and there does not appear to be a used car market

Container lorries and heavy trucks are normally banned from city roads; exceptions being industrial areas, and for collection and delivery. Otherwise they stick to the numerous Expressways and Major Roads

Medium sized trucks (Four wheelers) do use city streets, but have restrictions too complex to detail here. Neither heavy nor medium sized trucks are common on most city or town roads

Light trucks: car size and a bit larger are a very common sight, and you may consider these to be the normal working vehicles for freelance drivers and small businesses

Many Chinese use bicycles daily, but please forget the traditional stereotypes known in the west. It simply is not so! Normally only schoolchildren and a few adults cycle in modern towns and cities. Virtually all of them have lowered crossbars = female style. Mountain bikes and racers are extremely rare, and most are normal bicycles. You can buy one for around $20, complete with padlock and both front basket and rear carrier, but without bell or pump.

Local delivery men and scavenger people often use tricycles, which have a boxed bed at the back for transporting goods. Often these can become seriously overloaded, but no one pays any attention. Wealthier people may have motorised versions, or larger versions with changeable beds

Weird Vehicles
Apart from everything mentioned above, there are other numerous form of transport you will encounter whilst travelling around China. One of the most common is a small articulated diesel contraption. It has an engine mounted above the two front wheels and handlebars. A frame come backwards, finishing in a horizontal swivel coupling. The rear half begins with the rest of the coupling, and has space for a driver to sit directly behind and above. The other two wheels support this and a rear bed, which is normally boxed, but can come in any imaginable form or usage. Because of the coupling, front or rear ends can be very easily changed.

These have similar functions to old style tractors as used by small western farmers - in the days when smallholding's still existed. As well as being rough terrain vehicles, they can also be used for carrying things, or adapted for sowing and ploughing by changing the rear end. They also have Power Take-Offs to run other machinery or supply power where it is needed. Very basic, cheap, and adaptable machines that are very simple to maintain.

I believe they have a market in the west, where machinery has become far too complex and expensive. Contact me about exporting these if you are interested

Other weird vehicles will be added as time and inclination allow

Emissions and Pollution

Please note that most road vehicles have appeared only over the last 20 years. Old vehicles, especially old technology trucks and buses are heavy polluters. These are gradually being replaced, but it takes time and cannot be accomplished overnight.

Modern vehicles comply with latest International emission standards, and there is rapid expansion in new technological fields such as electric buses and duel fuel cars. Chinese R&D have tested production models that also incorporate solar panels fitted to roofs, and other innovative ideas. Alternative fuels also feature highly, with models being developed for main stream productions

This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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