How to Travel From Hong Kong to Beijing by Train

Aerial View of Train in Springtime in Beijing

Dong Wenjie/Getty Images

Whether air travel makes you wobbly at the knees or you just want to see a bit more of China, travel from Hong Kong to Beijing China by train is a very doable option. Below you’ll find sections on times, ticket types, and passport control regarding travel from Hong Kong to Beijing, China by train.

It's a fantastic way to see the heartland of China and two fantastic cities. You'll see rice paddies and distant mountains from the window. You'll also cross the famous Yangtze River and pass through some stunning scenery in Hubei and Anhui. The whole trip takes you across two-thirds of the length of China; it's a fantastic introduction to this incredible country.

MTR Intercity vs. China Railways

There are two rail lines that run between Beijing's Beijing West Station and Hong Kong's Hung Hom Station: MTR Intercity (Z98) and China Railways (G90).

With Intercity, there is a train only three times per week and the journey takes about 24 hours. On China Railways, there is a high-speed bullet train that runs once per day in both directions and only takes about 9 hours.

Train Types and Classes

When it comes to choosing your seat class on the high-speed bullet train, you have the choice of business class, first class, and second class. Business class is the most comfortable with seats that can be adjusted to lie flat, while first class features extra-wide seats with an adjustable foot rest.

Normal trains are built for long overnight journeys and have five different ticket options: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, soft sleeper, and deluxe soft sleeper. For the cheapest option, you can book a seat with the option of paying more for a more comfortable ("softer") seat. If you want to improve your chances of actually getting some rest on your overnight journey, you can also book a sleeper ticket, which is also scaled by comfort level. A hard sleeper ticket will provide you a bed in a cabin without doors that you will likely have to share with other passengers hostel-style. Soft sleepers are shared with less people and feature wider beds and a door. A deluxe soft sleeper has just two beds, a sofa, and a private bathroom.

There is a restaurant car on every train and you'll find a pretty decent selection of noodle and rice dishes, as well as cold beer and free tea.

Booking Your Ticket

You should be aware that the train is quite popular and can be sold out a few days in advance, especially during peak travel holiday periods such as Chinese New Year. It's recommended that you buy your ticket at least five days ahead of time. Tickets can be bought from Hung Hom station itself, Beijing West, and also online. You can also use China Highlights, which has a straightforward English language website where you can book well in advance.

Passport Formalities

Hong Kong and China have a formal border, which means passport control and customs checks. You will also, most likely, need a visa for China. You can obtain a Chinese visa in Hong Kong if you don't have one already. Passengers in Hung Hom should arrive forty-five minutes before departure for border formalities. In Beijing the advised time is 90 minutes.

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