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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. 


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. 


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 


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 15 days prior to departure. 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


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 ID-ticket and security check, and also leave some time to find the right waiting hall and boarding gate inside the station. 

 See more: How to Take the Train in China


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 


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. 

Further Reading:

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

 Adventures by Rail:
 8 Days Beijing - Xi'an - Shanghai
 1 Day Xi'an - Luoyang Rail Tour

- Last updated on May. 30, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Top 8 China Train Travel Tips You Should Know
Asked by Kokil PR Patel from INDIA | Oct. 22, 2018 05:22Reply
I have booked a train from guangzhou south station to Kowloon west.
May I know what are the documents required for immigration. Where does the immigration takes place? Before boarding the train or after i landing in Kowloon.
Answers (1)
Answered by Cecil | Oct. 22, 2018 18:36

It would be at West Kowloon after your arrival. Your Chinese visa to out China mainland will be checked the also visa to enter HK (if you need one).
Asked by Steph from CHINA | Jul. 27, 2018 19:08Reply
Someone stopped me
I was on a train in China, and some man in white was checking the tickets. I gave him mine and he went away. A few minutes later, another man came and started talking to me in Chinese. I said I didn’t understand. I finally understood that he wanted my passport. So he wrote some stuff down and he wrote my passport number. Why did he do this? I was the only one they did it to and was the only “white” person on the train. My friend, who looks Chinese, has NEVER had this happen before.
Answers (1)
Answered by Warms | Jul. 28, 2018 01:25

It is hard to know. Maybe just some routine inspection, sometime Chinese travellers are also be requested to show ID card.
Asked by Aleix from SPAIN | Jul. 03, 2018 05:56Reply
Buy ticket from origin but get in the train at a mid station
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!!
Answers (2)
Answered by Irene from ITALY | Jul. 04, 2018 02:01

Yes, this can work but it is important that you need to get the paper ticket in hand before the departure time from city A. Otherwise the railway system may consider that you missed it and the bed may sold to other people. If you have the paper ticket in hand before the departure time from A, they will know that there is a chance you may get on from the halfway and your bed will be hold for you.
Answered by Aleix from SPAIN | Jul. 04, 2018 23:54

Thank you very much Irene! Will try 🤞🏻
Asked by Benjamin from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 25, 2018 23:43Reply
Can I book two tickets in case I miss the first train?
Next week I will be landing in Shanghai (PVG Int. Airport) at 6:45pm and will be going to Suzhou straight away. I want to take the 9:50pm one as I have to be up early the next morning, however I am worried I might miss this one by the time I get to the station and line-up for the ticket.

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?
Answers (2)
Answered by Benson | Jun. 26, 2018 02:57

This is OK as long as the time for both tickets are not conflict with each other, which means the departure time for your second ticket should be later than the arrival time of your first ticket. But in this way, it means one of the ticket will be wasted and no refund at all unless you catch the first one and have enough time to refund the second one at the station before its departure time.
Answered by Benjamin from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 26, 2018 21:35

Thank you very much for your insight. I will make sure that the tickets don't clash.
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