MaverickM11
Topic Author
Posts: 15495
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2000 1:59 pm

Anybody Taken A Train In Western China/Kazakhstan?

Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:50 pm

A friend and I were thinking of taking the twice weekly train that runs between Urumqi and Almaty. Has anyone taken it, or any other trains/buses/cars/road transportation in Western China? How was the experience?
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
Rara
Posts: 2296
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:41 am

RE: Anybody Taken A Train In Western China/Kazakhstan?

Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:10 pm

I've travelled in Western China, albeit not internationally. In Western China, you can generally travel comfortably on the trains; buses are dirty and uncomfortable, but cheaper and more available. As to roads and cars, I have no experience, but from what I know you always need a driver along with the vehicle.

Main problem in China in regard to trains is to acquire tickets. They sell out fast and can only be booked ca. five days in advance. From main station to another main destination it's reasonably easy if you go early and fight the crowds at the station; but if you're in between at a more remote outpost, it's often nearly impossible to get on.

If I can help you further, please do ask! Good luck.
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
 
MaverickM11
Topic Author
Posts: 15495
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2000 1:59 pm

RE: Anybody Taken A Train In Western China/Kazakhstan?

Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:18 pm



Quoting Rara (Reply 1):
Main problem in China in regard to trains is to acquire tickets.

I think in this case you can buy tickets online in advance. This is the route I'm considering taking (just the Urumqi/Almaty portion):

http://www.seat61.com/SilkRoute.htm
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
Rara
Posts: 2296
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:41 am

RE: Anybody Taken A Train In Western China/Kazakhstan?

Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:55 am

Hm yes, if anyone indeed sells you tickets, then that's your best option. In China, you generally cannot buy tickets online, by phone, by mail, or indeed any way short of appearing in person at the train station, or at a travel agent in the city of origin who will then charge you a commission. It's not Amtrak or Deutsche Bahn... Chinese railway routes are underserved and train tickets are a highly sought-after speculative item. Chance is if you can get hold of one, you can sell it off to desperate people for a higher price later. So China Railways will go out of its way to make it as difficult as possible to acquire tickets.

But hey, the country is advancing quickly, and (I hope) what I'm writing now will be distant history in few years' time. So if anyone sells you tickets beforehand, even online, go for it!
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.

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