You must have a valid train ticket to travel. In most cases this will be required when you are on board, and often even as you arrive at a station.
Please see our Special Care Passenger section if you are a senior, child, ill, disabled, or pregnant passenger.
▶ Ticket Sales
Ticket sales begin well ahead of time — sometimes as early as two months before departure.
▶ Advance ticketing schedules
▶ Classes of Travel
There will be a way to get from A to B to suit any budget.
▶ Trains and classes of travel
▶ Personal Ticketing / Ticketing-by-ID
You must present a valid identity document to buy national train tickets in China.
▶ ID Requirement: Personal Ticketing and Ticket & ID Checks
▶ Getting temporary passenger IDs
▶ Purchasing Your Tickets
Please buy tickets before you board your train.
▶ Official railway ticket outlets
▶ Buying train tickets using credit or debit cards
▶ Getting single journey tickets
▶ Getting return or onward tickets
▶ Getting tickets from another station (networked ticketing)
▶ Getting tickets onboard
▶ Fare standards for handling fees
▶ Pay Upon Arrival ticketing services
▶ What happens if you travel without a valid ticket
▶ Platform tickets
If you have a Chinese mainland Resident ID Card, you can also travel using an e-ticket if you bought your ticket online (or via smartphone). (This will not work if you used “regular” phonebooking).
▶ Learn more and find out where this is available
On some lines, you can also get a ticket through a Railway ExpressCard.
▶ Learn where this is available
▶ Travel for Less with Railway Discounts
If you travel with children, or are disabled, you might be able to travel for less. There are, however, no national discount railcard offers in China as of yet.
Sorry, seniors: At this moment, Chinese railways do not offer discounts for senior citizens.
▶ Getting discounted tickets
▶ Travelling with children
▶ Travelling if you are a student
▶ Concessionary fares for disabled passengers
▶ Changing Travel Plans
The railways are “relatively flexible” — you can change your time or direction of travel or refund tickets.
▶ Rebooking your ticket
▶ Destination Rebook — changing your destination
▶ Turning your ticket in for refunds
▶ Understanding Your Ticket
Tickets can be daunting as they are all in Chinese. But help is never too far away.
▶ Making sense of a Chinese HSR ticket
▶ Bringing Things with You
Unfortunately, you cannot bring bikes (even collapsible ones) with you on trains. However, you can transport them using railway freight services.
▶ Free luggage allowances
▶ What to do if you have a bicycle
▶ Board In Good Time for Travel
Tickets are usually checked at stations prior to departure.
▶ Using ticket gates
▶ Just In Case…
The railways understand sometimes “things happen”. Here’s a quick runthrough.
▶ Replacing lost personal tickets
▶ What to do if you lose your ticket enroute
▶ Lost and Found on China Railways
There are also further tips and advice on travelling by train at the Info Tips part of this website.