How to Collect a Train Ticket In China

After booking with online agencies, foreign travelers can only pick up their train tickets at the ticket counters of railway stations. Valid ID certificate like passport used for booking is required for the collection.

Self-service ticket machines at the stations only recognize Chinese IDs and cannot print online bookings for foreign passengers, so do ticket outlets outside the station.

To save time, you are recommended to use the ticket delivery service if the booking agency offers it.

Listed below are some tips for picking up tickets at railway stations:

Ticket Counters at Beijing Railway Station
  Ticket Counters at Beijing Railway Station
 Required documents for collection: original document used for booking and ticket pickup number. When picking up tickets for others, you need to have their original documents and pickup number too.

 There may be long queues at ticket counters, especially during Chinese public holidays like National Day holiday (October 1-7),  Chinese New Year (January to early March), and summer vacation (end of June to early September). To ensure a smooth trip, you may pick up the ticket anytime after it is issued. If you have to collect it on the day of departure before boarding, you’d better get to the station at least 1.5 hours prior to scheduled departure time.

 If you decide to pick up the ticket before boarding, make sure you go to the right station. Many cities have more than one railway station. So read the confirmation letter sent by your booking agency carefully. Actually, it is advised to print out the confirmation letter in advance, as well as address of the station and its transportation information in both Chinese and English, in case you need to ask for help from the locals.
Railway Stations in China

Office for Ticket Collection
Special Counter for Ticket Collection
 Usually, tickets can be collected from any regular ticket counters in train stations (excluding ticket change, refund, and transfer counters). Some stations have special counters for tickets collection, in Chinese characters 取票窗口 or 取票专口, which save you much time. For example, in Xian Railway Station, counters 25 and 26 in east ticket hall and counter 9 in west ticket hall are especially for ticket collection.

 Some stations also have English counters, which save trouble for foreign passengers. In Beijing West Railway Station, it is counter 16 at east ticket hall of north square.

 If you have booked multi-trip tickets, it’s better to collect them all at the first departure station to save time. When collecting tickets of trains departing from other cities, a service fee of CNY5 per ticket is charged by the station. This is not included in the booking agency’s service charge and should be paid in cash on spot. For example, if you have booked three tickets of Beijing West – Xian, Xian – Shanghai, and Shanghai – Guilin, you can pick up them all in any of the railway stations in Beijing and the service fee levied by the station will be CNY10 (for Xian – Shanghai and Shanghai – Guilin which are not originating from Beijing).

 Many stations have installed self-service ticket machine. Foreign/Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan passengers should not queue at them. They can only recognize Chinese ID card issued by the Public Security Bureau of PRC.

 If you have any questions concerning ticket collection in the train stations, go to the information desk. Almost all stations have an information desk in conspicuous places to help passengers out.

 Here are some useful Chinese expressions:
 Hi, please take me to Beijing West Railway Station. 你好,请带我去北京西站 (show to the taxi driver).
 Hi, I would like to pick up my ticket. 你好,我要取票.
 This is the ticket pickup number and my passport. 这是订单号和我的护照.
 Thank you very much! Goodbye! 谢谢,再见!
 See more Useful Chinese Phrases for Train Travel
 Once collected, it is advised to read the ticket carefully to see whether it is the right one by confirming the train number, departure and arrival stations, departure date and time, and class.
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Opening Time of Ticket Counters in Railway Stations

Generally, there is one or more ticket counters in railway stations open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for passengers’ convenience. However, in some stations, all ticket counters are closed at late night time if there is no train arriving or departing. For instance, stations specializing in bullet trains, which usually stop running at late night, such as Beijing South Railway Station, whose ticket counters are opened 06:00 – 23:00. Another example is the relatively small and remote stations, like Jishou Railway Station (close to Phoenix Ancient Town), ticket collection only opened 08:00 – 21:00. But there is no need to worry. The closed counter (s) will be opened 1-2 hours ahead of departure even at late night if there is a train departing.