To travel in China with lower budgets, the developed railway system may allow you to fully experience Chinese culture and life. Now the advance sale of China railway tickets is available 60 days before departure on www.12306.cn, the official site of China railway corporation and by phone, and 58 days prior to departure at railway stations and ticket outlets. Although the selling time has been extended, you are still strongly advised to book as early as you can, especially during Chinese important holidays and festivals, such as National Holiday and Spring Festival.
Where to Buy:
- http://english.ctrip.com/ is a frequently–used website for foreigners to book a railway ticket. It provides various languages for non-Chinese speakers. You just need to register on it and acquire an account. This website accepts credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, UnionPay online payment and C-Money. Your ticket can be picked up at any station in Mainland China or delivered to your address in your selected city.
- www.12306.cn is the official website of China railway corporation. It only has a Chinese version. It requires a registration with a phone number based in China and the online payment needs to be made within 30 minutes through a Chinese bank card once you place an order. You can ask your Chinese friends for help when booking your ticket here, or contact us at email@example.com to assist you booking a train ticket.
Railway station or tickets outlets:
You can buy a train ticket at a railway station by yourself in Mainland China maximum 58 days ahead of departure. Staff only in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai can speak English. Although there are many ticket outlets in each city, most of them can only issue tickets to those with a valid ID card.
The official reservation number of railway ticket is 95105105. When booking a train ticket, you should add the area code of your destination city before entering the official reservation number. For example, when you are booking a train ticket to Chengdu, you should dial number 028 – 95105105. You must collect your ticket at one of the railway stations or ticket outlets within 24 hours after booking by phone, or else it will be cancelled. Please kindly note that only Chinese is spoken by phone booking, so you may also need the help from a Chinese speaker.
From your hotel or a travel agency:
Most star-rated hotels offer train ticket booking service for foreigners with a service fee. Most hostels and inns may also help you out. Besides, you can also book through a travel agency with a relatively high service fee.
Notes: 1) After booking the train ticket, you can still return your ticket at the designated windows of any train staions: Cancellations happen 15 (not include the 15th) days before departure require no cancellation charge; Cancellations happen between 2 days to 15 days prior to departure require a cancellation charge of 5% of the original fare; Cancellations happen between 1 day to 2 days prior to departure require a cancellation charge of 10% of the original fare; Cancellations happen less than 24 hours before departure require 20% of the original fare as cancellation charge.
2) No matter if you have collected the paper ticket or not, you can reschedule or cancel your reservation at the railway stations before departure. (Ticket outlets can not handle the reschedule or cancellation.) Each ticket has only one chance for reschedule.