How to Travel in Southern China

How to Travel in Southern China
Southern China, known for Macau the "Vegas of the East" and the economic center of Hong Kong, still has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts willing to get off the beaten path. Rural Hong Kong boasts some of the most accessible cycling opportunities, while Guangdong province has plenty of scenic places to get away from the haze and smog of its cities. There are extensive bus and rail networks in the region, and the easiest way to go to and from Hong Kong is by KCR East Rail.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Travel by Bus

Step 1
Choose your travel destination. Keep in mind that it's easier and cheaper to cross the Hong Kong/mainland China border by rail.
Step 2
Visit the local bus station to enquire about routes, times, and ticket prices. Ask about prices for regular long distance buses (chángtú gonggòng qìche) and sleeper buses with berths (wòpù kèche).
Step 3
On the day of travel, head to the bus station and buy your tickets. Aside from public holidays and the Chinese New Year, advance booking is usually not required. Advance booking services may not even be available from most bus companies. Buses may not leave at the scheduled time, as the driver usually waits until all the seats have been sold and the bus is full.

Travel by Rail

Step 1
Decide on your route. You can access a detailed map of Guangdong province's rail network at
Step 2
Decide which class tickets you would like to purchase. Short distance trains usually offer two classes, hard seat and soft seat. You will pay more for a soft seat, but hard seat cars can be crowded. There may be standing room only. For long distance trains, you will want to choose between hard sleeper and soft sleeper. Hard sleeper cars are made up of open compartments of six bunks, while soft sleeper cars have roomier closed compartments with four bunks. Both sleeper classes provide sheets and pillows. Soft sleeper tickets cost about twice as much as hard sleeper tickets.
Step 3
Buy your train tickets. Tickets can be bought at the nearest train station, a travel agent's office or online. When you buy from an agent or via an online company, you will pay a service fee. It's best to purchase your tickets at least three days ahead of time, especially if you want to travel by hard sleeper class. Hard sleeper is the most popular class for long distance travel, so on popular routes you may even need to book weeks in advance.

Tips & Warnings

Public transportation in China becomes extremely crowded during public holidays and Chinese New Year. Avoid traveling during these times as it can be impossible to get tickets.

Article Written By Heather Carreiro

Heather Carreiro is a certified English teacher who has been writing since 2008. The editor of Matador Abroad, her work has appeared online at BootsnAll, Matador Network, GoNOMAD, Journey Beyond Travel and Expat Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is pursuing a Master of Arts in English at Bridgewater State University.

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