Getting Around in Beijing

Jun 11, 2014 | Blog

Taxi | Getting Around in Beijing

If you don’t live in Beijing already (you should, it’s the coolest city ever) then you may have no idea just how large this place is. If you do reside here (congratulations, you are obviously a super cool individual) you will now be aware of the sprawling metropolis that you have come to inhabit.

With an area ten times larger than that of Greater London and a population of twenty million, getting around Beijing can at times be somewhat problematic. So, regardless of whether you live here or are simply visiting, we at That’s Mandarin have listed the best ways to get from A to B and the necessary lingo for your use.

 

Subway | Getting Around in Beijing

1. By Subway

With an ever-expanding subway that stretches its tentacles every few months, the underground transport system remains one of the biggest in the world. ‘So, surely that comes with its complications?’ you ask. Not really. At times it can feel like you’re a sardine being squeezed into a can, but overall it’s a clean, reliable system with only a small number of diversions during expansion periods. Tickets are fairly priced at an incredibly cheap 2 RMB regardless of how far you intend to travel, although there are plans to change this later in the year.

Useful Vocabulary

One ticket please
一张票
Yī zhāng piào

I want to buy a subway card
我要买一张地铁卡
Wǒ yào mǎi yī zhāng dìtiě kǎ

What time does the subway close?
地铁几点关门?
Dìtiě jǐ diǎn guānmén?

Where is the nearest subway?
最近的地铁站在哪儿?
Zuìjìn de dìtiě zhàn zài nǎr?

Too many people, what to do!
人太多了,怎么办!
Rén tài duō le, zěnme bàn!

Bicycle | Getting Around in Beijing

2. By Bike

Remember when Katie Melua sang ‘There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing’? While we do not doubt Miss Melua’s soothing words, it’s tough to get an exact figure. We’re pretty sure, however, that this number has grown somewhat due to the rise in city dwellers and all. Despite the high number though, bikes aren’t quite as noticeable as they once were due to the rise in disposable income and the ego-pleasing automobile. Status symbols aside, the classic push bike remains one of the most convenient inventions to own. Finding a car parking space in Beijing is about as easy as Chinese algebra and we don’t even want to mention the inconvenience of rush hour traffic jams (at least not until our next point about taxis, anyway). As you may have guessed, bikes here are affordable. But if you’re here for the short term, the red rent-a-bikes are also a good option and can be found in key areas around the city.

Useful Vocabulary

I like riding bicycles
我喜欢骑自行车
Wǒ xǐhuān qí zìxíngchē

I want to rent a bike
我想租一辆自行车
Wǒ xiǎng zū yí liàng zìxíngchē

My bike is broken
我的自行车坏了
Wǒ de zìxíngchē huàile

Can you fix it?
你会修吗?
Nǐ huì xiū ma?

Taxi | Getting Around in Beijing

3. By Taxi

Obtaining a driver’s license in Beijing is certainly doable as a foreigner, and relatively straightforward. By visiting the Foreign Affairs Department of Beijing Motor Vehicle Administration, Chaoyang District, a license can be acquired – providing, of course, you have done your homework and studied hard in preparation.

But the question remains: ‘Why to bother?’ Unless you absolutely need a car to travel far out for work, then cars can be more troublesome than they are of use, not to mention bad for the environment.

For that reason, delegating the laborious driving to someone else seems the way to go. With convoluted roads and endless streams of traffic during rush hour, it’s understandable that taxi drivers don’t always seem the friendliest of guys. Still, on the whole, they’re decent chaps, and while their English may not be up to scratch, the cabs can be found almost anywhere at any time. Not to mention the starting price of 14RMB per ride, Beijing’s taxis are a relatively cheap form of transport.

Just be sure you’re flanking a genuine (yellow striped) cab no matter how desperate you are to get home!

Useful Vocabulary

I want to go to…
我想去…
Wǒ xiǎng qù…

How much to go to…?
去…多少钱?
Qù…… Duōshǎo qián?

We can use the meter, right?
我们可以打表,对不对?
Wǒmen kěyǐ dǎ biǎo, duì bù duì?

Go left
向左走
Xiàng zuǒ zǒu

Go right
向右走
Xiàng yòu zǒu

Go straight ahead
一直走
Yìzhí zǒu

OK, stop here. We’ve arrived
好了,就停这儿吧。我们到了!
Hǎole, jiù tíng zhèr ba, wǒmen dàole

Scooter | Getting Around in Beijing

4. By Scooter

We’ve spoken about the cheap subway, the even cheaper bicycles, and the ubiquitous taxi, but one of the more fun and fashionable ways to get around these days is the electric scooter. Accessible from a number of shops, the prices range from a staggeringly cheap 1,000 RMB to a higher quality model in the area of 5,000 RMB. Simply remove the battery after parking up for the evening, take it inside and charge it overnight. The next day you’re ready to roll.

Whizzing around the city on your very own electric bike can certainly give you a taste of Beijing life, and after riding a scooter for a day or so, it will be difficult to return to that ‘walking’ thing you used to do with your legs. Enjoy the speed and freedom; just be sure to wear a helmet!

Useful Vocabulary

Battery
电池
Diànchí

No battery left
没电了
Méi diàn le

Fast

Kuài

Helmet
头盔
Tóukuī

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