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china train

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1. Posted by teukka (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y

hi.
i'm leaving for peking this month with a friend. our plan is to travel from peking to hong kong, not trough sanghai tough because we will continue on to the rest of se asia and we need to save some money. but my guestion is what is the best way to get a hard sleeper "seat" on the peking-hong kong train, do i need to reserve it in advance or are there always places free on the hard sleeper section of the trains?how do i reserve a seat if anyone doesn't speak english?has anone been in this situation?

also: which city is the cheapest of the three in china. peking, wuhan, hongkong?(those are the places i'm propably planning to stay at and i need to buy some stuff for later.., unless someone has a better suggestion on what city to visit on the route from peking to hongkong. sanghai excluded.)

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 9y

but my guestion is what is the best way to get a hard sleeper "seat"

Hard sleeper and Hard seat are 2 different things. There aren't any Hard seats on the Beijing to HK train, although you can take one to Guangzhou or Shenzhen and go onwards from there.

You need to reserve in advance (you won't be allowed into the station without a ticket - except occassionally at Beijing, where you can get into the station, but not on to the platform), but there is an English speaking window at the station. It's also easy enough with a couple of words and sign language to get a ticket to more or less anywhere in China. Having a couple of basic options (such as Hard Sleeper, days of the week and dates) written down will help and knowing if you want lower, middle or upper bunks helps. [The higher up, the cheaper the price]. But you can buy tickets withough any language whatsoever.

(((note - if in doubt, go up to the policeman in the ticket office, and be really nice ask him for the english speaking window. Even if there isn't one currently open, he'll find you the best window and often as a foreigner, will whisk you straight to the front of the queue. That sounds unethical, but after you've spent a couple of weeks being bashed about and spending hours in chinese queues - and loosing your place - you will appreciate it....)))

You can only buy 10days in advance anyway. Also, note that if you stop in Wuhan, you will have to travel to Guanghzhou or Shenzhen and then connect anyway. The through Beijing (and Shanghai) to HK trains are non stop.

NOTE - The train only runs every other day, and is very popular, so it can be better [and cheaper] to travel to Guanghzhou or Shenzhen and then on from there. Shenzhen is better/cheaper to continue from, Guanghzhou has more trains from Beijing. Also note that the train leaves from Beijing West, and you you need to buy your tickets there. Most hostels/hotels/Agys etc will book you through for a small fee as well.

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 29, 2007, at 9:08 AM by Gelli ]

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 9y

Gelli,
You seem to know a lot of train travel in China, so I ask my question here as well.
Probably in november i'll visit shanghai and hongkong. but not sure about exactly how long in shanghai and how long in hongkong. So i'll probably buy tickets in shanghai for the train to Hongkong. Do you think for a soft sleeper I can get tickets a day or so in advance? Or is it wise to book the 10 days ahead as you say? Does the train leave shanghai everyday for hongkong?
Thanks, michael.

4. Posted by mdancy (Full Member 104 posts) 9y

Here's a great website for info on train schedules in China:
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains/index.htm

As far as getting tickets in advance it is usually not hard to get them even just a day or so in advance. However, you'll breath easier getting them as far in advance as possible. My husband and I traveled thru China last year by train during Chinese New Year and then again during the May holiday - it was tough, but we almost always got a sleeper when we wanted one.

I would say that for Shanghai you need only a few days as there isn't that much to see in the city...meaning that it is not as interesting and fun as Hong Kong. We lived in HK for a year and never got bored. It is easier to get around in HK also - things are closer together and transport is excellent.

On booking trains in China, you can only book from the city you are in - can't book from Shanghai to Hong Kong if you are in Beijing, for example. So it is best to make the train station your first stop when you get a city so you can get the ticket thing out of the way. Not a problem with no one speaking English - we could always get our point across, and in Beijing they do have Eng counters.

Hong Kong is the most expensive of the three cities, but the "stuff" you want to buy might be cheaper there depending on what kind of stuff it is. If you do it right, HK can be cheap - stay away from tourist food & drink, use public transport or walk. Beijing can get pricey due to not much public transport - you need taxis or strong legs. Fees for the sights are high in Beijing. Most of what HK has to offer as far as tourist sights are essentially free. Have not been to Wuhan so can't say.

I've done the train from HK to Beijing, then Beijing to Xi'an then flew to Shenzhen all in 8 days. We were able to pack in a lot on that trip.

Have fun!
Martha

Post 5 was removed by a moderator
6. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 9y

Quoting mdancy

Here's a great website for info on train schedules in China:
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains/index.htm

As far as getting tickets in advance it is usually not hard to get them even just a day or so in advance. However, you'll breath easier getting them as far in advance as possible. My husband and I traveled thru China last year by train during Chinese New Year and then again during the May holiday - it was tough, but we almost always got a sleeper when we wanted one.

I would say that for Shanghai you need only a few days as there isn't that much to see in the city...meaning that it is not as interesting and fun as Hong Kong. We lived in HK for a year and never got bored. It is easier to get around in HK also - things are closer together and transport is excellent.

On booking trains in China, you can only book from the city you are in - can't book from Shanghai to Hong Kong if you are in Beijing, for example. So it is best to make the train station your first stop when you get a city so you can get the ticket thing out of the way. Not a problem with no one speaking English - we could always get our point across, and in Beijing they do have Eng counters.

Hong Kong is the most expensive of the three cities, but the "stuff" you want to buy might be cheaper there depending on what kind of stuff it is. If you do it right, HK can be cheap - stay away from tourist food & drink, use public transport or walk. Beijing can get pricey due to not much public transport - you need taxis or strong legs. Fees for the sights are high in Beijing. Most of what HK has to offer as far as tourist sights are essentially free. Have not been to Wuhan so can't say.

I've done the train from HK to Beijing, then Beijing to Xi'an then flew to Shenzhen all in 8 days. We were able to pack in a lot on that trip.

Have fun!
Martha

Thanks, very helpful comment! Maybe skip a day in Shanghai and go for Hongkong. Did you visit Macau by any chance as well?
Michael

7. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 9y

hongkong is expensive compared to the other cities.
beijing is pretty cheap if u know where to go.
i've never been to wuhan, but my friend has, and he said things are all pretty cheap in china, if u know how to haggle, and go to the right places!

8. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 9y

Gelli,
You seem to know a lot of train travel in China, so I ask my question here as well.
Probably in november i'll visit shanghai and hongkong. but not sure about exactly how long in shanghai and how long in hongkong. So i'll probably buy tickets in shanghai for the train to Hongkong. Do you think for a soft sleeper I can get tickets a day or so in advance? Or is it wise to book the 10 days ahead as you say? Does the train leave shanghai everyday for hongkong?
Thanks, michael.

Sorry Michael, i've only just seen this. I did this journey by through train in the opposite direction, in hard sleeper without incident and the train was barely half full. The train only leaves every other day, and i booked 2 (or 3?) days in advance as i didn't know when i was going to travel either. At busy periods, ity will obviously be worse, but should still be possible to get tickets reasonably easy.

Things to note: It will be cheaper to get a train from Shanghai to Guanghzhou or Shenzhen (the station is basically on the border), and connect from there, and there are also more trains, so if you can't get on the direct train, that is a possibility. In Shanghai, the main ticket office oppposite the station has an English speaking window (signed as such) and the queues are normally easy compared to most cChinese stations. There's also a (officially) Chinese language only ticket office near the Bund on (from memory) Beijing Lu, which tends to have even less queues, and because there is a couple of hostels nearby, they do speak some english and are used to dealing with foreigners. If you go to an agent/through a hostel etc, you'll pay a chunk for the privelage.

Also - admittedly i probably shouldn't know this - but there are a sh1t load of flights from Shanghai to HK, Shenzhen, Guanghzou and Macau, plus a few to Zhuhai (Macau border) etc, and internal flights in China tend to be surprisingly reasonably priced