This is the most practical and convenient way for those who speak little Chinese, as the official China Railway website (12306.cn) only has Chinese version and accepts Chinese bank card payment. There are many such agencies in the business and their service level and fee may vary from one to another.TravelChinaGuide (TCG) offers excellent train ticket booking service in English. Our service fee is unbeatable at USD 5-7 per ticket and there is no hidden charge. Our booking web pages and app are easy and convenient. Our operators are well trained and standing by 24/7 to help solving any travel related problems on a one-to-one basis. We will make sure your booking and payment (TCG accepts Paypal and Western Union) are secure. Do not hesitate anymore! Search and book a proper train; make the payment; and then we will deliver the tickets to you. If you prefer to collect at railway stations in person, we will provide step by step instructions on how to collect and related documents to aid you.
Buy at Railway StationsYou can also go in person to purchase at any railway station in Mainland China. There are several preparations you need to do before going:
Search on TravelChinaGuide’s website or via our app to know the real-time schedule and choose proper trains. There are LED boards at stations showing the schedule, but they are in Chinese.
Have a second, third or more choices of train, class, or even departure date, as the pre-sale time is 58 days ahead of departure, 2 days later than the official website and hotline, by when the ticket may run out, especially during peak travel season and for hot routes.
Print out or write down the train no., 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 certificate like passport. If you are going to buy for others, bring theirs, too.
Expect a long queue at the stations.
Do not queue for automatic ticket vending machines at the stations, as they only recognize Chinese issued ID Card.
Transportation to Major Railway Stations
Chinese Expressions Used in Railway Stations
Buy from Ticket Outlets
There are many of them in each city. You can purchase there with valid ID certificate. The pre-sale time is also maximum 58 days before departure. An additional service fee of CNY 5/ ticket is charged. The staff mostly does not speak English, either. You are also advised to do some preparations as mentioned for purchasing at railway stations.
Book on 12306.cn
It is the official website of China Railway Corporation and its pre-sale time is 60 days before departure. Here below are several notes you need to take:
You need to know Chinese very well as it texts only in Chinese.
You need to register using a phone number based in China.
Your name on the booking system must match exactly with the one on your ID certificate. Spaces and symbols (hyphens) apart from over 30 English alphabets are not allowed. In practice oftentimes names on ID certificates may not correspond to personalized names. Example: James Green’s name showed on his passport is Green (on the above line) James (on the lower line). The differences on the booking system and ID certificate may result in 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 China's bank card after booking successfully or risking 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 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 60 days ahead of departure. To book via it, you need to:
Acquire Chinese listening skill very well, as only Chinese is spoken.
Prepare a pen and a piece of paper to write down the booking number and keep it well for collection.
Collect the booking within 24 hours at railway stations after booking successfully; otherwise the booking will be cancelled.
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 one at small and old stations or in ticket outlets. But they have no differences in price, no matter with travel route and length, and no big influence on your trip.
The only thing is that the blue one can be checked automatically by ticket check machines at boarding gate and exit gate while the pink one should 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.