Rail: Hong Kong to Beijing

Jan 9th, 2004, 07:19 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 9
Rail: Hong Kong to Beijing

I'm thinking of meeting up with a friend in China this March or April. I can get a cheap flight with beacoup air miles in and out of Hong Kong no problem. But it seems to me that Beijing has more worthwhile attractions. I understand that rail service is much cheaper if you book it yourself at the station. My question is, how reasonable or unreasonable would it be for me to show up at Guangzhou and expect to successfully get something for the same day or next morning? Can I expect to find ticket agents who speak English or am I merely dreaming?
Braintree is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 08:59 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,778
The first query would be, "Why cross to Guangzhou when you can get a train to Beijing directly from Kowloon's Hung Hom Station?"

The answer might be, "Because it's cheaper still," and that would be true. The "international" train is a little more expensive than the domestic one, but by the time you've added the cost of getting to Guangzhou the difference is very small.

The other reason might be because the direct train from Hong Kong only runs every other day, and doesn't leave on the day you want. The days it doesn't leave from Hong Kong, it leaves from Guangzhou East instead, and there are other trains from there to choose from as well.

However, to check whether the train is leaving Hong Kong on the day you want to go, see

http://www.kcrc.com/eng/services/services/beijing03.asp

'HH' on the table is 'Hung Hom' in Kowloon.

It's true that you will get mainland China tickets more cheaply than utterly rapacious Web sites will sell them for (as much as 60% cheaper), but on this route there are exceptions. Tickets from Hong Kong can be booked much further in advance, and there are agents selling them at their face value over the Internet, and getting their commission directly from the railway. Use them for no other service (and especially not for visas or hotels) but CITS Hong Kong will organize tickets from Hong Kong or Guangzhou in advance. See:

http://www.chinatravel1.com/english/index.htm

You'll note that the prices quoted for HK to Beijing train tickets are the same as those on the KCRC site.

And for the last question, were you to turn up at Guangzhou East you might be lucky or you might not, but that's cutting it a bit fine. If you were ready to accept any berth on any train you'd probably succeed, but it cannot be guaranteed. You can also buy a hard seat ticket, or platform ticket and attempt to upgrade on the train. Ticket agents very rarely speak English, although a little is spoken at CITS next to Guangzhou's main station. Nevertheless, English is not needed for such a transaction, as long as you have a phrase book or guide book with the characters for the class of berth, and the name of your destination. The date you can write down for yourself, and even if you don't have the other characters, the concierge at your hotel can write them down for you. The hotel will also likely offer to obtain a ticket for you, although at a higher commission than other agents would charge. However, as I said, for greater security you can also order tickets for trains departing from Guangzhou from CTS Hong Kong at reasonable prices.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
PeterN_H is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 06:04 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 9
Yes, the reason I want to know about Guangzhou is because trains only run from Kowloon every other day.However, I have adjusted my travel plan so that I will land in Hong Kong the day before the next train to Beijing. Now my concern is getting back. How difficult is purchasing a ticket in Beijing for Guangzhou to someone who doesn't know a lick of Chinese besides "hello" and "thank you"?
Braintree is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 09:55 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,778
Easy. Go to Beijing West Station with your passport. English signs point you to the sleeper ticket office inside the main building. All you need is to write down the desired date of travel, and the characters for Kowloon (Jiulong) which someone at your hotel can do for you. Carry cash (which is all they take).

Otherwise, your hotel will sort the whole thing out for you, for a fee. Most tickets for trains departing from Beiing stations can be bought from any other Beijing station, as well as from agents with terminals on the railway system. But these have to be obtained from the West Station, perhaps because the route still counts as 'international' and the passport must be shown.

Your best plan is to go to get the ticket on arrival (if you have enough RMB to hand--there are no forex services available when you arrive). You come out at basement level, so you need to make your way up by ramps to the ground floor, re-enter the building (and your luggage will be X-rayed again) and take the escalators up one more floor to where you'll see the sleeper ticket office signposted to one side. It's open nearly 24 hours a day.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
PeterN_H is offline  
Feb 5th, 2004, 06:36 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 9
Thanks, you've been a big help and I have my reservation confirmed for the Beijing Express (I don't know if that's the right name but I like the sound so I'm using it). Now, maybe you can explain something else to this fortunate tyro. I thought about stopping off at another city between Beijing and Guangzhou on my way back. However, according to my guide book, it seems that the total travel time increases by 40% if one gets off at any of the interim cities. (In some cases, cities that are visibly much closer take what would seem to be a ridiculously longer amount of time. For example, Xi'ax -- which isn't on the main line but isn't all that far to the west either -- is 16 hours south of Beijing and 29 hours north of Guangzhou). Are there any cities in between that are really worth stopping at where I wouldn't have to settle for significantly slower service? I wouldn't mind adding one more city to my itinerary.
Braintree is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
angel1
Asia
10
Nov 20th, 2011 11:38 PM
travelgo7
Asia
6
Jun 13th, 2007 07:21 AM
Lia
Asia
4
Jul 20th, 2004 06:22 AM
dinks
Asia
6
May 11th, 2004 08:43 AM
harman
Asia
8
Apr 15th, 2004 08:50 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:43 PM.