Public Transport in Guangzhou
Guangzhou is quite a sprawling city and even the tourist attractions are spread out enough to make exploring it by foot impractical. The city boasts a very good subway system which will satisfy most transport needs while taxis are fine for those hard to reach places.
If you’re staying in Guangzhou for an extended period it might be worthwhile to buy a Yang Cheng Tong card. Similar to London’s Oyster card or Hong Kong’s Octopus card, it can be used to pay for the subway, buses and some taxis as well as some goods in shops. The card gives a 5% discount on subway fares. The Yang Cheng Tong costs ¥80, including a ¥30 refundable deposit and ¥50 credit, and can be purchased at subway stations.
Getting Around Guangzhou By Subway
The excellent Guangzhou subway system will meet the needs of most tourists to Guangzhou. The system is modern, clean and easy to navigate. All the stations that tourists are likely to use have English signs and there are announcements in English on the trains telling you the name of the next station. Some of the more far-flung stations are missing English signage, however. The first trains start from the ends of the lines around 6am while the last ones leave around 11pm. Trains arrive every 4-7 minutes.
Fares range from ¥2 to ¥14, depending on the distance traveled. For the purposes of tourists, who will mainly be traveling in the inner-city, the fare generally won’t exceed ¥4. Buying tickets is a straightforward affair as stations are stocked with touch-screen ticket machines in Chinese and English. The machines accept coins and notes up to ¥20. You can break larger notes at the Customer Service Center without having to utter a word – just hand over the bill you want broken. A single journey ticket takes the form of a plastic token, which you place on the scanner when entering a station and deposit in the slot at the barriers upon exit.
The subway system covers most of the major tourist attractions, the train stations and also Baiyun Aiport. And the system is constantly being expanded.
Getting Around Guangzhou By Taxi
Taxi is the most convenient way to get around Guangzhou when the subway isn’t an option. Taxis are plentiful, though it can be very difficult to get one during peak hours. There are dedicated taxi stands around the city, but you can usually hail a cab from anywhere. To avoid communication problems, take the name of your destination written in Chinese and show it to the taxi driver.
Guangzhou taxis are expensive compared to other Chinese cities, but still very cheap by Western standards. Flagfall for taxis in Guangzhou is ¥7, which covers you for the first 2.3km. Each additional kilometer costs ¥2.6. An extra ¥1 fuel surcharge should be added to the final fare shown on the meter. Prices rise at night and might be slightly different depending on the taxi company.
Getting Around Guangzhou By Bus
Trying to decipher the bus system is probably more hassle than it’s worth. But those determined to take buses will pay ¥2 per trip within the Guangzhou center. Buses are usually very crowded. Stick to the subway if possible.
Getting Around Guangzhou By Bicycle
The streets of Guangzhou aren’t exactly ideal for bike-riding due to the incredible crowds of people, narrow streets and brash drivers. But you can rent bikes on Shamian Island if you want to pedal around there, or beyond.