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How to Buy China Train Tickets

Train tickets of China can be bought from the following 4 ways:

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: The pre-sale time of China train tickets 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:


Book with An Online Agency like TravelChinaGuide

  • Lowest Service Fee
  • Lowest Delivery Fee
  • Reschedule for Free
  • English Expert Service
  • 99% Obtaining Tickets
  • Best Available Seats for Family & Friends
This is the most practical and convenient way for those who speak little Chinese, as the official China Railway website (12306.cn) only has a Chinese version and accepts only Chinese bank card, Alipay, and WeChat payment. There are many such agencies and their service level and fee may vary from one to another.

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.

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.


Buy at Railway Stations and Ticket Outlets

Tickets Selling Office
You can also go in person to purchase tickets at any railway station or ticket outlet in Mainland China. Both of their pre-sale periods are 28 days before departure. There is an additional charge of CNY 5 per ticket at ticket outlets as service fee. There are several preparations you need to make before going:

 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.

 Railway Stations in China
 Useful Chinese Phrases for Train Travel


Book on 12306.cn

This is the official website of the China Railway Corporation and its pre-sale time is 30 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, 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

This is the official reservation hotline with a pre-sale time of 30 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 30 days before departure. 

Advanced-sale China railway tickets is now 30 days before departure on the official website and via hotline of the China Railway Corporation, and 28 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.
 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 SamplePink Paper Sample

Useful Tips

 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 reclaim the booked seat/sleeper 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.

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