Beijing - Shanghai Train vs. Plane

The distance between Beijing and Shanghai is about 1,100 kilometers (684 mi). The travel time by high speed train is about 4.5-6 hours while by plane is around 2-2.5 hours. For those traveling in a hurry, flight is a good choice while for budget travelers, high speed train is recommended.

Top Differences on Beijing - Shanghai Train & Plane Travel

High Speed Train Plane
 4.5-6h on board 2-2.5h on board
CNY 930-1,067 for first class seat;
CNY 553-667 for 2nd class seat
CNY 700-1,800 with a discount
Punctual Occasional delays
Various land scenery Blue sky and bird's eye view of two cities

The door-to-door travel time differs not much.

Although the rail travel time from Beijing to Shanghai is longer than the flight duration, the airports in both cities are located further to downtown than the railway stations. If you include the time of traveling to/from the airports, and for boarding, there is not much difference in the travel times using either the high speed G-type trains or a flight.

 See detailed Beijing - Shanghai High Speed Train
Beijing-Shanghai Train vs. Plane
 Note: Time consumed by traffic jam and flight delay excluded.

The overnight sleeper trains save daytime and accommodation fee.

In addition to the high speed G ones that travel during the day time, there are overnight connections through either high speed D-trains or normal ones. They save one-night accommodation fee and the day time for sightseeing. They are equipped with sleepers, so passengers can have a good rest.
 See detailed Beijing - Shanghai Overnight Sleeper train

Train ticket price is generally more competitive.

Usually, train ticket is cheaper than flight ticket. However, sometimes, good discounts may be offered by airlines and the flight ticket can be quite competitive, but this mostly happens in low seasons.

Train is more punctual than flight.

Flight delay in China happens occasionally due to bad weather and air traffic control, etc. Beijing and Shanghai, as two big and busy cities in China, flight delays occur more. Comparatively, there are seldom delays with the high speed trains because they are not easily affected by weather. 

Train provides more pleasant travel experience.

Passengers can use mobile devices and the internet freely on rail ride, but on an airplanes, mobile phones need to be switched to the flight mode and cellular data is not allowed to use. If your battery runs low, no worry, electricity sockets are available on the train.

The rail ride awards passengers various scenery.

As one of the Eight Most Scenic Train Rides in China, traveling from Shanghai to Beijing by high speed railway will give you an opportunity to enjoy both urban landscapes and countryside scenery along the way. The fertile plain, vast fields, small quiet villages, tall buildings, bustling and prosperous big cities will leave a deep impression in your travel memory. When flying by air, one can only enjoy blue sky and a few minutes' bird's eye view of the two cities.

 See also:
How to Travel from Beijing to Shanghai
How to Travel from Shanghai to Beijing
Cheapest Way to Travel between Beijing and Shanghai
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to the Bund
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to People’s Square & Nanjing Road
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Wangfujing
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Capital Airport
How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
How to Get from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Pudong Airport
- Last updated on Jun. 15, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Beijing - Shanghai Train vs. Plane
Asked by John Brandenburg from USA | Nov. 25, 2019 04:04Reply
Best way to travel from port in Baoshan to high speed train station in Shanghai?
How long does it take to get to train station?
Answers (1)
Answered by Benny from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 27, 2019 18:28

Do you mean Hongqiao Railway Station? If so, you can take bus line of Baoshan 29 to Baoyang Rd Tongji Rd station, then take metro line 3 from Baoyang Rd station to Hongqiao Railway station. It takes around 2 hours with CNY9.
Asked by Lei from PHILIPPINES | Apr. 04, 2019 17:47Reply
Is there like an immigration or document checking when passing through train terminals in Beijing?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jack from CANADA | Apr. 11, 2019 20:04

They will check the passport and luggage regarding to domestic trains in China mainland.
Asked by Deborah from USA | Jul. 15, 2018 10:56Reply
Which train station is closer to the bejing airport
Answers (1)
Answered by Rain from DENMARK | Jul. 16, 2018 01:46

BJ Railway Station may be the closest one and you can the shuttle bus line 3 to get there within 1 hour.
Asked by Queen Michel`Le from CHINA | Jun. 11, 2018 12:32Reply
Does the bullet train between Shanghai and Beijing had a baggage allowance?
Answers (1)
Answered by Micheal from CANADA | Jun. 11, 2018 21:35

Yes, generally, you can take a baggage within 20kg.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)