This trip I’ve taken rides on both China’s High Speed Rail or Gaotie (高铁), and Japan’s Shinkansen (新幹線). There are many similarities and differences between them so let’s compare them.
The Shinkansen is Japan’s High Speed Rail, the initial connection was between Osaka and Tokyo.
Visitors to Japan can ride on the Shinkansen by using the JR Rail Pass, it costs around A$300 and has to be exchanged for an actual pass at any JR Service Centre (we exchanged ours at Shinjuku Station). The costs gets paid off almost instantly (as we took our trip between Osaka and Tokyo – which covered at least 60% of the cost).
With your JR Pass you can get into some Shinkansens (we only took Hikari and Sakura trains) and any JR train (after getting the pass we took most of our trips on JR Lines including around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara).
The JR Pass gives you access to reserved (you can reserve up to 10 mins before the train leaves) and non-reserved seats only in the standard class. But we managed to get our hands onto the Green car, which is like business class on a plane.
Even though the standard car seats are slightly smaller, the legroom you get is huge, and way better than an economy class on a plane.
Something that you see and may find weird is that, everytime when a JR conductor inspects the carriage they would bow after when entering the carriage and exiting the carriage.
You can buy snacks and drinks on board, the station also sells bento boxes. I would recommend getting the green tea the Ooi Oocha brand.
Price (4 / 5)
Comfortable (4.5 / 5)
Customer Service (5 / 5)
China’s High Speed Rail (Gaotie, 高铁)
China’s High Speed Rail can be brought by anyone as long as you have a form to verify your identity. For me, I buy using my Australian Passport at a train station ticket shop.
The standard tickets are fairly cheap (around 110RMB (A$22) from Guangzhou to Shaoguan, 70RMB (A$14) from Guangzhou to Shenzhen). Tickets are split into 2nd Class (equivalent to standard) and 1st Class (green car).
The most annoying thing about using China’s High Speed Rail, like using various subway systems is that you have to go through security: Identity, Quarantine (Baggage Check) and Ticket 🎫 Inspection – but it goes really smoothly.
The seats are the same size as the standard car. With ample leg room, as I rode on the The Fuxing (复兴号) rolling stock, which is the newer model it meant that the cabin was more modern, had bigger windows and underneath each seat as a power port, and 2 USB 2.1A charging ports.
Price (4.5 / 5)
Comfortable (4.5 / 5)
Customer Service (4.5 / 5)