Being on a train for 24 hours may invoke feelings of nausea and annoyance in most reasonable people – reasonable people from small countries or with affordable air travel. But, it is actually nowhere as bad as you may be imagining right now. First off, try to make the trip a part of your holiday (or whatever else reason there may be for you going to Hong Kong). Take some comfort items with you, such as a good book, your iPad with your favorite TV show and some nice snacks. Of course, if you travel with people you like time will fly even faster, but doing 24 hours on a train all by yourself is quite ok, too.
Your ticket, note how it says 北京西
The travel classes
The 24h trains to Hong Kong depart Beijing West station every other day with changing schedules. It could also be that there will be a bullet train in session soon, seeing how one is already serving Shenzhen, the city on the mainland bordering on Hong Kong. The bullet train actually cuts the travel time by two thirds to about 8-9 hours but you will have to sit your way through it – no sleepers available. With the 24 hour trains you have the option of getting a sleeper, which there are three types of:
- hard sleeper arranged in cabins of six spread over three levels, and there is no door to close
- soft sleeper arranged in private cabins of four over two levels
- deluxe soft sleeper; two beds, one up one down, a washing place and a sofa and table
In some ways it is like traveling business class on an airliner minus the food, atmosphere and entertainment program. But you at least get to walk around and have a bit of a wash. If you are on a real budget you can also get a cheap seat but then you are back in airline economy modus and spending 24 hours in economy is challenging, to say it nicely. Check out the following website for some comprehensive info about the Beijing West – Hong Kong train.
It does not get any better than the deluxe soft sleeper
Eating on the train
There is a dining car on the train serving some more or less freshly prepared meals. It is a bit overpriced but then where is not when you travel. You can buy beer and other beverages as well and there will be a convenience store on a trolley rolling by every once in a while. If you want to be properly old school, you get yourself some prepackaged instant noodles and use the free-flowing hot water on the train to prep your meal. Get some pickled vegetables and dried meat to go with it and you are set. One more Chinese favorite is to eat sunflower seeds for hours on end. It is a bit like tomato juice on a plane, it just belongs there.
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