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Traveling By Train During the Holidays

Chinese trains always seem busy. And they become even more busy than usual during holidays, with thousands of Chinese and foreign passengers traveling by train. The China rail becomes extremely busy during the Goldren Week: the National Holiday week, the Spring Festival week. And you should also watch out short-break holidays such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and May Day Holiday.

During holidays, trains may be noisy, crowded and dirty. Be prepared too for extra inconvenience when buying tickets during holiday times. Here are some tips that should help make your holiday journey smoother.

List of Chinese Holidays in 2018

Chinese Holidays Dates in 2018
Please Note
New Year’s Day December 30th – January 1st (3 days) Tickets on short-journey (less than 5 hours) high-speed trains (with durations that less than 5 hours) will be sold out quickly.
Spring Festival February 16th - 24th
The peak period lasts for around a month, from Feb 10th to March 3rd. The whole China Rail network will be busy.
Tomb-Sweeping Festival April 5th - 7th (3 days) Tickets on short-journey (less than 5 hours) high-speed trains will be sold out quickly.
May Day Holiday May 1st - 3rd (3 days) Tickets on short-journey (less than 5 hours) high-speed trains will be sold out quickly.
Dragon Boat Festival June 16th - 18th (3 days)
Summer Holiday July 22nd - September 1st
Both high-speed trains and overnight trains are popular during the summer holidays. Be prepared for increased noise on the trains, since many families will be traveling with children.
Mid-Autumn Festival September 22nd - September 24th (3 days) Tickets on short-journey (less than 5 hours) high-speed trains will be sold out quickly.
National Day October 1st - October 7th (7 days) The whole China Rail network will be busy. Tickets for October 1st, 6th and 7th will be extremely hard to get.

To see the specific holiday-dates for 2018, please click here.

Train station on holidaysTrain station on holidays

The summer holidays in July and August are also a peak period for travel, with all the students out of school, taking trains back home or traveling around the country.

Tips for Train Travel During the Holidays

If you are going to take a train during Chinese holidays, here are some tips to help your journey run smoothly.

1. Book Your Tickets Early

Holiday train tickets are always sold out within a few minutes of reservations opening. So it is recommended that you book your tickets as early as possible, preferably more than 30 days in advance.

The most convenient way of getting tickets is to book online with a travel agent like China Highlights. We will hold your booking and purchase the tickets as soon as they are released by China Rail.

We also provide door-to-door delivery service so that you can skip queuing in line at the ticket counter after booking online.

Search the train schedule and make a booking now.

2. Get to the Train Station Early

During the holidays train stations will be extremely busy, especially stations in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Wuhan or Changsha.

It is advisable to arrive at the station at least 1.5 hours before departure, if you have your tickets in hand. If you have made the booking online and need to collect your paper tickets before boarding the train, then it is recommended you arrive at the station at least 2 hours in advance.

3. Check the Updated Train Schedules

Be prepared for train delays during holidays. Check the updated schedule at the station before boarding, to see if your train will be on time.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Luggage and Belongings

Train station on holidaysTrain station on holidays

Always keep an eye on your suitcases and luggage and take care of your train tickets. Remember to bring your valuables on your person, rather than putting them in your suitcases.

5. Choose Appropriate Seat Class

Avoid hard seats when traveling during the holidays. The hard-seat carriages will be incredibly crowded and noisy. When there are not enough hard-seat tickets available, China Rail sells standing tickets. So you may find the hard seat carriages full of people standing and sitting during peak periods. That may lead to a very uncomfortable travel experience.

If you need to take an overnight train, soft sleeper is recommended. Skip hard sleeper unless you are on a budget. Soft sleeper is quieter and provides more privacy than hard sleeper.

Second-class carriages on high-speed trains are sometimes noisy during holidays, especially during the summer holiday and Spring Festival, with a lot of families traveling together. First-class, however, is better. So first-class or business-class is recommended when traveling on high-speed trains during the holidays.

Read more about how to choose train types and seat.