Taking the Tourist Train is a fast, inexpensive and efficient way to go directly to the desired tourist attractions.
Besides, a very important benefit you get is free travel if you purchase your admission tickets for the attractions prior to setting out on your trip.
Train tickets can be purchased in
- Beijing Railway Station,
- Beijing North Railway Station,
- Beijing West Railway Station,
- Beijing South Railway Station,
- Pingguoyuan and Qinghuayuan subway stations and
- other ticket offices authorized by Ministry of Railways.
There is also an interesting advantage: if you are a group of 10 or more tourists, you can buy the tickets by telephone 3 to 10 days ahead of time and enjoy the visiting service.
The ticket booking hot line is 010-6563 6733.
For more detailed information concerning timetables, ticket fare, destinations, etc., you can visit the following website.
We decided that we would take the express overnight train to Beijing from Taiyuan which is about 2 hours by car from Pingyao. As Taiyuan is a major railway station there would be more options in terms of trains to Beijing.
For this reason we made the decision that we would combine this with a visit to the Qiao family residence and so we organised a taxi to Taiyun and thereafter train to Beijing.
The train we caught was the N202 leaving Taiyuan at 9.30pm and arriving Beijing at 8.00am.
This time we waited (waiting area 2) along with the hordes of other people to catch the train rather than in a special waiting area. (Use your ticket number to find out which waiting area to go to).This in itself was an interesting experience. People were quite interested in us and some even crowded over our shoulders to see what we were doing - sudoku. One interesting episode was watching young men try to hop on board trains without paying for a ticket ( they would simply jump over the gates while the rest of the ticket inspectors were busily checking the hordes through the gates).
The 4 berth cabin from Taiyuan seemed to be slightly more upmarket (flower in vase etc see photos) than the train we took from Xian. This time we did book soft seats, one lower and one upper on the same side. We shared with a young female student and a gentleman on his way to India to do business.
The trip was uneventful and we all seemed to agree mutually when the main light would be turned off and when we would all wake in the morning.
We organised the taxi and the train tickets through our hotel.Cost 215 Yuan each.
Oh my goodness.
I took the special train up from Hong Kong for about 600 HKD...A sheer pleasure.
Well, return from Bejing to HK...a sheer terror. I missed my train so I had to ride local (maybe I'll write about that in another tip).
HOWEVER, What I want to say is. THERE ARE LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE. Seriousy, make sure you get to the train station on time. The trains run on schedule, even if the rest of the country may not.
The train station to Hong Kong is located at Beijing Railroad Station WEST. It is the newest and most modern station (with cool Chinese-like architecture), according to the locals.
In traveling by train from Beijing to Xian and you want to travel in comfort, there is a Z train that is comparatively a newer train (operating from 2003) and offers deluxe 2-sleeper cabins and 4-sleeper cabins. We traveled by other trains in China in the past and this Z train is so much more comfortable and the bathrooms were so much more cleaner. The Z train also operates between Beijing and Shanghai. The 2-sleeper was very comfortable and more roomy than the 4 and had a toilet and sink in the cabin, as well as an electrical outlet in the cabin and bathroom. As with the 4-sleeper, they offered tv's in every berth and was a little more roomy and had more storage space than the 4-sleeper. Since it is an overnight train, if you want to take a shower but don't want to get a hotel room an extra night, we found they have pay showers at the Beijing West Train Station. We asked and they said it cost 20 RMB to take a shower there. Since there are only limited 2-sleeper cabins (9 cabins out of the 80+ cabins on the train) , we bought our tickets in advance via www.chinatripadvisor.com. We payed $118/person for the 2-sleeper and $68/person for the 4-sleeper, and it was worth the extra we paid. The only drawback with riding the train was the train was very smokey. Even though the train had comfortable air-conditioning and you closed your cabin door, it seemed the smoke seeped in from the vents and permeated the entire cabin. If you are gong to stay in the 2-sleeper section and don't like the smell of smoke, then it is best to get a 2-sleeper cabin as far away from the dining car since the 2-sleeper car is next to the dining car and the smokers seem to congregate there.
There ar equite a few trainstations in Beijing. The biggests and most important are the Railway Station in the center of Beijing and the West Trainstation, form where the trains to Xi'an for example start.
The Center Station is not far from Wangfujing and Tiananmen. It is still very crowded. In front of the station are Busstops and Taxis. Please be aware of agressive Taxi-drivers, who want to take you where you wnat for a fix price. Those prices are much too high. Be patient and find the taxis, which use their meter. For example, when I wanted to go to Kai Yue Hotel, a driver offered his taxi for 50 Yuan. But i found a taxi with meter and he charged me only 16 Yuan. I was quite surprised that it is now possible to sit in a coffee-shop in front of the station and enjoy the warm sun and the busy quare.
The new West Train Station is a modern building with some towers which ressemble the towers of the old Train Station. I did not see it myself though.
If you want to explore the area you're in, the train would be a cheap and fast way to get around. Maybe because of the time we took it(night), it didn't seem that crowded, at least not as crowded as our MRT back home! The tickets are just thin slips of paper and it is a one way trip to any station. So no matter how many stations you travel to it'll be the same price! :P
This is the Beijing Railway Station, located near the center of Beijing and close to many attractions and where you may arrive from or leave for other parts of the country. Since the train is the primary mode of long distance travel in China, this station is always extremely crowded as there are a lot of trains going through here everyday. Be careful of your belongings here and never leave your luggage unattended because the waiting halls can become very chaotic with all this people especially when departure of a train is announced. There will be a lot of shoving and pushing. So please stay alert!
(Updated in June 2005)
Trains run between Beijing and Shanghai
T103 Start off at 19:51 Arrive at 9:23 next day
T109 Start off at 19:43 Arrive at 9:15 next day
Z1 Start off at 19:28 Arrive at 7:26 next day
Z7 Start off at 19:21 Arrive at 7:19 next day
Z5 Start off at 19:14 Arrive at 7:12 next day
Z13 Start off at 19:07 Arrive at 7:05 next day
Z21 Start off at 19:00 Arrive at 6:58 next day
T31 Start off at 15:50 Arrive at 5:06 next day
Z14 Start off at 19:00 Arrive at 6:58 next day
Z22 Start off at 19:07 Arrive at 7:05 next day
Z6 Start off at 19:14 Arrive at 7:12 next day
Z2 Start off at 19:21 Arrive at 7:19 next day
Z8 Start off at 19:28 Arrive at 7:26 next day
T104 Start off at 20:02 Arrive at 9:34 next day
T110 Start off at 20:10 Arrive at 9:43 next day
Price: the non-stop train(with "Z" in the front of Train Number), RMB499 for soft-sleeper, I don't know the ticket price for the hard seat(I never buy it), I guess around RMB240.
Trains run between Beijing and Xi'an
Beijing - > Xi'an
Z19 leave from Beijing west station at 20:28 get Xi'an at 07:58 next day
T75 leave from Beijing west station at 18:53 get Xi'an at 07:50 next day
Xi'an -> Beijing
Z20 leave from Xi'an at 19:23 get Beijing West station at 06:53 next day
T70 leave from Xi'an at 22:28 get Beijing at 11:14 next day
Trains run between Beijing and Hong Kong
Beijing - > Hongkong
T97 depart from Beijing west at 12:47get Hongkong at 13:10
T97 depart from Hongkong at 15:00get Beijing at 15:18
Trains run between Beijing and Hangzhou
Beijing - > Hangzhou
Z9 depart from Beijing at 18:53 get Hangzhou at 08:23
Hangzhou - > Beijing
Z10 depart from Hangzhou at 18:03 get Beijing at 07:33
Ticket price: Soft seat 316, soft sleeper RMB532
This is the first time to Bejing by train, it is a wonderful experience. Reasonable fare, good conditions & on time!
You can meet different people in compartment, someone for business, for family, for travel, see everyone up and down, sitting on the side seat eating peanut holding with a cup of hot tea, enjoying outside scenary, buying hot pot rice at the station....ooh, a lot of things you can do. The jounery starts when you step in the train!!
Train is the excellent transportation in China. I missed it much very much.
If you can afford a little luxury, and have 12 hours to spare the new Z class trains is one of the most comfortable way to travel between Beijing and Shanghai.
Between 7pm and 8pm each day, a Z class train will leave every 7 mins and reach the other city non-stop in 12 hours flat. It is fully air conditioned, and a sleeper costs around 480 RMB.
The best part is, you can to rest peacefully for at least 6-8 hours, and the train will take you right into the city center. Beats taking a plane, where you have to worry about getting to and from the airport, check in and check out etc.
You can buy the tickets at the train station.
Getting out of Beijing to Xian was not a very easy task. The very first thing we did was to inquire at an agency in a nearby hotel, where they told us that no train tickets are available for the dates required. They suggested travelling by plane which was much too expensive for us. Even changing the date didn't help so we decided to get the tickets by ourselves. We tried western railway station (Beijing Xi Zhan) but couldn't find the international booking office and in others we only heard 'mei you'. Luckily, while walking along Beijing streets we spotted a sign ' Booking Office' ( in English) and there we managed to buy soft seats (there were no sleepers available). The western railway station made a good impression on us. It is very big, modern and clean, with nice restaurants. Of course we couldn't enter waiting rooms for those lucky ones with tickets for sleepers. We just peeped inside and saw soft elegant armchairs and sofas and few people. It was much different in 'our' waiting room - crowds of people and few benches. But the train itself was very nice. There were no compartments but the seats were comfortable and it was really clean (thanks to a service lady who seemed not to part with her broom). So the 15-hour journey to Xian was definitely not a nightmare.
This turned to be a comfortable way to travel to Beijing. From where I live, Changchun, you can take the night train to Beijing, at at least a third of the price of a plane ticket.
Travel takes 8 hours.
I think that the same applies to other cities around Beijing. From Shanghai, for example, the trip takes 12 hours...
Give it a try...
This is one of the most important port to get or away Beijing. The Beijing station and the Beijing west station are the biggest train station in Beijing. Everyday, large numbers of passenger arrive in Beijing or away. You can buy a train schedule by 2 Yuan (RMB) to check the number of runs and time. By train to travel in China is a good choice.
WARNING: Don't buy ticket without booking office. As much as possible to avoid touch the people who want sale you ticket or intro hotel or others.
The Trans-Mongolian Train that departs from Beijing to Ulaan Baator in Mongolia now leaves only on Saturdays. If the schedule fits you, go to the China International Travel Service (CITS) office at Hotel Intercontinental on Jianguomennei Dajie, near the Beijing Zhan subway station on the Circle Line and between Dong Dan and Jianguomen subway stations on the East-West Line to buy your ticket.
If not, your alternative route is to take the daily sleeper bus to Erenhot (the border town in Inner Mongolia) from a bus-station on the Third Ring Road on the west-southern end, on Xisanhuan Nanlu near the Feng Tai District. You need to ask tour agencies for more information and how to write the characters of the name of the bus-station and where to get off.
Sleeper bus to Erenhot costs around Y100. At the border, you need to pay between Y70 to Y100 for a minivan or jeep to take you across to Zamy-Uud in Mongolia.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you go for MONGOLIAN drivers as Chinese drivers are rogues!
Once in Zamy-Uud, the daily train to Ulaan Baator leaves at 5pm and for the cheapest hard-sleeper (with no blankets or bed-sheets), it costs only US$4 for the 13-or-so hour ride. Very culturally shocking but wonderful memorable experience!
After I returned to Beijing from my day at the Great Wall and Ming Tombs I took the #44 bus from Qianman to the Xixhimen train station to try to buy a Local priced ticket to Shanghai on the night train. It was another of the confusing ticket transactions for me! LOL I tried the buy it myself method which didn't work as there were a couple of the ticket sellers that spoke English and they asked for my student ID. Which I told them I had but didn't really have any! So I was told that I would have to go to the Main Railway station where the Foreigner tickets were sold....Well I didn't give up yet. LOL I approached a couple of younger looking guys and asked if they spoke English. "Yes, a little bit" "Cool" I offered to give them a little extra cash if they would purchase me a local priced hard sleeper to Shanghai. I gave them the money and they went in to buy the ticket. Well they came back out and said there weren't any available!! Hmm...seemed odd to me...they gave me back my money and just as I was about to leave the train station I ran into a Japanese guy that had helped me before! He was there to purchase a ticket for the same train that I was trying to get. I gave him my money and he purchased the ticket for me without any problems at all!!! The 1462 KM trip from Beijing to Shanghai with a hard sleeper cost US$9.29. I bought the ticket on the 12th of March for a March 14th departure. Usually you will have to buy tickets for these popular routes a couple of days in advance if you want to get a hard sleeper. Soft Sleepers don't sell out as fast as they are quite a bit more expensive.