tailor made tour

Ask a Question


I accept the Privacy Policy.

Questions & Answers

How to Book China Train Tickets?

Train is one of the most important means of transport in China. For the travel to China, many prefer to take the train, especially the convenient bullet train. Here are useful tips and guidance about how to book China train tickets for your reference. There are mainly 4 ways to book China Train Tickets.

What You Need to Know Before Booking

►Types of trains: China has different types of trains, such as high-speed trains (G, D, and C trains), regular trains (Z, T, and K trains), and slow trains (L, Y, and S trains). High-speed trains are the fastest and most comfortable, but also the most expensive. For more details: Types of China Train

►Types of seats: China has different types of seats on trains, such as business class seats, first class seats, second class seats, and standing tickets. Business class seats are the most luxurious and spacious, but also the most expensive. Find more information about Types of China Train Seat

►Real-name system: China has implemented a real-name system for train ticket booking since 2012. This means that you need to provide your passport information when booking your ticket, and present your original passport when collecting your ticket and boarding the train. Check more information about How to Take Train in China?

The name on your ticket must match the name on your passport exactly. If you have any changes or errors in your passport information, you need to cancel your ticket and book a new one.

►The luggage allowance: China has a luggage allowance for train passengers, which is 20 kg (44 lb) for adults, 10 kg (22 lb) for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 160 cm (63 in). For more details: China Train Luggage Regulation

►Booking period: The pre-sale period for train tickets is now 15 days for both online and offline booking. Some popular trains or routes may sell out quickly, especially during peak seasons or holidays. Therefore, it is advisable to book your tickets as soon as they become available online.

Directly Buy Ticket at the Railway Station

At some big cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, there are English-speaking ticket counters for foreigners in railway stations. You could buy ticket at these counters with your passport or other identity document.
There are no international tickets selling in railway station, and you could only buy domestic tickets. And as there are many people choose to travel by train in China, and sometimes you need to wait in a long queue, you should allow plenty of time to buy the ticket. 
For a foreign tourist to buy train ticket in China by yourself, there is something you should pay attention:
• Make sure the opening date for purchasing of the ticket. For a period of time, China train tickets can be purchased 15 days before departure
• The opening date may be different during Spring Festival period. 
Avoid the public festivals for Chinese people (e.g. Spring Festival January/February, National Day Holiday on October 1-7), and then it could be less crowed in the train.

Booking China Train Ticket Online

You could also book online with china Railway customer service center. In China, people usually buy tickets through the 12306 mobile APP. It provides a more convenient and fast option for domestic travelers who want to book train tickets in China on their phones. However, the 12306 mobile app does not currently have an English version aimed at foreigners, and it requires users to be able to read Chinese.

You need to register with a Chinese phone number and verify your real name if you purchase tickets using the 12306 mobile app. If you do not have a mobile phone number, you could also find relatives or friends in China to book for you.

It’s good news that the English version of the 12306 China Railway website was launched in November 2020. It is convenient for foreign travelers who wanted to book train tickets in China. 

The English version of the 12306 website allows users to register with passport, pay with international credit cards, book and change tickets online. However, it may not have all the features and functions of the Chinese version, such as seat selection, food booking, or online ride-hailing service etc.

The website provides information query and ticket refund services 24 hours a day, and the ticket sales and endorsement services from 5:00 to 1:00 the next day (5:00 to 23:30 on Tuesday). You can book all domestic trains on this website, between 6:00am and 23:00pm daily. 

• The tickets could be booked and issued in 15 days usually in advance currently.
• After you reserve your train ticket online, you still have to get the paper ticket at the train station ticket window office if your passport status on 12306 is “to be verified”. The automatic fetching machine is available for PRC Resident ID Card, passports or mainland travel permits for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents. The document used to collect the ticket must be the same as the one used to book the ticket.
• For ticket endorsement and refund on the website, the endorsement should be no later than 24:00 on the date shown on the ticket, the change of destination no later than 48 hours before departure (the success of the change depends on the availability of tickets), and the ticket refund should be no later than the train’s departure.

Telephone Booking

Booking train tickets on phone is available. The hotline is open from 06:00 to 23:30 and you need to speak Chinese.
Bookings Hotline: 95105105 (Do not forget to add the area code of your departure area in front of it. For instance: Beijing: 010-95105105, Shanghai: 021-95105105, Guangzhou: 020-95105105, etc.) 

Booking tickets with China’s travel agencies

You could also book tickets with some travel agencies in China. If you plan a China tour and need to travel by train during your journey. This is the easiest and most hassle-free way to book your China train ticket. You can use a reliable and professional travel agency. It offers 24/7 English service, secure payment methods, free seat selection, e-ticket delivery, and bilingual instructions. TopChinaTravel is very glad to help you with your travel planning and is quite willing to booking train tickets for you. See more about China Train Tours