The subway is a great way to get around in Beijing. Though it can be very crowded at peak commuter hours, the service is comprehensive and efficient. Line 1 and Line 5 can be used to access many tourist attractions. The subway shuts down at midnight and starts again at 5am. Be aware that travellers carrying luggage will need to go through x-rays. Prepaid cards (Yîkâtông) can be bought that allow travel on subways and buses. This prepaid fare is the same for the subway, but reduced for buses. The Beijing bus system is comprehensive, but confusing for foreigners as most of the signs are in Chinese. Most buses operate from 5am to 11pm.
There are many taxis available, both official and unofficial. They charge a base fee of around CNY10, and there is a fuel surcharge of CNY1 on each trip. Tourists will generally pay more than locals, but travellers who feel cheated should ask for a receipt to make a complaint with. All official taxis have license plates that begin with the letter B. It is a good idea to have the destination written in Chinese to show the driver, as most do not speak English.
Driving in Beijing is a complicated and sometimes frightening process, with few English signs and non-stop traffic jams in the city. Visitors are not permitted to drive in Beijing without a Chinese driver's license, which can be acquired at the airport or transportation police stations.
Cycling is a good alternative, with numerous bicycle rentals around the city and well-defined bike lanes, bike parks, and the company of millions of other cyclists, especially at rush hour. It may seem intimidating, but cycling can be the best way to get around for the more adventurous traveller. For the Olympics in 2008, 50,000 brand new bicycles were made available and can now be rented at outlets close to subway stations, commercial districts, Olympic venues, hotels, and office buildings.
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