Due to its immense size and the vast landscape of the China, the Train Travel is a very popular mode of transportation amongst the general public as well as the tourists. Ｔhe main reasons is that the transportation by train is quick and cheap. Compare to other land transportation it is also much safer.
The Train Travel in China is aided by a widespread route, which covers almost all the towns and cities of the country. The biggest advantage that the train travel has over the other modes of transportation is that, you can easily avoid the traffic jams and save quite a bit of time.
Before trying out the Train Travel in China it is important for you to know that you can make a choice between five classes, which determines how much comfort you get while traveling. You can make the journey a little more comfortable by choosing the soft seat instead of the hard seat. If you are going for a long distance traveling then you can choose between the soft sleepers and the hard sleepers. Well, it’s all about what is hard and what is soft, it seems! There is another choice, which you will want to say far off, from, the standing class. There is no use making the journey tiresome and paining your legs, after all, you have to walk a lot if you want to enjoy your trip!
Taking a detailed look at the soft sleepers, since they are the best choice if you can spend a bit extra in your traveling, the most attractive feature is the latch able door in the compartment. If you want privacy then the compartment is all yours, of course, it comes at a price!
You won’t have to spend a long distance journey, suffering with hunger. Just enjoy the ride and the view; the food will be served to you by the buffet or dining car, and its hot and delicious Chinese cuisine at your service! All this and more is waiting to serve in you in your Train Travel.
How to buy Chinese train tickets
How to buy tickets at the station
* It’s easy to buy tickets yourself at the station, but remember to take your passport with you.
* In big cities such as Beijing or Shanghai you should look for the special ticket window for foreigners.
* Reservations for the best Z-category express trains open 10-20 days before departure, but reservations for other trains only open 5-10 days before departure. You cannot buy tickets before reservations open. If the train you want starts its journey somewhere else and calls at your boarding station already well into its journey, tickets may only be available 2 days before departure. The exact rules vary by city and by train.
* Chinese Railways don’t have a central reservation system, only local computer reservation systems based in each city that aren’t linked to each other. So a station can generally only sell you a ticket for a journey starting at that station, not for journeys starting elsewhere. For example, the ticket office at Shanghai can sell you a Shanghai-Beijing ticket but cannot sell you a Beijing-Xian ticket. However, at major cities you can sometimes buy a return ticket for key routes – for example, in Beijing you can buy a ticket from Beijing to Shanghai and also from Shanghai back to Beijing. But in most cases, you’ll need to book your return journey when you get to your destination.
* Tickets are best booked at least 2-3 days in advance, apart from peak periods (the Spring Festival, May Day 1st May, National Day 1st October) when they should be booked as soon as reservations open.
* In Beijing, you can buy tickets at Beijing Main station (metro Bejingzhan), or Beijing West station (called Beijing Xi or Xizhan, metro Junshibowuguan sometimes called ‘Military Museum’). At Beijing Main station, the ticketing office for foreigners is on the north west corner of the 1st floor, accessed via the soft seat waiting room. It is open 05:30-07:30, 08:00-18:30, 19:00-23:00. Only domestic Chinese tickets are sold, not international tickets. At Beijing West station, ticket window 1 in the main hall is marked ‘English speaking’, open 24 hours. Service here is reported as ‘fluent & efficient’. Alternatively, you can buy train tickets at BTG Travel & Tours, on Fwai Dajie between the New Otani and Gloria Plaza Hotels, open 08:00-20:00. To buy Trans-Siberian tickets from Beijing to Ulan Bator or Moscow, see the Trans-Siberian page. To buy tickets from Beijing to Hanoi, see the Vietnam page.
* In Shanghai, the English speaking ticket window at the main station is window 43.
How to buy tickets from outside China
1. Buy from an agency.
If you want to book a Chinese train in advance from outside China, We can book it for you. Tickets cannot be posted abroad, but can be delivered to your hotel in China to be picked up when you get there. This will cost more than you’d pay at the ticket office, but if you really need to be on a particular train on a particular date, it can be worth booking ahead, especially at peak times, such as around the time of the the Spring Festival, 1st May, or 1st October.
2. Ask your hotel…
Alternatively, your hotel may be able to arrange tickets if you book accommodation with them, and this may be the cheapest way to arrange tickets in advance. Remember that reservations for the best Z-category express trains open 20 days in advance, but for most other trains bookings only open 5-10 days before departure. Even an agency cannot positively confirm your booking before reservations open and they buy your ticket!
Types of Train seats
There are four types of seats in trains in China – hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper.
- Hard seat – Most basic. Mostly used by working-class Chinese. The seats do not come with soft cushions. The train cars are usually noisy, and seats are less than clean. Maybe a good way to experience the real life of working-class Chinese for those adventurous.
- Soft seat – Comes with nice and comfortable cushions. Cleaner and roomier than hard seat with the price slightly higher.
- Hard sleeper – A bunk where you can sleep. Each car has 11 open compartments, and each compartment has 6 bunk beds, fixed as an upper, middle and lower on the two sides. This is the most popular type of seats for long-distance travel, and tickets are generally hard to get.
- Soft sleeper – 4 bunker beds (two upper and two lower bunks) per compartment. The compartments come with doors for privacy. Each bunk has its own small reading lamp, and other supplies such as cups, trash can, slippers and brushes.