Apart from bikes, buses are the most common means of getting around in the cities. Services are fairly extensive, buses go to most places and fares are inexpensive. The problem is that they are almost always packed. If an empty bus pulls in at a stop, a battle for seats ensues. Even more aggravating is the slowness of the traffic. You just have to be patient, never expect anything to move rapidly and allow lots of time to get to the train station to catch your train.
Improvements in bus quality have been matched by a steady increase in congestion on the roads. Bus routes at bus stops are generally listed in Chinese only, without Pinyin, so navigation can be difficult. In larger towns and cities, more expensive private minibus operations follow the same routes as the larger public buses.
Good maps of Chinese cities and bus routes are readily available and are often sold by hawkers outside the train stations. When you get on a bus, point to where you want to go on the map and the conductor (who is seated near the door) will sell you the right ticket. They usually tell you where to get off, provided they remember, but the bus stop may be quite a distance from your destination.
For those who'd like to tour China by car or motorbike, the news is bleak. It's not like India, where you can simply buy a motorbike and head off. The authorities remain anxious about foreigners driving at whim around China, so don't plan on hiring a car and driving off wherever you want.
Cars can be hired in Hong Kong and Macau, but at the time of writing you needed a residency permit and a Chinese driving license to hire a car elsewhere (eg in B?ij?ng or Shàngh?i), effectively barring tourists from the roads.
If you want to use a car, it's easy enough to book a car with a driver. Basically, this is just a standard long-distance taxi. Travel agencies like CITS or even hotel booking desks can make the arrangements. They generally ask excessive fees