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China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide

In China, train has been the top choice for more and more passengers traveling from one city to another, benefiting from the dense railway network, high running speed, reasonable ticket price, and modern facilities. For a first-time traveler to China, a train ride should also be on their travel list. But for a beginner, the Chinese train system may not be too friendly. Below are guides for beginners to have a smooth and memorable train trip in China. 

What are China trains like?

Generally, there are two kinds of trains running in China: 

1. High speed trains, also called bullet trains at a highest speed of 350 km/h (217 mph). They are white or grey with bullet locomotives, titled G/D/C. They are mostly running in daytime with business class seats, first class seats and second class seats. A few also run overnight with sleepers. They are the first choice for most travelers. 

2. Traditional style trains are numbered as Z/T/K/Y/L or just digits. The fastest Z trains only have a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), so they are not as popular as the high speed ones. But those running overnight are popular among budget travelers. Most are equipped with sleepers.

 Guides on How to Choose China Train Ticket Types 


What China trains are available for my trip?

You can easily check the train schedule by entering the departure city, destination and date even if you are a beginner. The search results are in English; carefully pick one meeting your China train travel demands.  

  • Select seats for free
  • Reschedule for Free
  • Delivery service to your hotel
  • One-to-one service in English
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 2,500+ 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor

There are several ways to buy a China train ticket: book on the official website of China Railway Corporation, buy from the railway stations or ticket outlets, or call the hotline… However, considering the language barrier, the most convenient way for a beginner is to purchase it from a reliable agency like TravelChinaGuide. 

3 Tips on Buying China Train Tickets as A Beginner

1. If booking China train tickets online, one will get an e-ticket and there is no need to collect the paper ticket. Passengers can enter the station and get onboard with the passport used for booking.

2. If purchasing at railway stations or ticket outlets on your own, learn some Chinese phrases for train travel. Not all railway staff speak English. 

3. To guarantee a smooth a trip, you are strongly advised to book the ticket in advance, especially when traveling by China train during holidays. The tickets are available 15 days prior. 

Preparation Work before Boarding

1. Pack the Luggage

a. Do not forget your passport and paper ticket if it is already in hand. 

b. Take some food and drinks; or buy them onboard at a higher price.  See Food on China Trains

c. Take some toilet paper; it's available only on high speed trains but runs out quickly.  Check facilities on China trains to see if you need to pack more.

d. If traveling with kids, bring their favorite toys. 
Travel light and do not take too much luggage. There are restrictions on luggage weight in China. Each adult is allowed to take a maximum of 20 kg (44 pounds) of luggage.  See more China Train Baggage Allowance 

2. Learn the Hotel – Railway Station Transportation 

Including that from your hotel to the departure station and from arrival station to the next hotel. Calculate the time needed on the way, especially that from your hotel to the departure station. 

 Book China Train Station Transfer Service for an easy trip

3. Get Some Basic Guides on China Train Stations

This will help you find the entrance, waiting hall, platform and exit more easily.


1. Passport and ticket check, and security check at the entrance;

2. Go to the right waiting room and wait for boarding;

3. Boarding check;

4. Follow fellow passengers to your platform;

5. Find your carriage and get onboard;

6. Find your seat/ sleeper and store your luggage;   See Luggage Space

7. Enjoy the trip; 

8. Upon arrival, follow the signs to the exit. 

8 Steps to Take China Trains
8 Steps to Take China Trains8 Steps to Take China Trains

What if I cannot make the trip after buying the ticket?

You can refund the ticket or change the ticket to another departure day. A service fee may be charged. Usually, the earlier you submit the refund/ change, the less you lose. 

You can still take the train with your passport used for purchasing the ticket. However, the paper ticket cannot be reclaimed for reimbursement or other purposes. 

- Last updated on Jan. 03, 2023 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide
Asked by Holly from UNITED STATES | Mar. 01, 2023 20:58Reply
Train tickets
Can you buy a monthly train pass ? Do they have year train passes?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kathy | Mar. 05, 2023 17:52

Yes, on some routes, the monthly pass, and 90-day pass containing 20 rides have been adopted.
Asked by Stella Ling from USA | Jan. 22, 2020 14:51Reply
our private tour ends in Chengdu, we want to continue to go to Xieman by train. how do we do it?
Answers (1)
Answered by Marissa from LATVIA | Jan. 22, 2020 18:32

High speed trains will take around 14 hours to Xiamen, so you may consider flight instead.
Asked by Bernett Buthelezi from SOUTH AFRICA | Dec. 30, 2019 08:34Reply
My daughter needs to travel from Jinzhou medical university to Beijing
to catch a connecting flight to Johannesburg from PEK international airport, which train station in Beijing must she get off? Are there shuttle service to the airport?
Answers (1)
Answered by Fred from USA | Dec. 30, 2019 17:21

It depends on which train to use, some of them stop at Beijing main station, some stop at south station. The manin station, Beijing Station is a little bit closer to PEK airport. From both stations, there are airport shuttle bus to PEK, or metro can be used too.
Asked by Harry ang from SINGAPORE | Dec. 28, 2019 07:09Reply
How much is the fare from chaozhun to GZ east station? Any didcount for old people?
Answers (1)
Answered by Cristian from USA | Dec. 29, 2019 17:13

If you take a normal K train, it would be around CNY90 to 160. If you take a high speed train from Chaoshan Station nearby to Guangzhou, second class seats would cost around CNY190. There is no discount for senior passengers.
Asked by Tracy from SINGAPORE | Dec. 04, 2019 06:44Reply
Bullet train from Chongqing to chengdu
Hi, I’m staying at the Westin liberation Sq. May I know is Chongqing north station the nearest station from my hotel? Can the tickets be send to the hotel if I will to book from you?
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Dec. 04, 2019 19:59

The nearest station to your hotel is Chongqing North. You could book ticket on our website, and select delivery service, we will deliver the paper tickets to your hotel.
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