How to Book a Train Trip in China

Two Methods:Booking Through the China Railway Bureau WebsiteBooking Through Third-party Travel Companies

Having no idea where to start when you want to book a train trip in China? This article gives you a clear hand-on instruction to ease your anxiety. Basically, there are two ways to book train tickets in China: (1) through the China Railway Bureau website; and (2) through third party travel companies. If you’re comfortable reading Mandarin Chinese and have a Chinese bank account, you can book through the China Railway Bureau Website. If not, don’t worry! Whether you are a Chinese citizen (including residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) or an international traveler, you can always choose third party travel companies as an alternative way to complete your order and still enjoy your train trip in China.

Method 1
Booking Through the China Railway Bureau Website

  1. Image titled Book a Train Trip in China Step 1
    Go to the website and click on the button that reads “新版售票”. This is the official China Railway Bureau website and guarantees the authenticity of your orders 100%. Unfortunately, however, the website does NOT provide English service and does NOT accept international payment methods. The button that links to ticket-selling webpage will be on the left sidebar.
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    Enter information according to your travel plan to limit your search. You need to complete the following information before you can proceed:
    • One-way or round trip
    • Departure city
    • Arrival city
    • Departure date
    • Returning date (optional)
    • Eligibility for student discount
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    Pick a train that fits your plan and pay attention to seat class selection. There are different types of trains. G trains are high speed trains. On this type of train there are no berths so it's all seating, and they only travel to various places. D trains are also high speed trains but somewhat slower. They provide sleeper cars and seating cars. C trains are also high speed trains but offer intercity service, so the number of times the train stops are few and there are no sleeper cars. Z trains are express trains, but not high speed; they provide all classes. The same applies to T, K or no letter trains, which are regular, "slow" trains.
    • The fast table in the search page will show which types of tickets are available on each train (i.e. hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, soft sleeper, etc.). You don’t have to choose which one you want yet; just click on the train you wish you book using the blue buttons on the right.
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    Create a login. After you click on the blue button on the previous page, you’ll need to have a login in order to continue. It’s not that hard to create a login but you will need to have your phone handy. When you’re done, click the checkbox that says you agree with their terms of use and click Submit. You'll need to fill the blanks in with the following information.
    • Username: this can be whatever you want it to be
      Image titled Book a Train Trip in China Step 4Bullet1
    • Password: the website will tell you the strength of your password and then you will need to retype the password again below.
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    • Spoken Password: just type in a memorable number (at least 6 digits), which will be used if you ever needed to call customer support. Retype the password again below.
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    • Security Question: there is a dropdown menu of questions that you can answer.
    • CAPTCHA: type what you see.
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    Fill in more detailed information about the passenger that will be purchasing the tickets. It is incredibly important that you have all of this information filled out accurately or they may not let you on the train.The information they require includes:
    • Last Name: that would be your family name on your passport
    • Gender: are you male 男 or female 女?
    • Form of ID: in the dropdown menu, choose the form of ID you want to use. Acceptable ID include Mainland China ID, Hong Kong/Macau Permit, Taiwan Permit and passport.
    • ID #: here is where you put your ID number
    • Birthday: what year/month/day were you born?
    • Email: to confirm your tickets
    • Cellphone Number: again, to confirm your identity
    • Additional Info: are you an adult, kid, student or disabled veteran?
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    Pay for your train ticket(s). Once you’ve confirmed your ticket order (确定) you will then need to worry about actually paying for the tickets. You will want to find the pay online option (网上支付) and complete your order.

Method 2
Booking Through Third-party Travel Companies

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    Choose a third party company that best fits your needs and visit their websites. There are two types of third-party travel companies: those aiming at local markets within China (such as Qunar and 114piaowu) and those that provide international services (such as Ctrip and China Highlights). For most international travelers, it might be much easier to take advantage of the latter ones. Search through searching engines in order to visit your chosen company's website.
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    Follow your chosen third party company's instructions to book your train trip. Since different travel companies have different booking procedures, this article will not cover detailed instructions. Simply go to your chosen website and follow its instructions (in the English version if you want) to book your train trip. Standard procedures include:
    • Create a login or an account in the website (optional for some companies).
    • Search for your train based on your travel plans.
    • Fill out passenger's information which normally includes name, gender, valid ID number, birthday and contact information.
    • Pay through a variety of payment options. One of the best things about booking through third party travel companies is that international payment methods such as Visa or MasterCard are accepted.


  • According to the most recent China Railway Bureau’s policy, travelers can purchase tickets up to 60 days in advance. However, the exact days are subject to change.[1]
  • When you pick the train you want, double check the train station. In some cities in China, high-speed trains use different stations from traditional trains.
  • In, when you click on “新版售票” on the main page, sometimes you will receive a warning that prevents you from proceeding. This is because some foreign-based web browsers won’t recognize the security certificate. Just click “Proceed Anyway”.
  • Remember to pay for your tickets on within half an hour or else your booking will be lost. Maximum length to finish an order may vary for third-party travel companies.
  • Notice that not third-party travel companies provide English service for train ticket booking. For instance, if you click on the English version link on Qunar, you will be directed to a sub-company that only offers air tickets booking services.
  • Some companies (such as Qunar and Ctrip) also offer smartphone-friendly apps. You can also download such apps to book train trips.
  • For ways to claim your physical tickets, see the links in the sources section for more information.

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Categories: Travel