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===By bus===
 
===By bus===
 
[[Image:Shanghai Guanguang Bashi.jpeg|thumb|220px|A sightseeing bus in Shanghai]]
 
[[Image:Shanghai Guanguang Bashi.jpeg|thumb|220px|A sightseeing bus in Shanghai]]
Travelling by public '''city buses''' (公共汽车 ''gōnggòngqìchē'') or long-distance buses (长途汽车 ''chángtúqìchē'') is inexpensive and ideal for in-city and short-distance transportation.
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Travelling by public '''city buses''' (公共汽车 ''gōnggòngqìchē'') or long-distance buses (长途汽车 ''chángtúqìchē'') is inexpensive and ideal for in-city and short-distance transportation.  
  
On city buses there are plastic seats, many people, no English signs and unhelpful drivers. However, if you can understand the bus routes then they are cheap and go almost everywhere. Buses normally have recorded announcements indicating the next stop - for example 'xia yi zhan - zhong shan lu' (next stop Zhongshan Road) or 'Shanghai nan huo che zhan dao le' (Shanghai South railway station - now arriving). Some major cities such as Beijing or Hangzhou have English announcements on some major routes. Fares are usually about 1 or 2 yuan (the former for older buses with no air-conditioning, the latter for air-conditioned modern buses) or more if travelling into the suburbs. Most buses simply have a metal cash-box next to the entrance for fare collection (no change - save up those one-yuan coins and notes). On long routes a conductor collects fares and issue tickets and change. Note that the driver usually prioritises speed over comfort, so hold on tight.
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City buses vary from city to city - generally expect plastic seats, many people, no English signs and unhelpful drivers. However, if you can understand the bus routes then they are cheap and go almost everywhere. Buses normally have recorded announcements indicating the next stop - for example 'xia yi zhan - zhong shan lu' (next stop Zhongshan Road) or 'Shanghai nan huo che zhan dao le' (Shanghai South railway station - now arriving). Some major cities such as Beijing or Hangzhou have English announcements on some major routes. Fares are usually about 1 or 2 yuan (the former for older buses with no air-conditioning, the latter for air-conditioned modern buses) or more if travelling into the suburbs. Most buses simply have a metal cash-box next to the entrance for fare collection (no change - save up those one-yuan coins and notes). On long routes a conductor collects fares and issue tickets and change. Note that the driver usually prioritises speed over comfort, so hold on tight.
  
 
{{Infobox|Sleeper buses|Sleeper buses are common in China; instead of seats they have bunk beds. These are a good way to cover longer distances — overnight at freeway speeds of 100 km/h or more — but are uncomfortable for large or tall travelers.
 
{{Infobox|Sleeper buses|Sleeper buses are common in China; instead of seats they have bunk beds. These are a good way to cover longer distances — overnight at freeway speeds of 100 km/h or more — but are uncomfortable for large or tall travelers.
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Sometimes shoes must be removed upon entering the bus and a bag to store them is provided. Follow the locals. Put shoes back on at food or restroom stops. If you normally travel in boots, a pair of kung fu slippers makes this easy.}}
 
Sometimes shoes must be removed upon entering the bus and a bag to store them is provided. Follow the locals. Put shoes back on at food or restroom stops. If you normally travel in boots, a pair of kung fu slippers makes this easy.}}
  
Coaches, or '''long-distance buses''', range from comfortable to unpleasant. Coaches originating in large, coastal cities tend to be air conditioned with soft seats or sleepers. The roads are good and the ride is smooth, allowing enjoying the scenery or sleeping. Coaches are often a better, though more expensive option than trains. Bus personnel often try to be helpful, but are less familiar with foreigners than airline personnel and English ability is rare. Some coaches have toilets, but they are frequently dirty and using them can be difficult as the bus turns a corner causing water in the basin to splash.
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Coaches, or '''long-distance buses''', range from comfortable to unpleasant. Coaches originating in large, coastal cities tend to be air conditioned with soft seats or sleepers. The roads are good and the ride is smooth, allowing enjoying the scenery or sleeping. Coaches are often a better, though more expensive option than trains. Bus personnel often try to be helpful, but are less familiar with foreigners than airline personnel and English ability is very rare. Some coaches have toilets, but they are frequently dirty and using them can be difficult as the bus turns a corner causing water in the basin to splash.
  
A coach or bus in rural China is a different experience altogether. Signs in the station to identify buses will only be in Chinese or another local language, routes may also be posted or pasted on bus windows and drivers or touts will shout their destinations as you pass, the coach's license plate number is supposed to be printed on the ticket, but all too often that is inaccurate. Due to different manners and customs, foreigners may find bus personnel to be lacking in politeness and other passengers lacking in manners as they spit on the floor and out the window and smoke. Some drivers pick up as many passengers as can be crammed into the bus. The ride is bumpy, especially in the back of the bus. Scheduled times of departure and arrival are only rough estimates, as many buses won't leave until every seat is sold, which can add hours, and breakdowns and other mishaps can significantly extend the trip. Rides of 10 or 20 hours straight can be miserable. As gut-wrenching as all this sounds, short of shelling out the cash for your own personal transport, rural coaches are the only forms of transportation in many areas of China. On the bright side, such rural coaches are usually more than willing to stop anywhere along the route should you wish to visit more remote areas without direct transport. Buses can also be flagged down at most points along their route. The ticket price the rest of the way is negotiable.
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A coach or bus in rural China is a different experience altogether. Signs in the station to identify buses will only be in Chinese or another local language, routes may also be posted or pasted on bus windows and drivers or touts will shout their destinations as you pass, the coach's license plate number is supposed to be printed on the ticket, but all too often that is inaccurate. Due to different manners and customs, foreigners may find bus personnel to be lacking in politeness and other passengers lacking in manners as they spit on the floor and out the window and smoke. Some drivers pick up as many passengers as can be crammed into the bus. The roads in rural China provide a bumpy and painful ride; if you have a seat in the back, you'll spend much of your trip flying through the air. Scheduled times of departure and arrival are only rough estimates, as many buses won't leave until every seat is sold, which can add hours, and breakdowns and other mishaps can significantly extend your trip. Rides of 10 or 20 hours straight can be miserable. As gut-wrenching as all this sounds, short of shelling out the cash for your own personal transport, rural coaches are the only forms of transportation in many areas of China. On the bright side, such rural coaches are usually more than willing to stop anywhere along the route should you wish to visit more remote areas without direct transport. Buses can also be flagged down at most points along their route. The ticket price the rest of the way is negotiable.
  
 
Chinese drivers often disregard the rules of the road and accidents are frequent. Sudden swerves and stops can cause injury, so keep a good hold wherever possible. Horn-honking is widespread, so use earplugs to sleep ''en route''.
 
Chinese drivers often disregard the rules of the road and accidents are frequent. Sudden swerves and stops can cause injury, so keep a good hold wherever possible. Horn-honking is widespread, so use earplugs to sleep ''en route''.
  
Obtaining a ticket can be difficult. Large bus stations have ticket counters who sell printed tickets displaying the bus' departure time, boarding gate and license plate number (not always accurate) and have fixed prices. Smaller bus stations have touts shouting destinations and directing passengers to the right bus, where payment is made on board. Large stations often have touts outside - generally they will call the bus driver of a departing bus, who will wait up the road while the tout brings the passenger on the back of a motorcycle to the waiting bus - then the fare is negotiated with the driver. This is sometimes a complete scam and sometimes results in 30% savings - depending on the passenger's bargaining and Chinese abilities.
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Obtaining a ticket can be difficult. Large bus stations have ticket counters who sell printed tickets displaying the departure time, boarding gate and license plate number of your bus (not always accurate) and have fixed prices. Smaller bus stations have touts shouting destinations and directing passengers to the right bus, where payment is made on board. Large stations often have touts outside - generally they will call the bus driver of a departing bus, who will wait up the road while the tout brings the passenger on the back of a motorcycle to the waiting bus - then the fare is negotiated with the driver. This is sometimes a complete scam and sometimes results in 30% savings - depending on the passenger's bargaining and Chinese abilities.
  
 
Independent Travel Network is an alternative that was created by a western company. Dragon Bus China now operates an integrated nationwide transport and accommodation network. The network is a “Jump On & Off” style of travel, allowing stays in cities that they travel through and the future buses for onward travel from there. This alternative reduces the hassle of traveling by public buses and increases safety.
 
Independent Travel Network is an alternative that was created by a western company. Dragon Bus China now operates an integrated nationwide transport and accommodation network. The network is a “Jump On & Off” style of travel, allowing stays in cities that they travel through and the future buses for onward travel from there. This alternative reduces the hassle of traveling by public buses and increases safety.

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