Top 8 China Train Travel Tips You Should Know
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.
Hard Sleeper vs. Soft Sleeper
Avoid train travel in China during holidays.
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
Book the ticket once your travel is planned.
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.
How to Buy China Train Tickets
Reach the departure station at least an hour earlier.
If 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
Bring onboard some food.
There 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
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.
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
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.
I don't find available hard sleeper tickets in my station, but there are hard sleeper tickets available from the origin station of the ride. Can I buy tickets for hard sleeper from the origin station but get on at mid journey? Will I have problems to enter my station with the ticket?
e.g.: from city A to city C there are hard sleeper tickets, but from city B to C there aren't (the ride does the journey A-B-C). Can I buy the tickets from A to C and get in in the city B?
Thank you so so much!!
Is it possible for me to book a second ticket now for a later time (say 11:30ish) so that I have the back up ticket in case I miss the 9:50pm ride? Will the ticket office have an issue if they see two tickets booked next to my name/passport?