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.
I'm not sure if there is still a 2 tier payment system for the trains in China but in 1987 there was 2 prices on the trains. "Local" price and foreigner price. The foreigner price was about 75% higher. There were also 4 classes of riding the train. Hard-Seat, Hard Sleeper, Soft Seat and Soft Sleeper. I would always ride Hard Seat which wasn't bad at all and for the longer (overnight trains) I would get the hard sleeper and I would try for the top bunk.
I would try to get someone to buy the ticket for me (local Price) and I even managed to buy a couple of Local priced tickets myself by practicing the phrase of asking for the train that I wanted! I would also get someone to write down my destination in Chinese. I would be so happy when I would be able to do it myself! I have no idea how to say those phrases any more!! Even though I don't look like a traditional Chinese person I do look a bit like the people of the Northwest China. As I had some of them approach me and speak to me in their dialect.
My 1100 KM train ticket with a hard sleeper (Top Bunk) cost me US$6.29 (33.10 RMB) at the time. It was a great ride even though I was quite sick. I had some very nice people in area of my seat that I shared food with. Not much conversation though!! ahaha
Having a local priced ticket doesn't mean that you have gotten away with anything either. You can still be charged full fare by the conductor on the train or even at the gate upon leaving the train station. All tickets are checked before exciting the train station. So I would be nervous sometimes until I passed out of the station!! hhaha
The primary means of long distance travel in China is the train. If you are going to Beijing from another Chinese city or leaving Beijing to go to another Chinese city, the train is your choice. There are a lot of trains entering and leaving Beijing all hours of the day. The Beijing Train Station is a busy place, located east of Tiananmen Square. There's a special bus that runs between the train station and the airport.
We had decided to take the train to get to Xi'an and we bought our train tickets at the hotel for 417 RMB each (+ 40 RMB fee to the hotel). There are several trains going to Xi’an each day and we went for a train that departed at about 5.15 PM. The train went from the western train station and even though the train station is big it was quite easy to get around. Once you get in there is a big board announcing the departure times and destinations and from here you go to a waiting hall. In the waiting area the departing trains were announced in both Chinese and English.
The train itself was OK. We had bought tickets for a soft sleeper and we shared our little cabin with two Chinese ladies. The toilet and wash room were decent and boiled water was also available if we wanted to make tea or make a noodle dinner :-) But even if we hadn’t brought anything along we wouldn’t have starved. From time to time someone would walk by selling hot food, snacks, drinks and so on. I always get bored on trains and this time was no different. To start with it was nice to just look out the window and see a bit of the ”real” China. It looked like the living standard was considerably lower once we got out of the city compared to Beijing itself. But soon it got dark and there was not much to do on the train apart from reading.
Hanging in the passage on the train I found a little book in Chinese and I looked at it a little bit. A man walked past me and he asked me if I knew what it was and I said no. He told me that this was the book where you could give feedback to the train company about the service on board and so on. But in the end he also added that he didn’t see the point of using it because they didn’t take the advice anyway :-)
It seems like the authorities likes to keep an eye on the movement of people because we had to present our passports on board the train and information was scribbled into a record book. I’m wondering if this is being used for something or are they just doing it due to old habits.
We left Beijing by train towards Mongolia and Russia with the Trans Siberian (Trans Mongolian exactly) train. We had to wake up early that day. Anyway, if you have seat reserved, you don't have to hurry very much. But if you haven't, better run to be the first in the queue, there are crowds to go into the train!!
In addition to being a wonderful way to meet Chinese people, it's simple and fun to take the 27 hour express train from Hong Kong to Beijing. The map pictured here is the one you will see when purchasing a ticket at Hong Kong's famous Hung Hom train station. My ticket for a cheap upper bunk cost only 574 Hong Kong dollars. Mattresses were reasonable although the air con units are directly above the upper bunks and blow cold air right in your face all night so I recommend getting a middle or lower bunk, only slightly more expensive.
By Train If you go there or leave from there by train, make sure you know which railway station your train arrives at or leaves from since there are more than one railway station in Beijing.
A cheap and confortable way to get around China. You also get up and close with the Chinese people without becoming squeezed to death on a local bus.
The soft sleeper (first class) was 400yuan to Xi'an for four beds in lockable room. The sleepers are like bunk beds but there are no doors. Last are hard seat
which are just reg. seats.
If you look out the window soon after the train leaves the station you will see heaps of garbage then board homes of workers who come to the city to work on construction projects. Beijing was really clean for a big city - everywhere we went there were people sweeping, so I surprised to see those lots of garbage. If you scratch a little below the polished surface, it starts to crumble.
Train is a good way to get to and from Beijing to other cities in China. Otherwise fly in.
Trains in China are really fun though - you can meet so many interesting people and the views outside are awesome when you wake up.
This picture is from a hard sleeper train from Beijing to Lanzhou, there are three rows of bunks.
Buy a bike or take a cab or the the buses/metro
The most econemic and conviniet way is by trian.China has a prrtey good railroad system.In the city of Beijing, there are at least 3 major railway stations,which leads to defferent area of China.However,by airlplane is the fastest way.
Beijing have a popular public traffic system.The subway is also convinient.
The gate way to and from Beijing for treveller trevelling by train.
Beijing Central station.
The coverage of Subway in Beijing will be perfect if combine with buses and Taxi
The train from Moscow was a fantastic experience. After 6 days and nights its fair to say that you're desperate for a shower as the train has little in the way of facilities, however if asked would I do it again - the answer is yes and probably in the middle of winter!! Make sure you book your train tickets to leave Beijung as soon as you arrive! I had the option to leave in 2 days or 6 days!!
Walking is best as with most cities however its easy to hail a cab as the flag fall is only about Sterling 1 and this lasts about 5 km's!
The trains from Beijing West railway station are mainly to south and west of China. you'd better go there by taxi.
Beijing Railway station has lot of trains from beijng to mainly North and Northeast parts of China. The best way to arrived there is by subway.
West Beijing - Xi'an
Train # T41
Train fare - 150 Yuan
Car# 2 Seat # 18
Departure time: Oct. 26, 2006