Moving around Wuhan: a transportation guide

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Getting lost in a foreign city can be fun sometimes, but when that happens in a place where hardly anyone speaks English and your Chinese is “below the ground level” it can make you feel a tiny bit too stressed. But don’t worry! Don’t let the panic overcome you because here we bring you the solution to get through Wuhan’s transportation like a total pro!

In the city

There are many ways to move around the gigantic city of Wuhan, ones are faster, others cheaper, but all of them are easy enough to use without much trouble.

  • Bike

Wuhan has a vast network of public bikes you can hop on almost everywhere in the metropolis. If you’ve been here for some time already you’ve probably seen bunches of yellow or white and orange bikes spread all around, usually in strategic points that meet your needs like near subway and bus stations or universities. These are OFO BIKES or MOBIKE.

Taking a bike is a sensible and healthy option if you don’t need to go too far away and the traffic congestion make other public transports useless, both brands have a similar app that allows you to use them and it’s both easy and cheap.

Check our step-by-step guide on how to use Mobike and Ofo

  • Bus

Using bus and metro is comfortable, cheap and fast. In both transports you can pay your ticket in cash or get a Wuhan Tong (武汉通) card. You can get a rechargeable transportation card in Bus, Metro and light rail stations, and some Zhongbai supermarkets (中百超市), you’ll need to pay a 20¥ deposit that can be refunded when you return the card, plus whichever amount you want to add in it.

A bus ticket is around 1-2¥ depending on the route and drivers don’t provide change, so the exact amount is required (it’s highly recommended to have it in hand before boarding the bus, as many people will try to get in at the same time and it can be quite chaotic). The lines cover all the areas in Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang districts.

Before setting off you’ll need to find out which bus you need to take, and there are some handy apps that can make your search easier:

  • Google Maps: it requires VPN but has all the bus routes and it’s all in English
  • Apple Maps: doesn’t need a VPN and it’s in English too, it shows most of the routes and schedules
  • Baidu Maps (百度地图): while not in English, this is the best option as it clearly displays all the most convenient routes
  • Xiongmao Chuxing (熊猫出行): fully in Chinese, includes a complete list of bus lines and bus stops

The stops announcements are both in Chinese and English, so you won’t have any problem if you know where you’re going.

  • Metro

There are currently five subway lines in service (Line 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6) and four more lines are expected to operate in a near future (Line 5, 7, 8 and 11). Tickets start at 2¥ for journeys up to 9 km and go 1¥ up for every additional 6-9 km. Luckily enough for all of us, you can also get to Tianhe Airport by metro at a very low cost (Line 6). Remember to keep in mind that all lines close at 22.30!

Using the Wuhan Tong Card can give you a 10% discount on fares.

 

  • Taxi

Getting a taxi is probably the most easy and comfortable option, but it’s also the most expensive. Taxis in Wuhan start with a 10¥ fare that lasts for about ten minutes, maybe a bit less. The way to use them is mainly as any other country, just hail them on the street. However, if there are no taxis around and you are running late, WeChat offers an inside app, Didi Dache (滴滴打车), that allows you to book a taxi and save some money at the same time! The only problem? Didi is fully in Chinese. But don’t panic, to unveil all the secrets of this magic app you just have to check our guide on how to use Didi!

Leaving the city

When the time comes to leave (or get to) our precious city there are many options available too.

  • Train

Don’t stress over how much trouble it seems to get on a train here, it’s actually really easy and an economic option if you want to travel around without spending too much money on planes. Don’t forget that China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network!

You can easily book train tickets in websites like Ctrip (in English) or Qunar, or even in WeChat (is there something WeChat can’t do? I don’t think so – click here to learn how to do it). If you are old-school, you can go to the train station too and buy it directly from there. There are three train stations in Wuhan: Wuchang Train Station (武昌火车站), Wuhan Train Station (武汉火车站), and Hankou Train Station (汉口火车站).

Once you have your ticket online is highly recommended to get it in the station a few days before you travel, especially if it’s during Chinese holidays. You don’t want to have any unexpected surprise with no time to fix it and with a packed station. For that, you will only need your booking confirmation text (with the booking number) and your passport. Forget about the ticket machines, they are only suitable for Chinese passports, and go directly to the ticket window. If you are getting the tickets in a different train station than the one you’ll set off you’ll have to pay a small fee (5¥) but you won’t have any problem to get them.

On the day of your departure don’t forget either the ticket or the passport, as you’ll need both to get into the train station, then you just have to check where do you have to wait and board the train. Boarding time starts usually 15 minutes before the train sets off, but you should be in the train station around 1-2h before that, as they are usually really packed with people and queues can be quite long sometimes (if you are getting the tickets on the same day you’ll definitely need those 2h).

Don’t throw away your ticket once you’re in the train, it may be checked during the trip!

  • Airport

There’s no secret in this one, Chinese airports work just like everywhere else. You can buy plane tickets in any travel agency, airline website and many others, as well as in Ctrip, Qunar, Alitrip and, obviously, WeChat.

You can get to Wuhan’s Tianhe International Airport by bus, train, metro or taxi. A bus from Hankou will cost you around 17¥, and 32¥ if it’s from Wuchang. There’s a train station below the airport so you can easily change from plane to train or vice versa, a ticket from the airport to Hankou Railway Station can be up to 8¥. Metro will be around 5-7¥ depending on which station you get on, and a taxi can be from 50-120¥ (including a 15¥ toll that will be added to the final amount).

Getting to the airport can take around 20-40 minutes.

  • Long distance bus

Traveling by bus is even cheaper than a train, let’s not say a plane. However, it also requires more time. From Wuhan, you can take a bus directly to Shanghai or Beijing, as well as some other major cities. There are two long distance bus stations in Wuhan, the Fu Jia Po Passenger Station in Wuchang (for buses to Shanghai and major cities in Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Henan and Zhejiang provinces), and the Jin Jia Dun Passenger Station, placed right opposite Hankou Railway Station (for buses to Shanghai and major cities in Hubei, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces).