In April of 2019, I traveled to China for the second time in my life. I spent 12 incredible days in the country and had the amazing opportunity to explore the cities of Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. On my third full day in Shanghai, I left my Airbnb had headed off to the city of Suzhou, which is also known as the Venice of the East because of its network of beautiful canals. Come along with me as I take the Chinese bullet train to Suzhou!
Suzhou is roughly a 2-hour drive from Shanghai, but instead of driving, I was going to take the Chinese bullet train. The bullet train is the fastest and most affordable way to get from Shanghai to Suzhou. It only takes 22 minutes and costs between $10 and $20 U.S. for first class, second class, or business class. You also have two stations in each city to choose from.
I headed to the Shanghai Hongqiao station since they had more trains per day—one every 5 or 10 minutes, whereas Shanghai Station only had one per hour. There were a lot of people there and you had to book your ticket on the machines outside. There was no English option on the machines, but luckily a very friendly local helped me out!
I had issues with my ID and passport when I tried to buy my ticket, so I went inside to see if anyone could help me. They let me into the station after I showed my passport. Inside, you buy your ticket at a counter. Thankfully my new friend helped me find it!
I got in line with about 50 people ahead of me. They didn’t accept non-Chinese credit cards and there was only first class available. It cost me 50 Yuan, or only a little over $7 U.S. From there, my friend guided me to Platform 24 so I could get there in time. I ran through the gate and made it to the platform with just minutes left. I had to run down the train cars to find the right one, dragging my heavy luggage in tow behind me.
Finally, I made it to Car 7 and took my seat. I recommend getting to the station at least 90 minutes beforehand in case you have any issues like I did.
First class on the Chinese bullet train had comfortable seats where you can stretch out. However, compared to the Chinese bullet train, KTX trains tend to have more legroom, which can make for a more comfortable journey, especially on longer trips. With a 22-minute ride, I wasn’t sure if I’d be served anything. As the city zipped by the windows, I noticed that, while there was a lot of greenery, there was also lots of pollution in the air.
We made a quick stop at another station. Between cars 7 and 8 was a clean bathroom with a faucet and a hot water station. There’s also a luggage section. I asked for a bottle of water, which cost me 15 Yuan, or about $2.18 U.S.
The Chinese bullet train was so fast! We got there so fast. During my bullet train rides in Japan, there was enough time to eat and really enjoy the ride. This one was too quick! It felt like I was on a metro line. Another difference between the Chinese and Japanese bullet trains is that I could hear people talking on this one. In Japan, you’re supposed to stay quiet because of the nation’s etiquette rules.
After arriving in Suzhou, I found my guide, Janet. I came to Suzhou because it wasn’t too far from Shanghai and I wanted to experience its canals, gardens, food, and culture. As always, I was ready to hit the ground running!
I hope you enjoyed coming along on my chaotic journey from Shanghai to Suzhou! If you did, please give it a thumbs up and leave me a comment. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of my upcoming travel/food adventures!