Traveling China by Bus and Train
China is a country with a variety of sceneries: it has mountains, beaches, lakes, valleys, rivers, deserts, ice and much much more to offer. With its 22 provinces, the country has plenty of tourist attractions and something to offer for everyone. Luckily, China’s infrastructure is getting more and more advanced and more and more cities are connected to each other. Fast trains or buses are available from one corner of the country to another. And besides, traveling by train or bus can be more exciting than traveling by airplane.
When I lived in Guangzhou, traveling by train and bus was a very common thing to do because the city is very close to other destinations in the Pearl River Delta and bordering provinces.
Guangzhou to Hong Kong
I took this trip several times during my time in Guangzhou and it was always easy and quick. A train ride from Guangzhou to Hong Kong only takes about 2 hours and the trains are very comfortable and modern. A ticket is around 180 RMB which is more expensive than traveling inside Mainland China.
Guangzhou to Guilin/Yangshuo
The area around the cities Guilin and Yangshuo is world famous for its mountains and Li River scenery. Traveling there from Guangzhou is very convenient by night bus. It takes around 8-9 hours to get there and is also relatively comfortable.
Chinese night buses do not feature seats but bed-like matresses that allow you to completely lay down and sleep inside the bus. Those buses are also very cheap at around 200 RMB for the entire distance from Guangzhou to Guilin. During the bus ride, the driver stops at various rest stations.
High-speed rail (HSR)
China is famous for its high-speed trains that have an average speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) or higher. The network throughout the country is enormous with a total network of with over 10,000 km (6,200 mi) of routes in service. It longest line, which is also the world’s longest, is the 2,298 km (1,428 mi) Beijing–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway. The Chinese high-speed rail network the most heavily used in the world.
The Beijing–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway ultimately connects Beijingxi Station in Beijing and Futian Station in Shenzhen. It will then cross the border and follow the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link Hong Kong Section to West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong. The line opened in 2009 and the 36-kilometre (22 mi) cross-border Shenzhen–Hong Kong section is expected to open in 2015. The line is the world’s longest high-speed rail route and cuts travel time by more than half.
It takes around 10:16 hrs to get from Beijing West Station to Shenzhen North. There are three different seat types: second class, first class and business class. For prices and inquires check China Highlights Train Ticket Service.
Guangzhou to Lhasa
Lhasa in Tibet is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Norbulingka palaces, many of which are located in Chengguan District, the city seat.
Traveling from Guangzhou to Lhasa can be quite an adventure. I never did the trip myself but I really want to go and do it. There is only one train in service from Guangzhou to Lhasa, so it runs every other day. The 4980 km journey takes over 3 days to complete. The total duration of this trip is 54 hours 53 minutes.
Guangzhou Lhasa train tickets & price
Hard Seat Price
Hard Sleeper Price
Soft Sleeper Price
451 Y (US$52)
782 Y (US$105)
The route has a total of 10 stops: Guangzhou, Changsha, Wuchang, Zhengzhou, Xi’an, Lanzhou, West Xining, Golmud, Nagqu and Lhasa.
Do you have experience traveling by train or bus in China? Where did you travel?
Living a Dream in China – Train Travel in China
China Highlights – Train Tickets
Sky News – China: High-Speed Rail Network To Be Doubled
I tried HK-Shanghai, Shanghai – Guangzhou by train and then by bus from Guangzhou to HK and it wasn’t so bad, but the sleeping area in my train was soooo uncomfortable, my back hurt so badly 🙂
HK to Shanghai! nice!! how long did it take?
from 3PM in HK to 11AM in Shanghai – 20h, but I thought it was 18h, that one is from Shanghai to Guangzhou 🙂
PS will you be in the late May in San Diego? on my bday we go to LA and plan to visit SD for one day 🙂
Hi Lina, unfortunately I already went back home to Germany!!!!!! but maybe we can meet up in China some time in the future or I might be back to CA too!!! we definitely should meet up some day!!!!!
I’ve been on the Beijing – Xi’an train, and Beijing – Qufu train, and some others I don’t remember the names, it was with my High School, its a fun experience but the beds are so uncomfortable 🙁
I’ve been on a few trains. When the journey is long, if there are beds it’s more or less ok. The hard beds are, well, hard, but manageable. The hard seat is really a torture if you have to sit there for more than 3 hours.
The longest I’ve been on a train was 30 hours, but it wasn’t in China, it was in Vietnam. The train was similar to the Chinese trains though. I stayed in a soft bed compartment.
For me, the worst part about travelling overnight trains is… the smell of the toilet in the morning, hahaha.
wooow that sounds great! traveling through vietnam by train! did you blog about it? i would like to know more about that journey!
I haven’t blogged about it! It was in 2009. I will have to prepare a special “Back to the past” post 😉
Oh please do, sounds super interesting!!
I have never traveld by train in China but I really would like to try the HSR at least once 🙂
I think the number of provinces is incorrect. There are about 30.
There are 34 such divisions, classified as 22 provinces, 4 municipalities, 5 autonomous regions, 2 Special Administrative Regions, and the claimed Taiwan Province.
The picture you in the overnight bus looks interesting. The floor of the bus looks like it’s made of wood. It doesn’t look like the inside of a bus at all.
I prefer to travel by train here in Europe as well. The DB City Night Line has an extensive network of night trains around Europe.