Beijing Daily Bus Tours

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Beijing by train

Beijing by train:

Beijing is easily accessible by train from all parts of China. Please remember though that China is a very large country and that train travel is much slower than air. Please ask about travel times when you consider train travel.

Some of the major domestic routes include:
Xi'an to Beijing: generally takes about 10 hours
Guangzhou to Beijing: takes about 30 hours
Harbin to Beijing: takes about 20 hours
Shanghai to Beijing: takes about 14 hours.
Train travel may be difficult for some and little English is spoken on most trains.
Classes of seat & sleeper:
Chinese trains generally have 4 classes, although you won't find every class on every train:

Soft sleeper:

Most western travellers travel soft sleeper, a comfortable, civilized & affordable way to travel. Soft sleepers are spacious 4-berth compartments with two upper & two lower berths by night, converting to two sofas for daytime use. All necessary bedding is provided. There's a table with tablecloth, and usually a vacuum flask of hot water for making tea (or drinking chocolate or cups of soups if you've brought some). The compartment door locks securely, and a smartly-dressed attendant looks after each car. The best trains even feature individual TV screens and power sockets for laptops & mobiles. Passengers share with other passengers, but this is no problem, and a good way to meet people.

Hard sleeper:

If you're on a tight budget, there's no reason why you shouldn't go hard sleeper, as many western backpackers do. Hard sleeper consists of open-plan carriages with a broad aisle on one side of the car, bays of 6 bunks (upper, middle & lower) on the other side. In spite of the name, hard sleeper bunks are reasonably well padded, and bedding is supplied. Newer trains even have power sockets for laptops & mobiles.

Soft seat, hard seat:

Equivalent to first & second class seats on a European train. Short distance daytime trains often only have hard class seats, though some inter-city trains have both soft & hard class. 'Hard' seats are usually padded and reasonable comfortable, in spite of the name.

Categories of trains:

Chinese train numbers usually start with a letter, which indicates the category of train. The better the category of train, the faster it is likely to be, and the more modern & comfortable the carriages are likely to be. Slightly higher fares are charged for the better train categories.

C, D & G trains (modern high-speed daytime & sleeper trains):

These are top-quality high-speed trains with ultra-modern air-conditioned coaches and streamlined power-cars at each end. Some are 200-300km/h daytime electric trains, a few D-trains are top-quality 200km/h sleeper trains. Photos of D category sleeper train.

Z trains (high-quality express sleeper trains):

The previous top-quality sleeper train, the 'Z' trains are now the second best, but still with very modern air-conditioned coaches. Photos of Z category sleeper train

T trains ('extra fast'):

Trains with a 'T' in the train number are the next best category

K trains ('fast'):

Trains with a 'K' in the train number are 'fast'. Slightly higher fares are charged for better categories of train.

There are three major railway stations in Beijing: Beijing Railway station, Beijing West Railway station and Beijing South Railway station. Trains leaving for most cities of China depart from the three stations. The Beijing North Railway Station, formerly known as the Xizhimen Railway Station, is now a small (Tier-III) station managed by the Beijing Railway Bureau that provides regular intercity train services to the north and northwest. It is also the southern terminus for the Beijing Suburban Railway.

Avoid Peak Holidays: It is not a good idea to travel by train during Chinese holidays, as it is the time when masses of Chinese people are traveling around. The biggest three national holidays in China are Chinese Spring Festival (in late January or February), International Labor Day (May 1 to 7) and National Day (Oct 1 to 7). Spring Festival is an especially crowded time to travel. The advantage of being in China at this time is that you will get the opportunity to experience "first hand" the significance of these celebrations in Chinese culture.

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