Skip Navigation

Bangkok to Shanghai without flying?

Travel Forums Asia Bangkok to Shanghai without flying?

1. Posted by XplorRgirl (Inactive 44 posts) 8y

Hey, I'm heading to Shanghai from Bangkok and I'd rather not fly if possible. Anybody heard of or tried any ways of doing this? If need be I'll fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong and train to Shanghai (cheaper than direct Bangkok to Shanghai), but I'd really love to go by sea if possible.

Overland options appear to be:
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by bus or train, bus to Chiang Rai, boat up the Mekong to Jinghong, bus to Kunming, and train to Shanghai. OR:

Bangkok to Vientiane in Laos by bus or bus/train combo, bus or Mekong ferry to Jinghong, bus to Kunming, and train to Shanghai.

Anybody know of any other options, especially boat ones? I'm trying to keep the total cost under $300 USD, which is the cheap end of the flying to Hong Kong route. I've done loads of bus/train/ferry/flight trips in SE Asia and know what to expect in terms of conditions, I'm not worried about roughing it.

If anyone else is interested, the prices I've come up with so far in USD appear to be:
-$50 BKK-Chiang Rai by train (2nd class sleeper) and bus (by bus alone is cheaper but less comfortable).
-Possibly as much as $100 for the Mekong ferry (but unconfirmed)
-$100 Kunming to Shanghai on hard sleeper train going via Cheng Du, prices on all routes from Kunming to Shanghai seem to range from $70-$120 on this class of ticket.
I've yet to investigate the cost of the overland route via Laos, but either way don't forget to include the $15 visa on arrival fee.

Thanks for reading and for any suggestions!
Explorer Girl

2. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 8y

If you end up with the flying option, have you considered flying to Macau instead, and then taking the ferry to Hong Kong? I just had a quick look at the Air Asia website and flights from Bangkok-Macau seem to start at about 399 Thai Baht (plus taxes).

3. Posted by XplorRgirl (Inactive 44 posts) 8y

Hey what a terrific cost saving idea!! Even the regular fares to Macau and Shenzen are really cheap, and making the ferry or train from there to Shanghai would still let me see a bit of the country overland before arriving in the city. That's really something to consider. Great idea, thanks for the tip! Amazing how much less expensive those flights are than the Bangkok-Hong Kong or Bangkok Shanghai ones. Crazy ranges in airfares out here, never ceases to amaze me.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1997 posts) 8y

You can also go via Hanoi and connect with the Hanoi-Beijing train.

5. Posted by XplorRgirl (Inactive 44 posts) 8y

That would be fun, Daawgon, but would you need a Vietnam visa to do it?

6. Posted by Lavafalls (Travel Guru 155 posts) 8y

You can either go to Laos and into China or Cambodia to Vietnam into China. It is impossible to take a boat all the way to Jinghong now. And some sections of the river is too fast and narrow year round for boat traffic near the Lao China border. staying under 300 bucks might be hard unless you travel super fast and go on a super local life style.

7. Posted by XplorRgirl (Inactive 44 posts) 8y

That's valuable info LavaFalls, thanks for posting it. I was a bit afraid of arriving in Laos and not being able to catch a ferry, looks like it would definitely have been sketchy.

Okay, after much consideration this looks like the simplest and least expensive option in case anyone else is thinking of trying a similar route.

Fly (unfortunately, but completely overland looks too dodgy and uncertain) from Bangkok to Macau ($45 with Air Asia). Apply for Chinese visa in Macau (same day service available, $30).
Bus to Guangzhou (3 hours, $10 quoted, but unconfirmed).
Overnight train from Guangzhou East train station to Shanghai ($50)

Seems simpler and cheaper, also still offers a number of stops and a lot of overland travel time, so it ;looks like the best option.

Anyone know know any of the details of getting to Guangzhou East train station from Macau by bus or by bus and taxi?

Thanks for everybody's thoughts, comment's, and suggestions!!

8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1997 posts) 8y

One comment - wouldn't you need your Chinese visa to board the flight to Macau? (Macau and HK are part of China).

A very useful site for train travel in China:

9. Posted by XplorRgirl (Inactive 44 posts) 8y

Hi Daawgon, thanks for your comment. Actually HK and Maccau have different visa rules than "China proper", foreign nationals of many countries can enter them without prearranged visas (I'm a Canadian passport holder and fall in this category), you are required to present a visa once you arrive at any border crossing into the rest of China.

I am familiar with the seat 61 site, you are right it's a terrific resource for train travel not just in China, but elsewhere in Asia too, highly recommended for anyone looking for info or planning a trip by rail.