Traveling by bus around Wuxi is cheap and easy. Like anywhere else in China, it can be an interesting experience in itself.
The air-conditioned buses, or ‘K’ buses, are sleek and new, and comfortable to ride in – especially if you can find a seat. They are heated in winter and cooled in summer. Often there are TVs showing Chinese shows, advertisements, or music. These buses cost 2 yuan, and passengers just drop coins into the slot as they climb the steps. If you have a bus pass or IC card, it costs you only 1.9 Yuan as you swipe your card on the way in.
The regular buses are older and only cost 1 Yuan, or .95 Yuan with a bus pass. The older buses bring you to your destination as fast or sometimes even faster than the K buses, because they are more frequent and you won't have to wait as long for the regular buses at the bus stop. Since these buses are more frequent, they are often less crowded as well. They rarely have a fully functional gearbox, and playing music over the sound of the engine would be a waste of time, but you didn’t come to China to ride on comfortable buses, now did you? Let the adventure of the ride be part of your whole experience!
Most routes have both types of buses running, so you can choose your level of comfort, or else just take what comes.
Knowing which bus to catch is quite simple if you purchase one of the local maps from any of the little magazine kiosks around the city. They usually cost about 4 Yuan. You can also pick one up at the railway or bus station or at your hotel. Although the names of the streets are all in Chinese, you can still find your way around using the bus route numbers if you can figure out where you are on the map.
The map has another use too. Standing in the street while holding a map and looking vaguely (or extremely) puzzled should attract some eager young helpers who would love to practice their English while assisting you.