A Journey on the Chinese Bullet Train

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Travelling in one of the world’s fastest train can sure give you a thrill which no adventure ride can possibly give. Esp at a speed of 350KMs/hr, the bullet train ride from Shanghai to Beijing was one of the biggest highlights of my China trip.

The Fuxing Hao (official name of the bullet train) interconnects various cities and provinces in the mainland in the shortest time possible thanks to its lightning fast  speed.  Also referred to as the G-Train (G for Gaosu), this is officially the second fastest train in the world (Or the #1 if we consider only trains between different cities) with a top speed of 250mph (350+ Kms/hr).  The fastest being the Maglev train ( connecting Shanghai Pudong Airport to outskirt Shangai in 8 mins) with a speed of 400Kms/hr.

Incidentally my first “High speed” train experience was between Paris to Amsterdam last April, that reached the 500km distance in just 3 hours 17 minutes . This was in the “Thalys LGV” train that touches 300km/s hr.

Region
China (Asia)
Europe (selected countries)
Speed
350
300
Distance
1450
500-600
Price
5500
2500 for Thalys(Amsterdam to Paris). 4000 for Loco2(Swiss to Paris)
Booking method
Directly in counter or through 3rd party site
Directly in counter or direct Thalys/Loco site
Wifi
Yes, but only works with a Chinese Sim
Free (No sim required)
Check-In
Need to exchange online ticket at counter for physical boarding pass
Can proceed with online ticket copy/mobile ticket
Pantry
Yes (Lunch, beverages, snacks)
Limited selection of beverages and snacks
Comfort
Push-back, rotatable seats, 3+2 configuration
Push back, 3+3 configuration
Security Check
Exactly Similar to Airport (Luggage, Physical checks)
None (rarely luggage scanning alone)
Misc Facilities
Free Hot/Cold water dispenser.
Charging Ports for mobile/laptop
Charging Ports
Time to checkin
Min 1-1.5 hours before departure time
30 mins before departure
On-Time Arrival
Always
99% of time.  Rarely delayed by 5 mins.

How to book tickets?

Beijing Railway Station Booking Counter

The direct way of booking is to go to Shanghai Honqiao Railway station and book the tickets. But sometimes with excessive crowds, there’s a chance it can get booked and you might find a ticket only in a slower train (that’ll take 3-4 hours more) at a later deparature. So it’s safe to book it online with a very minimal online charges through one of these sites.

Process of Booking : Head to one of these sites, select your train (Preferably the one that takes just 4 hours 25 mins), select the no of people, enter passport number details (if there’s an error here you might find it difficult to exchange it at counter.. so double check).

Payment Mode : I paid through PayPal as you can pay in your local currency without markup charges. You can also use your debit/credit card but that attracts 3.5% service charge as you will be paying in USD from your bank.

Once payment is made, you’ll receive ticket with seat nos in 24 hours or so max. Print this ticket and exchange it at the ticket counter in station (Queue will take a min of 20mins)

Note:  I’m not affiliated with any of these sites. I personally booked with TravelChina Guide and turned out pretty easy for me.

Which is the best way to travel domestic in China?

Given the options between a High speed bullet train and flights, my recommendation is always a train.

Here’s why :

Train tickets are cheaper. A train ticket costs 5500INR while a flight ticket would cost easily 7000-8000INR from Shanghai To Beijing one way.

Travel time : The time taken by flights is 2hrs 20 mins, while the bullet train takes 4 hours 26 mins. Yet considering the ease of checkin in a train, closer to city, the difference of additional 2 hours would never matter.

Note : Shanghai has 2 airports. Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao airport. Hongqiao airport is marginally closer to the city compared to Pudong and 90% of domestic flights operate from Hongqiao. Both airports have direct subway(metro) connectivity.

Check out my post on the best places to shop in China

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