Beijing to Datong

Old Feb 7th, 2007, 09:39 PM
  #21  
 
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"Of the other three (all overnights), two of them origin from Taiyuen, the third one from Baotao. I think if you may be able to pay for the whole trip Taiyuen to Xian, and that may be easier to guarantee a softsleeper berth; rather than just buying the Pingyao-Xian fare." - by rkkwan

This is not applicable for china train system in the most cases.
asprilalee is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2007, 06:42 AM
  #22  
 
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withkids - are you thinking that Datong will be cooler than Beijing?? I didn't notice any difference. It's not like it's that much further north or higher up, and it's a fairly big, polluted city. (The pollution is coal dust from the mines.)
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 07:06 AM
  #23  
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Thursdaysd - good point, I will check on the weather.

We are now thinking we would take the bus from Datong to Taiyuan and overnight there. Then, we would head from Taiyuan to Pingyao and take the overnight train to Xian. We may or may not spend the extra day in the area.

We need to figure out how to get train tickets from Pingyao. Other questions would be if we are coming from Taiyuan, there are a few sites between Taiyuan and Pingyao. What would we do with our luggage?

Also, is it realistic to leave Taiyuan on the early side and try to see most of the sites in one day so that we can take the overnight train that night?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 07:30 AM
  #24  
 
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The problem with train tickets in China is that you can only buy them in the town where you are boarding the train - i.e. you can't buy a Shanghai-Beijing ticket in Beijing. It sounds like you can't afford to wait until you get to Pingyao, so you need a local travel agent to arrange them for you. Probably the easiest is to look for the local branch of CITS, or deal with the main office in Beijing.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 12:45 PM
  #25  
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Got it.

What do you think about the amount of time in Datong and Pingyao?

It sounds like one full day in DAtong, should be fine.

Is one full day for PIngyao okay or will we need to add another day?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 01:02 PM
  #26  
 
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One full day should be fine for Datong. I got back from visiting the caves and hanging monastery about mid-afternoon, which should give you time for the dragon screen and in-town temples before the train.

Can't help with Pingyao - haven't been. I'll be interested in what you think of it.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 01:57 PM
  #27  
 
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My parents went to Pingyao two years ago. They have been to almost all provinces of China in dozens of trip. They do like Pingyao a lot, and found it a lot more authentic than other "ancient towns" like Zhouzhang or Lijiang.

[Those three towns are all very different. I'm just saying Pingyao retained more its traditional ways, and is less touristy than the other two.]

They stayed at a guesthouse inside the old town there, and its setting was literally straight out of a period martial arts novel/movie.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 05:49 PM
  #28  
 
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just a little correction:

" i.e. you can't buy a Shanghai-Beijing ticket in Beijing".

You can do it in beijing.
asprilalee is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2007, 06:03 PM
  #29  
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All good information, thanks.

Can you check with your parents about one or two days in Pingyao?

Also, do you know where they stayed in Pingyao?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 07:24 PM
  #30  
 
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withkids - My parents only stayed one night. I think that's enough. You can cover all the major sites within the citywall in about 3/4 of a day.

They were on an organized tour, so they didn't book the hotel themselves. I will need to dig through their video to find the name. But there are several of those "guesthouses" on that street alone. All two storey-buildings, with a a small restaurant in the front. In the back, rooms surround a small courtyard. I would think most guesthouses inside the old town are similar.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 07:25 PM
  #31  
 
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From seat61.com: "You can generally only book a train journey at the station where your journey starts, so (for example) the reservations office at Shanghai can sell you a Shanghai-Beijing ticket but not a Beijing-Xian ticket. " I gave Shanghai-Beijing as an example of a general rule, I guess it might be a specific exception.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 08:21 PM
  #32  
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Got it.

Sounds like a full day in Pingyao will be enough.

Sounds like we need to start working on our train tickets as soon as we finalize the dates.

Thanks for your help!
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 08:55 PM
  #33  
 
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seat61.com? Is seat61.com the official information source for china railway system? As far as I know, the owner of seat61.com is also just a western traveller.

Frankly speaking, because of the language barrier, the information asymmetry for western traveller is so huge.

For that question, the answer is:
You can buy the train ticket that you will board at other city. But the criteria is that city/town must be the origin departure station.

Yes, there are some exceptions, and so far, this is not applicabel for some regions because of unfinished networking. But you can already buy train ticket upon this policy in a lot of plances.

asprilalee is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2007, 08:44 PM
  #34  
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I am now hearing different reports about the overnight train from Pingyao to Xian. Has anyone taken this train? Will it be noisy all night with people smoking? If we are in our own compartment, will it be quiet or will there be people outside the door?

Is there any "luxury" air conditioned bus from Pingyao to Xian? Any other options?

Thanks!
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 09:05 PM
  #35  
 
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There shouldn't be noise problem in soft-sleeper, as no one should be wandering or loitering outside your cabin. But of course occasionally, they may be people talking when they're walking by. Chinese people are just noisy - let me be frank.

There are 4 berths in a cabin. If you're not taking up the whole cabin, then you'll be sharing. Now, I have not been in such situation with strangers, but there's not much you can do if those people smoke.

One pretty big problem is that these are slow trains that make a lot of stops. My own experience on Chinese sleepers is that I woke up whenever the train made a stop. There are 11-16 intermediate stops between Pingyao and Xian, depending on which train you take.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:50 PM
  #36  
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Thank you very much. I think this is the missing piece. You are right, it looks like there would be 16 stops between Pingyao and Xian.

Are there any "tourist" class buses between Pingyao and Xian? We are now thinking the train is completely out.

What about between Datong and Pingyao? Are there any "tourist" class buses we can take there? Also, how long is this drive? Everything that I read is different.

Thanks!
withkids is offline  
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