(alachua, fl, USA)
Photo Credit of Frank*
China has many gorgeous sites to see outside the usual tourist packed cities.
Traveling this amazing country by train gives you the opportunity to experience this whole other side of the Middle Kingdom (the sprawling country side, mountains, and rice paddies) that tourists who stick to the cities will typically miss out on.
Train travel in China is much less expensive than flying, it gives you the opportunity to get an up close view of the land, allows you to share stories and trip tips with Chinese locals during your journey, and is a safe and social way for solo travelers to see the country.
When you arrive at the train station, it may feel a little overwhelming due to vast majority of people; however, it is extremely simple and safe if you relax and follow the signs. There are boards in English as well as Chinese, making the travel schedules easy to read. Once on the train, a ticket collector will take your ticket and give you a token with the berth number. The ticket collector will also notify you when the destination is near and exchange the token with the return of your ticket. This means you won’t have to worry about when your stop is coming up.
Train tours offer several different locations of arrival and departure. Each offers their own unique views of China. There are trains available for traveling only a few hours to traveling for several days. Each train has various rates according to class; the class is determined by how hard or soft the berth is plus the level of privacy. Each compartment has berths which are used for sitting during the day and sleeping at night. The price for a four berth compartment will be the most expensive as it is considered first class and gives more privacy. Second class, on most trains, has six berths to each compartment. Second class is by far the least expensive way to travel but is certainly comfortable enough.
Traveling by train from Beijing to Shanghai is a unique and perfect first time China train travel experience because it is not too long, just overnight, and offers great views along the way. Plus, as most visitors to China plan to visit both of these cities anyway, your train ticket will cost many times less than a plane ticket. Another upside to take this train (or any over-night train for that matter) is that it will also save you the cost of a one night stay in a hotel.
There are twelve day train tours that can be scheduled on the Tibet Train Tour which give you the opportunity to stay overnight in the cities of Shanghai, Chengdu, Lhasa and Beijing. While in the cities there are tours to highlight the magnificent sites each has to offer. Along the way you will visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you can get up close to adorable pandas. This tour will also let you visit a giant stone Buddha that has been carved in a mountainside, forbidden cities, authentic tea houses and so much more.
The long distance trains have restaurants on board as well as vendors that sell snacks and drinks. It is suggested, however, that before boarding the train you pack a few bottles of water, some of your favorite snacks and a few packs of instant noodles. This will save some money along the way.
Traveling by train is by the far the most economical way to see all the beauty China has to offer. Traveling as a solo traveler is also completely safe for males and females. The berths are comfortable and you will meet and interact with many new “friends” along the way. Be bold, have fun, and enjoy seeing China from the train.
Lin Biddle writes for Briefcases Direct, a website that offers luxury briefcases and a unique womens briefcase selection, direct from the manufacturer. She has lived in China over three years and has traveled all over the country by train, many times as a solo traveler. Lin has also traveled much of Europe as well as East and South East Asia.
*: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License – based on a work at commons.wikimedia.org