Bullet trains in China

Japan has had a network of extremely high-speed bullet trains for 50 years. (The US has zero.) China now has an even more impressive network of high-speed bullet trains that cover great distances and are easy to ride. A popular route is Beijing to Shanghai in 4 hours, going 350 km/h (217 mph). Another great long trip is Beijing to Guangzhou (near Hong Kong) in 8 hours (averaging 305 km/h the whole way), which is the longest high speed route in the world, a trip I made with joy recently. Flying is faster and, depending on class, cheaper, but you get an intimate and revealing glimpse of this vast country slicing through at ground level. Booking tickets online is complicated but doable. As always, head to the Man in Seat 61 for the best advice on how to do this. — KK

Travel tipsClaudia Dawson