How to Buy Train Tickets
2016 Chinese New Year Travel Rush will begin on Jan. 24 and last till Mar. 3. If you have a plan to travel by rail in China during the time period, it is advised to buy a ticket as early as possible. The tickets have been available since Nov. 26, 2015.
When to Buy
Advanced-sale China railway tickets is now 60 days before departure on the official website of China Railway Corporation and by phone, and 58 days in advance at railway stations and ticket outlets. Although the advanced-sale time has been extended, it is still preferable to book early, especially for distant rides and hot routes, and during peak travel seasons like Chinese New Year and National Day holiday (Oct. 1 - 7), as they may go fast.
What's the Requirements
Foreign Passenger: Passport;
Hong Kong and Macau Passengers: Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Resident;
Taiwan Passengers: Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Resident.
Where to Buy
Online Booking Agency:
The most practical and convenient channel for those who speak little Chinese. Also, there is no time limit on pre-sale and they can order as soon as they finalize their travel plan; the agency will handle the booking on a first come first served basis.
TravelChinaGuide (TCG) offers train ticket booking service in English. Our operators are always ready to help solving any travel related problems. We will make sure your booking and payment (TCG accepts Paypal and Western Union) are secure. After issued, tickets will be delivered to your addresses within China. If you prefer to collect the tickets at railway stations in person, we will provide step by step instructions on how to collect and related documents to aid you.
Passengers can go in person to purchase tickets at any railway station in Mainland China maximum 58 days ahead of departure. Note that only selected staff in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai may speak English; and one has to wait in long line-up in the offices particularly during peak seasons.
Transportation to Major Railway Stations
Chinese Expressions Used in Railway Stations
Most railway stations have automatic ticket vending machines. But be advised that the machines only recognize Chinese issued ID Card.
There are many ticket outlets in each city. You can purchase a ticket there with valid ID certificate. The pre-sale time is also maximum 58 days before departure. An additional service fee of CNY 5/ ticket is charged. However, the staff mostly does not speak English.
It is the official website of China Railway Corporation. Currently, it texts only in Chinese. To access the website, one needs to register using a phone number based in China. After placing an order, online payment must be within 30 minutes on a China's bank card or risking null and void.
The real-name policy and identity verification require that the name on the 12306.cn booking system must match exactly with the one on the booking document. Spaces and symbols (hyphens) apart from over 30 English alphabets are not allowed. In practice oftentimes names on official documents may not correspond to personalized names. Example: James Green’s name showed on his passport is Green (on the above line) James (on the lower line). Overseas visitors thus may encounter rejection on verification, resulting in failed booking or boarding.
Cases that Chinese Railway Tickets Can Not be Successfully Collected after Booking Online
Official Reservation Call:
The phone number is 95105105. Only Chinese is spoken. To book through it, one needs to listen really well. After booking successfully, one should collect the ticket within 24 hours at railway stations in person; otherwise the booking will be cancelled. Payment is generally by cash at pick up.
One thing to remember is that when booking a train departing from another city, one needs to add the city's area code in front of the reservation phone number. For example, James is located in Beijing but wants to book a train departing from Shanghai; then the reservation call he needs to dial is 021-95105105 (021 is the area code of Shanghai).
Search for China Area Code
How to Read Ticket
All necessary information like train number, departure and arrival stations, departure date and time, and class will be showed on the ticket. After getting it, confirm whether it is the wanted one to enable a smooth trip.
See details of Blue Magnetic Sample, Pink Paper Sample
1. The advanced-sale period may be adjusted during the rush holidays or festivals. To play it safe you should book through an agency as early as possible.
2. If a passenger is unable to leave on schedule, he or she can refund or change the ticket at any railway station. If you lost a ticket, you can pay for a replacement and reclaim the booked seat with your valid ID certificate.
3. The ticket price does not include insurance and you need to buy travel insurance separately.
4. Children who stand between 3.9 feet (1.2 m) and 4.9 feet (1.5 m) tall need to buy children's tickets while those under 3.9 feet (1.2 m) ride for free. Please note that children as a rule are accompanied by adults.