China has one of the most extensive rail networks in the world. With the rapid development of high-speed railway, trains have become the best and most convenient way to travel around China at reasonable prices and in comfort.
For many travelers, taking a train in China might seem challenging and stressful with images of China’s large population, difficulties with getting tickets, and crowded train stations.
After reading the tips below, you will find taking a train in China is probably easier than you think.
Chinese trains can be divided into two types: high-speed trains and regular trains. The prefixed letter in the train number usually indicates the category of a train.
High-speed trains have three categories: G trains, D trains, and C trains.
Business, first, and second class seats are available. Some D trains don’t have business class. Overnight D trains have soft sleepers, hard sleepers, and second class seats.
Regular trains have four categories: Z, T, K, and ordinary trains. These trains provide superior soft sleeper, soft sleeper, hard sleeper, and hard seat classes.
For more, see Train Types and Seat Classes in China.
There are several ways to purchase Chinese train tickets. Buying online in advance with a travel agency like Train Spread is recommended.
China Railway’s online reservation system opens 30 days prior to the departure date. However, it is advisable that you make your booking as early as possible, especially for train tickets needed during holidays, such as the May Day holiday, National Day holiday, summer vacation, and the Spring Festival.
Making your booking in advance will increase the possibilities for a successful purchase. When tickets become available, the travel agency can make the actual purchase as soon as the tickets are released.
All train tickets are e-tickets, you don't need to collet them at train station.
There is always more than one train station in a large city. For example, there are four train stations in Beijing and each one is a long way from the others.
Double-check the departure station to make sure you go to the right one for your train.
To guarantee a smooth trip, arrive at the station at least 1 hour before departure.
You need to go through the security checks before entering the station building. ID document uesd for ticket booking will be checked, and all your bags need to go through an X-ray check.
In large train stations, such as Beijing South, Guangzhou South, and Shanghai Hongqiao, there are large waiting halls with several boarding gates. All passengers wait in the same waiting hall.
You just need to find your boarding gate for your train. You can find such information on the information board, or we will send the information to you if you purchase tickets with us.
In smaller train stations, there are several waiting lounges. Each waiting lounge has one boarding gate. In this case, you need to find the right waiting lounge for your train. Such information will be shown on the information board at the departure concourse.
Your ID document used for ticket booking will be checked again at boarding gate.
The check-in process usually starts 20 minutes and ends 5 minutes before departure.
After the check-in process, follow the passenger flow to find the right platform for your train. The information will be shown on an LED board.
Then you need to find your car. The car number is shown on each car or by the door.
Find your seat according to your seat/bunk number.
On high-speed trains, baggage can be put on the luggage rack above your seat or in the luggage closet at the car connections. On sleeper trains, your bags can be put on the luggage rack at the top of the car or under the lower bunk.
Pack your belongings and be prepared to get off at least 10 minutes in advance. On high-speed trains, there are bilingual announcements, which will tell you which station the train is stopping at.
On regular trains, however, there are no announcements. Please pay attention to when the train arrives at your destination.
After disembarking from the train, follow the signs to get out of the station. In main train stations in China, you can follow the signs to find the subway station, taxi stands, or bus stops without going outside the building.
At main train stations, you can conveniently connect to another train via the transfer channels.
Sleeper trains between China and Vietman connect Beijing/Nanning and Gia Lam, Hanoi.
Two international trains running between China and Russia including Trans-Mongolian Railway.