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Flying's fine if you're in a hurry, but nothing beats China’s train system for a slow, relaxing and down-to-the-earth journey through the country that's practically a continent in itself.|
Approximately 100,000 kilometers of railways form the dragon nation's back, connecting some of China’s best nature, culture and landscapes.
Here are seven China train rides you won't want to fall asleep on.
A journey to the wild west.
Renowned as the highest railway in the world, the “Sky Road” (its nickname in Chinese) climbs to a light-headed 5,000 meters. Much of the journey is at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters.
A mind-boggling number of bridges dot this magnificent train line -- 675 in total, spanning ravines and fast-flowing rivers; the route also passes the Hoh Xili Nature Reserve, which is known in China as a "death region" for its harsh climate.
Headaches from the high altitude pale into insignificance beside scenes of wide open plains, nomadic herders with their animals, the reaches of the Tanggula Pass and exotic towns such as Golmud (格尔木) in Qinghai.
This plateau train line is one of China's modern-day engineering miracles, especially as sections of the track had to be laid over the permafrost.
Distance: 4,064 kilometers
Time: 47 hours 28 minutes
Price: Around RMB 1,189 (US$186, soft sleeper), RMB 723-766 (hard sleeper), RMB 363 (hard seat)