The airport is 33km (20 miles) to the northeast. A shuttle bus for ¥20 meets flights and runs to the CAAC ticket office at Zhongshan Dong Lu 471, on the east side of town at the terminus of bus no. 5 to the center. CAAC (8am-8pm) has a 24-hour flight-booking line (tel. 0311/8505-4084). Buy in town from agents such as the Hebei Oversea Tour Aviation Ticket Center (Hebei Haiwai Luyou Hangkong Piaowu Zhongxin), inside the Tiedao Dasha, Zhongshan Dong Lu 97 (tel. 0311/8607-7777; 8am-9pm) on the corner of Ping'an Bei Dajie. They also have a branch inside the Hebei Century Hotel (9am-9pm). There are air connections to most provincial capitals, including daily flights to and from Beijing, Hohhot, Shanghai, and Xi'an.
Since Shijiazhuang's prosperity, such as it is, originates with its railway connections, it's right that the railway station is in the center of town. Getting there from Beijing West couldn't be easier, with six daily express trains taking 2 hours and 40 minutes; tickets (¥64) can be bought outside waiting room 3 or on the train itself. These are all-seat double-decker trains with snack service. Taking the T511 from Beijing at 7:35am and returning by the T514 at 5:58pm can make Shijiazhuang a possible day trip. Shijiazhuang is also a stop on the T97/98 run between Beijing West and Kowloon (¥705 soft sleeper; ¥458 hard sleeper), arriving at 3:18pm from Kowloon and leaving at 12:47pm headed south. You will need your passport to book this ticket. Most south- and southwest-bound trains from Beijing stop at Shijiazhuang, offering connections to Taiyuan, Xi'an, and points as far flung as Ürümqi. Rail tickets can be booked by telephone (tel. 0311/8699-5426; 8am-6:30pm) for a ¥10 to ¥15 commission, depending on if you buy a sitting seat or bed. The railway station has been renovated, and has 17 windows from which tickets can be purchased. Window 1 is for soft-seat tickets only, windows 8 through 19 are normal ticket windows, and 20 through 24 are for 10-day advance purchases. There's even a screen displaying the availability of tickets.
Shijiazhuang is littered with bus stations. The most important of them, Changtu Keyun Zhan, is a 5-minute walk south of the railway station on Zhan Qian Lu. Destinations served include Ji'nan (241km/149 miles; ¥82); Tai'an (281km/174 miles; ¥60), Zhengzhou (437km/271 miles; ¥45), and Qinhuangdao (480km/298 miles; ¥130). There are frequent connections to several Beijing bus stations, including Lize Qiao (7am-5:30pm) and Lianhua Chi (6:30am-4pm; 3 1/2 hr.). But the real competition with the rail link to Beijing is just to the right at the Keyun Zong Zhan, where the Alsa company runs luxury coaches to Beijing Liu Li Qiao (roughly every 25 min. 6am-7pm; returning 12:30-7:30pm; ¥70). In addition, twice-daily super luxury buses have large, airline-style tiltable seats, only three across the bus (¥90), departing at 8:10 and 9:25am, returning at 3:10pm and 4:40pm. For service from Beijing call tel. 010/6386-1262; from Shijiazhuang call tel. 0311/8702-5775. They also run two morning services to Ji'nan and Zhengzhou, with afternoon returns.
Taxis are mostly Jettas and Fukang, and cost ¥2 per kilometer. Hyundai cost ¥2 per kilometer. Add 50% after 6km (3 3/4 miles), and 20% from 11pm to 5am.
CITS, at Donggang Lu 26, quotes imaginative prices for cars and guides. However, it does have some good English-speakers, so if you're desperate, call them at tel. 0311/8581-5102.
Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- There's a handy branch of the Bank of China on the north side of the Dongfang Dasha, Zhongshan Xi Lu 97, close to the railway station. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am to noon and 2:30 to 5pm. Forex is available at counters 4 to 7. Another useful branch lies near a KFC just west of the World Trade Plaza on Zhongshan Dong Lu (same hours). Both branches have ATMs that accept foreign cards.
Internet Access -- Dial-up is tel. 163 or 169.
Post Office -- The post office near the railway station (corner of Gongli Jie and Zhongshan Xi Lu) is open from 8:30am to 6pm. There's a more centrally located post office in Jianshe Nan Dajie; its hours are 8:30am to 6:30pm.
Visa Extensions -- The city PSB is a block north of Zhongshan Xi Lu, and 2 blocks east of Zhonghua Bei Dajie, at Liming Jie 8. The visa office has a separate entrance on the east side of the building. Walk up Qingnian Jie on the west side of the Huabei Shangcheng (department store), across the next junction, and the office is on your left (tel. 0311/8686-2500). Hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to noon and 1:30 to 5:30pm.