Taking the 2 Hour Train to Chongqing

Traveling between Chengdu and Chongqing is now easier than ever before, with the “He Xie” (和谐) bullet train delivering passengers in style. The trip costs just 97 yuan one way and I took it recently, for the second time, to perform in Chongqing as Disco Death.

Why Go to Chongqing?

ChongqingChongqing has long been Chengdu’s sister city, albeit there’s a definite competitive air between Western China’s two economic powerhouses. While it bears a vague similarity to Chengdu, Chongqing has a style entirely its own. Hotpot restaurants adorn every nook and cranny of this hilly metropolis and rivers divide the half dozens sections into distinct parts. Unlike Chengdu, which features a concentric circle urban design with Tianfu Square at its center, Chongqing is a sprawling city which features an exploding population significantly higher than Chengdu’s. Few places in China feature the huge crowds, raw energy, and mysterious charm of Chongqing. You never know what’s hiding around the next corner.

Comfort & Speed

He Xie SpeedIf you’re taking the trip to Chongqing, don’t bother with anything but the newer He Xie train. The trip takes just over two hours and the entirety of the trip is fast and smooth as you’d expect a bullet train to be (as I write this I’m on a clickity-clackity train going to Chengdu from Kunming. Seats are large and comfortable and in each car there’s a readout which displays current speed and indoor/outdoor temperature. It’s fun to see the landscape whizzing by as the train approaches its 250km/h top speed. I distinctly taking a 12 hour seated train from Chongqing to Chengdu in 2005 – how far China’s infrastructure has come in those five years.

Book in Advance

Since this is the fastest and easiest way to travel between Chengdu and Chongqing, tickets tend to sell out quickly. Especially those that depart in the afternoon or on weekends – so make sure that you book at least a day in advance. You might be able to book the day before you depart, but you’ll be pushing your luck.

I’ve personally made this mistake recently, assuming that tickets were available until a day before I depart, to find that they’re in fact sold out. If you find yourself in this situation, your options are the bus (which departs from Wugui Qiao bus station in Chengdu) or a private car. I opted for the latter, paying 120 yuan to sit in the front seat of a Chinese sedan driven by a young man who pulled over to the side of the road to swap the license plates on the outside of the car twice. The Chinese couple that traveled with us agreed that he resembled a Chinese 007 as he camouflaged his car to appear as if it was registered to a Chongqing local. This was an effort to reduce attention from local police, although anyone who’s seen how Chinese drive will testify to the leniency of local traffic laws.

He Xie Train

Buying Tickets

Chengdu-Chongqing Ticket

He Xie train ticket

As always, you can buy tickets at the North Train station (成都北站) from which the train departs, but this isn’t the best option since the lines are dreadfully long. On busy weekends you can see a queue of hundreds or even thousands, playing games on their cellphones (or just yelling into them) as they wait to get tickets. A better option is to go to one of the many train ticket offices around the city which show you a computer readout of all the tickets available, making the choice easy. One such office, where I always book my tickets, is across the street from the US Consulate on Lingshi Guan Lu (领事馆路) marked by a sign that says 火车票 – Train Tickets. You pay a meager fee for the convenience of saving an hour by going to the train station, but it’s worth it. If you aren’t in the south of Chengdu, you can go to one of the dozens of other locations which sell tickets, just ask a shop keeper or taxi driver where to buy them. Try this phrase: 哪里可以买火车票?

Have you taken the He Xie to Chongqing? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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About Charlie

Having lived in Chengdu for seven years, Charlie has traveled to every corner of China and back again, calling the Yulin neighborhood of Chengdu his home. He's a part time DJ and full time iPhone game developer, too.

26 Responses to “Taking the 2 Hour Train to Chongqing”

  1. I remember when it took 12 hours by train and anywhere from 5-8 hours by bus along the bumpy Cheng-Yu highway …

    • I’ve had my bus to Chongqing break down several times – once on Christmas Eve!

    • I am moving to Chengdu soon and would welcome information about good places to meet other Ex pats, places to visit to gain a real favour of the city? Best wishes, David.

  2. I’ll be taking the speed bus within 12days. Will tell you the experience soon.

  3. I’m a Brit, living happily in Dafeng a suburb of Chengdu for 7 years…. yep took the overnight sleeper to Chongqing,when I got married, and twice the high speed train… very comfortable and relaxing. Had to renew my passport at the British Embassy ( ran out of blank pages…) If you want to meet ex-pats as they’re called, come visit me in Dafeng, 20 minute 24 bus ride from North Station bus terminal, and we’ll crack a few bottles of “Snow” and even enjoy a Whiskey and my wife’s cooking !!!!! You can see TONS of photos of my life here by visiting my website, which is a photo Diary of my wonderful new life….

  4. Can I book this train ticket in Shanghai before I arrive in Chengdu?

  5. We’re planning a trip back to China to see my daughters’ orphanages in Liangping, which is near Chongqing and then on to Hengfeng which is near Nanchang. The group trip takes us to Chengdu so I was searching on how to get to Chongqing from Chengdu and came across you site- cool! The airlines have us going on a 4 hr flight through Xian so your information is really helpful- any other suggestions are welcome!

  6. Hi,
    Nice website you have here :-)

    Maybe you can help us out with a question?

    We are flying to Chongqing on the 27th of january and want to go Chengdu the next day.

    Is there a way to book the tickets online or something?

    Because we wont be able to go to a station more than 24 hours before departure.

    Thank you in advance :-)

    • Buying online is a bit pain in the ass, especially if you cannot read Chinese. The airport is also far from the train station, as I remember. Your scheduling makes it a bit difficult, the only suggestion I have is to let the nearest Chinese speaker/translator know you need that ticket as soon as you arrive, and then buy the ticket at the nearest outlet (you don’t need to go to the station). The airport should be able to sell those tix as well.

      I will try and find some good online resources and post them here in a bit.

  7. Wow thank you so much :-)

  8. Hi, we are looking forward to a short visit to Chengdu. As usual, we never allow enough time to stay longer. Consequently, it will be a rush!

    A couple of questions if you would be so kind?
    On arrival at Chengdu Airport, we would like to purchase bullet train tickets to Chonnquing for travel next day then, after one night in hotel we visit Panda Breeding Centre early the following morning.
    To save time in Traffic, can we join at the Chengdu North Station for fast train to Chonquing? We are hoping to leave Chengdu on a 3 pm train?
    It sounds like a great place to live. This will be our first visit to that part of China. Kind thanks Dave . London UK

    • Hi Dave,

      I believe the bullet train to Chongqing now leaves from the East Station. You can get tickets at ticket brokers around the city or at the actual station. If you have any other questions about Chengdu I would check our forum, there is a lot of information there.

    • it looks like you said:

      arrive in Chengdu, buy train to Chongqing, stay one night in Chongqing, go to see Pandas following morning.

      Logistically impossible.

      Pandas are in the north of Chengdu, a 45 minute car ride, and the best time is in the morning.

      Chongqing is 2 hours east of Chengdu (on high speed rail) and the tickets are sold at the East Side Rail Station, which can be reached via Metro Line 2.

      Metro Line 1, in Chengdu, can take you *closer* to the panda center, but does not get you there. You will still need to take a 20 minute car ride.

  9. Hi, Can I purchase Bullet train Rail tickets Chengdu to Chonnquing at Chengdu International Airport on arrival?
    If so, where can I find the agents Email address to preorder?
    Kind thanks

  10. You can choose either north railway station or east railway station, both have trains to chongqing. Foreigners are not allowed to book tickets online so you should better go there and do remember to present your passports when purchasing the tickets and its cash only. To go from the airport directly to chongqing you can take a public transport airport shuttle bus 300 that would cost 10yuans each and would take you directly to the north railway station even though it does have many stops on the way. For panda you can see them in chongqing at the zoo.You can take a metro to the zoo the stops name is 动物园 dong wu yuan which means zoo. Have fun.

  11. I’m Daibo it’s my chinese name not Dave. Anyways for buying the ticket at chengdu shuangliu international airport you need to ask some one where to buy tickets but for sure you can purchase. You may need to go upstairs to the 2nd floor, remember that in China ground floor is 1st floor. At chengdu airport there is nothing at the arrivals but the departures area is very Well and I think it certainly would have a place to purchase train tickets. In Chinese train ticket = 火车票 = huoche piao
    If you buy tickets anywhere other than the railway station you will be charged with an extra fee of 5yuans per ticket. One more thing, you should take RMB Chinese yuans with you. Do not convert your currency at the airports or public places you will be charged higher. Only convert your currency at BANK OF CHINA. It’s time consuming and requires your passport to convert so I suggest that you atleast take 3000yuans with you in cash per person for the first week or so. You may not spend that much but it is better to have some cash handy in case of need. Hope you have a nice time in China. I’m not Chinese. hehe

  12. Janez

    I want to take an international flight out of Chongqing in May at 11:00 a.m. Will there be an early-enough fast train from Chengdu to get me in to CQ around 8:00 a.m., i.e. leaving around 6:00 a.m.?
    Thanks -
    Jane

    • There should be enough time but that’s assuming that nothing goes wrong. I would leave for Chongqing the night before since it’s an international flight. Another thing to keep in mind is that the CQ airport is geographically far from the city – I’m not sure how far it is from the train station, but that would be worth checking. Chengdu airport is about 25 minutes from the city center and although there isn’t really a center of Chongqing, it’s 45+ minutes from Jiefang Bei (the most developed part of the city) even without bad traffic.

    • The first train is from Chengdu North Railway station at 8am. It takes 2 hours and 23 mins and will take you to Chongqing North Railway Station; from where it takes 30mins to the JiangBei International Airport. So NO! You will definately miss your flight. You’d better go there one day earlier.

      I can suggest some hotels nearby that have Pick and Drop service. So go to Chongqing JiangBei International Airport and call the hotel you booked; they’ll take you nearby and you can stay there. Next day according to your flight; they’ll drop you at the airport. If you need the lists of hotels that have such service, ask me. Tell me what price range can you afford.

      P.S. A hotel would be atleast 200yuans where expats can stay. Usually 200-400yuans

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