It's quite easy to get around the city, as it's well connected by public transportation. Most people in Guangzhou don't have a car and rely on public transportation, which is good -- ensuring efficient public transportation network -- and not good at the same time -- you'll need to compete with the locals, as public transportation are usually very busy and crowded.  

As a foreigner trying to explore the city, especially for the first time, you need to be realistic. Guangzhou, like many other Chinese cities, is not very foreigner-friendly about providing English road signs. Despite efforts to make signs bilingual in recent years, they remain little help for foreigners. However key tourist attractions are reasonably signposted.

By bus

Especially because of the language barrier, using the bus. isn't recommended. All bus stop names and routes are in Chinese, making it almost impossible for foreigners to get directions. And the audio instructions are in Chinese, so it's hard to know when to get off. In addition, it's usually crowded, and pickpockets are common. Finally, a lot of streets in Guangzhou are one-way, so it's unlikely you'll find the return bus on the same street where you got off.

Having said that, if you're certain about the bus route (e.g., if staff in the hotel you stay at give you clear instructions on which bus to take and which stop to get off), you will find using the bus convenient, as the bus network is very well-constructed. Buses are very cheap too. Most routes cost RMB 2, some at RMB 1. Majority of the buses are air-conditioned, but the ACs are likely to be off during the winter months for obvious reasons.

If you do choose to take a bus, be aware of the strong possibility of pickpockets. Also, you'll need to have the exact fare, e.g., RMB 1 or RMB 2 in notes or coins--no change will be given on the bus. There's no need and thus nowhere to buy the bus ticket, as all you need to do is to drop the money to the box by the bus driver's seat when you get on the bus. 

For the bus routes, you can browse the following website -- in Chinese:

By Metro

The Metro is very convenient, especially during the peak hours (7-9am, 5-8pm) to and from the city centre.  

Line 1 started running in 1998, and there are currently four lines for Guangzhou Metro up running as in the end of 2008. Constructions are undergoing up to Line 9 by 2010. Metro stations can be easily identified with the Guangzhou Metro's ram-horn-shaped logo (see example here: ).

Guangzhou Metro cost in average RMB 2 per three stops. For the main tourist attractions and markets, you won't need more than RMB 4 one way. To buy the Metro ticket, you can either get it from the ticket booth at the Metro stations or from the automatic ticket machines nearby. The ticket machines are bilingual, as the route maps and audio instructions on the train.

Metro trains are clean and well ventilated, and is popular with the locals.

The official website for Guangzhou Metro is, from which you can find routes, time tables and fares.

By taxi

Getting around in Guangzhou by taxi is also very popular with the locals as the fare is rather reasonable. Currently the fare is RMB 2.6 per kilometre, but the minimum fare is RMB 7 (for 2.3 km) plus RMB 1 standard petrol surcharge, which is a local way to tackle the surge of petrol price since 2006. So don't be surprised that the taxi driver asks you for RMB 13 when the metre is actually RMB 12.

Within the city, it's 99.9% the case using the metres. In fact, taxi drivers will be severely fined if they don't use the metre. The only exception would be going to and from the airport, although it's rare too unless you're going from the airport to outskirt of Guangzhou or other Peral River Delta cities. Usually it costs about RMB 100 from the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport to downtown such as Garden Hotel/Huan Shi Lu, including RMB 15 for the airport highway charge.

Within the city, if you get around by taxi, it's best to have your destination written down by someone in Chinese, because almost no taxi drivers speaks English. Write it down as specific as possible.

You'll notice the taxis are in different colours, yellow, red, blue, green and champagne. The fare is all the same but, as locals would tell you, the drivers aren't! The locals will tend to choose the taxis in yellow as this company's drivers are all locals so allegedly they know the roads better, e.g. short cuts, whereas other taxi companies' drivers may come from other part of China and may be taking you for unnecessary distance sometimes -- of course, mostly unintended. So, if you believe the locals, your sequence of taxi choice would be: go for the yellow ones if you can -- they're very popular!; if not, then the blue ones; then the red ones; your last choice is the green ones. Believe it or not!

A final tip for taking the taxi is always ask for the receipt from the driver before you get off the taxi. Just in case you leave something behind in the taxi, you'll have the number -- taxi number and customer service number to trace the taxi.

By bicycle

It's not  feasible for tourists, as you won't find places letting bicycles very easily. Also, contrary to the trend in many Western countries, they're reducing the use of bicycles here in China, at least it's true in Guangzhou. Bicycle riders usually find themselves in a disadvantage position on the road as buses often occupied the already very narrow bicycle lane, and following the cars and their waste gas so close isn't the most pleasant  bicycle riding in Guangzhou. Another factor that may put you off for riding a bicycle in the city is bicycle thieves which are not uncommon at all. And, lack of secure or guarded places to park your bicycles doesn't help either!

By foot

You can try but it's not advised, as the tourist attractions are not close to each other.

It's however a good idea to explore the city by foot in certain pedestrianised streets, such as Beijing Lu, Shang Xia Jiu Lu, both being shopping streets.