General train costs in China

Apr 13th, 2004, 09:17 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10
General train costs in China

Some of you may have read my earlier postings regarding my travel through out China. I plan to go pretty much exclusively by trainbus and boat which wil also include my time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Loas, Tibet and Nepal.

How much should I allow for my overland budget generally? I will not be making to many circular trips I guess. I know that there are a variety of classes on the longer trips will defo go for hard or soft sleeper.

Thanks again.

PS: I promise to give a little something back once my experiences allow.
NewStart is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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You can get some fares on this site:

I compare the fares there, and a Chinese site,, and it appears the price is a direct conversion from the official price in yuan to USD, or close to it.

Peter may know how to get better prices that those.

Just give you some examples. From Guangzhou to Beijing on one of the A/C'ed express, 2,294km, 23 hours:

hard seat: 253 yuan/ $31
hard sleeper (upper/middle/lower berth): 428/443/458 yuan or $51/53/55
soft seat: 402 yuan/ $48
soft sleeper: (upper/lowe): 675/705 yuan or $80/84
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 10:33 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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You to are a star. Thank you so much.

This is possibly going to be a more silly question but how many journeys do you think I will have to take by train across China? I will probably do a few of the main routes but do a few not so well know. I will also throw in a bit of boat travel.

I am just trying to budget roughly for the travel on top of my daily allowance.

Thanks again.
NewStart is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Michael - I'm not quite sure what you're asking. You can go by train to most parts of China (except Tibet - at least not yet), and there are so many routes, so many trains, so many cities. I don't think one can say how many trains you need to take to go across China.

Anyways, the route that Peter and I are telling you: Kunming - Chengu - Lanzhou - Xining - Germu should be very scenic. I have not travelled by train to those parts, but those routes are engineering marvels with lots of tunnels and bridges, at least according to communist propaganda material in the 60's & 70's.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The prices on travelchinaguide are indeed surprisingly accurate, although no doubt there's a hefty booking fee somewhere if you use them (which you shouldn't--you can just buy tickets as you go and give yourself maximum flexibility). Otherwise these prices match what you pay at railway stations and there's no bargaining.

The timetable on that site should only be used as a rough guide however--it's only part of the network, and the last time I looked hadn't been updated.

Note, too, that there are significant speed increases this month and many new direct non-stop trains between major points. Railway ticket prices are calculated at so much per km., plus supplements for different kinds of berth, for aircon (although almost all trains have that now), and for extra speed, so there may be some corresponding price rices. But train travel in China is cheap.

There's a free partial timetable which takes account of the new changes available in .pdf form at:

But it's pointless to try and plan a long trip round China to the last detail: it just doesn't work like that. And there are so many ways you can vary route, quality of accommodation, different berths on trains, bus instead of train (often cheaper), type of food, more time in the countryside than in the big cities, etc., that China can accommodate almost any budget, however tight. I've met people who claimed to be surviving on Y30 day (but that involved climbing over the back walls of tourist temples rather than pay the entrance fee). In much of China you can sleep, on average, for Y50 or less (typically Y20 to Y25 for a dorm bed), eat three hearty meals for a total of Y40 (can be much less). Greater privacy and comfort comes (room with private bath) if you are willing to spend an average of Y100 to Y150. 12 to 14 hours in a hard sleeper is typically under Y200, and if that's overnight (as most long-distance trains are) there's your accommodation costs saved.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
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