Chengde has no airport, and although it's an easy side trip from Beijing, it's not well connected to anywhere else except the Northeast. A convenient morning all-seater train from Beijing Zhan, the K7711, departs at 6:30am, arriving in Chengde at 10:48am. It returns to Beijing as the K7712, leaving Chengde at 1:30pm, arriving in Beijing at 5:48pm. Soft seat costs ¥61, hard seat ¥41. The railway station is just south of the city center, and bus no. 5 from outside to your right runs to several hotels and to the Mountain Resort. The ticket office (up the stairs and to the right) is open from 5am to 10:30pm with brief breaks. There are also limited services to Shenyang and (nine high-speed D-series trains daily) Shijiazhuang (four trains daily, 1 D-series train at 5:14pm).
The soft-seat waiting room is through a door at the far left-hand end of the main hall as you enter, while luggage storage is on the right-hand side. On the train both to and from Beijing, enterprising staff sell tea for ¥3, instant coffee for ¥5, maps, and hotel reservations (do not book with them). About 1 1/4 hours after you leave Beijing, you'll see a crumbling stretch of the Great Wall.
At least until construction of a new road/rail interchange station at Dongzhi Men is complete, bus departures for Chengde from Beijing are more frequent from Liu Li Qiao Changtu Qiche Keyun Zhan (tel. 010/8383-1717 or 010/8383-1720, southwest of the Liu Li Qiao bridge). The 233km (144-mile) trip costs ¥73 for an Iveco or similar, with departures about every 30 minutes from 5:40am to 6:40pm. The current journey takes about 5 hours. At the moment it's possible to alight and see the Great Wall at Jinshanling en route, and subsequently flag down a passing bus to finish the trip. Express buses from Beijing run to and from the forecourt of Chengde railway station. Escape the pestering of touts by dodging into a branch of the Sichuan restaurant Dongpo Fanzhuang, opposite and to the left (south) where you alight, and if you're ready for a quick lunch, have it here. The main long-distance bus station has been demolished to make way for an extension of the Sheng Hua Dajiudian, and most buses now depart from the Qiche Dong Zhan (tel. 0314/212-3588), a ¥20 taxi ride south, or take bus no. 118, which passes Yingzi Dajie and the Mountain Resort. The ticket office is open from 5:30am to 5pm. There are two services to Shijiazhuang (7am, 9am, 11am, and 2pm; 10 hr.; ¥121), with seven buses connecting with Qinhuangdao (6:30am, 7:30am, 8:05am, 8:30am, 10am, 1pm, and 5pm; 4 hr.; ¥97). Buses to Beijing run every 20 minutes, but it's easier to flag an Iveco from outside the railway station.
Taxi meters are generally not used. The fare is ¥5 in town, or ¥10 to the outer temples. If the meter is started, ¥5 flagfall includes 1km; then ¥1.40 per kilometer, jumping 50% after 8km (5 miles). Buses usually charge ¥1.
For tourist complaints, call tel. 0314/202-4549.
Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- The main foreign exchange branch of the Bank of China (9am-5pm) is at the junction of Dong Dajie and Lizheng Men Dajie. Another convenient branch is at Lizheng Men Dajie 19, just east of the Mountain Villa Hotel. Both have ATMs that accept foreign cards, as does a branch on the corner of Nan Yingzi Dajie and Xinhua Lu.
Internet Access -- Internet cafes are few and mostly far from the usual visitor areas. Follow Nan Yingzi Dajie south until you cross the railway line, turn right into Shanxi Ying to find a cluster of Internet bars (8am-midnight) on the first corner, which charge ¥1.50 per hour.
Post Office -- The post office is on Yingzi Dajie at its junction with Dong Dajie. It's open from 8am to 6pm (to 5pm in winter).
Visa Extensions -- Walking south along Nan Yingzi Dajie, turn right after the Xinhua Bookstore into Xiao Tong Gou Jie, then take the first left. Next to a branch of CITS you'll find a sign that reads ALIENS EXIT-ENTRY DEPARTMENT. Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to noon; 2:30 to 5:30pm in summer (1:30-5:30pm in winter).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.