China by Train
Posted by: Saminchina (IP Logged)
Date: May 06, 2012 11:24PM
China is a huge country with vast, scenic countryside. If you have some time and want to experience China travel as the locals do, traveling by train is the best way to go. The network is extensive and growing rapidly, allowing you to get to every province (except Maccu) on one of four different types of train.
The Z trains offer direct service between two locations. C, D, and G trains are a part of China's bullet trains and are the fastest. China has the longest high speed train network in the world, with 796,000 people taking these trains every day. T or K trains offer more regional service, meaning more stops and a longer ride. There are also trains with no letters, only characters, and these are the slowest.
Tickets can be purchased at the station or through a travel agent. There are a lot of people in China always traveling, so it is advisable to book as far in advance as possible. However, tickets generally go on sale no more than twenty days in advance, and sometimes as few as five. If you are booking from outside of China some travel agents will arrange for your ticket to be delivered to your hotel upon your arrival.
On shorter routes, hard seats, soft seats, and first class are available. Over night journeys will have hard sleeper, soft sleeper, and private cabin options. The overall comfort will increase slightly with each class change, but the biggest difference is the amount of personal space. If you have a seat on an overnight train you may find yourself on a bench with two other people facing three more people. The hard sleeper usually accomidates six people and the soft sleeper four people. Pillows and blankets are provided for all cabins.
Most trains have a dining car where snacks and alcohol can be purchased. A food cart may also go by, sometimes offering hot food or fresh produce, and always instant noodles. The bullet trains have the nicest amenities and buying food would not be a problem. On the more regional trains, hawkers will sell food on the platforms, but it is wise to bring your own snacks and water.
Regardless of class, traveling by train in China allows you to see more of the landscape and interact with the locals. If you have learned a few phrases in Chinese, this will be an excellent opportunity to practice. Foreigners always attract attention, and knowing some of the language will surprise the people around you and make for a much more interesting journey.
If your're interested in learning Chinese in China, and like outdoor activities then Yangshuo is a really good choice.
Re: China by Train
Posted by: Eqxt (IP Logged)
Date: May 07, 2012 12:08AM
Thanks for the detailed and very helpful information on China's train systems. But I have a question. Do seats on G trains (bullet trains) have passengers sit face-to-face? Sitting face-to-face with strangers seem to be uncomfortable. Thanks.