How to Buy China Train Tickets
China train tickets can be bought from:
1. Online agencies like TravelChinaGuide
2. Railway Stations or Ticket Outlets in Mainland China
3. 12306.cn, the official website of China Railway Corporation
4. 95105105, the official hotline
Valid ID is required for buying the tickets, which include:
Foreign Passengers: Passport;
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Passengers: Mainland Travel Permit
Note: For tickets dated on or after December 30, 2016, the pre-sale time has been temporarily adjusted from 60 days to 30 days for online or phone bookings, while 28 days for buying at railway stations and ticket outlets. It is unknown when the previous pre-sale time will be regained.
Here are details of the four ways showing you how to buy tickets:
- Lowest Service Fee
- Lowest Delivery Fee
- No Change Fees
- 99% obtaining tickets
- English Expert Service
- Best available seats for family & friends
TravelChinaGuide (TCG) offers excellent train ticket booking service in English:
Unbeatable service fee per ticket as low as USD 5-6, 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 and Western Union);
Last but not least, we do our best to book adjacent seats for groups traveling together!
The China railway ticketing system does not allow selecting the seats when booking online, which may lead to groups travel in different rows, different compartments or even different carriages. To offer our customers a better journey, we will cancel the tickets if the seats/ berths are not adjacent and rebook till we get adjacent ones. However, this is not always possible if adjacent seats/berths have been sold out. If it is unfortunately the case, we suggest you printing out “你好，我可以跟你换一下位置吗，我想和我的朋友在一起”, show it to the person next to your travel companion to see if you can swap the seats/berths.
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.
2 Buy at Railway Stations and Ticket Outlets
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 58 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.
Railway Stations in China
Useful Chinese Phrases for Train Travel
3 Book on 12306.cn
This is the official website of the China Railway Corporation and its pre-sale time is 60 days before departure. Here below are several points you need to take note of:
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, 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.
4 Call 95105105 for Reservation
This is the official reservation hotline with a pre-sale time of 60 days ahead of departure. To book via it you need to:
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.
Ticketing officially starts 60 days before departure.
Advanced-sale China railway tickets is now 60 days before departure on the official website and via hotline of the China Railway Corporation, and 58 days in advance at railway stations and ticket outlets.
Tickets sell out, so book early.
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 (Oct. 1 - 7), they can sell out within minutes. You are advised to book as early as possible once you have finalized your travel plan.
Are there any differences between blue and pink tickets?
Generally, blue magnetic tickets are printed at large and newly-built railway stations while pink paper ones are found at small and old stations or in ticket outlets. There is no differences in price, no matter which travel route and length, and no big influence on your trip.
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.
How to Read Ticket
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
The advanced-sale period may be adjusted during the rush holidays or festivals. To play it safe you should book through an agency as early as possible.
If a passenger is unable to leave on schedule, he or she can refund or change the ticket at any railway station. If you lost a ticket, you can pay for a replacement and reclaim the booked seat with your valid ID certificate.
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.