Friday, February 20, 2015

A Guide To China Train Travel

By Jonny Blair

Train travel in China is always exciting, I just love it. But Chinese high speed train is even more scintillating! With an influx of new routes, super clean, super fast trains, the age of smoky, shaking Chinese carriages are fading out. In the last year I have taken a few trips on the high speed rail in China. And even splashed out on "First Class" just to sample it! That's a "backpacker" travelling First Class (and guess what even the First Class was cheap enough!).

Get the marvellous high speed Chinese train from Shenzhen North all the way up to Shaoguan and you'll have a great ride. This is what a high speed Chinese train is all about. After heading to Shaoguan your next port of call could be the terrific mountains of Danxiashan which include some great rock shapes!

Here's the way to book a train in China

Never get anything booked in advance. You basically need to just turn up at the train station and book it there and then - that's the way to do it. It might be full and if that is the case just get the next one or take another route. Join the queue at the station and pay in cash for your ticket.

The hardest thing while booking a high speed train ticket in China will be the communication. When buying a ticket, I'd recommend writing in Chinese the name of the place you want to go. This will make it easy for them to get you the correct ticket. If there's a country you can easily get lost in, it's China!

Taking the Shenzhen North to Shaoguan route

11.51 - You start at Shenzhen North train station. Head on past the barrier with your ticket and get on the train. You have a seat number so make sure you sit in it. It leaves fast and Shenzhen is soon left behind!

12.26 pm - Stop at Guangzhou South for a few minutes. I've opened a can of Guinness and we leave Guangzhou trailing in our wake. A tough ask, given that it's a massive city. We reach a speed of 308 kilometres per hour at 12.44pm - this turns out to be the maximum speed we reach on the trip.

1.45 pm - Arrive at Shaoguan Station and we get off. Shaoguan is not the last station on this high speed train which heads much further north.

What can you do onboard a High Speed train in China?

- Update your travel blog

- Marvel at the views of Chinese countryside

- Open a can of beer

- Have a sleep

- Chill out

- Stare in awe at the pure speed of the train

- Eat (there will be a food trolley on board or bring your own)

- Read a book on travel

That's my guide - high speed trains in China are excellent!

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