Official China Railway Ticketing Outlets

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To ensure you can travel on time on a valid, legal ticket, only buy tickets from official railway ticketing sources. Also, always be very careful to whom you hand your money, bank card, and ID documents to.

Official ticketing sources include the following:

Railway Station Counters
All ID documents accepted.

Railway Station Ticket Machines
Valid full Chinese ID cards only. (Expired ID cards, temporary ID cards, or ID cards issued before 2004 — including ones that are permanently valid — will not work.)

Authorised Ticket Agents
ID accepted depends on region — some accept passports, others Chinese ID cards only. If not sure, use a railway station counter instead.

Phonebooking
Chinese ID cards, Mainland Entry Permits for Hong Kong / Macao / Taiwan residents, or passports only.

Online or via smartphone at 12306.cn
Chinese ID cards, Mainland Entry Permits for Hong Kong / Macao / Taiwan residents, or passports only.

Do not encourage ticket touts or attempt to buy any counterfeit tickets. Not only are you encouraging offenders / criminals, but you, too, are breaking the law. At the very least, you will be ripped off; at the worst, it’ll be at least a trip to the police office.

Officially, China Railways recommends that you use only its “own”, official version of the smartphone app, and refrain from booking via third-party sites or services. In particular, you’re advised to steer well clear of any software that looks or functions in a suspicious way, and plugins or software designed to “snatch” tickets during periods of high travel demand are in particular among the software you should steer clear from.

If you are using e-ticketing services from outside Mainland China, or on a VPN inside Mainland China, pages will take a long time to load from the official China Railway servers inside Mainland China. Disconnect, if there is such an option, any VPN software.