How to Buy Train Tickets in China?
Train Tickets are sold 10-20 days before the departure, 20 days for bullet trains.
There are several ways for you to get a train ticket in China.
Chinese New Year 2013 Train Tickets:
Chinese New Year High Season 2013 is from January 26 to March 6. Passengers can purchase train tickets 20 days before the departure time during the period via the official website of China Railway Bureau (see how to book train tickets online) and hotline 95105105, and 18 days in advance via train ticket offices in train stations and train ticketing agents. It is very hard to buy train tickets during the high season.
It is strongly advised to avoid traveling by train during the high season of Chinese New Year. You may encounter all kinds of hassles, such as unopenable pages on the official website, half hour waits on the hotline and 100-meter-long queues. The biggest hassle is that you even can’t buy a ticket most of the time! The convenience of being able to purchase China flight tickets is obvious during the period.
Booking Train Ticket Online
Since late 2011, China Railway Bureau has provided railway tickets online booking service. People can visit the official website: http://www.12306.cn/mormhweb/kyfw/ to booking train ticket. Passengers can purchase the tickets at most 10 days before the departure time, 20 days in advance during the high season of Chinese New Year 2013 (from January 26 to March 6). As long as you can visit the office website, you can book the train ticket online no matter you are in China or abroad. How to buy train tickets online?
Booking Train Tickets at Train Ticket Offices Locally
The convenience of being able to purchase train tickets locally, generally against a small fee – 5 Yuan/RMB is currently the standard fee, seems to be gladly accepted by the public, and, in fact, the demand for train ticket delivery, i.e., of ordering train tickets to be delivered to one's home or hotel, is on the increase. See Train Ticket Offices In Major Chinese Cities.
Booking Train Tickets by Telephone
There are totally 18 local railway bureaus provide train tickets booking services by telephone. People will get an e-train ticket code after booking successfully and are required to the departure station or local train ticket offices to exchange the e-train ticket code into paper ticket within a particular time which varies to different railway stations (you will get it while booking). Different departure cities, different telephone numbers as follows:
Tibet and Qinghai: 0971-95105105
Buying A Train Ticket at Station
You may find this way difficult as staff in the railway stations do not speak English. So if you want to have a try, you can first have the train number and seat class you will take written in Chinese on a note. Large railway stations such as Beijing Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Station has 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 foreigners ticket office on the 2nd floor of Beijing West Train Station. There may be long queues in peal travel periods such as weekends and China New Year and National Days. English signs are available at most train stations.
Booking it through a Travel Agency
Most travel agencies provide train ticket booking service. An additional fee of around 5 yuan to 10 yuan is charged on regular route. Around 500 yuan 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 toboard 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.
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. Even if you are at a small inn, they will likely be about to help you out.
Bullet Train Tickets Are Issued with Identification Since June 1, 2011
Bullet train tickets (including tickets for C trains, D trains, and G trains) require identification. The followings are the detailed policies:
- When applying for a bullet train ticket, a foreign traveler or a traveler from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan must submit one of the following valid forms of identification: passport, Residence Permit for Foreigners, Entry-Exit Certificate, Diplomat Certificate, Foreigners' ID issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmation of the loss of a passport issued by the Entry-Exit Administration Division, Seaman's Passport, Hong Kong and Macao Residents Traveling to the Mainland Pass, Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao, or a Taiwan Residents Traveling to and from Mainland China Permit.
- A passenger only can purchase one ticket for a bullet train per railway station or train ticket office per day.
- Passengers need to bring with them the original document, which corresponds to the identity information on the ticket, when taking a bullet train. If not, passengers will be denied entry to the station or boarding of the train.
- The pre-sale period for tickets of bullet trains departing on 1 June is 10 days.
- An unused ticket can be refunded 10 minutes before the train's departure. However, passengers must show, and 20% of the face value is required as a refund charge.
Buying A Bullet Train Ticket through a Travel Agency
The followings are some tips for passengers who book bullet train tickets with travel agencies:
- Please request the travel agency to book tickets at least 20 days in advance, and submit a fax, photocopy or scan of the valid identification to be used for booking a bullet train ticket.
- Passengers are expected to figure out and keep to travel plans that ensure they catch the train.
- If a traveler changes the travel itinerary such that the traveler would miss the train, the traveler must seek a refund from a ticket office or the railway station, not the travel agent. An unused ticket can be refunded up to 10 minutes before the train's departure, but the original document, which corresponds to the identity information on the ticket, is needed, so a travel agent can not get a refund without the original ID.
Know Your Ticket