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China is famous for having the world’s biggest and fastest train network. A train ride should be included in your travel itinerary. Is it difficult to travel in China by train? Here are the top 7 useful tips about traveling by train in China.
Traveling in China by train is easy and fun, even for first-timers. However, you might not be familiar with China’s rail system, making it difficult for you to decide which train option will be better for you.
The first step is to have a quick lesson about train travel in China. We have made some videos about China’s trains, which include the differences between the train types and seat classes and the processes for collecting your tickets and boarding the trains.
Watch these videos to be prepared for a smooth train trip. Click the link to access our YouTube page and watch our China train travel videos.
You can book your China train tickets once your schedule has been confirmed. To guarantee a smooth trip, you are strongly advised to book your tickets in advance, especially when traveling in the peak season.
There are different ways to buy train tickets in China, including booking online with China Highlights, at a train station, or at a ticket office, among others.
The best and most convenient way is to book online via China Highlights. We provide a helpful and professional one-to-one service as well as continuing 24/7 after-sales support.
You can purchase your tickets online — the train tickets are usually put on sale 30 days in advance. We will keep your reservation and confirm the booking once the tickets are put on sale.
It is difficult for you to book your train tickets straight from China Railway’s official website because it is only in Chinese and only Chinese bank cards are accepted.
Purchasing your tickets when you arrive in China is not a good idea either. Tickets are sold out very quickly and there are language issues because most of the staff members at train stations only speak Chinese.
a. Make sure you have everything ready. Your passport and paper ticket (for normal-speed trains) are the two essential things needed for boarding, along with your luggage.
China Railway now provides an e-ticket service for most high-speed trains (G/D/C trains). You can use your passport to check in at the manual ticket check-in gate with no need to collect a paper ticket.
b. Check your departure railway station in advance. Most cities in China have more than one train station. On your departure day, please time your arrival at the station wisely.
We suggest you arrive at the station at least 1 hour ahead of the stated departure time to allow enough time to pass through the security and ticket checks before entering the departure lounge. The boarding gate will be closed 5 minutes before the departure time.
a. For safety reasons, smoking is prohibited on all Chinese high-speed trains (G, D, and C trains). The high-speed trains are all equipped with smoke detectors. Smoking anywhere on the trains will trigger an alarm, slowing down or even stopping the train.
b. Most Chinese normal-speed trains (Z, T, and K trains) offer smoking areas in the spaces between the cars. You will find the “Smoking” sign at the connection space between two cars.
c. You are allowed to smoke in the open areas of the platforms. You can get off the train and smoke on an open platform for a little while when it stops. It is recommended to check the stopover time at each station in advance because the trains only stop for 2–3 minutes at some stations.
d. If you are allergic to smoke, it is better to travel on a high-speed train to avoid the smell. This is because the smoke can spread to non-smoking sections on normal-speed trains.
If you have to travel in a normal-speed train, the best solution is to get a ticket for a seat in the middle of a car.
Be ready to get off your train 10 minutes in advance.
If you need to get off at an intermediate station, it is advisable to remember your arrival time. Most of the trains arrive at their destinations punctually.
You can take your luggage to the exit and get ready to get off the train. You can also ask the conductor or other passengers to remind you before you arrive at the station. Here is a sentence that might be helpful:
If your arrival station is the terminal station, you can take your time and move slowly. The train will stop for a quite long time so you can get off just after the other passengers to avoid the crowds.
When traveling on a normal-speed train, please don't throw your paper ticket away before you leave the arrival station. After you board the train with your valid ID and the paper ticket, the train conductor may want to see your ticket at any point during the journey.
You'll also need your paper ticket to exit the station. Be aware that if you are unable to present proof of a ticket, a fine of up to 150% of your ticket price will be charged.
When traveling on a high-speed train with an e-ticket, there are machines to scan your ID and check your ticket at the departure and arrival stations.
It is possible to change or cancel your train tickets before your trip. The cost for this will vary depending on when you request a change or cancelation. Usually, the earlier you submit the request, the less money you lose. Our trip advisors are on standby to solve any China train travel issues you may encounter.
Domestic train tickets in China can be reissued at the train stations if you lose them. Read our tips about lost tickets.
If you want to experience a China train trip, you can book your tickets online via our website. China Highlights makes online train ticket booking available to help save you time, inconvenience, and money. All inquiries will be handled by our experienced and professional travel advisors to ensure you get the best service.