In terms of touring in China in 2020, most vacationers choose to both fly or hop on a prepare. The reasoning is sort of easy: flying is quick and trains are low-cost. There are occasions, nevertheless, when China’s huge, intercity bus system is your greatest (or solely!) choice. In these circumstances, you’ll need to perceive the right way to journey by bus in China – and that’s the place this traveler’s information will come in useful!

How to travel by bus in China

Maybe you’re touring China on a price range and flights are too costly or the prepare is just too full. Perhaps you’re heading to a spot that isn’t serviced by an airport or prepare station.

Regardless of the cause, if you happen to plan to take a bus in China, this 2020 information to China buses ought to present every little thing it’s good to know earlier than you journey.

Because it has ended up being a comparatively lengthy information, I’ve divided this into a number of “chapters” to assist make it straightforward to digest:

I hope you’ll discover this China bus information helpful! Should you’d quite obtain the PDF, you are able to do so right here.

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Execs and Cons of Taking a Bus in China

Pros vs Cons of Bus travel in China

There are a selection of the reason why you would possibly need to take a bus in China…in addition to a couple of causes you’d probably need to keep away from it. Over the last decade, I’ve seen my justifiable share of each whereas touring on a Chinese language bus.

Let’s begin by breaking down a couple of of the explanations {that a} bus is an effective choice for vacationers:

  • Frequency: Chinese language buses usually run at the next frequency than flights in China or trains. More often than not you don’t have to fret about reserving prematurely as a result of there might be a bus between two cities that runs not less than as soon as each hour, if no more.
  • Comfort: In comparison with Chinese language airports and prepare stations, safety at a bus station is a breeze. I not often arrive at a bus station any sooner than 30 minutes earlier than my departure and I nonetheless find yourself ready for 15 minutes.
  • Station Location: More often than not, Chinese language bus stations are situated within the coronary heart of a metropolis versus airports and prepare stations that are often on the sting of city. This cannot solely prevent time, it additionally saves you the expense of a taxi into city.
  • Availability: I’ve by no means purchased a bus ticket sooner than a day prematurely and sometimes I purchase it on the day of departure. Not like flights and trains in China, bus tickets are inclined to have extra availability, supplying you with the flexibleness to vary your itinerary at a second’s discover.
Get paid to travel, live and work overseas in China!

That’s what makes China bus journey good. Right here’s a little bit of what I don’t like about China bus journey:

  • Unreliable Consolation: Typically you get a comparatively new bus however usually you’ll end up driving a car that has seen a pair a long time price of use. It’s of venture you’re taking and typically it may be fairly uncomfortable.
  • Unreliable Delays: Surprising delays are attainable (or in China, quite possible) it doesn’t matter what type of transportation you determine to take. Not like planes and trains, buses often depart proper on time. The problem comes with the unpredictability of the roads. I’ve been caught in horrendous metropolis visitors for hours, my bus has been stopped on the freeway for a safety checkpoint, my bus has damaged down and I’ve run into street building delays. It sucks however there’s nothing you are able to do about it.
  • A Completely different Form of Traveler: Buses are the poor man’s transportation, there’s simply no means round it. Don’t get me incorrect, the individuals are nice, however because it’s not a high-profile technique of transportation the foundations don’t at all times get enforced. Smoking is a superb instance: it’s not unusual to see folks smoking on a bus regardless of quite a few indicators saying it’s forbidden. I’ve additionally seen a person stroll onto a bus carrying a automobile windshield. I’m not even kidding. His seat mate was depressing throughout the complete journey! These sort of issues technically aren’t permitted however the guidelines are way more relaxed on Chinese language buses.

Hopefully I haven’t discouraged you from making an attempt to take a bus in China, I simply need to ensure you have a dose of actuality.

There are many good causes to take a bus in China – and I hope you do! – however ensure you set your expectations earlier than shopping for your ticket.

A Peek Inside a Chinese language Bus

Should you’ve by no means had an opportunity to look inside a Chinese language bus and also you’re afraid about what you’re entering into, enable me to stroll you thru the typical bus.

Usually talking, there are two fundamental sorts of buses in China: the seated bus and the sleeper bus.

China Seated Buses (Conventional)

The seated bus is strictly what it seems like. There are often two units of two seats with a center aisle and all of the seats dealing with towards the entrance of the bus.

As a tall man, I’ve by no means had a grievance in regards to the leg room in a Chinese language bus however the seats may be considerably slim.

Most buses have an leisure system that can play Chinese language films all through the period of the journey and most buses have an air-conditioning and heating system (although not all).

Your seat will recline barely however don’t anticipate an ideal sleeping place. A number of seated buses have a toilet however usually they gained’t be out there to be used (otherwise you gained’t need to use them anyway).

All seats in a seated bus are priced equally and are bought on a first-come-first-serve foundation. Costs are mounted.

China’s Sleeper Buses

A sleeper bus is totally different in that vacationers every have a mattress as an alternative of a seat. There are often three rows of beds with two aisles in between and a toilet towards the again (which once more, could or will not be out there to be used). There’s a high and backside mattress the complete size of the bus.

Anyone whose peak exceeds 5’8″ can have bother becoming onto one in all these beds, as I do. I don’t have the choice to hold my ft over the sting since that’s anyone else’s mattress so I find yourself having to scrunch up a bit.

These buses additionally often have an leisure system, A/C and heating, though all of it is determined by the age of the bus you’re driving.

Beds are priced larger for the highest bunk than the underside bunk in a sleeper bus.

Attending to a Chinese language Bus Station

To the unseasoned China traveler, it appears easy sufficient to discover a bus station, proper? Simply search for the phrase for “bus station” in your helpful Mandarin phrasebook and inform the taxi driver.

Growth! You’re finished 🙂

Sadly, it’s not at all times that straightforward. Excluding small cities, most cities in China have quite a few totally different bus stations scattered round.

One could also be a “lengthy distance bus station” whereas the opposite is an “Worldwide Bus Station.” Usually, bus stations are categorized by which course their buses head (north, south, east or west). Others by which particular metropolis or area they service.

The underside line is that the phrase “bus station” simply doesn’t reduce it. It’s essential to know precisely which bus station you need to go to. How do you do that? Listed below are a pair methods:

  • Journey Information Books: Usually, the very best China journey information books will give particulars on which bus stations go to which cities.
  • Ask Your Lodge: Likelihood is they gained’t know off-hand, however they’ll be capable of ask the suitable folks after which write down the identify of the bus station on a bit of paper you can hand your China taxi driver (learn extra on the right way to take a taxi in China).
  • Ask Your Taxi Driver: Don’t simply inform the taxi driver to go to a bus station, inform him particularly which metropolis you’re taking a bus to. In lots of circumstances, a taxi driver will know the place you must go.

How you can Discover the Bus Schedule in China

For my part, essentially the most complicated half about taking an intercity bus in China is determining the schedule.

Not like trains and airplanes, you possibly can’t simply test schedules and even purchase tickets on-line. It’s attainable, however it’s at all times in Chinese language and it’s not a easy course of.

For many main intercity connections, China buses generally depart as soon as each twenty minutes, half-hour or hour. I’m making a serious generalization right here, I understand. I’m assuming you’re not eager to go to some po-dunk village that isn’t on any map.

Travel to China by working as an English teacher!

There are some circumstances the place solely a handful and even one or two buses depart every day. On this case you’ll need to have an concept of the bus schedule.

I’m going to separate the next suggestions by whether or not or not you possibly can learn Mandarin:

  • Sure, I Can Learn Mandarin! Congratulations, your job might be a bit simpler right here. Most bus stations both publish their schedule on the wall or have an LED board that lists locations and departures to every metropolis. Typically they’re translated into English however usually they aren’t. Since you possibly can learn Mandarin, I assume you can even write/sort as nicely. On this case, I’ve had reasonable success trying up “[city] to [city] bus schedule” in Mandarin on The outcomes aren’t at all times up-to-date, however you’ll not less than get a normal concept of when a bus ought to depart and the way a lot it ought to value.
  • No, I Can’t Learn Mandarin. That’s okay, it’s actually not a giant deal. As I discussed in an above chapter, you possibly can at all times try a very good China journey information ebook for bus schedules, though you must make it possible for the ebook is the most recent version. Different choices embrace utilizing a Chinese language voice translator app or simply asking the folks on the bus ticket counter who can usually present you on a pc display screen the occasions of departure and the way a lot a ticket will value. Alternatively, maybe your lodge or hostel may give you some good data.

How you can Purchase Bus Tickets in China

Since shopping for tickets on-line for a bus in China has not but turn into an choice, you’re left with solely two choices. You should purchase a ticket on the bus station or (possibly) have a proxy do it for you.

How to buy tickets at the station

China now runs on a “real-name ticket system.” Because of this it’s important to have an official type of ID (your passport) in an effort to buy bus tickets. As soon as your ticket is purchased, you possibly can’t switch this ticket to anyone else with out returning it and shopping for a brand new one.

Standing in line at a Chinese language bus station isn’t my favourite exercise on the earth. It’s often not as unhealthy as, say, standing in line at a prepare station although.

More often than not I arrive on my day of departure, stand in line and buy a ticket. You’ll need to have money prepared for the acquisition since financial institution playing cards often aren’t accepted. They may settle for WeChat and Alipay, although, so in case you have WeChat setup in your cellphone you possibly can pay utilizing this as nicely.

It was once that hostels would provide a ticket buying service for friends (I’m undecided what number of nonetheless provide this). You would want to supply a photocopy of your passport they usually’ll cost you a charge, however not less than you don’t have to face in line your self.

China Buses: Incessantly Requested Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about buses in China

I’ve tried to supply as a lot data as I can within the above chapter. Nonetheless, I persistently obtain questions that I need to reply right here intimately.

What are you able to tackle a bus?

The great thing about the Chinese language bus is you can take nearly something you need. Individuals take bicycles, chubby items of bags, devices…you identify it. There isn’t an official weight restrict so no matter can simply match within the beneath hatch is often permitted.

What are you prohibited from taking over a bus?

Like another type of transportation in China, there are nonetheless some issues you can’t take with you thru the safety checkpoint of the bus station. This consists of: knives, bottles of any sort of liquid, gasoline canisters (used for tenting in China), lighters, and many others. For drinks, you should buy water and sodas at retailers contained in the bus station.

Are you able to smoke on a China bus?

Whereas formally prohibited, sadly I’ve seen loads of passengers and even bus drivers smoke on a China bus. Most individuals await a relaxation cease to tug out their cigarettes however that’s not at all times the case. Should you don’t like smoking, it’s not rude to ask the smoker subsequent to you to place out their cigarette. Be daring! You’re a foreigner and you will get away with it.

Are there electrical shops on a China bus?

No. I want there have been however I’ve but to see a seated or a sleeper bus with electrical shops.

Can I get off wherever alongside the bus route?

Sure, you possibly can. Simply inform the driving force precisely the place you need to get off. Whether or not it’s a selected village or place alongside the street, they may cease to allow you to off.

Do buses choose up hitchhikers in China?

Sure, they do. Should you’re out within the boondocks, you possibly can stand on the facet of the street and attempt to wave down a bus. They gained’t cease in the event that they’re full, but when they cease simply inform them the place you’re occurring and hop on. You’ll need to pay the driving force instantly they usually’re often fairly good about giving a good worth for transport.

Bus Ideas from a Seasoned China Traveler

Over the numerous years that I’ve taken buses all throughout China, there are a couple of fast suggestions I’ve realized. I imagine they could possibly be useful to you and even prevent cash. Hopefully you discover them helpful!

  • Take the Night time Bus: Wish to avoid wasting cash? Take the evening sleeper bus to avoid wasting your self the cash of a lodge. It gained’t be as snug of a sleep however you’ll handle, I promise.
  • Take Your Personal Meals: The remainder stops for buses may be sketchy at greatest. Meals choices are restricted and the hole-in-the-wall eating places are often a recipe for catastrophe. Refill on meals earlier than you allow to ensure you can survive on what you might have in your personal bag.
  • Maintain Valuables Up High: Whereas I undoubtedly advocate you retailer your baggage within the decrease storage compartments, ensure you have all of your valuables with you at your seat. I’ve identified a pair individuals who have had objects stolen from the under compartments.
  • Convey Your Personal Mild: This tip is for the in a single day sleeper buses. Typically you’ll have a light-weight to learn by however many occasions you gained’t.

Take pleasure in Your China Bus Journey!

That’s it!

I hope you’ve been inspired to provide buses in China attempt after studying this 2020 information to taking a bus in China. I’ve totally loved the expertise and journey of taking a bus throughout China’s lovely panorama. I hope you might have the chance to do the identical!

In case you have any questions, please let me know within the feedback under. If this information has been helpful please share it on Fb, Twitter, Google+ or another social media platform.

Keep in mind, if you happen to’d wish to obtain a PDF model of this China bus information to have with you, enter your e mail handle under. I’ll ship it to you instantly.

Do not Have Time to Learn this Bus Information?

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