China is a big country in terms of size and population, obtaining a proper train ticket may be tricky for foreigners. A few points are recommended before planning a train journey across China.

Plan which train you are boarding:

Always plan where you are going to before approaching to the station, always have a Plan B, or even Plan C for selecting the Train. Some major routes & Trains are extremely popular. Especially Beijing - Zhengzhou - Wuhan - Guangzhou - Shenzhen - Hong Kong rail corridor [Both Highspeed and conventional rail]. Sleepers and best-travelling-and-connection time highspeed rail tickets are sold out within minutes.

AVOID travelling by Trains (except CRH & Hong Kong - Guangdong Through trains) within 20 days before or after Chinese New Year Holidays, 3 days before or after Labour Holidays and 7 days before or after National Day Holidays at all costs. Trains are extremely overcrowded.

Buying Tickets:

Most rain tickets can be purchased 60 days in advance.

You can check ticket availability, price and schedule using official website (Chinese only) or on the website of a ticket agent (in English).

Tickets may be purchased via

  • the railway station;
  • Small ticket selling agencies all over town (No English speaking service). You may ask your hotel to write down train number / depart and arrival stations / travel date in Chinese;
  • Ticket agents ( google "buy china train ticket online" or check one on Tripadvisor ). 

  • asking your hotel for help.

  • Through China Railway's official website. (Chinese Only & accepts Chinese Bank or Credit Card and requires a Chinese phone number;
  • Write down the train number / depart and arrival stations / travel date and class in Chinese beforehand and present it to the booth agent, have in mind they don't speak English. Do not buy your tickets in other means not mentioned. RMB $5 will be charged if you buy / collect your tickets outside the city where the train departs or through agents. Presenting your passport is required when you buy your ticket and board the train. If your ticket's personal identification does not match with your passport, you will be denied to pass through the entry gates and won't even be able to get your ticket. 

Train Types: (Train Number prefix)

  • G (CRH Trains) - Highspeed EMU in Highspeed lines & Passenger Dedicated Lines (PDLs) (fastest train and of course the most expansive, travelling 300-320 km/h, calling only in state capitals and some major cities)
  • D (CRH Trains) - Highspeed EMU in Conventional railways & PDLs (Pre-highspeed trains and more expansive, travelling 160-200 km/h, up to 250 km/h in PDLs, calling at major state capitals and cities)
  • T -  Express Train in Conventional railways (Express train, travelling 120-140 km/h, calling at all state capitals and major cities)
  • Z - Express Overnight sleepers  (Express direct train, travelling 120-160 km/h, calling in only state capitals and major cities)
  • K -  Fast Train (Fast train travelling 120-140 km/h, calling all stops in T trains and half of the cities along the route)
  • only numbers - Slow train (travelling 120km/h, local services along the rail corridor, calling at ALL stops).

Please note the fare structure of T, Z, K and numbered trains are the same.  Use the Guangzhou and Wuhan route as an example, G trains required 4.5 hours, D train for 6 hours, T train for 12 hours, K train for 14 hours, numbered train may required up to 18-20 hours. Of course fare structure are based in hard seat only. Better seats and sleepers will have additional charge on it and included in the ticket price.

Boarding your train:

Always bear in mind

  • Allow at least  30 minutes to arrive the departing station for major cities.
  • Sometimes entry gates for ticket check will be closed 5-10 minutes before departure. Don't make your schedules too tight. Security check queues can be long.

  • Keep an eye on your luggage. Avoid showing your valuables on the train.

  • Train attendants usually exchange your ticket with a small metal / plastic card (sample 1) (sample 2) for sleepers trains/cars, this will be used for train attendants to wake you up before the train arrives the station.

  • All CRH trains will stop only a few minutes at most on their calling stations except the terminus, be prepared!

Alighting your train:

Remember to keep your ticket properly, tickets will be inspected again at exit gates either by human or automatic gates. When you pass through the human exit gates, your ticket will be torn on a corner. If you cannot present your ticket, up to 150% of highest fare of the route will be charged.



Have a pleasant journery!