Shanghai to Beijing? Train is Better than Air

kTonight, I am going to Beijing, and will be back on Wednesday night. Previously, my trip was all via flights. After I tried train the last time, I decided to switch all my trip to Beijing to train in the future. Why?

Time Efficiency

Although train takes much longer than flight – 12 hours vs 2 hours, the biggest advantage of train is, it wasted your time at night, especially deep night, instead of train.

Most fast trains between Shanghai and Beijing travel between something like 19:44 PM at night, and arrive at the other city at around 7:00 AM the other day. For busy business persons, it is ideal.

By Air

I, for example, have to plan for a night or morning to take flight. My typical schedule by air looks like:

1. Flight from PVG to PEK at 9:00 AM, arrives at 12:00 PM. Have a meeting in the afternoon, and night, and fly back the next afternoon at 7:00 PM, and arrive at around 10:00 PM (tired day).

– or –

2. Flight from PVG to PEK at 7:00 PM, arrives at late night (tired and taking taxi to hotel), spend the night at hotel and have meeting the other day.

For a 1 hour meeting in Beijing, typically you need to take two day off from work.

By Train

For train, it is different. My new schedule is:

1. Work full day on Monday, and have my last meeting at 6:00 PM. I even have dinner with others before I go to train station at 7:00 PM

2. Get on train before 7:44 PM, and sleep on the train – maybe talk a little bit on the train with travel partnres.

3. Wake up in the morning at 7:00 AM, and take metro to where my first meeting is.

4. If I don’t have other things, I can travel back at around 7:00 PM in Beijing, and arrive in Shanghai the third day morning.

5. I can directly come to work on Wed morning (this trip has more things to do, so I stay two days, and get back to Shanghai on Thursday).

In that typical trip, it seems there is no travel cost – if you count in terms of work hours. It is just like three continous working day in the same city.

Besides that, you saved all your hotel cost.

I will try my first travel like this and report back about how well it works.

19 thoughts on “Shanghai to Beijing? Train is Better than Air

  1. I find you are packing activity into every minute of your day, just take it easy sometimes, though this way makes work and life more efficient.

  2. Good luck sleeping on the train. I think the motion of the car might feel good and make it easy to really relax :-)

  3. All, I am in Beijing now. The train is great. My only concern is, “can I sleep a little bit longer?” The train stops at 7:12 AM and you have to get off. Unlike home or hotel, there is no room to negociate with to postpone wake up.

  4. JS, I agree, the train is much more convenient.

    I’ve taken the train between Beijing & Shanghai 3 times so far, and the first time was very pleasant. The most recent times, however, was not as enjoyable due to all the smoke. We were in a soft sleeper (non-smoking) cabin and even with the door shut, smoke seemed to drift in through the air ducts or something. As a non-smoker, the smell of smoke is extremely unpleasant and disgusting to me. When I arrived back in Shanghai, my husband gave me a hug and the first thing he mentioned was that I smelled of smoke – how gross.

    Next time, I will take a plane, even if they always seem to be running late, it will be worth NOT having to breath 2nd hand smoke for 12 hours.

  5. Sorry to post this on this particular thread Jian Shuo, but I have just noticed that I have started getting traffic on my blog coming in from Beijing and Shanghai… this has never happened before, as previously discussed, it was blocked by the GFW. I used my ‘testing’ tools, and it seems it really is now unblocked, so just wanted you or one of my other mates to check if you really can access it now from the mainland?? This is such good news if it’s real and stays unblocked… I’ve been getting over 1,000 visits a day, without 1/6 of the world’s population able to access until now… :D

  6. @AussiePB, congratulations! I’m in Shanghai, and I can access your website here. Haha, wish you could get more readers in the future.

  7. Thanks Jian Shuo and Michelle – this is so very exciting for me… I don’t know what happened, but it really is unblocked now in mainland China. Yoohoo!!! Now our family can see our blog!

  8. I’ll be going to Beijing soon by train from Suzhou, insyaAllah. I heard so many good thing about the train compare to the flight. I just hope there is no smell of smoke in the train. Lets take good care of our health together.

  9. Hi there its my first time to travel to china by Feb o6, 2009 and will be arriving at Shanghai on Feb 07 early morning. My plan is to go to beijing on the 8th feb and i will take your advice to take the train, i wonder how much the ticket cost in dollars (US)? and what time will the train departs from beijing going back to shanghai.

    Thank you, i’ll post my pics here soon.

  10. @AussiePB, sorry to burst the ballons, but unfortunately it seems like the unblock was just a temporary oversight by the GFW. Blocked again now!!

  11. Thanks @scholar5354 – I suspected as much, because the inflow of traffic from mainland China stopped. I’m worried now, because we’ll be in Shanghai for CNY and will stay from 25th Jan to 21st Feb… don’t think I can abstain from blogging for 1 month. :( Actually I think I’ll still be able to publish articles but will not be able to view the completed article on my site or view or respond to comments…

  12. Hi Jianshuo,

    I’m planning a trip to Beijing next week and want to take the train, but I don’t know where I can buy the train tickets from and how soon in advance. I live and work in the French Concession. Any idea where I can get the tickets. I heard there’s a ticket agent at Longyang station. I’ll be there to pick up someone this weekend so if it’s there I could get it then.

    Thanks for your help in advance :D

  13. Hi Jianshuo, thank you for such a wonderful blog. I appreciate your sharing your knowledge with us! I am worried because am Chinese but visiting China for first time. We had asked our hotel to book us tickets for the Shanghai to Beijing train with deluxe soft sleepers for two people with private bath. But I just got an email from the hotel that the deluxe soft sleepers were no longer available because of the new express train, and we had to book 4-person soft sleepers instead. Is this true? Is there any train running from Shanghai to Beijing that still features the private toilet? Thank you in advance for your advice!!

  14. I will be terminating a cruise (ship) in early July in Shanghai (live in Florida, USA). This is my first time in far east. We plan to go to Beijing, most likely by train. Will appreciate any and all advise. My questions: About when will the hi-speed train be completed? From the ship port, how far is it to the train station? And, about how much is a train fare in dollars (and can they be used?)? Are there separate fares for seniors?

    Thanks for any replies,


  15. I am traveling from Shanghai to Beijing late May via train. I know there are at least 3 different train stations in Beijing. Does anyone know which station in Beijing the T train arrives at?

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