The train going to Yanqing stops in Badaling, where you can easily walk to the Great Wall entrance from.
This train departs from Beijing North station (served by Xizhimen metro station, circular line) every hour between 6am and 8pm and the ride, which I found quite scenic, takes about 50 minutes. From Badaling station you walk about 700m to the entrance of the Wall and the way is clearly marked. Note that the first scheduled return train from Badaling departs at 3:15pm.
As of Oct 2009 the ticket costs 17 RMB one way for a numbered seat. The seats are very comfortable and can be turned around if you feel like sitting with your back towards the direction of the train.
This was my second long distance train trip and I liked it a lot. I was eager to take a day train for the scenic views and the different social interaction compared to the night train.
We got our seats on the diner car, but we didn't get seated together. When we boarded, someone was sitting in one of our seats so we took 2 seats together, but 3 times someone came to us and said that one of us was sitting on their seat (in Chinese), and 3 times we explained that someone else was sitting on the seat and if we please could sit together. 3 times we got a positive answer. How did they manage to sell the same seat number to 3 different people? Different legs of the journey have different train numbers. Ah well, this is one more thing to experience =)
We bought a soft seater on the D32 train departing at 10:42am from Shanghai Railway Station and arriving at Beijing South Railway Station at about 8pm. The train isn't non-stop, it stops about 8 times along the way to let off or pick up passengers. The ticket cost 327 RMB (as of Oct 2009) for a one-way journey, definitely much cheaper than a flight ticket if we had bought one the day before departure (which is why this tip is classified as budget travel).
One part of the journey I liked was when a group of men, unknown to each other, started playing some sort of checkers/board game (picture #3) and thus killed about 3 hours when some of them had to get off at their station.
I thought that the price of food and drinks was going to be expensive compared to the prices in town, but they were more or less the same for what they served. You can, of course, bring your own food and drinks to cut the costs. We ate a dish with rice, beef, vegetables and one of those funny looking eggs (I didn't eat it) and had beer.
One good piece of news is that the bathrooms (with squat and Western toilets) were very clean and with TP, tissue and soap.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!!
Dejamos Beijing rumbo a Datong por la estación del E .
Decidimos ir en metro a la estación para evitar el tráfico y no os podéis imaginar la cantidad de escaleras que tuvimos que subir y bajar con las maletas pues en el metro de Beijing hay pocas escaleras mecánicas . Desde el metro a la impresionante estación hay un paseo de diez minutos
En China todo es grande y no iba a ser menos esta estación , pero eso si , es muy cómoda , muy funcional y es fácil de moverse hasta los andenes de los trenes .
Las puertas para acceder a los trenes están siempre cerradas hasta 10 minutos antes de la salida , así que se organizan montones de gentes , algunos en colas y otros desorganizados , que están dispuestos a salir corriendo en cuanto se habran las puertas . Si tienes asiento numerado no te preocupes demasiado pues suelen estar reservados , sino , corre a buscar un siento !!!
We left Beijing en route to Datong by e station.
We decided to go by underground up to the station to avoid the traffic and you can not imagine the number of stairs we had to climb up and down with bags in the subway since in Beijing underground there are few escalators. From the subway to the impressive station there is a ten-minute walk
In China, everything is big and it was not going to be less this train station, but that it is very comfortable, highly functional and it is easy to reach the platforms of the trains.
The doors to access the trains are always closed until 10 minutes before the train departure, so lthere are lots of people , some in queues and other unorganized, who are willing to run as soon as the doors are opened . If you have numbered seats do not worry too much , since they tend to be reserved, but if not , run to get a seat !!
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.
(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