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How to Read China Train Tickets

There are two kinds of train tickets in China: red paper and blue magnetic. Although different in color, they have not much difference in how they show information. Let’s read a China train ticket from top to bottom and left to right.

Ticket Number

This is in red and located on the top left corner, consisting of both letters and digits. Each ticket has its own number and it seldom duplicates others.

Boarding Gate

This is shown on the top right corner. Boarding gates in some of the earlier-built stations like Xi'an Railway Station are not numbered, hence this information will not be shown, like the below blue one.
China Railway Ticket
China Train Ticket

Departure and Arrival Stations

These are the largest characters on the whole ticket, with departure station on the left and arrival station on the right. The English letters below them are their Chinese pronunciations in pinyin.

In China, a railway station is usually named after the city, such as ‘西安(Xi'an)站(railway station)’. When the city has more than one station, any station built later is named as ‘city name+location of the station in that city’, like ‘北京(Beijing)南(south)站(railway station)’. The locations used in station names are usually ‘东(east)’, ‘西(west)’, ‘南(south)’, and ‘北(north)’, while a few are local well-known places like Shanghai Hongqiao and Luoyang Lonegmen.

Train Number

This is placed between the departure station and arrival station, made up of several digits or an English letter prefix, which refers to different train types.

Departure Date and Time

These are located in the fourth row on the left, in the order of year/month/date/hour/minute. Usually, passengers are allowed to enter the railway terminal at most 2 hours before departure; the boarding gates are opened 30 minutes before departure and closed 5 minutes before.

Carriage Number and Seat/Berth Number

These are to the right of departure date and time, with carriage number first. China railway carriages are numbered with digits, while a few have a prefix ‘加(addtion)’, meaning the carriage is added due to an excess of passengers. This usually happens during peak travel seasons like Spring Festival Travel Rush.

Inside normal trains, seats are numbered with digits while in high speed ones, seats are numbered with digits plus an English letter.

Berths inside the carriages are identified by ‘digits+location’, like 04号上铺, meaning no.04 upper berth. Usually, there are上铺(upper berth), 中铺(middle berth), and下铺(lower berth) inside sleeper carriages.


This is below the carriage and seat/berth numbers.
高级软卧: Deluxe Soft Sleeper 软卧: Soft Sleeper 硬卧: Hard Sleeper
商务座: Business Class Seat 特等座: VIP Class Seat 一等座: First Class Seat
二等座: Second Class Seat 软座: Soft Seat 硬座: Hard Seat
无座: Standing (no berth or seat)


This is on the left side of the fifth row, in units of the Chinese currency.

Below it, the Chinese sentence says: Permission only for the specific train of the printed date and time.

Passenger’s Certificate Number and Name

These are in the seventh row with the passenger’s real certificate number on the left and his name behind it.


In the lower left, there are two Chinese sentences in a dotted line box, advertising the passenger ticket booking (12306.cn) and freight transport service (95306.cn) of the China Railway Corporation.

Printing City

This is in the last row in Chinese characters, telling in which city the ticket was printed.

To its left, is a code made up of digits and English letters. It is used to verify the authenticity of the ticket, as does the two-dimensional code in the right bottom corner.

How to identify the authenticity of a ticket?

1. Watermark: The watermark must be printed clearly.
2. Feel: An authentic one will be smooth to the touch. Some fake ones may feel rough, and their printing may rub off or not be printed neatly.
3. Flexibility: Roll the ticket up and twist it. An authentic one will resume its original shape.
4. Comparison: Compare the ticket with an authentic one you already have.
5. Code: Every ticket has a set of codes at the top left (e.g. B023489 in the blue sample). You could find a corresponding set of codes at the bottom left (e.g. 36010311510706B023489).
6. Anti-fake Code: On the lower right, there is an anti-fake two-dimensional code which records train no. and passenger’s information.
Further Reading:
  China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide
 Useful Chinese Phrases for Train Travel
- Last modified on Oct. 02, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on How to Read China Train Tickets
Asked by ABIEBIP90 | Oct. 01, 2018 22:14Reply
ticket from Beijing to Shanghai
1st time for me to use high speed train in China for business trip.
just asking, i have booked and paid ticket from Beijing to Shanghai , what should i do to replace with a ticket? where and when? highly appreciate to your reply
Answers (2)
Answered by ABIEBIP90 | Oct. 01, 2018 22:16

online booking from this website, only get receipt
Answered by TravelChinaGuide from CN | Oct. 02, 2018 02:28

Dear Client: we will send you the pick up no after ticket issued well. You need to show your passport and pick up no to collect the real paper ticket at the station around 1 hour before departure time.
Asked by Georgios from GREECE | Aug. 14, 2018 06:47Reply
China train ticket for G88
We have 2 tickets it says: Second class, Carriage 14, Seat no 03A and 03B.
Do you know if it is lower and middle berth?
Thank you in advance
Answers (1)
Answered by Gwendolyn | Aug. 15, 2018 01:12

They are seats instead of berth. There is no upper or middle type. They are normal second class seat on a high speed ride. You cannot lie down on it
Asked by Sanjay from INDIA | Apr. 15, 2018 02:17Reply
I arrived pudong airport at 1.30 pm I want go to shaoxing by bullet train
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr. Oliver | Apr. 15, 2018 02:51

You should take the train afrer 17:00 from Shanghai Hongqiao station.
Asked by prissy from CHINA | Dec. 03, 2017 21:25Reply
My bullet seat number is 03D. Is that seat near the window?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr. Liam from THAILAND | Dec. 04, 2017 02:23

D seat is not window seat, should be aisle seat.
Asked by Chuck from USA | Dec. 03, 2017 00:44Reply
What seat is 02F in business class G train
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr. NIKITINA from RUSSIA | Dec. 03, 2017 01:56

F seat is just beside the window, should be the best one
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