I'm going to China in summer & would like to go to Beijing, Hong Kong & Lhasa (for Tibet) . Of course i would include other places but these are the pivotal destinations.
I know there is a train that goes to or near to Lhasa but does anyone know how frequent it is? where the best location to get it from is? roughly how much it costs? how easy it is to stop at various locations along the way (and where you would recommend)?
Also does anyone know how easy it is to travel independently? ie hire or buy a motorbike/scooter/car for some of the journey. This would be amazing - especially in some of the less populated areas (but then again we are talking about China).
We travelled independently in China back in 2004 and it was a lot easier than I had imagined. Language was the key barrier, but if you are willing to mime a bit, then you will be fine!
Beijing was really easy to travel around, we also went to Yunnan province and travelled from Kunming up to Zhongdian, stopping off a few places on the way. We travelled by train, bus & plane all booked on the go with no problems at all. We didn't see very many Westerners at all, but most hotels / restaurants had some English so it was quite easy.
We came back to Europe via the Trans-Mongolian Railway, thoroughly recommend it!
Hi, if you are going via beijing, the best bet is taking the train T27 which goes directly to lhasa. This is the only direct train that goes from beijing to lhasa, it leaves daily at 9:30pm local time, and arrives at its destination at 8:00pm 2 days later. That's right! it takes 46 hours and 30 min (should be interesting actually, might put that on my agenda). It stops at 6 major stations alone the trip, excluding lhasa.
The best place to visit is xi'an(西安), home to the terracotta warriors and countless other historical sites (if you're into culture). You can spend weeks there if you really wanted to. One of my best friends lives there and I had a great time when i visited a few years ago. (too bad i got my camera stolen there.... but it's pretty safe really, dont worry too much)
Lanzhou(兰州)is also a nice place to visit, it used to be part of the silk road and there are interesting places all around. You can go for tours from here and that can make your entire trip already.
I'm not too sure about the other stops, but that should be enough to get you started. If you want to stop along the way, you can just buy tickets in sections. As for the ticket price, it really depend on what class you want to travel in. If you want to go for the cheapest, I think it would cost like $10US for one way.
Just a reminder, T27 leaves beijing west station, not beijing central station.