How to Choose China Train Ticket Types?
First class seats and second class seats on high speed types are the first choice for a trip less than five hours, while soft sleepers and hard sleepers are highly recommended for a long or overnight journey.
Seat Classes on High Speed Trains
There are sleeper classes available on a few overnight D types: the soft sleeper class has four bunks in a compartment, while the luxury soft sleeper has two bunks.
Usually colored blue, red or green, they are identified by Z/T/K/L/Y/S plus digits or just several digits without letters. They run at a lower speed than high speed types, but they run day and night. The facilities are generally of a lower standard, e.g. the toilets are mostly squatting ones. With relatively lower prices, they are often the choice of budget travelers.
Seat Classes on Normal Trains
The hard or soft sleepers are great for overnight or long-time travel, while the hard or soft seats are acceptable for a short trip.
Try to avoid traveling by a seat during peak seasons like the Chinese New Year and the National Holiday, for the seat carriages are overcrowded.
Special Ticket Types
Standing Room Tickets
Standing Room Tickets are issued only after all the above tickets are sold out. Passengers holding these tickets are only allowed in the hard seat carriages, standing along the aisle or at the end of a carriage. The fare is the same as that of a hard seat.
1. Children under 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) and accompanied by an adult can travel for free. They do not have their own seat or bunk but share one with the adult. However, if a seat is required, it can be purchased at half the full fare; whereas that of a hard/soft sleeper is the full price minus half of the hard/soft seat fare (about 75% of the full price).
If there are two or more children under 3.9 feet in height, only one child enjoys a free ride and the others have to pay for child tickets.
2. Children between 3.9 feet and 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) have to pay. The fare for a seat is half of the full fare and the child has his/her own seat. If the child takes a hard/soft sleeper and shares a bunk with the adult, the fare is still half of the hard/soft seat. However, to have his/her own bunk, the fare will be the full fare of the hard/soft sleeper minus half the fare of the hard/soft seat (about 75% of the full price).
These are only for Chinese college students. Foreign students cannot buy them.
Platform tickets are for people seeing off or picking up friends and relatives and costs CNY 1 - 2. However, to reduce congestion and ensure safety, many stations have stopped selling platform tickets. Instead, a card will be issued only to those really in need.
Further Information on Trains with Different Codes
|High Speed Type|
|G - High Speed||186 mi/h |
|Fastest of all; |
Run long distances between large cities;
Do not run overnight for safety reasons.
|D - Electric Multiple |
|155 mi/h |
|Run for long / middle distances; |
A few run overnight.
|C - Intercity EMU||124 mi/h |
|Run for short distances between two nearby cities.|
|Z - Direct Express||99 mi/h |
|Run directly to destinations none stop or with a few stops at large stations.|
|T - Express||87 mi/h |
|Limited stops at large stations.|
|K - Fast||75 mil/h |
|More stops at middle and large stations.|
|Ordinary Fast||75 mil/h |
|Identified with four digits starting with 1, 2, 4 or 5; |
Stop frequently along the way.
|Ordinary||62 mil/h |
|Indentified with four digits beginning with 6, 7, 8 or 9; |
Stop at almost every station along the way.
|L - Temporary||62 mil/h |
|Operate only during the peak travel time, such as Chinese New Year and National Holiday; |
Great possibility of delays.
|Y - Tourism||62 mil/h |
|Usually run during peak travel seasons; |
Destinations are popular tourism cities.
|S - Suburban||62 mil/h |
|Used for commuting between the city center and the suburban area in some cities.|
|Steam Train||12.4 mil/h |
|Powered by steam engine; |
Available only in mountainous area of Jiayang Mining Region in Leshan, Sichuan.