Bus Stations in China
When it comes to traveling in China, most tourist opt to either fly or hop on a train. While traveling by bus in China is normally the cheapest way, and is sometimes the only way to get around. Long-distance bus services are extensive and reach places you cannot reach by train; with the increasing number of intercity highways, journeys are getting quicker. This page mainly introduces you the related information on bus travel in China and the bus stations in China.
Two Kinds of Buses in China
Just like its sounds, there are usually two sets of two seats with an aisle in the middle. All the seats face toward the front of the bus. Most buses have entertainment systems that play Chinese movies throughout the trip, and most have air conditioning and heating systems.
Most buses have an entertainment system that will play Chinese movies throughout the duration of the journey and most buses have an air-conditioning and heating system. Seats on the bus are sold on a first come, first served basis at the same price which is fixed.
Sleeper buses differ in that travelers each have a bed instead of a seat. There are usually three rows of beds with two aisles in the middle and a bathroom in the back (which may or may not be used). There is a top and bottom bed the entire length of the bus.
These buses usually have entertainment systems, air conditioning and heating, but it all depends on the age of the bus you are on. It costs around double the price of a normal bus service and an upper berth costs more than a lower berth on a sleeper bus.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Bus in China
- Availability: Bus tickets are usually available on the day of departure which gives you more availability.
- Convenience: Most of the time, Chinese bus stations have a good location and you only need a little bit of time getting there.
- Frequency: Chinese buses often run at a higher frequency and you have more choices in terms of departure time.
- Uncomfortable: Spend a lot of time in your seat is a kind of uncomfortable experience, especially you ride a vehicle that has seen a couple decades worth of use.
- Unreliable Delays: Unexpected delays are possible such as the unpredictability of the roads, traffic jams, vehicle broken, etc.
Bus Stations in China
All cities and most towns have one or more long distance bus stations, usually located in the heading direction of the city bus. Most bus stations have a luggage counter. In many cities, the front yard of a railway station doubles as a bus stop. Usually, bus stations are classified by which direction their buses head(north, south, east or west), or the city or region they service. You can ask the hotel or the taxi driver which station you need to go, or just look for it in the travel guide books or websites. Make sure you get the latest information.
Popular Bus Stations in China
Bus Schedule in China
How to check bus schedules is a complication of traveling in China by bus. Normally, you will find a panel at bus stations, electronic or not, with the destinations of buses and their departure schedule. While unfortunately, these panels are only in Chinese and somewhat complicated to understand. So show your destination at the ticket window and you’ll know the schedules of the next buses.
You can also check some of the bus schedules on website such as Ctrip. While please pay attention that some schedules on the website are out of date. You can ask the hotel or hostel about the schedules of the bus you will take.
Bus Tickets Booking in China
At the station
For a foreign travelers, you can buy the ticket at the bus station by yourself or you can ask the proxy to do it for you. Because China now uses “real name ticket system”. You must have an official identification (your passport) to buy a bus ticket. Remember to bring the destination written in Chinese characters and show it to the salesman.
Have cash ready for the purchase since bank cards usually aren’t accepted. They will accept WeChat and Alipay, so if you have the Settings on your phone, you can also use it to pay.
At present, there are several websites providing bus ticket service. However, these websites do not cover all possible routes. In fact, many bus lines are not included. What’s more, many of the websites only recognize Chinese ID. So we recommend you to buy the ticket at the station by yourself or the proxy. If you want to book online, try Etrip China which is the first platform providing China bus ticket booking services for English-speaking travelers.