Public transportation is affordable, convenient and for the most part, bilingual. There are currently eight subway lines that service the city called the Shenzhen Metro, which also readily connects to public transport in Hong Kong and the bullet train to Guangzhou. There are many active bus lines crossing the city and no shortage of taxi cabs. Many people in Shenzhen prefer to get around with Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行), the China equivalent of Uber, for ultimate convenience.
The subway system is called the Shenzhen Metro, and it currently has eight subway lines with ambitious plans to continue growing. At present, getting to neighboring cities is extremely convenient due to the metro connections to either the Guangzhou bullet train or the Hong Kong MTR system. The metro is always clean, safe, and timely with tickets varying in price from 2 to 11 RMB. During orientation, we assist international students in purchasing public transport cards that can be used on buses and the metro. We recommend downloading the offline ‘ExploreShenzhen’ metro map prior to your arrival for easy traveling. To travel by the metro, you can purchase a token at the bilingual machines at any station or use your Shenzhen Tong card (Shenzhen public transport card).
The bus system is plentiful and convenient, though of course it can be crowded during rush hour. The only caveat here is that most bus stops have the schedules written exclusively in Chinese. However, once you have gotten the hang of it, it’s no trouble at all. For those who can read Chinese, the app 车来了(Che Lai Le) offers the bus schedule in real time in relation to your GPS location. Even if you don’t read Chinese, a couple weeks in town will be enough time to get used to the app interface and Chinese characters.
The bus announcement system is bilingual, but you should depend on following your GPS dot on a smartphone map instead–as the noise of a public bus can often drown out the information you need. Note that if there is no one at a bus stop, the driver may pause to let anyone off either. Press the stop notification buttons on board, or stand by the rear doors to let the driver know you intend to disembark. The main bus lines serving campus are 43 and M369. To travel by bus, you can pay with cash (no change provided) or Shenzhen Tong card.
Taxis here are a quick and easy way to get from A to B, given that it isn’t rush hour. Taxis are metered and have a fixed rate according to the time of day. We advise you to take the silver and reddish taxis as they cover the entire city. During the day (6:00-22:59) the first 2 km is 10 CNY with each subsequent kilometer costing 2.4 CNY. At night (23:00-05:59) the first 2 km is 13 CNY and a slightly raised subsequent rate. All these taxis have a surcharge of 1 or 2 CNY, so don’t be alarmed if your bill is higher than the meter. The electric taxis are blue and white hatchbacks that cost the same but have no fuel surcharge.
Please note fastening your seat belt both in the front and backseats of any vehicle is required by law in Shenzhen. If you get into a cab and a driver says something unintelligible to you, most likely it’s about the seat belt. You must pay with cash to travel by taxi, though some drivers accept WeChat payments.
滴滴出行 DIDI CHUXING
Didi Chuxing is China’s Uber equivalent (Uber cannot be used in China as a foreigner). Most of our students choose to get from place to place by hailing a “didi”. The app’s interface is entirely in Chinese, but is easily navigated after one or two trips. In China, drivers will often call or text to confirm where you are located. This is also easily managed after a couple weeks of living on campus, but in the mean time the security guards at the gates (where you will have to wait for a didi) have no problem handling your phone calls for you—just be polite! Downloading the app is tricky for some, you must copy and paste the Chinese name into your app store of choice, otherwise search the internet for the .APK file. To travel by didi, you must have a WeChat Wallet or AliPay account (these are easily opened with the bank cards issued to you by the school after your arrival).
BIKE SHARING APPS
Shenzhen has many different companies toting their bike sharing apps. We recommend either Mobike or Ofo as they are both plentiful around campus and downtown. Mobike requires a quick identity verification and a 299 CNY refundable deposit to get started. After that, it’s 0.50 CNY for every half hour of use. Mobike’s app interface is in English and you can see the closest bikes relative to your GPS location, and even reserve one for up to 15 minutes. Ofo operates similarly but has a lower deposit and no online bike reservations—you just spot the bright yellow bikes around town and hop on. To use a bike sharing app, you must have some form of mobile payment active: WeChat Wallet or AliPay (again, easily opened with bank cards issued to you by the school after your arrival).