Rickshaws in Beijing VS Rickshaws in London

Taking a pedicab traveling around the old residential area in Beijing ( Beijing Hutong Tour ) is one of the highlights for the many first time foreign tourists visiting Beijing. The old Beijing residential areas are mostly composed of Beijing Hutongs which form and contain the traditional living houses locally called “Siheyuan”, a kind of vernacular courtyards.

Foreign travelers normally prefer to take a walk or a rickshaw around the Shichahai area north of Beihai Park, where the old hutongs and courtyards have well been kept.

Hutong tours are greatly promoted and incorporated into a complete Beijing sightseeing picture. There are several rickshaw tour tour companies providing pedicab service both in the Shichahai area north of Forbidden City and Qianmen area south of Forbidden City. Most of the rickshaw rides are restricted to the these hutong and courtyard areas.

Through years’ hectic competition, the hutong rickshaw market has been controlled and operated by several huong tour companies which have a clear code of conduct for their pedicab drivers to follow. The code of conduct include the follow:

1) Their pedicabs are painted with their company’s name
2) Their rickshaw drivers wear the uniforms with their company’s brand
3) Their rickshaws are in good shape
4) The rickshaw fares are fairly transparent

Tips for taking a rickshaw in Beijing

1) It is better to book a rickshaw tour through a hutong tour company or a local travel agency
2) Avoid directly negotiating the prices with individual pedicab drivers
3) Keep from using independent rickshaw drivers. There do exist a few illegal pedicab drivers without any company background.

Rickshaw has filled up a hole in the transport market in the hutong areas where normal cabs are found clumsy and useless. The hundreds-year old rickshaw ride in Beijing has become a popular and nostalgic mode of moving around in the fast developing metropolitan Beijing. Rickshaw rides are greatly favored by foreign visitors in Beijing and has also won the full support from the local government.

Beijing Rickshaw 1
Beijing rickshaw 2
Beijing Rickshaw 3
The rickshaws in London don’t have the same luck and privilege as the rickshaws in Beijing have enjoy. The rickshaws in London first appeared around later 1990s with the intention of creating environmentally friendly work for unemployed youngsters.

The pedicab drivers are mostly young foreign students who are going to make some money to help fund their studies. Many of them are independent rickshaw drivers though there are some registered rickshaw operators in London.

From the very beginning, the pedicabs in London have faced the question of existence due to the strong opposition from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association which has vowed to fight them off the streets.

The pedicab fare is a matter of negotiation between the driver and the passengers. How much you pay is largely dependent on your negotiating skills and how far you are going. It’s daunting physical work.

Pedicabs in London are generally used by visitors for short journeys. Most of the rickshaw drivers look for their business in the West End Londdon, the most commercial and sightseeing area, posing a safety problem.

A few day stay in London gives me an impression that the richshaws in London are not well organized with little management and support from the local government.

London Rickshaw 1
london rickshaw 6
London Rickshaw 4

Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing City Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Autumn Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Walking Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Gui Jie ( Ghost Street) Food Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

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