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Train Travel in China during Holidays

During holidays, the China railway system is busier than usual with more passengers. This can make the railway stations and train carriages rather crowded and may lead to unpleasant train travel.

Thus, it is recommended that foreigners NOT travel by train in China during the Chinese holidays.

If you must travel at this time, the following tips will help to make your travel smoother:


Holiday Calendar and Influences on Train Travel 

Festival Date 2024 Days off Influences
New Year's Day Jan.1 Dec. 30, 2023 - Jan. 1, 2024 More passengers for short-distance rail rides
Chinese New Year Jan.1 of
lunar calendar;
Feb. 10, 2024
Feb. 10 - 17 Crowded passengers for both long-distance and short-distance rail rides;
The situation usually begins 25 days before the Chinese New Year and ends 15 days after, known as Spring Festival Rush.
Qingming Festival Apr. 4 or 5;
Apr. 4, 2024
Apr. 4 - 6 More passengers for short-distance rail rides
May Day May 1 May 1 - 5
Dragon Boat Festival May. 5 of
lunar calendar;
Jun. 10, 2024
Jun. 10
Summer Holiday July-early Sep.  July-early Sep.  More passengers for long-distance rail rides;
Increasing passengers are mainly university students going between hometowns and schools
Mid-Autumn Festival Aug. 15 of
lunar calendar;
Sep. 17 , 2024
Sep. 15 - 17 More passengers for short-distance rail rides
National Day Oct. 1 Oct. 1 - 7 Crowded passengers for both long-distance and short-distance rail rides;
the situation lasts for the entire holiday

 Detailed 2024 / 2025 / 2026 China Public Holiday Calendar

Crowded Railway Station during China Holidays
Xi'an Railway Station during Summer Holiday
Crowded Railway Terminal during Holidays
A Waiting Hall during Chinese New Year

Top 10 Train Travel Tips on China Holidays

Try to Avoid Holidays

If you can’t avoid the holiday time, please purchase tickets as early as possible. Railway tickets are usually available 15 days prior to the departure date. It is easier if you use a booking agency. In that case, place your order more than 15 days in advance.

Be Careful of Fake Tickets

During the holidays, some illegal traders sell fake tickets on phishing sites and around railway stations. Not only will you lose your money, but this may also ruin your trip. To avoid this, buy tickets from ticket offices at railway stations, the official website, or more conveniently, a legal and reliable agency like TravelChinaGuide.com.
 See details of How to Buy Train Tickets 

Keep an Eye on Last Minute Ticket Availability

If you fail to get a ticket in advance, check the most up-to-date ticket availability every now and then. Sometime passengers return tickets a few days before departure (known as “refund tide”) and the tickets are placed on sale again. Also, some trains may be temporarily added to relieve the transportation pressure, thus providing more tickets.

Avoid Temporary Trains if Possible

Compared with the regularly scheduled trains, those added temporarily are not as well equipped, run at lower speeds, and take longer to reach destinations.

High Speed Trains Advantage

In addition to the high speed and clean and spacious carriages, the high-speed trains usually depart from newly-built modern stations with better air and environment, and more importantly, they are less crowded.

Crowded Train during China Holidays
A Hard Seat Carriage Filled with Passengers

Stay away from Hard Seat Carriages

The least comfortable way to travel is in a hard seat carriage. Many passengers are squeezed in with standing room only tickets. The aisles, sometimes even the washrooms, are filled with passengers and luggage; at these times it is difficult to move around, let alone get to the toilet.
 See details of Train Ticket Types 

The Dining Car is a Good Place to Escape from the Noisy and Crowded Carriages.

Make an order and you can enjoy a meal quietly. You can also order a cup of drink and they should not drive you out until you finish it. However, the dining car sometimes may be used as a regular carriage and the staff there may charge you additionally.

Keep an Eye on the Real-time Schedule

It is very possible that the arrival/departure times may be delayed during the holidays because of the busy traffic flow along rail lines or due to foul weather, in winter or summer, such as heavy snow, rainstorm, landslide or typhoon. Prepare some food and water for the trip in advance.

Get to Railway Station Earlier than Usual

Please arrive at the station at least 1-1.5 hours before departure and be prepared for long lines at the entrance and boarding gate.

Travel Light and Keep an Eye on Your Luggage

Please try to simplify your luggage. After getting onboard, try to put the luggage where you can see it to be sure it is not mistaken by other passengers or stolen by thieves. If possible, travel with friends or family and ask them to take care of your luggage when you must leave. Always keep your valuables with you and do not display them to strangers.
 See details of Luggage Space

Further Reading:
 China Train Travel Tips
 China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide
 Facts on China Train Travel

- Last updated on Jan. 26, 2024 by Gabby Li -
Questions & Answers on Train Travel in China during Holidays
Asked by Lim SH from SINGAPORE | Nov. 20, 2023 19:32Reply
Bullet train from Dali to Lijiang
Hello, I am looking at the train ticket from Dali to Lijiang in 22 Dec 2023. It seems that there are no 2 of the usual 1 plus hour train ride at 9am and on the afternoon.

Has it been sold out or there are no trains on that particular day.
Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Harry | Nov. 21, 2023 23:13

Recently, the train schedule will be adjusted and so there may be a new schedule in December. Wait for some days and check it again.
Asked by Kang from USA | Jan. 22, 2020 05:28Reply
No tickets

I realized that there are no tickets for bus, train from Guillin to Guangzhou. What is a last minute option besides flight? Private car? Taxi?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jayden | Jan. 22, 2020 18:20

Not sure which day are you looking for, but you may consider to make a transfer to other further cities like Guiyang and then to Guangzhou. You can have a try for train ticket availability.
Asked by Ron from GERMANY | Jul. 20, 2019 03:24Reply
Train Kunming - Dali Oct 1st
Is this even realistic to buy (at the earliest possible time, using an agency) a Kunming - Dali 1st class ticket for October 1st (Golden week)? Thanks!
Answers (1)
Answered by Olaf | Jul. 22, 2019 03:12

The chance is really hard to say. Short trip distance would be very popular at that time. Maybe you need second class seats and also other trains as alternatives so you will have a bigger chance.
Asked by Jordy from NETHERLANDS | Dec. 28, 2018 02:53Reply
Train from beijing to xian on may 1st
Is it possible to book a trip from beijing to xian on may 1st with you guys? If i book it next month can you arrange the seats?
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Dec. 28, 2018 19:23

Thank you for your inquiry.
Currently, the rail ticket only begin for sale 30 days before the departure date. Before that, no one can buy the ticket in advance, therefore, the ticket availability cannot be guaranteed in advance. If you submit the booking online in advance, we will keep your booking and try to buy the ticket at the earliest sale time. The ticket is confimed after you get our ticket isssued email. Hope for your kind understanding.
Asked by Katerina from CYPRUS | Aug. 04, 2018 14:07Reply
Beijing to Tianjin on October 7th 2018
My husband and I need to travel from Beijing to Tianjin International Port on October 7 which is a National Holiday. I see some trains from Beijing to Tanggu. Would it be possible to catch a high speed train if we pre-book it and then a taxi? Or would it be easier to take a taxi from Beijing straight to the port?
Thank you!
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr. Erin | Aug. 05, 2018 01:40

You could book a train from Beijing to Tanggu firstly, then take a taxi to the port. This should be a better way.
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