Cities in China can be sprawling and vast, and sometimes there is no easy way to get from one end to the other. On top of that, getting around can sometimes cost you a little more than you were expecting to pay, like that cab ride where you nervously watched the ticker go up and up with your destination far within reach.
Fortunately, public transport in China is everywhere, and there are always numerous options to choose from. So which ones should we be using to cut costs and save more for going out at the end of a long week?
Instead of a taxi, take a Didi Chuxing rideshare
Didi Chuxing is China’s massively successful version of Uber (in fact, just last year it bought Uber in China and merged the two) and like Uber, you can save some RMB by using the service. Didi Chuxing rides would cost me on average 25% less than if I were to make the same trip in a taxi (for example, a 6 km trip costs me only about 16 RMB, whereas a taxi would cost me about 20 RMB). There is even an option where you can carpool with other riders to save a few extra RMB as well.
The only catch with using Didi Chuxing? As of today, it’s all in Chinese. However, if you usually make the same trips, Didi will save your locations so you don’t need to re-input them each time you use it. There is some better news though: come this Spring, Didi will be launching an English version for tourists or expats who maybe haven’t been as diligent with their language studies. Hang in there guys!
Instead of the metro, take the bus
Depending on the length of your trip, it can be significantly cheaper to take the bus instead of the metro (subway). There are usually buses with routes from one end of the city to the other, and most of them will charge a flat rate or a few RMB less than the same trip by metro. For example, I can take the metro 11 stations for 4.85 RMB, or I can take a bus to the same destination for 2.50 RMB. The downside to the bus is that the trip may take longer depending on traffic. But if you have the time to spare, I advise you to seek out cheap bus routes. Soon enough you’ll have a stack of coins to use for beer!
Instead of the bus or metro, use a bicycle sharing app
Bike shares have blown up in China over the past few months, with most big cities well-stocked with bikes from four major companies: Mobike, Ofo, BlueGoGo, and Xiaoming. Simply download one of these apps, use the bike locator on the app to find a bike, unlock it and start riding! You must pay a deposit ranging from 299 RMB (Mobike) to 99 RMB (the others). For every 30 minutes you ride, it will cost you either 0.5 RMB to 1 RMB depending on the bike. If you need to only go the length of two or three subway stops, a bike ride will save you about half the money, which again adds up over time with frequent trips. Word of warning: only one of the apps (Mobike) currently has an English version, and it also has the priciest deposit. Sometimes it pays to know Chinese!
The best thing about these bikes is that you can leave them anywhere on the sidewalk, so a bike is usually just a short walk away. Great time and money savers!
Follow these tips and your pockets will be full of 1 mao coins in no time. Come back for more tips on eating, saving money and travelling in East Asia!