We took a sleeper bus to Hangzhou. WOW, what a good chinese idea, a bus with bed! Leave it to those chinese to make your trip as comfy as possible. Well, not really, come to find out, if you put in these small (about 4 ft long) toucher bunks you can fit in about 3 time more people the a bus with seat. Your head rest is the foot rest of the behind you. (Hmmmm, smelly feet). On the map it looked like a 3 hour trip, but the bus driver said it would take 6 hour. So after 5 hours we asked if we were getting near, the driver told us it would be another 3 hours. By this time it was already dark and I managed to fall asleep. When we finally arrived (it should around 9:30) it was 2 am.
It's very convenient to go hangzhou from shanghai. Either by train or bus. There are 2 stations in Shanghai both run trains to Hangzhou. Shanghai railway station and Shanghai south railway station. Better chose those trains start from South station. They are more efficient, also because the main station is a big mess. South station was renovated in 2005, turned to be very neat and modern. To me it's more like an airport than a railway station. Hongqiao Airport looks awful compares to it.
The fast trains take only 80 minutes, departure only from Shanghai South railway station (close to Xujiahui). You can reach there by Metro Line 1 or Line 4. There are 2 classes, RMB53 and RMB44. Since there is only tiny difference i stuck to the 1st class always, it turns out very worth the price..neat carriage, brand new facilities and comfortable seats, enough space for those tall ppl.
There are many ticket offices in downtown where you get tickets (I always buy from the one near Jin An Temple). Now they are 10 days available in advance (might change later). Make sure to get the return tickets if you are only stay there over weekend. Or you don't mind to stand back... (Note it definite not only 1.5 hours but 3 or even more, the fast train doesn't accept stand ticket) You will be amazed when passing by the queue in front of the ticket window in hangzhou station on your way back.
Hangzhou is not very big, and the travel spots are close to each other. Besides of walking, taxi is a good way to travel in hangzhou. The price is same as shanghai. Start from RMB11 (10+ 1 for the extra fee), RMB2 per milimeter. The vehicles brand are various than what we have here though inside was not very clean. The drivers are normally nice but barely speak English.
Hangzhou is accessible by train from Shanghai in about 2 hours. Do remember to book your train ticket before your trip, especially if travelling on weekends and public holidays. Your hotel concierge can do it for you for a small fee. The soft seat train ticket to Hangzhou is about 40 - 50 RMB and the ride is quite comfortable. There is a separate waiting room for soft seat passengers so you won't have to jostle about with the rest of the passengers in the hard seat compartment.
All right, taking a train from Shanghai to Hang Zhou is convenient. Prices are cheap even for a soft seat. Around 50RMB, most travel agency will purchase the tickets for you and deliver it by hand to your room for a nominal fee of 5rmb/ticket. Why buy a soft seat ticket? Firstly, you get a seat reserved for you reflected by a seat number on your ticket. Next, you avoid the mad rush to get a seat on the hard seat cabin, as its free seating. When push comes to shove, no one can beat the Chinese. If you are alone or not travellng with children and want to interact with the locals, the hard seat cabin may be a good idea, the ticket is significantly cheaper. At the train station, its basically a long warehouse with large barn style doors, which the conductors will open when its time for boarding, which is a mad rush for the hard seats. Its confusing for soft seat cabin passengers to find out which is the soft seat cabin though. Take note that the train station is extremely crowded usually, so please take a look out for pickpockets...From Shanghai, its a 4 hours train ride to Hangzhou. The train is roomy, seats are pretty hard though, and has large windows for looking at the numerous factories that you will see when you move out of shanghai prefecture. On board, push cart vendors will peddle hot drinks and snacks. Prices are cheap, but the quality is dismal. The other downside of the seats is that, the position is too upright and its hard to sleep. The other issue is that, sound isulation is pretty bad. But the ride is smooth enough, but don't expect european standards though.
As a tourism-oriented city, Hangzhou has very mature and developed city transportation. You even no need to take ONE taxi in the city because there are so many Bus lines which can send you to all famous spots.
Taxi in hangzhou is very cool. All you have to do is wave your hand. During rush hour, it will take a little time to get one. Also, around train stations and airports, they have to come and go in an organized fashion so you might have to stand in line. Sometimes drivers won't stop next to a train station because they can get ticketed by the traffic cop because it is considered an illegal stop, so don't get mad if that happens. Fare is not that much. A 20 mins ride cost about 4 dollar. Finally, all legally operated taxi have meters. Please don't get on a taxi without a meter!
Train is very convenient if you are travel within China. Hangzhou is the state capital and a famous tourist city, so there won't be a problem with your rail trip. Hangzhou has an international airport but with limited international flights. Today, flights can be considered international depart from cities in Japan, Korea, hongkong, and a few other Asian cities. There are plenty of domestic flights though. As a result, unless you come from the above cities, a stop is probably required in shanghai in order to change flights. Highway system around hangzhou has been developed pretty fast last couple of years. It sometimes takes the same amount of time as train. As a tourist, road trip in China is not recommended.
The best way to get around the city is by bus (well, if money is not a concern at all, taxi is quick too). One destination is usually served by several bus lines, and they come every 10 to 15 min. However, they are crowded, so be prepared to stand. Also, in the summer time, pick a line with letter "K" in its name, like "k152". Those are the ones with air condition. Bus fare is very cheap in Hangzhou; they go bettwen 15 to 25 cents. Unless you will be in the city for a very long time, don't even bother getting a bus pass, just have changes ready when you board because they don't give out changes. How about bus schedule? well, they are very hard to find because the city has over 100 bus lines and it's rare to wait more than 15 min for a bus.
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
(Updated in August 2006)