"Metro: convenient and fast, but..." China Transportation Tip by Shixitong
China Transportation: 266 reviews and 211 photos
... also very crowded, especially during the usual office peak hours. From personal experience I can only write about the Shanghai Metro system, which is one of the fastest growing networks of the world. So far three lines are available, and further five lines are either planned or already under construction. But even with the existing three lines it is already possible to get to most major sights in Shanghai. The same applies to Beijing. More detailed information I will provide on my upcoming Shanghai page.
From a general point of view the subway system is definitely the fastest way to get through the city. Fares will cost between 2 and 4 RMB, depending on how far you go. Tickets can be bought for single trips only, or you use the public transportation card, that can be loaded up with money and then used in most public transportation vehicles such as buses, taxis, ferries etc. Even in cities without Metro system such a card is available. If you are on a sightseeing tour in China the best thing is to ask your hotel or tourguide about whether in your city such a card is available and if yes, where to get it. I found it enough to put 150 to 200 RMB on it - if you only want to use it for Metro, 50 RMB will be enough to start with. If you also expect taxi rides to be paid, especially in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai with long distances to be passed, one fare can cost 50 RMB or more. But even then the card relieves you of the hassle of always having to carry change with you.
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