It’s no secret that Nanjing is a massive city, with its population exceeding 8 million and its status as the second largest city in the East China region. The prospect of getting around the city can be daunting for this reason, but fortunately, there is no shortage of transportation options.
One of the things that surprised me the most when I arrived in Nanjing was the sheer amount of people whose main mode of transportation is biking. While it’s true that the city streets can get hectic, biking consistently proves to be one of the easiest ways to get around. Orange and blue bikes, called Mobikes and Hellobikes, are incredibly accessible, cheap, and easy to use! With a quick scan of it’s QR code, you can pick up a bike, use it for as long as you like (for a cheap fee), and then leave it wherever once you’ve reached your destination. If you’re looking for a more long-term solution, I’m pleased to report that it’s also very easy to purchase your own bike. A quick download of the Xiányú (闲鱼) app (essentially China’s craigslist) allows you to browse cheap and functional second-hand bikes from Nanjing locals, but make sure to examine them before purchasing!
The more you walk the city streets, the more you will realize Nanjing is built for cyclists. Almost every street has a section devoted to bike paths, which greatly reduces the stress of cycling alongside the many cars and buses. That being said, you will still need to keep your wits about you, considering you will be sharing these paths with loads of fellow bikers and people on mopeds. Moreover, biking is the perfect way to travel across Nanjing’s many beautiful lakes and parks, especially the impressive Xuanwu Lake located in the centre of the city! Wide bike paths hug the length of the Yangtze River, offering a perfect route to get some exercise while enjoying magnificent views.
The Nanjing metro is equally as useful for travelling around the city. With ten lines and 159 stations running a total of 393 km, the extensive metro system can get you wherever you need to be within the urban and suburban districts of the city. Rechargeable metro cards can be easily obtained if you plan to use it frequently, and if not, the average ticket costs a mere 2¥. With the trains running like clockwork, you’ll never find yourself waiting for more than a minute for the next train. Say goodbye to the stressful commute that you’re used to at home! Don’t be surprised when you have to put your bag through an airport-like scanner though, this is just a precautionary measure to keep you safer and provide additional jobs for Nanjing locals.
If biking and public transport isn’t really your thing, I have good news for you. China has its own version of Uber called DiDi, which is just as easy to use and even cheaper than Uber. Download the app, plug in your location, and within a couple minutes your own private car will arrive to take you where you need to go. It’s quick to use and it’s safe, with over 30 million DiDi rides a day. You will also find that taxis are readily available on most of the city’s streets. Rickshaws, or tuk-tuks, can be found around the city, providing a pleasant and authentic way to see the city, but get ready to haggle down the price!
By Noah Roelofs
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