BUSES Shenzhen has an excellent bus system. Most of the buses are new, air-conditioned and cheap. They are incredibly frequent last night we were complaining bitterly because for some reason, probably connected with one of Kim Jong-il’s son’s frequent visits, we had to wait 2 minutes for our favorite bus. They follow set routes and stop automatically at pre-set stations. They go just about everywhere you’d want to go and a few places you wouldn’t.

With some exceptions, fares vary with distance but are usually between $2 and $7. The highest fare we’ve paid for a 50 km trip to one of the further beaches was $15. And for that they give you free sick bags for the more winding routes! Chinese eat from common bowls and ulcers and other stomach bugs are very common. Motion sickness is much more prevalent than you might expect. The etiquette is to ignore any such incidents and the victim of motion sickness will also be very quiet and you may not notice anything happening, which is the best way to preserve face all around.

The easiest way to pay for a bus ticket is with the Shenzhen travel card Shenzhen Tong card available at metro stations. See section on Shenzhen Metro above If the bus has only one fare, passengers swipe the card when they get on the bus. If it is a multi-fare bus, the conductor will swipe the card and tell you the fare, based on the number of sections for the trip. There is a poster inside the bus showing destinations, sections and fares in Chinese. For buses with conductors, tickets can also be paid for with cash.

The negative with buses is that absolutely nothing is in English. The fact that every bus station has route maps with every stop clearly marked is of limited use if you can’t read it.

On the positive side, bus stops have their names prominently displayed in pinyin Romanisation and bus conductors announce the names of stops before you arrive. Accordingly we have incorporated the names of useful bus routes and the Chinese names of bus stops in our commentaries on tourist attractions. If you show the name of your destination to the conductor, she will usually go out of her way to help you get off at your stop.

Bus numbers starting with N are late night buses. A bus number starting with K is an Express bus and goes via a freeway, so for example bus 113 from Shekou to Luohu and bus K113 from Shekou to Luohu go via different routes.


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