Traveling by Train in China
Mar 31, 2004 14:04
  • BETH
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The price for a soft sleeper ticket is about the same as that of an airplane ticket. As a rule of thumb: roughly somewhat less than a yuan per kilometer.

Hard sleeper is also very comfortable and much cheaper. Say about 2 or three mao per kilometer. There is however much demand for them so they can be hard to get - and impossible around national holidays. Tip: travel agencies near railway stations can often get you tickets for a small surcharge (this may be officially illegal).
Mar 31, 2004 14:05
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I've travelled on the Shanghai-Beijing line on both soft and hard sleeper. The soft sleeper costs abt RMB500 and hard sleeper RMB300. Make sure you get the bottom bunk if you get the soft sleeper cos the carriages are compartmented into little rooms, and the upper bunkers have no where to go when you don't want to sleep. Personally I prefer the hardsleeper cos it's cheaper and still quite comfortable. I enjoy sitting on the aisles and watching the world go by. The hard sleeper feels like a clean and cheap motel. The choice is up to you!
Mar 31, 2004 14:06
  • WALT
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Any time i travel by train, i will prepare a long time for the disaster!
As long as you have enough money, please choose the soft seat instead of the hard seat. You will be proud of your right choice during the trip.
Mar 31, 2004 14:07
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I have toured almost the whole country by train, and I must say that's the safest and most comfortable way of discovering the country!

Which class?
I routinely opt for the hard sleeper as it's economical, yet comfortable enough. The only drag: The attendant will turn off the light when she pleases (often as early as ten p.m.!). I think this is nanny state mentality! Soft sleepers have doors you can close, and in some you can keep the light on (on your bunk). The latest hard sleeper carriages also have a special night lamp to each bunk - you can read after curfew!

Availability of ticketsa little tricky sometimes, but a great way of avoiding disappointment is by going to a travel agent inside a luxury hotel. They may get preferential service at the train station for their guests, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg - say 30 kuai, sometimes 20 per ticket. You don't even have to be guest at the hotel!
In Kunming: Go to the King World Hotel; in Guangzhou go to the BAIYUN HOTEL; elsewhere find a 4/5 star hotel!

Why trains?
First of all, you are ten times safer than on the road! China is one of two countries in which I sat in a bus involved in a serious traffic accident (I survived with minor scratches in Turpan).
Also, you can bond with some of your fellow travellers; this is less often happening now, but it used to be easy to beco0me friends with Chinese tourists or home returnees!
Thirdly, it's a great way of seeing some landscapes en detail while you are comfortably ensconced in your seat; carriages now are air-conditoned.

Chinese trains on average are a bit slow, but they have been making tremendous progress over the last ten years! Initially, their average speed was around 60 km per hour; now it often surpasses 100 on long-haul routes! And then, there is a high-speed train being considered between Shanghai and Peking that will travel at well over 200 km per hour; if the German supplier of Maglev technology will be accepted the train will race at over 500 km per hour; if it's a conventional ICE or TGV from Germany or France respectively, or a Japanese Shinkansen, the speed will still top 250 km an hour.

Which places to visit in Guangdong?
I think, Macau is a good choice, very good one, before entering Guangdong. What next? Shunde (Daliang), Zhuhai (next to Macau), Guangzhou, Zhaoqing; give Shenzhen a wide berth, and you can also forget about Dongguan.
where are you going from there?
Mar 31, 2004 14:08
  • ANNA
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I agree with you. When I was in China, as a foreigner I can agree that if the train service were more "gentle" on the old,disabled, pregnant and infants as well as foreigners it would be the number one way for any foreigner to see China. I can envision in years to come the great numbers of people wanting to see China should use no other way.

Mar 31, 2004 14:09
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I went by train from Shanghai to Beijng and it cost me about US48 to travel in a sleeper cabin of 4 (friends). It was great fun and I would do it agin tommorrow. We had fun on the train and every stop and at the final destination. Its great and the people of China were so kind to us.
Mar 31, 2004 14:10
  • JAME
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do you have any suggestions for train travel for non-chinese speakers? i studied chinese 20 years ago in high school and remember enuff to day dui bu chi, and ting bu dong, but not a whole lot more- more importantly- if all signs are in chinese, i'm concerned about my inability to understand transfers etc... also-are all signs in simplified charactors? i was thinking i'd just carry around a list of places i am going and worst comes to worst will use the point and grunt technique.
Mar 31, 2004 14:11
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You also can travel China by train, though you are a non-Chinese speaker. But you should know about the Chinese attractions or the city you want to visit. Maybe you should know the Chinese pronunciation of them at least, which I think is the basic and best means for enquiry a local Chinese.
Mar 31, 2004 14:12
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I like travelling by train too. It gives me opportunity to mingle with the local people and they have endless tales to tell u about their homeland, veri interesting indeed.

I always get the lower bunk cos' it's convenient as I dun like climbing up and down. Yes, people do sit on my bed, which i personally don't mind as this is where everybody start talking, quite fun indeed.

When it's time to sleep, everybody gets back to their bed, and I can still have the whole bed to myself and enjoy my good night sleep

polar :)
Mar 31, 2004 14:13
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I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you can book tickets in ten days ahead, but even more, you can book overnight train from city A to city B actually being in city C.
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