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Top 8 China Train Travel Tips You Should Know

The China train travel tips are listed to help you have a smooth China train trip, including how to choose a suitable train and seat class, when to buy a ticket, what to bring for a China train travel and other useful guide on food and toilet issues. 

 
1  

Firstly choose high speed trains, then overnight sleeper trains

High speed trains or bullet trains are fast, comfortable and modern and they are mostly cheaper than flights. 

Traditional style overnight trains departing in the evening and arriving in next morning are also good choices, because they save the daytime and one-night accommodation cost. Remember to book a sleeper for a good rest. The middle bunk of a hard sleeper and the upper bunk of a soft sleeper are recommended, as the lower bunk are always used as seats by other passengers in day and the space between the upper bunk and the ceiling is too small. 

2  

Avoid train travel in China during holidays.

Xi'an Railway Station During Spring Festival Rush

During Chinese holidays, especially Chinese New Year and National Day holiday, the China rail system always serves more passengers who are traveling or going home from working places or universities. Long queues in ticket offices, waiting halls, even the washing rooms inside the railway stations are common during these peak travel periods. 

 See more: Train Travel in China during Holidays 
 

3  

Book the ticket once your travel is planned. 

Buy ticket early enough. China train tickets can be sold out within minutes of becoming available, especially for hot routes and during peak travel seasons. The tickets are put on sale 30 days prior to departure online or by phone, and 28 days prior at railway stations. The prices in general do not fluctuate.

TravelChinaGuide accepts your orders in spite of the pre-sale period. Just make the order and we will handle the rest for you. 

 See more:
How to Buy China Train Tickets

 
4  

Reach the departure station at least an hour earlier.

Arrive Station 1+  Hour Earlier for BoardingIf it is a holiday, make it at least 1.5 hours earlier. Boarding usually starts 30 minutes before departure at origin stations and 15 minutes at intermediate stations. One should be prepared for the queues at the entrance for ticket and security check, and also leave some time to find the right waiting hall and boarding gate inside the station. For those who are going to pick up paper ticket before departure, remember to spare another 15 minutes on usual days and 30 minutes during holidays. 

 See more: How to Take the Train in China

 
5  

Bring onboard some food.

Take Some Food for China Train RideThere are dining carts and dining carriages selling food, snacks, fruits and various drinkings, but the price is usually marked higher than outside. 

 See more: Food on China Trains 

 
6  

Bring some bottled water or a cup.

The tap water is undrinkable, but there are water boilers where passengers can fetch hot drinkable water. Disposable cups are provided on high speed trains, but not on normal ones. So a cup is necessary when traveling by train in China. 
 

7  

Better pack a scroll of toilet paper.

Toilets are at two ends of each carriage. Toilets on high speed trains are usually western style. Toilet paper and hand cleaner are provided, but they can be used up soon after setting off. It is advisable to bring some of your own. The ones on an ordinary train are mostly squat type and toilet paper and hand lotion are not provided at all. 


If traveling overnight by normal trains for a long-distance journey, washing supplies like a towel and tooth brush, and your own entertainment like a book or a movie are also recommended on your packing list. 

 See more: Facilities on China Trains  
 

8  

Recharge the cellphone beforehand or take a portable power bank if by normal train.

There are only a few electricity charging sockets on traditional style trains. A portable power bank will help you keep in touch along the way and you can kill time by watching a movie or listening to music. 
 

Further Reading:

  China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide
 8 Facts on China Train Travel

 Adventures by Rail:
 Soul of Beijing & Shanghai: 6 Days of Beijing - Shanghai
 Xi'an - Luoyang Rail Tour: 1 Day of Xi'an - Luoyang - Xi'an
 5 Days China Tour: Shanghai - Suzhou - Zhouzhuang - Shanghai

- Last modified on Apr. 29, 2019 -
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    TravelChinaGuide staff was very helpful and patient with questions about how to accomplish my arrangements on my first efforts to do so independently. I will certainly use TravelChinaGuide to book future train or air travel within China. They offer a very good English language service and I recommend them.

    It would be very helpful if you could make an arrangement with your account in bank of China so that you are automatically when payment is deposited to your account, and then you could more easily inform the client that funds have been processed, either manually or automatically.

    Also, for westerners, it would be very reassuring if the funds were deposited to the name of the company rather than to the name of an individual person. It would also be helpful if the name on the bank receipt was in Pinyin, though I realize that may seem a strange request.
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    My girlfriend and I were overall happy with the service we received from Travel China Guide. Trains are an efficient and convenient way to travel in China.

    The only thing we would have liked is to have a window seat in the middle of the train carriage so that we could see more out the window. We were booked in row 1 which has limited outside view. Tourists want to see the interesting and beautiful country side of China. We would use your service again. Thank you for your efforts.
    Mr.Gavin
    New Zealand
    Posted on Jun. 24, 2019
    The booking process was very well handled by your representative. I received very good service - although I found it curious that I was unable to get a confirmation of the service or class I booked on until just a few days before travel - unlike my airline reservations within China which were confirmed immediately. In the end however I received a service close to the time requested and was very happy.

    The check-in at Shanghai was OK. Once passing through the security check at the entrance to the station, you can check your service number and corresponding waiting room on the large digital display. You then proceed upstairs to the waiting room. The waiting rooms are basic but comfortable and serve their purpose. There was no differential check in for first class. Signage was clear (digital) and well placed. Announcements were good in both Chinese and English.

    The train was very comfortable - I would recommend paying the minimal extra and going first class as the seating was more spacious than economy - only 2 armchair style seats each side of the isle as opposed to 3more basic style seats in economy. The carriage was very clean. The on-board service was sporadic and you had to be quick to catch the eye of the attendant as they moved the cart quickly through the carriage. I think in the 10 hours it only came by 4 times. There was a buffet car which I only realized about 8 hours into the journey - which was located at the opposite end of the train (16 carriages long) from where I was seated.

    Over all I was very happy with my train experiences in China. The trains are modern and comfortable.
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    Mr.Jordan
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    The booking service was convenient. Easy to use. There is an interesting story. My train actually got stopped by a landslide! So we waited about 14 hours to get the railway cleared. Luckily I wasn't in a hurry to get to my destination. And now I have an interesting story to tell when I get back home.
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    The whole experience of booking and getting the ticket was good. I received the tickets on time and in the right hotels.
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    I would rate the booking experience as Excellent. And I would like to give some Suggestions for improvements.
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    The journey itself was very pleasant. Boarding (ticket check, finding the platform etc.) could have been better - again, if you had a brief explanation how would it work, how long before the train leaves one must be there etc. it could have helped a lot.
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