I think that this is necessary guide for everyone who wants to travel beyond Beijing and to different parts of China should know some basic tips about bus, trains and air transport.
Transportation by bus is still widely used in connection between Chinese cities. There are several bus stations in Beijing. You should be careful here as you should know in advance from which bus station departs the bus for your destination. Usually you don’t have to buy tickets in advance but it is fine to come 1 hour or half an hour before departure. But for some more distant destinations it is better to buy ticket in advance few days before trip. Prices of tickets are cheap but biggest disadvantage is that this kind of transportation is slowest and most overcrowded and you largely depend on traffic on roads. Another problem is that bus stations mostly have Chinese signs only but you can recognize your bus by its number. Below you will find major bus stations in Beijing.
Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus Station- This is one of largest bus stations in Beijing. There are both buses running to suburban and closer towns but also to middle and long range destinations.
Liuliqiao Bus Station- It offers daily connections to major Chinese cities that run few times per day. Buses to nearby cities run even every 20-30minutes.
Sihui Bus Station, Muxiyuan, Lize, Xinfandi Bawangfen are names of other bus stations in Beijing.
Is most widely used ground transportation in China and fastest one. It can be the cheapest one but also the most expensive one. It depends on speed of train and on type of seat that you choose. In order to not get confused it is necessary to make distinction between types of trains. Firstly there are speed trains that operate with incredible high speed and you can get to various destinations very fast. For example trip between Beijing and Shanghai lasts 5 hours. Or trip between Beijing and Guangzhou( distance 3000km) lasts for around 8h only. China built speed rail network very fast and since 2005 when it started this program it has world largest speed rail network- almost 20 000 km and world fastest trains. So in category of speed trains there; G trains- fastest run 300km per hour and operate on long distance, D- very fast operate by speed of 250kmper hour and connect middle and long range distance, C- 200km per hour- short distances. Fast trains allow you to have comfortable, fast and convenient trips through China. Prices vary depending on first class seat, second class seat and business class. For example price between Beijing and Shanghai is 553RMB(second class) 933( first class) and 1740RMB( business class). Except that there are so called normal trains. They are much slower but some people choose it either because its cheaper or because some destinations cannot be reached by speed train. For example trip to Guangzhou by ordinary train can last more than 24h while as I mentioned by speed one it is 8h. In ordinary one hard seat costs 251RMB, Hard Sleeper 456RMB and Soft Sleeper 784RMB. But if we compare to speed ones second class seat to Guangzhou it isn’t so cheaper as it is 862RMB and you are there in 8h only. But some people prefer to travel by slower trains in order to better experience beautiful scenery, mountains, rivers and villages and to see everything in detail what is around you.
For all types of trains you should buy tickets in advance as they are sold very quickly. You can buy them in tourist agencies, at train station but also online they can be purchased. Chinese train stations are modern and there are both signs in Chinese and English. But on timetables at stations and at platforms destinations are not written but codes of trains. Speed train can have codes such as G, D and C and after that there is number and each combination is different for different destinations. Your code is written on your ticket. If you travel by normal trains there are several signs as well- K- fast 120km/h stops several times only, T- 140km/h stops at large stops, Z- 160km/h runs directly, after each letter there are numbers but slowest ordinary trains only have code in numbers and stop at every stop and run 100km/h.
There are four train stations in Beijing.
Beijing Railway Station- It provides services with speed rail to north and northeast China and normal train services to south, east and northeast China and foreign lines to Hanoi, Moscow, Ulan Bator and Pyongyang.
Beijing West Railway Station- Mostly connects destinations on west but also some central, southern and southwestern destinations. It both provides speed and normal train services.
Beijing North Railway Station- It is oldest railway station in Beijing opened in 1906.It provides speed and normal train services to northern, northeastern and northwestern locations.
Beijing South Railway Station- It operates both high speed and normal trains to northern, northeastern, eastern and southeastern destinations.
It is very widely used means of transportation across China. All major cities have airports. If you are an expat or tourist you probably came by airplane to some of major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen but also to other cities such as Chengdu, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Dalian or Qingdao.
But if you want to travel to other parts of China you can use air transport as well. It isn’t so cheap but it is fast definitely. Aircrafts are modern and very safe. You can use most famous Chinese air companies such as Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.But also it isn’t problem if you choose other airlines such as Xiamen Air, Sichuan Airlines, Chengdu Airlines or Spring Airlines.
Next article by end of next week, enjoy China 😉