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7 Facts on China Train Travel

Written by FabioUpdated Jan. 30, 2024

Understanding the unique features and facilities on Chinese trains can enhance the overall travel experience for international tourists. Here are some key facts to be aware of.

Get verified by China Railway to use e-ticket

Certainly, the continuous upgrade of China Railway has introduced convenient e-ticket services, allowing both domestic and international tourists to board trains without the need for physical paper tickets. However, there's an important prerequisite for using this service: all passengers must undergo verification by China Railway.

For first-time passengers, the initial step involves collecting paper tickets at any train station in China. This process not only provides the necessary physical proof for the journey but also serves as the verification step by China Railway. During the collection of paper tickets, passengers' identities are verified, enabling them to subsequently use the e-ticket service for future travels.

Please click the link to find more information about "how to take a train in China

Ticket office of Guilin stationGet verified at a ticket office of a train station

Using toilet is a big challenge for foreign passengers

Currently, both western and squat toilets are available on high-speed trains. However, you may find squat toilets on all normal-speed trains. Squat toilets may be a big problem for many foreign passengers. Thus, you must prepare yourself emotionally to take a train ride in China, especially for the first time. Please kindly notice that each carriage only has one toilet so it may be a little crowded in some shoulder or peak season. The toilet will close 15 minutes before the train reaches a railway station.


- The door of toilet can be locked from inside. If you don't lock from the inside. The other passengers will find the sign appears green from the outside. The green sign means no one inside the toilet. The other passengers may probably open the door unintentionally! 

- They usually don't offer toilet paper. Please prepare toilet paper yourselves.

- Toilets are usually at the back of each carriage.

Be careful when you use water heater on China train

Hot water is offered on all China trains. There will be indicator lights above the water heater. If the heating light is on, the water has not been heated. When you take the hot water, you'd better take half cup of hot water but not a cup of hot water. That is because it is really hot with a cup of water in hand! It is easy to burn yourself or nearby passengers!

Tips: On bullet trains, sometimes, they will offer disposable paper cups. However, you'd better prepare a cup yourselves. It is not always available.

Please pay attention to the size of the sleeper berth on the train

For long-distance train travel, we probably consider taking a sleeper as a priority. When you take a train ride by hard sleeper, please pay attention to the size of the berth. DONNOT imagine the size! The size of the hard sleeper is 1800 mm*500 mm. Please avoid your quilt or personal things falling on others since the berth is narrow! There are 3 berths on each side of each cabin: lower berth, middle berth, and upper berth. The height from the lower to upper berth should be 970mm, 745mm, and 550mm. If you're quite strapping, it may be uncomfortable for you to sleep a very long time on the berth. If you can afford the cost of a soft sleeper, you probably can consider taking a soft sleeper whose size is 1900 mm*700 mm. Only 2 berths on each side: lower berth and upper berth.

Hard sleeper: hard sleeper is the choice of the great majority of people. Although it is not very comfortable to lie down, at least it is more comfortable than sitting on hard seat for quite a long time. The price is also easier to be accepted by the public.

Hard sleeper berthHard sleeper berth

Soft sleeper: soft sleeper is much more expensive than a of hard sleeper. Of course, the money is not spent in vain. The cabin of soft sleeper is relatively independent and the environment is more quiet. Soft sleeper's size is a little large than that of hard sleeper. The most important thing is that soft sleeper cabin has a door!

Please click the link to find more information about how to choose a sleeper on the train: "Overnight Trains in China"

Avoid travelling in Chinese peak season

Have you heard about a Chinglish phrase "people mountain, people sea"? This Chinglish phrase is used to describe how crowded in Chinese peak season, especially during some golden weeks, Chinese Lunar New Year, Labor's Day, National Day Holiday. They are the busiest time of the year on China's transportation network. The air fare is usually very high during this period so train travel becomes the first choice of most Chinese people and foreign visitors. We highly recommend you avoid the transport stress. You cannot imagine all of the train tickets sold out within seconds after the tickets are issued online. However, if your travelling date is fixed, China Highlights , as a professional ticket agent, can offer train tickets booking service for you.

The air conditioning on the train is always either too hot or too cold

Trains in China are all equipped with central air-conditioning so the temperature of each cabin cannot be adjusted. You may feel particularly cold when take trains in summer; you may feel hot when in winter. If you're beginner of train ride in China during summer, please always remember to bring a coat with you. We have seen some passengers wrapping themselves in a curtain on the train before...

In China, train travel is usually more convenient than air travel

Chinese rail network is changing so rapidly and unimaginably. The total length of Chinese rail network has reached more than 149,000 kilometers (about 92,584 miles), of which high-speed railway length has reached 45,000 kilometers (about 27,961 miles). It ranks NO.1 in the world by the 2024. Nowadays, we usually consider train travel in priority if the duration on bullet train is within 6 hours. Compared with airports, most railway stations(with a few exceptions) are relatively closer to downtown area, which save you time and money on transfer transportation. Let's take the travel from Guangzhou to Shanghai for example. It used to take over 20 hours by normal-speed trains between Guangzhou and Shanghai. Now it only takes about 7 hours by high-speed train. If you have limit budget during your China trip, you may also consider taking overnight normal-speed trains for long-distance travel, saving your hotel bill. Moreover, Chinese rail network can help you reach most cities or even a small towns in China!

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