How to Buy China Train Tickets
How to buy train tickets in China - 4 Ways
1. Book tickets from online agencies - hassel free if on TravelChinaGuide
2. Buy tickets at railway stations or ticket outlets in Mainland China - language barrier
3. Book from 12306.cn, the official website of China Railway Corporation - language & payment problems
4. Reserve tickets via 95105105, the official hotline - language barrier & restriction on pickup time
Valid ID is required for booking the train tickets in China, which include:
Foreign Passengers: Passport;
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Passengers: Mainland Travel Permit
Here are details of the four ways showing you how to book train tickets in China:
Book with An Online Agency - Hassel Free if with TravelChinaGuide
- Select seats for free
- Reschedule for Free
- Delivery service to your hotel
- One-to-one service in English
- 24/7 customer support
- 3,000+ 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor
TravelChinaGuide (TCG) offers excellent train ticket booking service in English:
Unbeatable service fee per ticket as low as USD5.49, and no hidden charge;
No limitation on pre-sale time and you can put an order anytime when your travel plan is set;
Easy and convenient booking web pages and app;
Well-trained operators are standing by 24/7;
Secure online booking and payment environment (TCG accepts Paypal, Western Union, Alipay and WeChat pay);
Last but not least, we do our best to book adjacent seats for groups traveling together!
Seat selection has become possible on China high speed trains and we will book the adjacent tickets for passengers traveling in a group. However, this is not always possible if adjacent seats have been sold out. Also, seat selection on normal speed trains are not allowed by China railway ticketing system, either.
More and more railway stations allow passengers to get in and get onboard holding the passport used for booking the e-ticket only if they have done the identity verification earlier. The e-tickets booked with TCG also meet the situation. Of course, if you still want paper ticket, you can collect it at the railway station or ask us to deliver it to you.
Do not hesitate anymore! Search and book a train, make a payment, and then we will deliver the tickets to your Chinese address like your hotel in China. If you prefer to pick up at a railway station in person, we will provide step by step instructions on how to collect and related documents to aid you.
See details of How to Buy Tickets Online
Buy at Railway Stations and Ticket Outlets - Language Problems
Search on our website or via our app to know the real-time schedule and choose the relevant train. There are LED boards at stations showing the schedule, but they are in Chinese.
Have second, third or more choices of train, class, or even departure date, as the pre-sale time is 28 days ahead of departure, two days later than the official website and hotline, by which time the tickets may have run out, especially during peak travel season and for popular routes.
Print out or write down the train number, class, departure station, departure date, arrival station, and all other necessary information and show them to the staff, as only selected staff in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai may speak English.
Bring your valid ID, such as a passport. If you are going to buy for others, bring theirs, too.
Expect a long queue at the station.
Do not queue for automatic ticket vending machines at the station, as they only recognize Chinese issued ID cards.
Book on 12306.cn - Barriers on Language and Payment
You need to know Chinese very well, as it is only in Chinese.
You need to register using a phone number based in China.
Your name on the booking system must match exactly the one on your ID. Spaces and symbols (hyphens) from foreign languages are not allowed. Often names on IDs do not correspond to personalized names. Example: James Green’s name shows in his passport as Green (on the top line) and James (on the lower line). The difference between the booking system and the ID may result in a failed booking or boarding.
Cases that Chinese Railway Tickets Can Not be Successfully Collected after Booking Online
Online payment must be done within 30 minutes on a Chinese bank card, Alipay or Wechat, or risking the transaction being null and void.
Delivery service is provided only in Beijing for overseas passengers.
Due to all the inconveniences, it is not recommended to book on the official website unless you have a Chinese friend to assist you.
After booking successfully, you can follow the instructions for collection. Please note that overseas passengers currently can only pick up tickets from online or phone bookings at railway stations; ticket outlets are unable to print e-tickets.
Call 95105105 for Reservation - Restricted Pickup Time
Have very good Chinese listening skills, as only Chinese is spoken.
Have a pen and paper handy to write down the booking number and keep it safe for collection.
Pick up the ticket within 24 hours at a railway station; otherwise the booking will be cancelled.
5 Tips on How to Get Train Tickets in China
The pre-sale time of China railway tickets is now 30 days before departure on the official website and via hotline, and 28 days in advance at railway stations and ticket outlets. But TravelChinaGuide accepts customers' bookings without time limitation, so you can book with us whenever you finalize your travel plan.
China train tickets do sell out, especially for distant locations and popular routes. During peak travel seasons, such as Chinese New Year and the National Day holiday from Oct. 1 to 7, they can sell out within minutes. You are advised to book as early as possible.
Many of Chinese railway stations have applied E-tickets, where passengers can get in and get onboard the train holding only passport. But some passengers insist on collecting their paper tickets. It’s definitely allowed. However, please note that paper tickets printed at these railway stations show no boarding gate and seat/berth location. So you need to bear these information in mind.
The ticket price does not include insurance and you need to buy travel insurance separately.
Children who stand between 3.9 feet (1.2 m) and 4.9 feet (1.5 m) tall need to buy children's tickets while those under 3.9 feet (1.2 m) ride for free. Please note that children as a rule are accompanied by adults. See detailed Train Travel in China with Kids
If you lost a ticket, you can reclaim the booked seat/sleeper with your valid ID certificate at the departure railway station. If you are unable to leave on schedule, you can refund or change the ticket.
Are there any differences between blue and pink tickets?
The only thing different is that the blue one can be checked automatically by machines at boarding exit gates, while the pink one must be checked manually by railway staff.
All necessary information like train number, departure and arrival stations, departure date and time, and class will be showed on the ticket. After getting it, confirm whether it is the wanted one to enable a smooth trip.
See details of Blue Magnetic Sample, Pink Paper Sample
How to Buy High Speed Train Tickets in Hong Kong
China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide