Booking Train Ticket Tips

 

Information On Trains In China -

 

Tips on booking trains in China -

China has an amazing network of trains connecting almost all of its major cities. Train tickets are usually available to purchase several days in advance. Here are some tips that will help you maximize your travel experience in China.

  • Purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible. A good idea is when you arrive at a train station, purchase your tickets to leave to the next destination. this usually ensures that you will have a ticket on the train when it comes time to leave.
  • Train tickets can be purchased ahead of your next destination from train stations. (For example you can purchase a Chengdu to Lanzhou train ticket in Beijing. This is sometimes necessary when traveling during peak travel seasons)
  • Hostels and hotels can usually help you book and pick up tickets for a nominal charge (15 - 30 yuan per ticket).
  • use baidu to look up train times and schedules; use the chart and directions to navigate the site.
  • If overnight trains are sold out, check the availability of any trains leaving past midnight. Sometimes hotels / ticket salespeople overlook these trains and tickets are still available.
  • There are usually train ticket windows around the major cities that will save you the trip to the train station to buy tickets. You can ask around for 售票店 (sho1 piao4 dian4) or just show the characters.
  • Train tickets can be upgraded onboard the train as seat availability opens up. One of the hard seat ticket cars will have a help desk that can upgrade your ticket when other passengers depart the train.

General Destinations in China -

If you would like to check the train schedules between interconnecting cities you can use baidu.com and type in the following to check the times and departures between cities. Just insert "dao" (到)between two city names.

example: lets say you would like to check trains between shanghai to beijing. You would type shanghaidaobeijing and select the corsponding chinese characters from the pop up list (上海到北京). Use the list of cities below to aid your search:

List of Chinese cities from Wikipedia

Example Beijing to Shanghai train schedule using Baidu 

Types of Trains In China -

  • G - Fastest possible train. Newly built within the last few years. Currently China is building an infrastructure of high-speed G trains interconnecting major cities in China. Maximum top speed of 350 km/h. However most of these trains top speeds have been reduced to keep maintenance costs down.
  • D - Regular bullet trains reaching a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
  • K - Fast trains reaching a maximum speed of 120 km/h. This the most common train for long distance travel in China. There are very few "fast" trains still operating without air conditioning in China.
  • Accommodation Trains - These trains are identifiable from their four digit (without letter) number. Avoid these trains like the plague. This is the slowest option for travel in China and are subject to routine delays.

 

Types of Seat Tickets In China -

  • Soft sleeper - 软卧 (ruan3 wo4) -This is the most comfortable form of train travel in China. Expect to pay a premium for a soft sleeper bunk. Sometimes Soft sleeper tickets sell out last, so this can be your only option.
  • Hard sleeper - 硬卧 (ying4 wo4) - The most affordable bunk that provides your own bed. Usually there are six beds to one bunk with no door that closes. If you are over 6' tall you might want to consider buying the top bunk so that people wont hit your feet when passing by your bunk.
  • Seat - 坐  (zuo4)-Usually available on all trains. Consider for short trips of 6 hours or less.
  • Standing ticket - As a last resort. Standing tickets are available on most trains. Sometimes this means that you are free to roam around the train and can look for empty seats or bunks. Sometimes you are in a separate car and must lean or sit on the ground for the duration of the trip.

 

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