China’s growing high-speed rail network, which is the longest in the world, carries a significant transport portion. For foreigners who are living in China, it can be a challenge to buy a train ticket. Here are two main ways for you to buy train tickets when you are planning to travel around China.
1. Railway Stations or Ticket Outlets in Mainland China.
2. 12306.cn, the official website of China Railway Corporation. They also provide apps for both Android and Ios.
Be aware that a valid ID (passport with a Chinese visa) is required when buying the tickets. For Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan passengers, Mainland Travel Permit also can be another option to register and log in.
Railway Stations or Ticket Outlets
Buying a train ticket in China
Any railway station or ticket outlet near your location can offer you a train ticket. However, the pre-sale periods are 28 days before departure while the railway station’s selling date is two days later than the official website. For example, if you use the website or any of the apps on your phone, you can buy tickets up to 30th, December, but at the railway station you can only buy up to 28th, December.
There are one or two windows for foreigners with possibly less queue. Of course, other windows can also sell tickets to you. The automatic ticket vending machines at the station are only for people who have a Chinese ID card.
- This is the official website of the China Railway Corporation. To buy on the website you need to know:
- The website is only in Chinese, you need a Chinese friend to help you book online if you cannot read Chinese.
- To create an account, you need a phone number based in China and complete your personal information.
- Once you booked a ticket, you must finish online payment within 45 mins by using a Chinese bank card, Alipay or Wechat.
- As a foreigner, you need to get the paper ticket from the railway station by going to the window and telling your order number.
- During the rush holidays or festivals, the advanced-sale period may be adjusted.
- If you are unable to leave on schedule, you can get a refund or change to another train at the railway station. If you lost your ticket, you can reclaim the booked seat/sleeper with your valid ID certificate.
- If you have children along with you, you should also buy tickets for them. If they are between 3.9 feet (1.2 m) and 4.9 feet (1.5 m) tall you will need to buy children's tickets. While those under 3.9 feet (1.2 m) ride for free.