Hangzhou has an extensive bus networks, and bus schedules, routes, and on-board announcements are all in Chinese. However, if you download and use the Google Maps app on your mobile phone, it is quite easy to find directions, track your movement, and navigate your way around the Hangzhou bus system. The routes and bus numbering shown in Google Maps are very accurate for Hangzhou.
There are a number of bus types:
- Routes without a letter prefix generally have no air conditioning (though there are some exceptions, like route 900), and should therefor be avoided May-September. They are heated during the winter. These generally cost ¥1-2.
- Routes with a “K” prefix are air-conditioned May-September, and heated December-February. These cost ¥2-3, except when both the AC and heat are off, during which time the fare is halved.
- Routes with a “Y” prefix are designated tourist buses, and will take you to or from a tourist destination for ¥3-5. Use Google Maps to check whether your bus drives to your desired direction.
- Routes with a “B” prefix are part of the new Bus Rapid Transit system. These are articulated buses that stop at dedicated BRT stations, which allow you to transfer to other “B” routes without paying an additional fare. The fare of ¥4 is paid on entering the station. These buses are roomier than the usual municipal buses, but are not much more rapid.
- Night routes (which have blue signs and are numbered K2xx) are ¥2.5. Most start running at 9PM and end around 6AM.
For those arriving in Hangzhou by train, note that bus K7 goes from the Hangzhou Rail Station to the West Lake for ¥1.
Fares can be paid in cash (coins or bills, no change given), by using a dedicated bus card, or by tapping the same card used to rent bikes (see below). The fare will be displayed in Western numerals on the bus stop and on the farebox. Some buses just have metal boxes besides the driver where you throw in the money. It seems that nobody really checks how many coins you throw in there, they just trust that you know the fare.
You are expected to board via the front doors and leave through the rear (with the exception of the B routes). Buses have very little empty space even when they are not full (which is not common) so do not plan on bringing baby strollers or other cumbersome items. Be prepared at all times for fast turns and/or deceleration. The suspension usually is not up to modern standards, and the drivers are aggressive.
Hangzhou has a large number of taxis which allow for quick and convenient travel within the city proper. Most of the city’s taxis are turquoise-green in color and easily identifiable by the word Taxi printed in both English and Chinese on the vehicles. Taxis for hire are marked by the green (or sometimes yellow-orange) light-up signs above the dashboard on each car.
Hangzhou taxi drivers almost always use the meter as required by law. Trips start at ¥11 and are priced by the kilometer, with surcharges for idling time and trips over 10km. It is advisable to take a receipt each time use you a taxi, should you wish to contact the taxi company or driver at later time to dispute a fare, recover a lost article, etc. Avoid the taxi touts at the train station and major tourist attractions, and instead, use the designated taxi queue or flag one off the street.
Few, if any, of the city’s taxi drivers speak English or any other foreign language. It is therefore important that you be able to point out your destination on a map, present the driver with the name of the destination (in written Chinese), or properly pronounce the name of the destination in either the local Hangzhou dialect or Mandarin Chinese. If you have a Chinese acquaintance whom you can reach by cell phone, you can allow him or her to speak to your driver through the phone to convey the desired information.
Hangzhou taxis are not allowed to carry more than four passengers, although you may be able to convince or bribe a driver to allow you to “hide” an extra passenger in the backseat. This can be worth the trouble or expense if it saves your group from needing to take two taxis.
It is also not unusual, especially at late or slow hours for the taxi driver to collect multiple fares to make the journey more worth their while. This will normally be explained in Chinese. This is uncommon at normal hours, however.
Taxis, like all public transportation, are difficult to come by during the tourist weeks (Chinese New Year, May Golden Week, and October National Week); also, taxis at 7:30AM-8:45AM and 4:30PM-7:00PM, and every time it rains, are difficult to flag, as they are always full or in the middle of a shift change. A taxi with an imminent shift change (usually ~ 3PM-5PM) will be showing a plate in the windscreen (Chinese characters of course) and will only take you if your route coincides with theirs. Being familiar with areas that taxis frequent or places where taxi passengers are likely to be dropped off at will aid you in finding a ride. Do not be visibly upset that your hailing position will be gazumped by a new arrival 20 metres up the road. The only rule is; it is the quick and the dead.
Taxi drivers will also negotiate for long distance trips, or full-day/half-day hiring. A trip to Pudong airport in Shanghai will be 600-1,000RMB depending on time of day or night.
The Hangzhou subway system will consist of 10 lines, the total length of which could reach 375.6 kilometers. The first phase of the project, including metro Line 1, Line 2 and a part of Line 4, has started to be constructed from March, 2007 and now has put into use. In the second phase to 2020, Line 1, Line 2, Line 3, Line 4 and Line 5 will be completed. The last phase is from 2020 to 2050, when the rest Line 6, Line 7 and Line 8 will be finished.
While traffic in Hangzhou may seem chaotic to some foreigners, the city is comparatively bike-friendly. All but small side roads have dedicated bike lanes, often divided from motor traffic by barricades or medians.
For stays in Hangzhou, making use of the city’s extensive public bike system can be a cheap and convenient way to experience the city. These fire engine red public bikes are ubiquitous on the street of Hangzhou, and the rental stations that dispense them are generously spread across the core of the city and around West Lake, stretching all the way up to the suburbs and down to the river near the Six Harmonies Pagoda.
Bicycles one can rent from Hangzhou’s bike system; they aren’t the best for anyone over 6′, but one can manage. They include a lock (see picture) that one can use if he decides to walk around without having to return the bike.
To use the bikes, one will need to purchase a stored value card at one of 5 sites marked “Selling of Public Transport Coupon”, such as 25 Ding An Lu near Ding An Lu Metro station. As well, each bike station will give out free tourist maps including a bike map that shows all the bike stations around the city. To obtain a value card (aka IC card), one must present an ID (such as a passport) and pay ¥300, 200 of which is a deposit with the remaining 100 to cover rentals fees. Bikes may then be rented by tapping the card against one of the automated bike racks holding the bikes. A beep and the audible sound of the rack unlocking will indicate that the bike can be removed. One can use any of the available bike racks scattered about the city if he or she wishes to visit an attraction or get a new bike. The bike is free for the first hour, ¥1 an hour for the two hours after that, and ¥3 an hour thereafter. For example, if one rents a bike for six hours, he or she will return to the main bicycle “hub” and receive 289 of his RMB deposit back, which covers the ¥11 worth of bike riding.
IC Cards or the bike rental cards can also be used on local buses (9% discount on public buses). More than one person may use the same card for their bus fare. Simply swipe the card the number of times equivalent to the number of people getting on the bus.
Be careful to choose a bike with air in the front and back wheels, working brakes and appropriate seat height. However none of the bikes were designed for reasonably tall people, so if you have long legs you may end up chaffing your knees on the handlebars. During rush hour, local residents also actively use the bikes. Therefore, most bike stalls will be full and you might not easily find a station with empty racks to return your bike.
Bikes are returned by reinserting them into an empty bike rack and tapping one’s card against the top of the rack. Another beep, a solid green light, and the sound of the rack locking will indicate when the bike has been received successfully. Make sure the bike rack lock receives your bike; if it doesn’t, the bike won’t be registered returned in the system, and you will lose both your bike rental and deposit money and get no refund. The system opens for business at 6:00 a.m.; bikes not returned by 9:00 p.m. each night must be taken back to the Longxiang Qiao location (24hr), so keep an eye on the clock during evening rides.
It is perfectly alright to rent bikes and return it within the hour and then immediately rent another bike so you never have to pay a dime.
As a relaxing tourism city, there are several pedestrian streets around Hangzhou, especially around the West Lake.For example, the Hubin Road, Bai Di, Su Di. It is really an excellent experience to enjoy the wonderful view by taking a small walk. Besides, there are a lot of trees along the streets so that you need not to worry about the sunshine and hot weather.