One of the popular ways to get to Yangshuo is via Shenzhen, on the border to Hong Kong, and Guilin, the nearest large city. This journey can be done via either train or bus and takes between 3 and 10 hours, depending on which method you decide upon.
The Fast Train: Via fast train, the journey takes a pleasant 3 hours. You’ll have your own roomy seat, air conditioning, and snacks available on the train. You’ll be cruising through Guangxi province at around 200kmh and able to enjoy the beautiful countryside landscape. If you book in advance, this will only set you back by around 190 RMB, but can go up to much higher. Tickets can also sell out extremely quickly, so make sure to book yours way in advance!
Standard Train: You can also choose a less expensive train and travel on the normal train, taking around 6 hours. This won’t cost as much as the fast train, but again depends on how early you book it, and if there are any seats left. You can also buy varying types of tickets, including standing only – not preferable for a long trip in China!
Sleeper Bus: For those buying last minute tickets, wanting a cheaper option, or just wanting to do something different – the Guilin-Shenzhen bus is certainly for you. This bus rarely sells out and will only set you back around 160 RMB, so it’s perfect for late minute trips for a skimpy traveler. The sound of being on a night bus for around 10 hours in any country does not sound perfect, let alone China. However, the sleeper bus to Shenzhen may surprisingly be one of the more pleasant bus experiences you’ll have – and certainly allows for an interesting story afterward!
The sleeper bus is no wider or longer than a normal bus, yet somehow allows for three rows of beds to be placed alongside each other, times around 5 or 6, as well as pathways down the side to allow you to get to your bed. This means there are around 15/20 people per bus. The key aspect of this is that there are indeed beds..! No slumming it by sitting for those 10 hours – you not only get an area to lie down in, but you also get a mattress, pillow, and duvet cover. You also get your own area for your personal belongings at the end of the bed, and if you’re lucky and the bus isn’t full, can even pile your luggage onto the bed next to you. The beds may, admittedly, be made for smaller Chinese people, and therefore may be a bit of a squeeze to the taller Western man, but things could be a lot worse.
In order to prepare for the sleeper bus, the first thing to remember is that there is no toilet on board. The bus will stop at various points along the journey to allow for toilet breaks, but these shouldn’t be relied upon. It’s important to make sure you have enough water for your journey, but it’s a good idea to stay away from caffeine and fizzy drinks for your journey.
Remember to bring yourself some snacks for food in the evening, and also breakfast when you wake up. If you’re lucky, the bus will make a stop off at a supermarket or convenience shop, but just in case, make sure to bring something with you.
If you suffer from travel sickness, make sure to bring the necessary medication you need with you. Generally, travel sickness shouldn’t affect you as much as it usually does, especially if you can make sure you shut the blinds, get comfortable, and get to sleep early on. You don’t want to be stuck on a Chinese bus without a toilet all night throwing up though, so take any precautions you usually do before traveling – and maybe some sleeping pills too!
In case you don’t plan to sleep so much, or just in case you can’t sleep, bringing some form of entertainment, or making sure it’s easily accessible, is a good idea. This can include books, laptops, music etc.
Other things to include are anything you usually need for plane travel, such as wet wipes to freshen up, an eye mask for sleeping, and ear plugs to block out any traffic or snorers!
Most people will have been on or at least heard of a sleeper train, but sleeper buses are a bit more unique. It’s definitely one to try if you want to do something a bit different!