Wanted to explore China with high-speed rail? Not sure which class to book?
I have experienced all the classes of seats for China high-speed train during my tour around Zhejiang and Jiangsu province in China. Now, this post is to review the first-class high-speed train in China. First-class is below Business class and higher than second class. The most expensive and luxury seats are the Business class. Business-class usually has very few seats, about 5 seats only in the front cabin.
From Shanghai to Suzhou, we used Business class and from Suzhou to Yiwu (Hengdian), we used second class seats. Second class seats are pretty narrow and it is the cheapest. It has more local traveling and the seats are 3 and 2 seats in a row. The seats are smaller compare to the first class. You will also expect more noises in the second class seats.
From Yiwu to Hangzhou, we used first-class seats.
After experiencing all different classes of seats in the China high-speed train, I would have to recommend to anyone to use First class seats. This would be the most ideal in terms of price and comfort level.
China is no longer a messy country that we used to see many years ago. If you have not been to China lately, then maybe it is time to revisit present China. The taxis are line up neatly waiting for their turn to pick up passengers. Everything seems to be in order and organized.
In order to travel to Hengdian world studios, you need to catch the nearest train to Yiwu station. Yiwu is about 3 to 4th tier city in China. The city is famous for the biggest wholesale market. Many small business owners usually go to Yiwu to search for the commodity goods to sell back home. Things are sold in bulk at a very cheap price.
Yiwu station operates both ordinary and high-speed trains to and from major cities. So please be careful and do not enter the wrong waiting area for your train. The ordinary trains are the normal train or regular train with color in “Green”. The price of these Green trains is very low. You will notice the people who travel by green trains are from the countryside. We accidentally went into the Green train waiting areas and was kind of shock to learn how messy the place is. You can’t even find a seat to sit in the waiting zone. All were taken as there are many people using the Green train. Many are traveling with very big luggage, not just one but a few pieces of big bags. The people are also very noisy and speak loudly, I suspect they are from the countryside and not as cultured as the people in the city. (Below is the ordinary train called “Green Train”)
Please note China is a huge country, the population is almost equal to 100 countries in the whole of Europe. So don’t expect everyone is the same and act in the same manner. The people you see Shanghai and Hangzhou may not be the same in Yiwu here. In Yiwu station, you will see a lot of people from the countryside. They came to Yiwu to search for commodities good to sell back home in their village or town.
Yiwu station is not as big as the Shanghai train station, so it is quite easy to find the counter to exchange for the train ticket. I remember the Shanghai Station is so big and it took us a while to figure out where to exchange the ticket. Still, it is better to come early as you may encounter big crowds and that can cause some delay too.
How to you get your ticket? Well, we booked all our tickets online. The thing is even if you have booked your tickets online, you still have to go get your departure ticket when you arrived at the train station. For locals, they can just go to the ticketing machines, using their ID to exchange for their train ticket. For foreigner like us, we do not have a China ID card, so we have to go to the counter, show them our online booking and our passports, then the staff will verify then issue the train tickets for us.
Once you have gotten your ticket, go to the waiting area. Always refer to the LED screen as it shows all the timing for the train. When your train is called to board, just stand by and queue. For the foreigner, we do not have the China ID card so we can’t use the automated gate to pass through. We have to queue at the first line without the automated gate, the officer will check your ticket manually and please get your passport ready to show the officer in charge.
This is how the platform looks like in Yiwu station. Luckily there is an escalator to go down to the platform so if you traveling with big bags, this is good news. Travelers in Yiwu station are queuing at the platform. Do check your ticket and queue at the right cabin.
One of the high-speed trains arrives, it looks chic and travels with minimum noise.
This one looks slightly different with a sharper front.
The first-class seats are colored in brown, not sure all are in this color? The seats are arranged in a 2 by 2 configuration. The chair is bigger than the second class as the second class is just too narrow. The first-class seat feels very comfortable and there is a table for the laptop in case you need to work. If you are bringing food, you can eat on the table too. The lighting here is cozy, not as bright, and a more warm tone. The first-class seat usually not as full as the second class seats. Second class seats usually are always full and to be honest, quite noisy as compared to first class. For the first class, you get more privacy.
There is a little stool to relax your feet on. As you can see, quite spacious and you can even put your luggage here.
If you have hand-carry and small size bags, there is an overhead rack to keep your belongings. If you have giant size luggage, then go to the front or end of the cabin as there is another storage area at the side near the automated door.
High-speed trains depart on time and arrive on time most of the time. Glad we were on schedule and arrived in Hangzhou on time. Hangzhou train station is modern, a totally different feeling from Yiwu. It is only 1-hour train ride in between these two cities but you can see a huge difference.
If you are thinking of using China high-speed rail to travel around and not sure which class to choose, then my suggestion for you is to travel with first-class seats. It is ideal for foreign travelers, the seats are spacious, comfortable sofa, and you enjoy more privacy. The pricing is also very affordable, just a little higher than in the second class.
China is a very particular country, as advanced and technological on one side as terribly behind on others … the contrasts that make it interesting.
First class definitely looks like the way to go. I haven’t travelled by train in China but looks to me like it’s very much worth the upgrade.
I like to ride on trains, though I have yet to ride one that is super fast. Thanks for sharing this 🙂 – Dan “Jay” Reyes
Great post for those traveling by train! Sometimes it can all get very confusing.
Neat overview of the speed train in China. Just seeing the pictures and getting an idea of what it might be like is very interesting. I was surprised to not see everyone wearing masks at the train station – I’ve gotten so used to seeing people with masks, it seems odd when they don’t.
My husband visited China for his work last year and he was so impressed with this country. He will have to visit China again and most probably, I’ll go along with him! Therefore, this article is going to come handy, have bookmarked it already!