(Updated July 2019)
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 trains to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and many other cities. 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. 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 or setting up WeChat payment that can be used on the metro. We recommend downloading the offline ‘ExploreShenzhen’ metro map prior to your arrival for easy traveling. Also, recommend the new (2019) GPS app LostLaowai for easy bilingual directions. To travel by the metro, you can purchase a token at the bilingual machines at any station, Shenzhen public transport card (purchased at vending machine in station), WeChat pay (scan QR code for WeChat miniapp in station), or simply scan bank card (Unionpay).
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. The main bus lines serving campus are 高峰专线128号 and M176. To travel by bus, you can pay with cash (no change provided), Shenzhen Tong card, WeChat miniapp (different from subway), or simply scan bank card (Unionpay).
Taxis here are a quick and easy way to get from A to B. However, Shenzhen does suffer from debilitating traffic jams at rush hour that, at times, can make the metro the fastest option. Taxis are metered and have a fixed rate according to the time of day. The entire fleet of Shenzhen taxis will soon be blue electric cars. The red taxis are the old gas taxis and have a fuel surcharge of 1 or 2 CNY. The fixed rate for taxis is 11CNY for the first 2 km and 2.4CNY for every following km. You are free to ask for a receipt when getting out.
NOTE: almost all taxi fares are now paid through WeChat or Alipay. You may also use cash (CNY), however, taxi drivers may not always have change. If paying by cash, try to communicate this to the driver at the beginning.
Fastening seat belt is required in Shenzhen taxis.
滴滴出行 DIDI CHUXING
Didi Chuxing is China’s Uber equivalent. Most of our students choose to get from place to place by hailing a “didi”. The app has both a Chinese and a separate English interface. In China, drivers will often call to confirm where you are located. Whether you use the Chinese or English interface of the app, the driver will very likely only speak Chinese. 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 english .APK file. With basic Chinese skills and WeChat familiarity you can simply hail a Didi from your WeChat Wallet “third party services” menu. 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
The most convenient way to get around in daily life is bike-sharing. Shenzhen has the bikes of many different companies who offer bike-sharing service, however since 2018 Mobike dominates the market. As of now, it is the only one still functioning reasonably and hopefully it lasts! Mobike requires a quick identity verification using passport and a refundable deposit to get started. Foreigners must download the Mobike app for the passport verification process. After that, it’s 1CNY for every half hour of use. You may also purchase a monthly pass for unlimited rides for around 35CNY. 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. 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).