A CRH400 high-speed train, capable of 350km/h on journeys between Hong Kong, Beijing & Shanghai.

Buy train tickets Hong Kong to Beijing

Buy tickets online at www.china-diy-travel.comHow to buy Chinese train tickets, full details.

Hong Kong by train...

Once a British colony, now a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has its own border controls & immigration policies, and its own currency.  It's easy to reach by train from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or any other Chinese city.  Indeed, it's possible to travel between Hong Kong and Hanoi in Vietnam by rail or between Hong Kong and Europe by Trans-Siberian Railway (I know, I've done it).  This page explains how to travel between Hong Kong and major cities in China and beyond, in either direction.

Train times & tickets...

  Hong Kong - Beijing

    - Option 1, by classic sleeper train

    - Option 2, by high-speed daytime train

    - Option 3, by high-speed sleeper train

  Hong Kong - Shanghai

    - Option 1, by classic sleeper train

    - Option 2, by high-speed train

  Hong Kong - Guangzhou

  Hong Kong - Xian, Guilin, Nanning & other cities in China

  Hong Kong - Macau by ferry

  Hong Kong - Hanoi & Vietnam

  Hong Kong - Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

  Hong Kong - Tokyo & Japan by train & ferry

  Hong Kong - Moscow & Europe by Trans-Siberian Railway


Useful country information

Train operator in China:

Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (local trains in Hong Kong plus through trains HK to Beijing & Shanghai): www.mtr.com.hk.

Train times in English to & from China: www.china-diy-travel.com Map of Chinese railways.  Official sites (in Chinese): www.12306.cn & www.tielu.org.  Agencies selling Chinese train tickets online: www.chinahighlights.com, www.china-diy-travel.com, www.trip.com

Time zone:

GMT+8 all year.    Flights to Hong Kong

Dialling code:

 

Hong Kong +852, Macau +853

Currency:

£1 = = 10.3 HK$.  $1 = 7.6 HK$.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.discoverhongkong.com

Hotels & hostels:

Scan multiple hotel websites to find the cheapest hotel rates   Find backpacker hostels

Visas:

UK & many other nationalities do not need a visa to visit the special administrative region of Hong Kong.

However, UK & most other citizens need a visa for the rest of China. In the UK, Chinese visa issuing has been outsourced to www.visaforchina.orgMore advice on Chinese visas.

Page last updated:

21 ovember 2018


Hong Kong to Beijing

A Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the Hong Kong to Beijing train

A tasty Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the sleeper train...

Hong Kong to Beijing by classic sleeper train or 300km/h high-speed train?

There are now two good options for travel between Beijing and Hong Kong, in either direction. 

Which option should you go for?  The direct high-speed train (option 2) is certainly faster, but it's more expensive and it's a day spent in a seat with just a buffet car to visit.  The high-speed sleeper option saves time, but still involves a transfer between stations in Guangzhou.  The classic sleeper train (option 1) takes 24 hours, but it's cheaper and saves a hotel bill, and in many ways it's nicer to have a soft sleeper with more room to spread out and chill out, a flat bunk to nap on when you want it and access to a proper restaurant car with freshly cooked waiter-served Chinese food, a real trans-China adventure...

Option 1, by classic sleeper train...

An air-conditioned sleeper train links Beijing with Hong Kong every second day, an epic 24 hour train ride across China.  This is the comfortable, civilised and interesting way to go.  The train has 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, regular 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

 Beijing ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Beijing

 

Every 2 days*

 

Every 2 days**

 Train number:

Z97

 Train number:

Z98

 Beijing West depart

13:00  day 1

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) depart

15:15  day 1

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) arrive

13:01  day 2

 Beijing West arrive

15:13  day 2

*  Train Z97 from Beijing to Hong Kong runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on even-numbered dates in 2018 and odd-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2018 and even-numbered dates in 2019.

**  Train Z98 from Hong Kong to Beijing runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2018 and on even-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on even-numbered dates in 2018 and on odd-numbered dates in 2019.

You can check days of running of trains Z97 & Z98 using www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Or see www.it3.mtr.com.hk/b2c, click 'Schedule' (look for the clock logo at lower left) then use the 'Select your schedule' box top right to select the Beijing/Shanghai route.  Remember that Hong Kong is shown as 'Hung Hom', that's the station.

Luggage allowance:  You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks in your sleeper compartment.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 160cm on Z-category trains. However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

Departure formalities:  Departing from Beijing for Hong Kong, you should arrive at Beijing West station 90 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.  The train to Hong Kong has it's own special entrance at Beijing West station, look for the entrance marked Check Hall Immigration Inspection Quarantine.  Departing from Hong Kong, you should arrive at Kowloon's Hung Hom station 45 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.

The station in Hong Kong is in Kowloon and called Hung Hom.  It can help to know that the Chinese refer to Hong Kong/Kowloon as Jiulong.  You'll see it written on train destination boards as Jiulong.  See map of Hong Kong showing station location.

The station in Beijing is Beijing West, also known as Beijing Xi, see map of Beijing showing stations

Hong Kong Kowloon to Victoria Island Star Ferry:  Regular Star Ferries shuttle between Kowloon and Hong Kong Victoria Island, see www.starferry.com.hk.  It's not only a means of transport, the Star Ferry is a classic journey in its own right.  See map of Hong Kong showing Star Ferry location.

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person

Hard sleeper

Soft sleeper

Deluxe soft sleeper

 Hong Kong to Beijing

HK$ 587 ($76)

HK$ 934 ($120)

HK$ 1191 ($155)

 Beijing - Hong Kong

RMB 507 ($76)

RMB 822 ($120)

RMB 1200 ($175)

Discounts may be available at off-peak times of year, if bought at the reservations office in Hong Kong.

Children under 120cm tall travel free, 120-150cm tall travel for half fare, over 150cm tall pay full fare (140cm changed to 150cm in Dec 2008, 110cm to 120cm in Dec 2010).  Child discounts only apply to the 'base' part of a sleeper fare, so in sleepers it's closer to a 25% reduction on the total fare.

The sleeper fares shown here are for lower berths.  Upper berths (and middle berths in hard sleeper) are a fraction cheaper.

How to buy tickets...

What's the Hong Kong - Beijing sleeper train like?

If you use this train, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

Train from Beijing to Hong Kong

The train from Beijing to Hong Kong about to leave Beijing West...  Courtesy of Keith Finger.

Hard sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   4-berth soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   Deluxe soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.

Hard sleeper berths on the Hong Kong - Beijing train. www.kcrc.com.

 

A 4-berth soft sleeper compartment on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  Photo courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

 

A deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth with private toilet) on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  Photo courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

Restaurant car of Beijing-Hong Kong train   Food on the Beijing-Hong Kong train

Restaurant car on Beijing - Hong Kong train. Courtesy Keith Finger

 

Food on the train.  Courtesy Keith Finger.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Thomas Gigon reports:  "At Beijing West, the entrance for the Hong Kong train is a separate entrance about 50 metres to the right of the main entrance, marked Check Hall Immigration Inspection Quarantine.  The door to the waiting room did indeed open 90 minutes before (with X ray baggage check of course) but the waiting room is very small (30 people max) - then the door to the immigrations & customs opened approx 60 minutes before departure (via another x ray baggage check), then you pass immigration and customs and go directly to the train which is at the same level on the platform.  There is a sleeper attendant at every door, she checks your ticket and gives you a card with your cabin/berth number. She'll give you back your ticket prior arriving at Hum Hong.  Once the train is under way, she comes again and notes down your passport and visa number.  In the restaurant car the staff at least 4 waitresses spoke or understood some very, very limited English such as yes/no and the amounts, fish/meat/rice.  The menu is in Chinese, but when they see a Westerner they give you a menu with subtitles in English.  Hot meals were served 0600-0900, 1100-1300, 1730-2130 but they do sell snacks and sweets outside the hours.  The payment seems to be only cash in RMB as the waitress refused my Visa/Amex.  The waitresses also pass in the carriages selling snacks every now and then.  The train stops twice between Beijing and Hong Kong but you can't get off the train for a smoke or small walk as they lock the doors.  There are quite a few security guards on board + one sleeper attendant in each coach."

Option 2, by high-speed trainHong Kong to Beijing in a single day...

Incredibly, from the opening of the Hong Kong high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's possible to travel between Beijing and Hong Kong in a single day.  The bullet-nosed trains travel at up to 350 km/h, an amazing 217 mph.  It's more expensive than the sleeper, but you get to travel across China on one of it's impressive new high-speed railways while you admire the scenery, catch up on your reading and enjoy a beer or two in the bar car.

Hong Kong to Beijing via the high-speed line is 2,441km (1,516 miles).  These trains average a remarkable 270 km/h (168mph) start to stop.

 Beijing ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Beijing

 

Daily

 

Daily

 Train number:

G79

 Train number:

G80

 Beijing West depart

10:00  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) depart

08:05  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) arrive

18:58  day 1

 Beijing West arrive

17:01  day 1

The station in Hong Kong is West Kowloon Terminus, the new high-speed train terminal.  It's a different station from that used by the sleeper trains.  See map of Hong Kong showing station location.

The station in Beijing is Beijing West, also known as Beijing Xi, see map of Beijing showing stations.  You should arrive at the station in good time as there's a baggage X-ray check when entering the station.

Customs & immigration formalities:  Northbound, these take place before you board the train in Hong Kong, so you should arrive at West Kowloon Terminus 90 minutes before your train departure.  Southbound, they take place on arrival at Hong Kong West Kowloon.

Luggage allowance:  You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks near your seat.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 130cm on these G-category trains. However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

Hong Kong Kowloon to Victoria Island Star Ferry:  Regular Star Ferries shuttle between Kowloon and Hong Kong Victoria Island, see www.starferry.com.hk.  It's not only a means of transport, the Star Ferry is a classic journey in its own right.  See map of Hong Kong showing Star Ferry location.

How much does it cost?

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person

2nd class

1st class

Business class

 Beijing - Hong Kong

RMB 1077 ($157)

RMB 1724 ($252)

RMB 3369 ($491)

How to buy tickets...

What are the high-speed trains like?

If you use this train, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

CRH400 high-speed train as used Hong Kong to Beijing

A high-speed train of the CRH400 Fuxing type, the type usually used on the G79 & G80 services between Hong Kong and Beijing.  Operating in service at up to 350km/h (217 mph), this is the World's fastest passenger train.  Photo courtesy of Brett Cubit...

2nd class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train   First class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train

2nd class seats are arranged 2+3 across the car width.  Perfectly OK if you're on a budget, but not much space per person, especially if you get a middle seat.  May not be power sockets.

 

1st class seats are far more spacious, and are arranged 2+2 across the car width.  There is a power socket for each pair of seats, in the seat base.  Well worth the extra money.

Business class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train   The business class seats recline to become a flat bed

Business class seats are arranged 1+2 across the car width, in a spacious carpeted car.  The business class seats recline electrically and become a flat bed at the touch of a button.  Business class is expensive, even by western standards, but if your budget can stretch that far it's well worth it.  There's a VIP lounge for business class passengers at Beijing Xi & Shanghai Hongqiao.

Option 3, by high-speed sleeper train:  The most time-effective option...

This is arguably the most practical & time-effective option of all, it's a fun experience and it saves a hotel bill too.  Though it only runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.  The new direct G-category high-speed train between Hong Kong & Beijing means losing a day.  The direct conventional Z-category sleeper train is a classic and enjoyable choice, but that takes 24 hours.  How about leaving Hong Kong in early evening, sleeping in your own capsule sleeper on a high-speed D-category sleeper train and arriving in the morning?  It just means one simple same-station change of train at Guangzhou South (or you can change at Shenzhen, as some sleepers run Shenzhen-Beijing).  Booking sites won't suggest this excellent option as Chinese journey planners are incapable of offering journeys with a change of train, but it's easy to book in two stages like this...

Hong Kong Beijing

  • Step 1, travel from Hong Kong to Guangzhou on any high-speed train you like up to and including the 17:18 from Hong Kong West Kowloon arriving Guangzhou South  (= Guangzhounan) at 18:09.  Fare RMB 215 ($32).  Book this at www.china-diy-travel.com and collect tickets at the station.  The train has 2nd class, 1st class & business class.  Customs and immigration are done in Hong Kong before you board, so you should arrive at least 90 minutes before your train.

  • Step 2, travel from Guangzhou South to Beijing West by D-category high-speed sleeper train, of which there are several all running to very similar times, only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.  For example the D902 leaves Guangzhou South at 20:15 & arrives Beijing West at 06:56, fare around RMB 1290 ($188).  These have 2nd class seats and soft sleepers of the new capsule type.  Book this at www.china-diy-travel.com and collect tickets at the station, you should be able to do this at certain counters at Hong Kong West Kowloon, otherwise you have time to do this at Guangzhou South.

Beijing ► Hong Kong

  • Step 1, travel from Beijing West to Guangzhou South by D-category high-speed sleeper train, of which there are several all running to very similar times, only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.  For example the D901 leaves Beijing West at 20:10 & arrives Guangzhou South at 06:28.  Fare RMB 1290 ($188).  These have 2nd class seats and soft sleepers of the new capsule type.  Book this at www.china-diy-travel.com and collect tickets at the station.

  • Step 1, travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong on any high-speed train you like starting with the 08:02 from Guangzhou South to Hong Kong West Kowloon at 09:10.  Fare RMB 215 ($32).  Book this at www.china-diy-travel.com and collect tickets at the station.  The train has 2nd class, 1st class & business class.  Customs and immigration are done in Hong Kong on arrival.

Capsule-type high-speed sleeper...

Introduced in 2017, this type of high-speed sleeper train operates between Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing.  Instead of conventional 4-berth soft sleeper compartments these trains have open-plan upper & lower berths arranged longitudinally along the car walls, with an upper and lower row of windows for upper and lower berths, see this video.  Each berth has its own individual curtains for privacy.  If you use this new type, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

   

Capsule-type soft sleepers.  Courtesy Gilbère Mannie.  Click the images for larger photos.

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Hong Kong to Shanghai

A Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the Hong Kong to Beijing train

A tasty Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the sleeper train...

Hong Kong to Shanghai by classic sleeper or by 300km/h high-speed train?

There are now two good options for travel between Shanghai and Hong Kong, in either direction. 

  • Option 1, by direct sleeper train.  Arguably the nicest & cheapest way between Shanghai and Hong Kong is the classic sleeper train.  This takes an afternoon, a night and a morning and runs every two days, with soft & hard sleepers & restaurant car.

  • Option 2, by direct high-speed train in 8h18.  The Guangzhou-Kowloon high-speed line opened on 23 September 2018, allowing direct high-speed trains to link Beijing and Hong Kong at up to 350 km/h (217 mph).

Which option should you go for?  The direct high-speed train (option 2) is certainly faster, but it's more expensive and it's a day spent in a seat with just a buffet car to visit.  The classic sleeper train (option 1) takes 24 hours, but it's cheaper and saves a hotel bill, and in many ways it's nicer to have a soft sleeper with more room to spread out and chill out, a flat bunk to nap on when you want it and access to a proper restaurant car with freshly cooked waiter-served Chinese food, a real trans-China adventure...

Option 1, by sleeper train...

An air-conditioned sleeper train links Shanghai with Hong Kong every second day.  This is a comfortable, civilised and interesting way to make this journey.  The train has 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, regular 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

 Hong Kong ► Shanghai

   

 Shanghai ► Hong Kong

 Train number:

Every 2 days *

Train number:

Every 2 days **

Z100

Z99

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) depart

15:15  day 1

 Shanghai main station  depart

17:09  day 1

 Shanghai main station arrive

11:15  day 2

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) arrive

13:05  day 2

* Train Z100 from Hong Kong to Shanghai runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on even-numbered dates in 2018 and odd-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2018 and even-numbered dates in 2019.

** Train Z99 from Shanghai to Hong Kong runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2018 and even-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on even-numbered dates in 2018 and odd-numbered dates in 2019.

You can check days of running of trains Z99 & Z100 using www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Or see www.it3.mtr.com.hk/b2c:  Click 'Schedule' (look for the clock logo) then use the 'Select your schedule' box top right to select the Beijing/Shanghai route.  Remember that Hong Kong is shown as 'Hung Hom', that's the station.

On board accommodation:  Z99 & Z100 have 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, normal 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

Luggage allowance:  You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks in your sleeper compartment.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 160cm on Z-category trains like these.  However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

Departure formalities:  Departing from Shanghai, you should arrive at Shanghai main station 90 minutes before departure for exit formalities.  Departing Hong Kong, you should arrive at the station 45 minutes before departure.  The station in Hong Kong is in Kowloon and called Hung Hom See map of Hong Kong showing station location.

It can help to know that the Chinese often refer to Hong Kong/Kowloon as Jiulong.  You'll see it on train destination boards as Jiulong.

Hong Kong Kowloon to Victoria Island Star Ferry:  Regular Star Ferries shuttle between Kowloon and Hong Kong Victoria Island, see www.starferry.com.hk.  It's not only a means of transport, the Star Ferry is a classic journey in its own right.  See map of Hong Kong showing Star Ferry location.

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person:

Hard sleeper

Soft sleeper

Deluxe soft sleeper

 Hong Kong - Shanghai

HK$ 519 ($65)

HK$ 825 ($110)

HK$ 1,039 ($135)

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

RMB 408 ($62)

RMB 627 ($94)

RMB 1,040 ($155)

Children under 120cm tall travel free, 120-150cm tall travel for half fare, over 150cm tall pay full fare (140cm was changed to 150cm in Dec 2008, and 110cm to 120cm in Dec 2010).  Child discounts only apply to the 'base' part of a sleeper fare, so in sleepers it's closer to a 25% reduction on the total fare.

The sleeper fares shown here are for lower berths.  Upper berths (and middle berths in hard sleeper) are a fraction cheaper.

How to buy tickets...

  • How to buy tickets starting in Shanghai...

    You can buy tickets online at agency www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Tickets can be sent to a hotel or private address anywhere in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.  Chinahighlights get good feedback for their service and charge in US$ and add a service fee of around $40.  On www.chinahighlights.com, Hong Kong's Hung Hom station is listed as 'HongKong'.  Or you can of course buy at the ticket office (there's an English-speaking window) or pre-book through an agency, see advice on buying tickets.

  • How to buy tickets starting in Hong Kong...

    You can buy tickets online at www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Tickets can be sent to a hotel or private address anywhere in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.  They get good feedback for their service and charge in US$ and add a service fee of around $40.  On www.chinahighlights.com, Hong Kong's Hung Hom station is listed as 'HongKong'.

    Other options:  You can book tickets by email at www.mtr.com.hk (click 'customer site' then 'intercity passenger services') and pick up tickets at the booking office, or just buy them at the station reservations office, with no booking fee.  You can also arrange tickets starting in Hong Kong through Tiglion Travel, www.tiglion.net, which one seat61 correspondent has recommended.  Don't be surprised if they ask for a scan of your credit card.   When you're in Hong Kong, you can buy tickets for the through trains to Guangzhou, Beijing & Shanghai at any CTS (China Travel Service) agency around the city, although only the CTS Central branch and CTS Mongkok branch are equipped with the Chinese Railways ticketing system for booking other Chinese train tickets.

What's the Hong Kong-Shanghai sleeper train like?

This train uses the same carriages as the Hong Kong-Beijing train, and runs on the days when the Beijing train doesn't.  If you use this train, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

Train from Beijing to Hong Kong

Sleeper train to Hong Kong...  Courtesy of Keith Finger.

Hard sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   4-berth soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   Deluxe soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.

Hard sleeper berths on the Hong Kong - Shanghai train. www.kcrc.com.

 

A 4-berth soft sleeper compartment on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  Photo courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

 

A deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth with toilet) on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  Photo courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

Option 2, by high-speed trainHong Kong to Shanghai in a single day...

Incredibly, from the opening of the Hong Kong high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's now possible to travel between Shanghai and Hong Kong in a single day.  The bullet-nosed trains travel at up to 350 km/h, an amazing 217 mph.  It's more expensive than the sleeper, but you get to travel across China on one of it's impressive new high-speed railways while you admire the scenery, catch up on your reading and enjoy a beer or two in the bar car.

 Shanghai ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Shanghai

 

Daily

 

Daily

 Train number:

G99

 Train number:

G100

 Shanghai Hongqiao depart

14:10  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) depart

11:10  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) arrive

22:28  day 1

 Shanghai Hongqiao arrive

19:27  day 1

Luggage allowance:  You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks near your seat.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 130cm on G-category trains like these.  However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

The station in Hong Kong is West Kowloon Terminus, the new high-speed train terminal.  It's a different station from that used by the sleeper train.  See map of Hong Kong showing station location

Customs & immigration formalities:  Northbound, these take place before you board the train in Hong Kong, so you should arrive 90 minutes before your train departure.  Southbound, they take place on arrival at Hong Kong West Kowloon.

Hong Kong Kowloon to Victoria Island Star Ferry:  Regular Star Ferries shuttle between Kowloon and Hong Kong Victoria Island, see www.starferry.com.hk.  It's not only a means of transport, the Star Ferry is a classic journey in its own right.  See map of Hong Kong showing Star Ferry location.

How much does it cost?

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person

2nd class

1st class

Business class

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

RMB 1008 ($147)

RMB 1646 ($240)

RMB 3137 ($457)

How to buy tickets...

  • Buy tickets in either direction at www.china-diy-travel.com or www.chinahighlights.com.  You collect tickets at the station.

  • If you are already in Hong Kong, you can buy tickets in person at West Kowloon Terminus. English is spoken, and as well as ticket counters selling the through trains from Hong Kong to China there are 5 counters selling train tickets for journeys within China.

  • Tip:  These high-speed trains have an allocation of seats/tickets on the Chinese Railways ticketing system and a separate allocation of seats/tickets on the Hong Kong (MTR) ticketing system.  If you buy through the Chinese system (for example, using www.china-diy-travel.com or www.chinahighlights.com) you can collect, change or cancel tickets at any Chinese station including Beijing, as well as at Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus at the counters equipped with the Chinese ticketing system.  However, if you book via the MTR system (for example using the MTR website) tickets can only be collected, changed or cancelled at Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus at the counters equipped with the MTR system.  You cannot change or cancel tickets at a Chinese station if you bought them via the MTR ticketing system.  It can therefore be better to buy via the Chinese system, for example using www.china-diy-travel.com or www.chinahighlights.com.

What are the high-speed trains like?

If you use this train, feedback & any further photos would be much appreciated!

CRH400 high-speed train as used Hong Kong to Shanghai

A G-category high-speed train of the CRH400 Fuxing type, as usually used on the G79 & G80 services between Hong Kong and Shangahi Operating in service at up to 350km/h (217 mph), this is the World's fastest passenger train.  Photo courtesy of Brett Cubit...

2nd class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train   First class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train

2nd class seats are arranged 2+3 across the car width.  Perfectly OK if you're on a budget, but not much space per person, especially if you get a middle seat.  May not be power sockets.

 

1st class seats are far more spacious, and are arranged 2+2 across the car width.  There is a power socket for each pair of seats, in the seat base.  Well worth the extra money.

Business class seats on a CRH380B Shanghai to Beijing train   The business class seats recline to become a flat bed

Business class seats are arranged 1+2 across the car width, in a spacious carpeted car.  The business class seats recline electrically and become a flat bed at the touch of a button.  Business class is expensive, even by western standards, but if your budget can stretch that far it's well worth it.  There's a VIP lounge for business class passengers at Beijing Xi & Shanghai Hongqiao.

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Hong Kong to Guangzhou

Option 1, Hong Kong - Guangzhou high-speed trains...

Option 2, Hong Kong - Guangzhou Intercity trains...

Option 3, Hong Kong - Guangzhou river ferries

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Hong Kong to other Chinese cities

Hong Kong to Guilin & Kunming...

Hong Kong to Xian...

To Nanning & other cities...

  • If no direct train comes up to or from Hong Kong when checking times & prices at www.china-diy-travel.com, look up times between Guangzhou and your chosen Chinese origin or destination.  Then add a ticket from Hong Kong West Kowloon to Guangzhou South separately, also using www.china-diy-travel.com.  Chinese train booking sites only book direct trains, they aren't capable of offering journeys which involve a change of train, but it's easy enough to put a journey together yourself.  I'd allow at least 2h between trains in Guangzhou South if you are making a same-station change, or 3 hours between trains if you need to transfer by taxi or metro between Guangzhou South and Guangzhou main station or Guangzhou East station.

  • Customs & immigration are done at West Kowloon Terminus before departure when leaving Hong Kong, and on arrival at West Kowloon Terminus when arriving in Hong Kong.  When leaving Hong Kong you should therefore arrive at the station at least 90 minutes before departure.

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Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a Special Administrative Area of the People's Republic of China, formerly a Portuguese colony.  It lies just across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.  It can easily be reached by ferry from Hong Kong or by train from Guangzhou and cities all over China.

Hong Kong to Macau by ferry...

Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou to Macau by train...

  • For trains between Beijing & Guangzhou South, see the Beijing-Guangzhou section here.  Choose between a high-speed day train or an overnight sleeper.

  • A 200km/h InterCity Railway links Guangzhou South (also known as Guangzhou Nan) with Zhuhai station, also known as Gongbei.  Don't confuse Zhuhai station with Zhuhai North station which is on the outskirts. 

  • Trains run between Guangzhou South & Zhuhai roughly every 30 minutes, journey time 1h15 to 1h24, fare RMB 90 ($15) in 1st class or RMB 70 ($12) in 2nd class.  The trains are smart modern CRH1 units, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Railways_CRH1.

  • Zhuhai station is right next to the Gongbei entrance gate to Macau, you can stroll from Zhuhai station through the Gongbei border gate and into downtown Macau.

A train at Zhuhai (Gongbei) station   Zhuhai (Gongbei) Station

A C-category train from Guangzhou South arrives at Zhuhai station...  Photos courtesy of Ian Moffat.

 

Zhuhai station, adjacent to the Gonbei Gate into Macau. Macau is just a stroll away...

Gongbei gate, the entrance to Macau   The famous ruined Church of St Paul in Macau

Gongbei border gate, adjacent to Zhuhai station.  Photos courtesy of Ian Moffat.

 

The ruins of the Church of St Paul, which has become the symbol of Macau.

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Hong Kong to Bangkok & Singapore

Hong Kong to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore...

It's perfectly possible to travel overland in either direction between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore.  But yes, you will need a Chinese visa as obviously you'll be crossing China to reach Vietnam, then Cambodia then Thailand.  I'll describe the steps southbound, just reverse the process to travel northbound.

  1. Step 1, travel from Hong Kong to Hanoi by train as shown here (2 nights).

  2. Step 2, travel from Hanoi to Saigon by train as shown here (2 nights).

  3. Step 3, travel from Saigon to Bangkok by bus train via Cambodia as shown here (2 nights)

  4. Step 2, travel from Bangkok to KL & Singapore by train as shown here (2 nights).

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Hong Kong to/from Japan

Hong Kong to Tokyo without flying...

It's perfectly possible to travel from Hong Kong to Tokyo by train & ferry.  It's pretty inexpensive too.  But you will need a Chinese visa as you'll be crossing China to reach Shanghai before taking the ferry.

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Hong Kong to/from Europe

Europe to Hong Kong (or vice versa) by Trans-Siberian Railway...

It's perfectly possible to travel from London, Paris or anywhere in Europe to Hong Kong via the celebrated Trans-Siberian Railway.  I know, I've done it.  I'll describe the steps for an eastbound journey, obviously just reverse them for a westbound one.

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Find hotels in Hong Kong

Find a hotel in Beijing, Shanghai or any other Chinese city...

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

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Flights...

Overland travel around China & Hong Kong by train is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But if a long-haul flight is unavoidable to reach Hong Kong in the first place, try Virgin Atlantic who fly direct from London to Hong Kong, a sound choice for both price and service...

1)  Check flight prices at Opodo, www.opodo.com...

2)  Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

skyscanner generic 728x90

3)  Lounge passes...

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think, see www.loungepass.com

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Guidebooks

I strongly recommend investing in a decent guidebook.  It may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.   For independent travel I'd recommend either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide, both provide an excellent level of practical information and historical and political background.  You definitely won't regret buying one!  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

Buy at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com...

Rough Guide China - click to buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet China - click to buy online

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

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Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

 


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