China Train How to Buy Train Tickets in China?

How to Buy Train Tickets in China?

Since January 4th 2013, the selling periods  of China train tickets are 20 days before the departure day for bookings online and by telephone, and 18 days in advance for train ticket windows at train stations and local train ticket offices.

China train tickets are often sold out, especially during holidays such as weekends, summer vacations, Chinese New Year, and Labor Day and National Day holidays. Therefore book a train ticket in advance as early as you can. However we cannot always guarantee the availability of the ticket you want at the time of release (usually late afternoon), due to the masses of people buying tickets.

Passports are needed when buying a China train ticket and boarding a train

In 2011 the China Railway Bureau decreed foreigners must show their passports when buying a train ticket and boarding a train. 

Buy Online with China Highlights for Hassle free China train tickets

Many tourists would like to use China’s vast and cheap rail network, however obtaining train tickets is not an easy process (sold out quickly, long queues, language problems, etc.). China Highlights make train ticket online bookingavailable to you to save you time, hassle and money. All inquiries will be handled by China Highlights’ experienced travel advisors to ensure you get the best service. Click here to search for train prices and schedules and book a ticket.

Being smartphone-friendly, you can also download our China Train Booking APP. This Android APP helps you search and book China train tickets as easy as it's like on our website.

Easy Booking Steps:

  • Step 1: Select a train with our real-time train ticket search system.
  • Step 2: Book online, and you can get a response promptly
  • Step 3: Forward the payment and receive the confirmation email
  • Step 4: You can collect the tickets at the train station with a ticket pick-up number, or we can deliver the paper ticket under your request


  • a) If your booking(s) is less than 8 days before the travel date, please collect your paper ticket(s) at any ticket window of any railway station with your passport(s) and the E-ticket number we sent you by email.
  • b) We need clear scan copies of all passengers’ passports to double check if the reservation information is the same as on the passports. Make sure every goes smoothly. Collect a Paper Ticket at a Train Station
    Board a train with an E-ticket is currently only for China citizens with their ID Card. Therefore foreigners can book a train ticket online and then need to collect a paper ticket at any ticket window at any train station with the E-ticket number and their passports. Please make sure that the passport number you entered when you booking exactly as it is written in your passport.

If you book a train ticket with China Highlights, you can either ask for delivering the paper ticket to your hotel in China, or collect it at a ticket window of a train station before you board the train. It is easy and you don’t need to face the language problem or risk of the ticket sold out. You only need to reach the train station earlier, show the staff the E-ticket number we sent you by email and your passport. Click here to search for train prices and schedules and book a ticket.

Buy a Train Ticket at a Train Station

You may find this way difficult as staff in a railway station do not speak English. So if you want to have a try, you can first have the train number, travel date and seat class written in Chinese on a note (we are glad to help the translation). Besides you may find tickets are sold out on some occasions, especially those of popular train routes, and there may be long queues in peal travel periods such as weekends, summer vocations, Chinese New Year and National Days.

Ticket offices in the train station

Large railway stations such as Beijing Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Station have special ticket offices for foreigners. But most of the railway stations do not have this service. The special ticket office for foreigners exists in the northwestern corner of the 1st floor, accessed through the soft seat waiting room in Beijing Railway Station. There is also a foreigner’s ticket office on the 2nd floor ofBeijing West Train Station. English signs are available at most train stations.

Self Service Ticket Machinesare available at train stations of major China cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Nanjing and so on. But it is only applicative for China citizens with their ID cards.

Buy Train Tickets at Train Ticket Agencies Locally

The convenience of being able to purchase train tickets locally at 'hole in the wall' ticketing agencies, generally against a small fee – 5 Yuan/RMB is currently the standard fee, seems to be gladly accepted by the public.

Please noticethat all the ticket agencies have their business, not like the ticket windows at train stations which serve 24 hours every day. Many of them open during 8:00-17:00, and some open later and close earlier. It is advised to buy train tickets at the middle period of the business time, for example: 9:30 -14:00.

Don’t expect the staff at train ticket agencies can speak English. You’d better write the train number, travel date and seat class down on a note, and ask a staff of your hotel to translate them into Chinese.  Search Train Ticket Offices In Major Chinese Cities.  

Buy Train Tickets on the Official Website of China Railway Bureau

Since late 2011, China Railway Bureau has provided railway tickets online booking service. People can visit the official website: to booking train ticket. Passengers can purchase the tickets at most 20 days before the departure time.

Butthe entire website is in Chinese. Under the following conditions, you can try to book a train ticket on this website:

  • 1. You can visit the office website.
  • 2. You understand some Chinese or you have a Chinese friend.
  • 3. Only credit cards and debit cards of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and members of China UnionPay ( foreign banks including Citi Bank, the Bank of East Asia, Standard Chartered Bank and Wing Lung Bank; source from are acceptable. Please make sure that your debit card is acceptable to the online banking service.

Pages of the website are often unopenable during high seasons because of too many visitors and tickets of many trains are often sold out in one minute. The convenience of being able topurchaseChina flight tickets is obvious during the period.   
As the real-name system for the sale of all China train tickets has been implemented since January 1, 2012, people should input your passport number when booking train tickets. (One passport can only be used for purchasing one ticket for a particular train per day.)
After you are successful booking the ticket, you will get a train ticket code. Check in with an e-train ticket is only available to someone who holds an ID issued by the Chinese government. Foreigners who buy e-train ticket with their passports should exchange their e-train tickets for a paper tickets with their passports at the departure station or a train ticket office in the departure city. Search Train ticket offices in major Chinese cities.

Booking Steps
Visit , and click the “注册” (sign up) button sign up as a new member. Then you will receive an email for activating your account.

Sign up as a member
Log into your account and click the “车票查询” (train ticket search) button to enter the train searching page. Input the departure city, arrival city and departure date. Click the “预定” button by the train you want to open the inquiry form.
After you log in, you will see:
The Log in Page
The train search page:
The Log in Page

Input your personal information and choose the seat type. Note: Please make sure that you enter your name on the ticket application form exactly as it is written in your passport; if the two do not match, you will face some serious hassles, during all phases of check-in and boarding. Then click the “提交订单” (submit) button.
Submit the Form

Fourth: Review & Confirm
Confirm the information and click the “网上支付” button to submit your inquiry and pay via online banking within 30 minutes.
Pay for the ticket via online banking
Only credit cards and debit cards of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and members of China UnionPay ( foreign banks including Citi Bank, the Bank of East Asia, Standard Chartered Bank and Wing Lung Bank; source from are acceptable. Please make sure that your debit card is acceptable to the online banking service. Payment must be paid within 30 minutes; otherwise your order will be canceled.
After booking successfully, you will get your e-train ticket code. Please keep the code carefully. You should take your passport to the departure train station to gain a paper train ticket with the e-train ticket code before the train’s departure. Your paper train ticket and your passport are required to be checked when boarding.
 Get an E-train Ticket Code

Book Train Tickets by Telephone

Foreign passports are accepted when buying train tickets by telephone.

There are totally 18 local railway bureaus provide train tickets booking services by telephone. The numbers are as below. Every railway bureau can book train tickets all over China. Try the other phone number if one is busy.

  • You need to enter your passport number while booking.
  • You will get an e-train ticket code after booking successfully and are required to pay and exchange the e-train ticket code into paper ticket at any ticket windows at any train station or ticket agencies.
  • If you book a ticket before 12:00, you must collect the paper ticket before 12:00 the next day; book after 12:00, you need to collect the paper ticket before 24:00 the next day.

Telephone numbers as follows:

  • Xi’an: 029-96688
  • Beijing: 010-95105105
  • Harbin: 0451-95105105
  • Shenyang: 024-95105105
  • Taiyuan: 0351-95105105
  • Hohhot: 0471-95105105
  • Zhengzhou: 0371-95105105
  • Wuhan: 027-95105105
  • Jinan: 0531-95105105
  • Shanghai: 021-95105105
  • Nanchang: 0791-95105105
  • Nanning: 0771-95105105
  • Kunming: 0871-95105105
  • Lanzhou: 0931-95105105
  • Urumqi: 0991-95105105
  • Guangzhou: 020-95105105/96020088
  • Chengdu: 028-95105105/96006
  • Tibet and Qinghai: 0971-95105105

Booking it at Your Hotel

You may also book your train ticket at your hotel. Most star hotel offer train booking service for their customers for a service fee. Even if you are at a small inn, they will likely be about to help you out.

Booking it through a Travel Agency

Most travel agencies provide train ticket booking service. An additional fee of is charged on regular route. A very high service fee may be charged for booking a train departing from Xining and Golmud to Tibet in peak travel season from May to October. So if you want to travel a train trip to Tibet, it is wise not to board the train at these two cities. See trains to Tibet. The service charge need rise in the peak travel periods such as the Chinese New Year and the National Holiday.

How to Read Train Ticket

Changes to China Train Tickets and Cancellations

Since September 1, 2013, if you need to make changes or cancellations to your train tickets, you can get to any train station at any cities with your passports and your paper tickets or E-ticket numbers.

Every train ticket can only be changed once and there is no charging fee. Refund for any overpayment or a supplemental payment for any deficiency.

Make cancellation attracts a cancellation fee. It varies to when you make the cancellation. If you make the cancellation more than 48 hours before the departure of the train, 5% cancellation fee will be charged, within the period of 24 to 48 hours, 10%, less than 24 hours, 20%.

During the high season of the Chinese New Year from January 16 to February 24, 20% cancellation fee will be charged no matter when you cancel the ticket.