Getting Around

BY METRO The Beijing Metro underwent a systemwide revamp in late 2002—new English signs, detailed maps, numbered stations—and is now the easiest and often fastest way to move around. Trains run from 5am to 11pm on two underground lines (ditie) and one new light-rail line (chéngtie). Line 1 runs east-west past Tian'an Mén and the Forbidden City. Line 2, or the Loop Line, is a closed circle that roughly follows the path of the old Tartar City wall. The light-rail Line 13, connected to Line 2 at Xi Zhi Mén (201) and Dong Zhi Mén (214) stations, swings far into the northern suburbs. Several other lines, such as north-south Line 5, and one to the airport, will be completed by 2008.

At present, paper tickets, purchased at booths in each station, cost ¥3 (454) for a ride to anywhere along lines 1 and 2 (free interchange). A combined ticket (huànchéng piào) for lines 2 and 13 costs ¥5 (604). Payment is supposed to switch to an automated IC (integrated circuit) card system at the end of 2003. The system will supposedly charge ¥2 (304) for the first three stops on any line, and ¥1 (154) for every three stops after that. See Metro map on the inside back cover.

BY TAXI For now, small, Chinese-produced Xiàli are the cheapest taxis (¥10/ $1.20 for the 1st 3km/2 miles, then ¥1.20/154 per km), but these will be phased out before 2008. Larger Fùkâng (Citroën) hatchbacks and VW Jettas are the next level up (¥10/$1.20 for the 1st 3km/2 miles, then ¥1.60/204 per km), followed by full-size VW Santanas and foreign imports (¥12/$ 1.40 for the 1st 3km/2 miles, then ¥2/254 per km). Rates per kilometer jump by 50% after 15km (9 miles). Always insist on using the meter unless negotiating for journeys out of town, in which case be clear about the price beforehand and withhold payment until your return. Register complaints with the Bureau of Communications (& 010/6835-1150, in English). Call a cab at & 010/6837-3399 (no English), but this is usually unnecessary since there are so many on the street.

BY BUS This is how the vast majority of the city's residents move around, and riding with them is as close (literally shoulder-to-chest) as you can get to understanding the authentic Beijing. City buses and trolleys (nos. less than 124) charge a flat fare of ¥1 (154). Longer rides on air-conditioned coaches (nos. 800-900) can cost ¥4 (504) or more. Most buses run between 5am and 11pm (specific times are posted at the stops).

BY BICYCLE A bike is the best way to stay in touch with the city between sights, and faster than a taxi when traffic is bad, but you'll have to pay attention to the cars and other riders, both of which pose risks to the unwary. Simple bikes are available for rent at a number of hotels, usually for between ¥10 ($1) and ¥30 ($4) per day. Warning: Avoid the three-wheel pedicabs (sànlûnche)—a ride almost always ends in an argument over price, and there's no such thing as a good deal.

ON FOOT Beijing is no friend of the pedestrian. The city's sights are scattered and most of its roads are broad rivers of unlovely gray with few channels for safe crossing. The only parts of the city where walking is practical are the few remaining hutong neighborhoods, where the stroll is the point. Otherwise, use a vehicle.

FAST FACTS: Beijing_

American Express Emergency check-cashing is available to American Express cardholders at major branches of the Bank of China (including one in the basement of Tower 2 at the China World Trade Center) and at the CITIC Industrial Bank inside the CITIC building (Guoji Dasha) on Jianguo Men Wai Dajie, west of the Friendship Store. For a full list of check-cashing banks, and for emergency card replacement, visit the American Express office at the China World Trade Center, Room 2101 in Tower 1, Jianguo Men Dajie 1 (Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm, Sat 9am-noon; & 010/65052888). American Express travel services are handled in Room 417 in the CITS Building at FuxTng Men Dajie 103 (Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:30pm; & 010/ 6607-1575).

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs Larger branches of the Bank of China typically exchange cash and traveler's checks on weekdays only, from 9am to 4pm, occasionally with a break for lunch (11:30am-1:30pm). Most central is the branch at the bottom of Wangfujing Dajie, next to the Oriental Plaza, with forex and credit-card cash advances handled at windows 5 to 11 (until 5pm). Other useful branches include those at Fucheng Men Nei Dajie 410; on Jianguo Men WaI Dajie, west of the Scitech Building; in the Lufthansa Center, next to the Kempinski Hotel; and in Tower 1 of the China World Trade Center. One other bank that offers forex is the CITIC Industrial Bank (see "American Express," above). Outside the airport, Bank of China ATMs accepting international cards include those outside the Wangfujing Dajie branch mentioned above. Others exist further north on Wangfujing Dajie, outside the XTn (Sun) Dong'an Plaza (24 hr.); on the left just inside the Pacific Century Plaza on GongtT Bei Lu east of SanlTtun (9am-9pm); and adjacent to the Bank of China branch next to the Scitech Building (see above; also 24 hr.). The Citibank ATM east of the International Hotel and the HSBC machine at the entrance to COFCO Plaza, roughly opposite each other on Jianguo Men Nei Dajie, are very useful. Doctors & Dentists For comprehensive care the best choice is BSijTng United Family Hospital (Hemujia YTyuan; & 010/6433-3960) at Jiangtai Lu (2 blocks southeast of the Holiday Inn Lido); it is open 24 hours, is staffed with foreign-trained doctors, and has a pharmacy, dental clinic, in- and out-patient care, and ambulance service (see "Emergencies," below). Other reputable health-service providers, both with 24-hour ambulance services, are the International Medical Center (& 010/6456-1561), inside the Lufthansa Center; and International SOS Clinic and Alarm Center (& 010/6492-9111), in Building C of the BITIC Leasing Center (Xing Fu San Cun, Bei Lu 1).

Embassies & Consulates BeijTng has two main embassy areas—one surrounding Ritan Gongyuan north of Jianguo Men Wai Dajie, and another in SanlTtun north of GongtT Bei Lu. A third district, future home of the new U.S. Embassy, has sprouted up next to the Hilton Hotel outside the north section of the East Third Ring Road. Embassies are typically open Monday through Friday from 9am to between 4 and 5pm, with a lunch break from noon to 1:30pm. The U.S. Embassy is in Ritan at Xiushui Dong Jie 2 (American Citizen Services: & 010/6532-3431, ext. 5344 or, after hours, 010/ 6532-1910; fax 010/6532-4153). The Canadian Embassy is at Dong Zhi Men Wai Dajie 19 (& 010/6532-3536; [email protected]). The British Embassy consular section is in Ritan at Guanghua Lu 1 (& 010/8593-6076; fax 010/8529-6081). The Australian Embassy is in Sanlitun at Dong Zhi Men Wai Dajie 21 (& 010/6532-2331; fax 010/6532-4605). The New Zealand Embassy is in Ritan at Dong Er Jie 11 (& 010/6532-2731, ext. 220; fax 010/6532-4317).

For onward visas: the Cambodian Embassy (in Sanlitun at Dong Zhi Men Wai Dajie; & 010/6532-2790) offers 1-month visas for ¥300 ($38), processed in 1 to 3 days; the Laotian Embassy (in Sanlitun at Dongsi Jie 11; & 010/6532-1224) charges U.S. citizens ¥280 ($35) and Canadian citizens ¥336 (C$57) for a 15-day visa, processed in 3 days; the Mongolian Embassy (in Ritan at Xiushui BeIi Jie 2; & 010/6532-1203) charges ¥320 ($40) for a 1-month visa, processed in 4 days (but U.S. citizens don't need a visa); and the Vietnamese Embassy (in Ritan at Guanghua Lu 32; & 010/6532-5415) charges ¥520 ($65) for a single-entry 1-month visa and ¥1,200 ($150) for a multiple-entry 3-month visa, both taking 3 to 5 days to process. Obtaining a visa at the Russian Embassy (in Sanlitun at Dong Zhi Men Bei Zhong Jie 4; & 010/6532-1381) is notoriously difficult; they now claim you must have a "voucher" from a travel agency (not a hotel) in order to be granted a 1-month tourist visa (¥560/$70 for U.S. citizens; ¥400/$50 for everyone else; 5 days to process). Also, in retaliation for new U.S. immigration policies, U.S. citizens now have to fill out an extra interrogation-style form when applying. If you have problems, contact the Beijing office of Aeroflot (1st floor Jinglun Hotel; & 010/6500-2412) for help.

Emergencies For medical emergencies and ambulance service 24 hours a day, call the United Family Health Center emergency number at & 010/ 6433-2345 or the International SOS Alarm Center (& 010/6492-9100). Internet Access Internet bars in Beijing are subject to numerous regulations (no one under 18, no smoking, and so on) and are restricted in number. The best bet for affordable Internet access is inside any of the city's various youth hostels; the cost is usually ¥10 ($1) per hour. There are two conveniently located Internet bars on the third floor of the Lao Che Zhan (Old Train Station) shopping center next to Qian Men. Qianyi Wdngluo Kafeiwu is open from 9am to 11pm and charges ¥20 ($2.50) per hour in a cafe setting with a full coffee menu. A simpler, nameless place next door, open from 9am to midnight, charges ¥6 (80tf) per hour. The fastest in-room dial-up service is 95962 (user name and password 263).

Maps & Books Maps with Chinese characters, English, and/or pinyin can be purchased cheaply (¥5/60tf) from vendors near major sights and in hotel lobbies and bookstores. The best selection can be found inside and immediately to the left at the Wangfujing Bookstore (9am-9pm) at Wangfujing Dajie 218, north of the Oriental Plaza's west entrance.

The best selection of English-language books in Beijing can be found at the clearly marked Foreign Languages Bookstore (Waiwen Shudian;

9am-8:30pm) at Wangfujing Dajie 235, opposite the XTn (Sun) Dong'an Plaza. Look on the right side of the first floor for China-related nonfiction, glossy hutong photo books, cookbooks, and the full range of Asiapac's cartoon renditions of Chinese classics. Cheap paperback versions of a huge chunk of the English canon, as well as a number of contemporary works, are sold on the third floor. The newsstand on the first floor of the Friendship Store, at Jianguo Men Wai 17, carries a respectable selection of foreign magazines and newspapers, also available in many five-star hotel lobbies. Warning: Nearly everything mentioned above is wildly overpriced. Pharmacies Simple Western remedies are most likely to be found in the lobbies of international five-star hotels and at branches of Watson's (on the 1st floor of Full Link Plaza at Chaoyang Men Wai Dajie 19, and in the basement of the Oriental Plaza at the bottom of Wangfujing Dajie 1; 10am-9pm). For more specific drugs, try the pharmacy in the BeijTng United Family Hospital (see "Doctors & Dentists," above). Post Office There are numerous post offices across the city, including one a long block north of the Jianguo Men metro station on the east side of Jianguo Men Bei Dajie (8am-6:30pm), one inside the Landmark Tower (next to the Great Wall Sheraton), one next to the Friendship Store on Jianguo Men Wai Dajie, one on Gongti Bei Lu (opposite the Worker's Stadium), and the EMS Post Office (BeijTng Youzheng Sudi Ju) at the corner of Qian Men Dong Dajie and Zhengyi Lu. There is a FedEx office at the Oriental Plaza (intersection of Wangfujing Dajie and Chang'an Dong Dajie), in Room 107, No. 1 Office Building. DHL-Sinotrans has a branch in the Lufthansa Center, and UPS is at Guanghua Lu 12A. Visa Extensions One-time 30-day extensions of tourist visas are available at the PSB Exit/Entry Division office (& 010/8401-5292) on the south side of the eastern North Third Ring Road, just east of Xiaojie Qiao. The office is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Extensions take 4 working days to process; bring your passport and two passport photos (these can be taken at the office for ¥30/$4).

Weather For daily weather forecasts, check China Daily or CCTV 9, China Central Television's English channel (broadcast in most hotels). There is also a weather hot line (& 121); dial 6 after a minute or so for the report in English (¥3/45tf per min.).

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