How to Book China Train Tickets
It is fairly easy for foreigners to buy China train tickets. Most train tickets can be purchased up to 30 days before the departure day. There are four ways you can book China train tickets:
- Book online with a travel agency – hassle free if on China Travel
- Buy tickets at a train station
- Buy tickets at a ticket office
- Book at 12306.cn, China Railway Corporation’s official website
When to Buy?
The China Rail open the reservation 30 days before departure. During peak holidays in China, such as the Spring Festival, May Day and National Day, long-distance train tickets sold out quickly. Do avoid these dates to take train travel in China. Meanwhile, summer holiday (July and August) and winter holiday during January and February are also busy train travel times which are better to avoided. If you have to take trains on these periods, do remember to book them as soon as possible. You can check train details and book tickets from China Travel Train Ticket Booking , including seeing how many tickets are left in each class for the train you choose on a specific date.
1. Book Online with a Travel Agency- Recommended
Booking China train tickets online with a travel agency is the most convenient and recommended. China Travel is an easy-to-use English-language train booking website providing one-to-one English service. All inquiries will be handled by our experienced and professional travel advisors to ensure you get the best service. Our travel advisors will help you with ticket booking, changing, canceling and any problems during your train trip in China.
You can book your tickets on our website months ahead if you like. We will purchase your tickets as soon as reservations open. We do the extra to save your time. It only takes a few simple steps to complete the booking on our website. China Travel Train Booking offers China train ticket online booking in a time-saving, hassle-free and safe way. Once you booked the ticket successfully, our experienced travel advisors will help you do the rest.
1. Select departure and arrival cities and your travel date on our website.
2. Choose a train and a seat class.
3. Fill in passengers’ names and ID document numbers.
4. Select your preferable seat.
5. Forward the payment.
6. If reservations open, our ticketing system will issue your tickets automatically and send you the confirmation letter, along with instructions of how to take trains in China.
2. Buy Tickets at a Train Station
Buying tickets at train stations can be difficult for foreigners who cannot speak Chinese. Some railway stations only sell tickets within 3 days of departure. You need to queue in front of a ticket window to buy tickets. There are always long queues in front of each ticket window at train stations in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xi’an and Chengdu, especially during holidays. An electronic board over the windows will update the information regarding the availability of tickets in Chinese only.
Here are some tips for buying tickets at train stations:
- Bring all the passengers’ original passports.
- Expect long queues in front of the counters, especially during holidays.
- Your preferable train can be fully booked, especially for popular routes or during peak season (including Spring Festival, National Holiday, Mid-autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, etc.). It is recommended to prepare alternatives.
- Staff at the train station cannot speak English. So it would be advisable to search train information in advance and write it down to show the person at the counter. Our travel advisors are glad to help with the translation or you can ask hotel staff to translate the information into Chinese.
- Check the ticket fare on China Highlights and prepare enough cash (RMB), as the train station does not accept foreign credit cards.
- Skip the Self-service ticket machines as they can accept Chinese ID only.
3. Buy Tickets at a Local Ticket Office
Like train stations, ticket offices don’t provide English service. But ticket offices are less crowded and located all over a city. RMB 5 will be charged per ticket as service fee.
The working hours at ticket offices are usually from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Also bring your passports to buy the tickets.
4. Book Online at www.12306.cn
The China Rail official website sells tickets 15 days before departure. It has both Chinese and English versions. Registration is required before making the booking. International credit card can be used to make the payment.
Tips on Purchasing China Train Tickets
1. Train tickets sold out quickly for popular rail routes, especially during peak travel seasons such as the summer holiday, National Day Holiday week and Chinese New Year. If you plan to travel during these periods of time, it is recommended that you book your train tickets as early as possible.
2. Although e-ticket service is available on China high-speed trains, ID documents are all you need to board a bullet train, you can also print your paper tickets at the train station if you want. If you take a regular train, you still need to collect your paper tickets at the train station in advance.
3. Children’s tickets apply to children not taller than 1.5 m and younger than 12 years of age. A child fare is 50% (for seats) or about 75% (for sleepers) of the full price (children fares do not apply to sleepers on D and G trains). Refer to this link for more information about children's tickets.