After you book your train tickets online, you will still need to collect them to board the trains. If you book train tickets with China Highlights at least 8 days ahead of departure, we can deliver your tickets directly to your hotel.
If you don't have enough time for a delivery service, or you just want to experience collecting train tickets at railway stations, please read on for helpful advice.
To collect your tickets you need the right passport(s) and collection number(s). You can't use your booking information to board a train. Boarding China trains requires tickets — there's no e-ticketing / on-train ticketing.
After you book train tickets from an online booking agency like China Highlights, you will be issued with collection numbers and information regarding your train number, departure/arrival time and station, and seat class. Copy the collection numbers onto a piece of paper or screenshot them with your device, and make sure they're readable.
A collection number is composed of the letter "E" and nine numbers, e.g. E123456789.
Make sure that you have the passport(s) you used to book your ticket(s) when you collect it/them.
China's railway stations are often very busy and full of passengers. If this is your first time collecting train tickets, or your schedule is tight on your day of departure, and if convenient, China Highlights suggests you collect the tickets well in advance.
You could send someone you trust to collect all the tickets for your group (with all the passengers' passports), so that you don't need to wait around the station on the day of departure.
Generally a railway station operates 24/7, but it depends on the train schedules on a specific day. Sometimes, if there are no trains scheduled, a railway station may be closed late at night.
If you have to collect your ticket(s) on the day of departure, we suggest you get to the railway station 2 hours before departure, as there may be long queues there for collecting tickets, security checks, and check-in procedures. There are always long lines in train stations.
You are also recommended to leave your hotel early when staying in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. There could be heavy traffic jams on the way during peak times, such as 7:30am to 9:30am and 5pm to 6:30pm. If you wait until right before your departure time, you run the risk of missing your train.
In peak seasons, such as the Spring Festival (usually in January or February), summer holidays (July to August), National Day holiday, and weekends, there will be more people in the station and long queues for ticket collection. It's best to collect your ticket as early as possible during peak seasons.
See Chinese Public Holiday Travel Rush for dates when you should definitely collect your train tickets early. Be aware that students will travel by train during the summer holidays (mid-July to late August) and winter holidays (mid-January to mid-February).
You can collect all your booked tickets at any railway station in mainland China. That is to say, if you have booked train tickets departing from different railway stations, you can collect all the tickets at the same time from one railway station.
However, if you collect the tickets from somewhere other than the departing city, you will be charged 5 yuan per ticket by the railway station as a service fee.
For example, you booked two tickets: one from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao, the other one from Shanghai Hongqiao to Guangzhou Station. You may collect both tickets at Beijing Railway Station as it is centrally located and easy to get to. But for the Shanghai Hongqiao to Guangzhou ticket, you have to pay 5 yuan as a service fee because you are collecting it in Beijing and it departs from Shanghai.
In some big cities, there are many train stations. China Highlights recommends that you collect tickets at the nearest station, or from one that is centrally located with easy access. However, if you choose to collect the tickets on your departure day, go to your departure station to collect them in order to avoid missing your train.
You can collect the online booked tickets at any ticket windows except for the refund and cancellation windows. Simply show your passport and the collection numbers at a window, and the staff will hand you the tickets.
In the ticketing hall, there are many ticket windows for different functions. Passengers can buy or collect train tickets for all routes, destinations, and train types at most of the ticket windows. There are, however, two or three exclusive ticket windows used for ticket refunds, cancellations, or endorsing. Find a window displaying 售票 ('selling ticket(s)').
In some big stations, exclusive ticket windows are available for collecting online booked tickets only. It helps save your time as these exclusive windows don't sell any tickets but only act as a collection point for online booked tickets.
The signposts or electric screens on the windows show their functions. Most of them are not in English. The easiest way to find the right window is to ask the station staff for help. Larger railway stations often have English speaking staff and volunteers, but some smaller stations cannot offer a complete English service. In this case, you may show the sentence below to staff:
|请问在网上定的票要去哪个窗口排队取票？||I booked my ticket online; could you tell me which window I should queue at to collect my ticket?|
There are self-service ticket machines in many train stations. Unfortunately, foreigners cannot use the self-service machines as the machines only accept Chinese ID cards, not foreigners' passports.
There may be only two or three railway stations in one city, but there can be more than 10 train ticket agencies. Find the nearest one to collect your tickets from. They are usually less crowded railway stations.
Be aware that you need to pay a 5 yuan service fee for each ticket, no matter whether the tickets relate to trains departing from the same city or not. Despite the service fee, it is worthwhile going to a ticket agency because it's more convenient than heading to a railway station and waiting in a long queue.
It's quite difficult for you to find a ticket agency if you don't know Chinese. Try asking some locals for help or taking a taxi by using a card with the following helpful Chinese phrase printed on it:
|您好， 请问最近的火车票代售点在哪里？||Excuse me, could you please show me the way to the nearest train ticket agency?|
Bear in mind that a ticket agency can sometimes be farther away than a railway station. Also, the opening hours are shorter than those of a railway station, usually opening for work between 8am and 5pm, while some open later and close earlier. So you are recommended to collect your tickets at a train ticket agency between 9:30am and 2pm.
Here are some useful sentences — you may save a photo/screenshot of them. When you don't know where to go, you can show the appropriate phrase (and your ticket), ideally to the railway station staff.
|请问去哪儿取票？||Could you tell me where to collect my ticket?|
|请问候车厅在哪里？||Could you tell me where my waiting room is?|
|请问在哪里上车？||Could you tell me where to get on board?|
|请问我的座位在哪里？||Could you tell me where my seat is?|