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China Train Travel Tips

Train journey in China is affordable, relaxing, enjoy and can be efficient since the bullet train started to operate in 2007. It is popular not only to independent young travelers, but also businessmen, seniors and family with kids.

ETripChina plans a complete train travel tips including how to purchase, pack, board, plan for transfers, overnight train or hotel accommodation, as well as itinerary suggestions.


Plan and book in advance


Ticket rate: Train tickets cost the same all year around except few overnight D trains increase the rate during public holidays. Do not count on last minute discount.

Time to issue: Most of the trains release tickets 30 days prior to departure date. Ticket demand varies from travel time and popularity of the route. Example, train to Lhasa are always sold out ahead of time or even in a few minutes after the tickets released in July and August, due to its rare availability and popularity. Book early can largely increase the ratio of success.

ETripChina service: we accept reservation far in advance. Then our 1-1 travel advisor will help you to plan for a train travel over China and send update information.


Know how to purchase China train tickets


There are several ways to purchase China train tickets including booking through ETripChina, going to train station or ticket offices in city on your own, telephone call etc. ETripChina is definitely the best choice for you to keep all the hassles and worries away. Find out how and start to purchase China train tickets.


Choose type of train and seat


Take into consideration of the availability, your travel interests, budget, travel time and comfort when planning your train travel.


Availability – dominate factor. ETripChina system offers real-time ticket data from China Rail. Check whether trains and tickets available between the destinations.


Travel interests – important. For business travel, business class and superior class is the best with reclining seats, exclusive and quiet area; Not picky but high-speed train experience only, second class and first class is the most valuable; Interests on scenery along the way, slow Z, T, K trains is good choice.


Budget – affects. On generally, Z, T, K, number trains cost less than G, D, C trains. Hard seat soft seat hard sleeper soft sleeper luxury soft sleeper.

Second class seat first class seat superior class seatbusiness class


Your time – affects. If you have very limited time, trains are best choice for 30 minutes to several hours journey between neighboring cities, like Shanghai - Suzhou, Shanghai – Hangzhou, Shanghai - Beijing etc. However, it is not suitable for Shanghai – Guilin, Shanghai – Guangzhou etc. Fast train between these cities still take 10 hours also while flight takes only 2.5 hours only.


Comfort– affects. G, D, C trains cost more and more comfortable. Coaches are clean and non-smoking, seats are reclined and rotatable, washrooms and toilets are hygienic. If choosing Z, T, K trains, better to choose soft sleeper or luxury soft sleeper.


Prepare what to pack


The essential thing is to bring along your document you used to book train (acceptable documents includes passport, ID card for Mainland Chinese, or Mainland Travel Permit for passengers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan).


Ticketing information that ETripChina sent via email.


For others to increase the comfort of journey, packing strategy differs from the train you take, how long the distance is and type of seats you choose. Bear in mind some basic things like luggage allowance, size and type of your luggage, blanket, entertainment items and those for overnight journeys. Read more suggestions from ETripChina advisors on pack list for train travel.


Know how to board and disembark in China


Over 300 train stations are built or renovated in China to allow high-speed trains. Those train stations are better than the old ones with clear directions and most of them facilitated with boards written both in English and Chinese.


To guarantee a smooth journey, you are advised to get some simple preparation beforehand including how to get to train station, check in, get on and get off. Read more details on this topic.


Plan ground transfers


City transport is generally convenient whether the station is in the downtown area or outskirt of the city. Taxis are quite easy to find in front of the exit, however, almost drivers can’t speak English, and neither read. Be sure you bring printed relevant phrases and your destination in Chinese to show them.


To secure a hassle-free ground transfer, please visit our transfer service center or send simple requests to to get fast and free quote. Classic day trips and city packages are also carefully designed in all accessible China cities.


Overnight train and accommodation ideas


For long distance travel, you can consider overnight trains which offer sleepers onboard including hard sleeper (only Z, T, K trains), soft sleeper (Z, T, K and D trains) and luxury soft sleeper (on certain Z, T, K and D trains). Most of the routes provide 12 hours also journey starting from evening and arrive the next morning. It is a budget way to save one-night hotel accommodation. Please note that there is no shower onboard even for luxury sleepers. Hotel choices are many in almost of the cities train reaches.



Follow the best train routes


Find it hard to complete a train travel plan? ETripChina travel advisors give you detailed train travel plan from their own experiences and ready to help whenever you need. Here are some of the recommended routes and itinerary ideas.

1.       Guilin - Sanjiang - Zhaoxing - Guiyang - Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - Shangri-la

2.       Beijing - Datong - Pingyao - Xian

3.       Beijing - Chongqing - Yangtze Cruise - Yichang - Shanghai

4.       Shanghai-Suzhou-Nanjing-Huangshan-Hangzhou

5.       Xian - Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi

6.       Trains to Tibet

Train Travel Tips



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