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Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

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Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

This topic had been discussed in several forums, but the more I read the more confused I am:

We're planning to go from Beijing to Pingyao by train in August and would like to avoid night-trains. Our idea is to take a high speed train from Beijing to Tayuan and then another train to Pingyao. Our questions:

1) Is it possible to b buy tickets for this entire trip in advance in Beijing? If yes will three days in advance be enough?

2) According to the time-tables we saw on the internet there is a train leaving from Tayuan for Pingyao only 18 minutes after the one from Beijing arrives. How reliable are the highspeed trains on this route and would you consider this short time enough to change trains?

3) people keep recommending taking the bus to Pingyao. Why would you prefer the bus on this journey? How far is the bus-station away from the train-station in Tayuan?

Sherbrooke, Canada
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1. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

1- it depends when but the Taiyuan to Pingyao one sells more quicly. This is a popular route and advance booking is safest unless you have flexibility.

2- nearly impossible. Fast trains are on time but you need time to get off, walk out of the station, walk back in, find your platform, walk to the platform and find your car. Maybe there is a slim chance that you can do it but I would not take the chance.

3- I took the bus but it is nott easy to find the bus station and buy the ticket while no english is spoken there.

Beijing, China
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2. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

1) Yes it's possible to buy all segments in the system in Beijing. However, 3 days in advance might leave you facing a sold-out situation on either or both segments. August is a fairly busy time. If you are willing to use an agent and pay a commission-per-ticket to place advance order, that is an option. There are 9 ultra fast and 4 fast trains between BJ and TY so my guess is you will find seats if you're willing to accept either first or second class and are flexible on departure time.

2) No way. Definitely impossible to make this sort of connection. I wouldn't book a fast-train to standard-train connection at this station under one hour.

3) Buses have more capacity, more frequent departures, more availability, and more flexibility. The disadvantages as already stated, are you have to transfer train-to-bus station, and nobody at the bus station window will speak English....though you can come prepared with a paper with Chinese writing for "next bus to Pingyao, X tickets please" that your Beijing hotel concierge can do for you. You'll hardly be the first foreigners at the Taiyuan Bus Station muttering "pingyao, pingyao." Perhaps use the bus method as backup plan in case you try to buy Taiyuan-Pingyao tickets and can't find anything. When you arrive in Beijing, your hotel can help you look up online what is available on what trains so you at least know if you have a fighting chance or will be on a wild goose chase.

Finally, how many in your traveling party? If you have 3-4 people, it's not out of the realm of reason to split the cost of a private car transfer to Pingyao. You can start by asking your Pingyao guesthouse or hotel how much they'd charge for a transfer from Taiyuan train station....or a car can be set up from Taiyuan.

Beijing, China
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3. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

1) No body can guarantee, but to my rule of thumb there never is problem. Only, not very wide choice if acting too late. 3 days is plenty of time for this two section. No. 4625 always welcome you with huge number of seats.

2) Very very hard for newbie. Nearly impossible. Espl. when you think of that even G train also can arrive not on time.

3) Bus leaves much more frequently than train. Besides, it is mainly because some people would visit Qiao's Coutyard where the bus can make stop.

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

I had the same dilemma when I was planning our April trip. We arrived in Taiyuan by 'plane and had booked e-tickets for a G train from Taiyuan to Beijing for our return.

I had intended taking a bus to Pingyao then returning to Taiyuan by train. Then I read a recommendation for a driver who would pick us up at the airport/train station and visit Qiao's Family Courtyard on the way to Pingyao as mentioned in #3.

We arranged the driver to pick us up at the airport, stop at Qiao's Compound then take us to Pingyao. On our final day we booked the driver to take us to the station in Taiyuan in time to catch our bullet train to Beijing.

If you prefer to not use a private driver, it would seem to make more sense to take a train from Taiyuan rather than a bus since you are arriving by train. I did read that the train from Pingyao to Taiyuan is very crowded so I imagine the situation would be the same from Taiyuan to Pingyao?

Don't be misled by the name "Superfast" train. We took one from Changsha to Zhangjiajie and it was far from fast and pretty grungy, whereas the bullet train was fantastic.

Beijing, China
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5. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

Marj, there is no fast train service between Changsha and Zhangjiajie, only standard trains and they are all pretty much on the lower end of Chinese train quality. So not sure how you got the impression this segment was "superfast" which is a term I've never heard used until your post.

Similarly, there is no fast (high speed rail) service between Taiyuan and Pingyao.

Edited: 3:19 am, June 27, 2013
Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

# kv, I'm not surprised by your comment but if you look at China Train Guide the T train we took from Changsha to Zhangjiajie was called "A/C Superfast".

The K train from Taiyuan to Pingyao is referred to as "A/C Fast Train". I was simply warning the OP about this description creating a wrong impression as "superfast" did for me.

Beijing, China
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7. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

"Superfast" train is exactly T train literally. Going back to the time there is still no high speed rail(built for bullet trains with at least 200KM/h and off limits to any kinds of normal standard trains), T is the fastest, although by some legs they may run as slow as the slowest train. Z (direct hit literally) train comes up very late, dosen't happen until past decade. It's tempo is not more than T. Only it dosen't stop until hitting the final destination.

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8. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

Thanks for all your answers, that was amazingly helpful! Seems like I still have to learn a lot about China ;-)

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

#Dragon - we booked e-tickets online for the bullet train between Taiyuan and Beijing with DIY Travel. It may not be necessary for you to book ahead but this was our final day and important to arrive at the airport on time. We decided to treat ourselves and went first class. We really enjoyed the experience - the bullet train in China was equal to those in Japan.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Beijing to Pingyao via Tayuan

I'll clarify my comment about Japan bullet trains. "the bullet train we took in China was equal to those in Japan when we were there some years ago". Apparently Japan now has bullet trains travelling up to 500 km per hour.