There is a big and well- developed network of bus and train routes connecting key population centres all across the country. The most frequently scheduled services are often along the coast or major rivers, as well as other economically developed locations.
Long-distance transportation is dominated by railways and charter bus systems.
Railways in China
China’s expressways reached a total length of 74,000 km (46,000 mi) in 2011, becoming the second best railroad network in the world (US railway network is at the top of the list).
China has the longest high-speed rail network, with over 7,432 km (4,618 mi) of service routes. Some of the fast trains reach speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph). Railways are controlled by the state, through there are numerous railway bureaus in different regions.
China is the only country with a commercial rail service that can reach an average speed of 350km/h.
High-speed lines include the Wuhan–Guangzhou railway, Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway and the Shanghai Maglev train.
The Shanghai Maglev Train, which connects Shanghai's Longyang Road Metro Station to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, is the world's only high-speed maglev train line. This high speed train can travel up to 501 km/h.
There are several types of seats and corresponding prices on Chinese trains.
Soft sleeper carriages are in private compartments and have four bunks. They have good quality beds and pillows. The price for a soft sleeper is the highest. A few Shanghai- Hong Kong trains offer luxury soft sleepers, which are 2-bunk compartments, which also have TV, sofa and a small table.
Hard sleeper compartments are less comfortable compared to the soft sleeper. They have six bunks, but the space provided is smaller and it can be quite noisy in the compartment sometimes. It is the cost effective choice for people who travel in the night and want to sleep.
Soft seats are very comfortable and give you more space than the hard seats. Their carriages are also less crowded than the hard seats ones.
Hard seats have a low price. They lack comfort and people with a standing only ticket often line the aisles in hard seat carriages making them crowded and noisy. They are less spacious and comfortable than the soft seats, but they are cheaper. Their low price, however, makes them overcrowded and noisy at times, especially during peak travel times.
Chinese intercity buses
The prices for intercity buses are slightly higher than tickets for hard seats on trains. Buses in China are also considered less safe than trains. However, they are a bit faster than regular trains.
Buses connect most major locations. Also, getting a ticket for a bus is easier since you can show up at the station about an hour before the bus leaves and still get a ticket. Ticket purchase can be harder for night buses.
If the trip is longer than 7 hours, a bus is not the best choice. Spaces between seats are small, compared to trains and there is less chance that the bus will have a toilet. Even though long-distance buses tend to stop every 3-4 hours for a break, they are still not the best choice for long journeys. Unfortunately, in some regions, railway transportation is not well developed and travelling by bus is the only choice.
There are also the so called “sleeper buses” which are more suitable for long-distance journeys. These buses are equipped with small bunk beds on both sides of the bus. Actually sleeping on these bunks may not always be possible mostly because of their size. They are preferable to normal buses, but still a poor choice compared to the options a train offers.
Domestic air travel has also increased significantly, but it is still too expensive for the vast majority.