Comparing travel options to Shanghai: different ETAs but all about $100

High speed rail has come to Huaihua, less than two hours from Jishou

High speed rail has come to Huaihua, less than two hours from Jishou

JISHOU, HUNAN — There is now a high speed rail station just an hour and a half from here, so I crunched some numbers to compare the various options to reach Shanghai, one of China’s international air hubs.

China’s high speed rail (HSR) system has been extended to Huaihua, the next city south of here, which is already a rail hub for the standard rail system. There are frequent trains between Jishou and Huaihua, giving me yet another way to reach Shanghai and thence the USA.

I’ve kept the prices in US dollars for simplicity’s sake.

  • Option 1: Bus to Changsha (5 hours/$21), fly to Shanghai (2.5 hours/$87 best price) = $108
  • Option 2: Direct train to Shanghai (23 hours, price between $21 for hard seat to $90 for soft sleeper) = $90 tops
  • Option 3: Bus to Changsha (5 hours/$21), HSR to Shanghai (5.5 hours/$80 for second class ticket or $128 first class) = $101 minimum
  • Option 4: Train to Huaihua (1.5 hours, prices range from $1.50 to $17), HSR to Shanghai (7.5 hours/$104 second class or $168 first class) = $105 minimum

You’ll note the prices all cluster around $100, but I have not factored in taxi or subway costs, or delays at the Changsha airport. Option 2 is the slowest and potentially the cheapest, while the other three are about the same cost and, interestingly enough, require about the same amount of time.

I could also fly from the Zhangjiajie or Huaihua airports, but these flights are at odd hours and usually cost more than flights from Changsha’s busier airport.

This HSR line from Shanghai west has been completed as far as Hunan. Eventually, the line will extend through Guizhou province to Kunming in Yunnan Province. (See map below, Shanghai is in the upper right corner.)

Follow the blue line: it's been completed from Shanghai at upper right to the Hunan-Guizhou border

Follow the blue line: it’s been completed from Shanghai at upper right to the Hunan-Guizhou border [Map adapted from Wikimedia Commons file]

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