China’s network of road transport connects most cities, as well as distant, rural areas. Bus travel is essential for reaching places that are not served by train. Tickets are both easier to procure and are cheaper than train tickets, and there is a wider choice of departure times, stops, and itineraries.
There are still many parts of China that are not accessible by train, making it necessary to make the long haul by road. In Fujian, bus travel makes a lot of sense. In Guizhou and Guangxi, the more interesting areas inhabited by ethnic minorities are only accessible by bus and the tropical area of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan is best explored by bus or taxi. You will also need to take a bus (unless you are flying) to reach Lijiang in northern Yunnan and all of western Sichuan.
Many smooth, wide highways now link some of the major cities, making some bus travel, particularly on the east coast, reasonably comfortable. In some cases, the bus is now a faster way to reach your destination than the train.
Traveling by road is generally much cheaper than traveling by train. Tickets are sold at long-distance bus stations and, unless you are hoping for a seat at the front of a luxury bus, do not need to be bought in advance. Main bus stations invariably have computerized ticket offices, and the queues are much shorter than those at train stations.