The best train trips in China

Beijing train station, photo by knittymarie on Flickr

China is such a huge country with so many attractions scattered all over its territory, that even if you initially planned on staying in one place, few people can resist the pull of adventure – China is the kind of country that demands to be explored. Hitchhiking can sometimes be a problem because of the language barrier, and buses are not the most comfortable way to travel, but fortunately there’s always China’s extensive train network. China’s railway network is one of the busiest and largest in the world, and trains are safe, quick and very affordable. In addition to the many sights you get to see on the way and the wonderful landscapes that will get to glimpse, Chinese train travel is an experience in itself. Here are some of the best train trips in China, for those who like trains.

Beijing to Shanghai

The capital of China is a must-see, but so is Shanghai, a colorful city infused with history and developing into one of the most exhilarating modern metropolises in the world. The best way to get from Beijing to Shanghai is by train, and thanks to the new high-speed trains you can get from one city to the other in less than five hours, quicker than checking in at the airport and taking the plane.

Shanghai to Xian

Shanghai train station, photo by David Li

A trip from Shanghai to Xian or back can take anywhere from 14 to 20 hours, depending on what type you train you choose. Even if the journey is long in any case, you won’t get bored as long as you keep awake, because Chinese countryside and nature rarely disappoint. Although flying is much quicker, the journey from Shanghai to Xian is a great cultural experience: the train is always crowded, but that’s an opportunity to swap stories with other travelers and to make friends.

Guangzhou to Hong Kong

Guangzhou has always been known for its international trade, and today it is one of the most eye-catching neon jungles you can find on the planet. But Hong Kong is not much different : just as resplendent, with just as many colorful lights, and just as much variety. The best way to get from one mega-city to the other is by taking the comfy and fast intercity trains that run every couple of hours.

Beijing to Lhasa

Qinghai Rail, photo by Henry Chen on Flickr

The railway to Lhasa is fairly recent, and it is an amazing way to make a mammoth journey through China: a whopping 3700 kilometers, a two night journey. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest in the world, and because the air tends to be very rare in some of the higher points, oxygen masks are installed in every coach.


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