Buying A Train Ticket in China

For tourists it can be confusing to buy a train ticket while in China as the policies have changed with the addition of the new FAST trains. Prior to this year one could only buy a train ticket 4 days in advance of the departure and then only from the city you were in to your next destination. You could not buy tickets for your entire trip from one location. This has all changed now but still not uniform in all cities. Here is a direct quote from my Chinese Associate Partners when asked about purchasing train tickets in China. “Most train tickets can be purchased 10 to 12 days in advance EXCEPT during the Chinese New Year season when the tickets are sold only 5 to 7 days in advance. Each city may have a different policy. One can buy tickets for most cities ONLY on the internet or by telephone but not at the ticket offices or agents. For the new FAST trains one must show their ID card or passport to get the tickets since the railway launched a REAL-NAME SYSTEM. For some very popular destinations, train tickets can be difficult to purchase through the normal channels.” Confusing? Yes, even the Chinese public is often confused. One of the real reasons is to help stop the “Scalping” of tickets which has been the case often with popular routes especially the Fast trains in which Chinese businessmen will pay to get those tickets at the last minute. For tours we are able to buy tickets for tours without any problems in advance as tourists are important to their economy. For more up to date information contact us at interlak@eskimo.com