How to Board and Get off a China Train

1. Things Required for Taking Train in China

There is no e-ticketing or on-train ticketing for trains in China, so you must hold paper tickets before boarding China trains. Make sure you bring the following things before getting on a train:

  • 1) Paper train ticket;
  • 2) The passport (or Mainland Travel Permit for passengers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) you used to buy the ticket.

2. Get to the Right Station

In many cities of China there are more than one railway station, do check your ticket information carefully and arrive at the right station.

To avoid missing your train, you are suggested to arrive at train station at least 90 minutes before train departure (even earlier during the China public holidays and weekends). You can take a taxi to get to the train station if you don't know the city very well.

3. Boarding a train

Step 1: When arrive at a train station, you will find there are signs showing the entrance. If not, you can easily tell the entrance from other parts of the station building by the continuous passengers flowing in and waiting for security check.

Step 2: You need go through security check before going inside of the entrance hall. Your paper ticket and certificate (passport or Mainland Travel Permit) used for ticket booking will also be checked here.

Step 3: Find the right waiting room. In the entrance hall behind the security check there is a large LED screen showing train numbers, destination stations, departure times and waiting room numbers. Check your train number on your ticket with the LED screen and find the right waiting room.

After finding the waiting room, wait in the specific area closest to the boarding gate of your train. You can find small LED screens showing different train numbers, find the one with your train number and wait there for checking in. Many stations have special waiting rooms/areas for pregnant women or passengers with babies, so that they can sit comfortably, and in most cases, get onboard before other passengers.

Step 4: Check in. When the train is arriving, a broadcast will tell passengers to go to the ticket check gate. Generally check-in starts 20-30 minutes before departure and stops 5 minutes before the train departure.

Please note blue ticket can be checked automatically at the ticket check machines, while red ticket needs to be checked manually by staff.

Step 5: Boarding the train. After having the ticket checked, walk with the flow of people who enter through your ticket check gate or follow the LED boards to your platform. There may be two trains stop on both sides of the platform. Check your ticket with LED screens to know which one to board. After locating the train, find your carriage. Your ticket will be checked by staff at the door of each carriage. If you board the wrong carriage, the staff will inform you of the right one.

4. After Getting on Train

After boarding the train, find your seat/sleeper according to the information shown on your ticket. Put your luggage safely on the luggage rack, you can put them opposite to your seat (or under your berth), so that you can keep an eye on it.

Keep your ticket well until you leave the destination station, as it may be checked onboard and at the exit of the destination train station. If you hold a sleeper ticket, the conductor will exchange it to a plastic bunk card after boarding and give the ticket back to you about 30 minutes before you reach your destination. Look after the card carefully, or you will pay for the loss or damage.

5. Get off and Find the Way Out

If your destination is not the terminus of a train, you must pay attention to the stop announcements carefully. Generally the announcement comes at least 10 minutes before each stop, to give passengers time to prepare for leaving the train. To ensure you get off at the right station, you are suggested to show your ticket to a train staff and ask the staff to remind you to get off.

In most stations, arriving passengers will be led to the exit by an underground passage. Follow the crowd and you will get to the correct exit, and then look for bilingual direction boards to find subway/bus/taxi/coach to leave the station.

Some China Train Travel Tips

  • 1. Trains stop at stations only long enough for people to get on and off. Thus it is wise not to get off during your train trip.
  • 2. Nearly all overnight trains have dining car carriage where you can buy foods. There are also trolleys service selling items of foods, drinks, snacks and other small items, regularly go back and forth through the aisles of the train during a trip.
  • 3. Be careful to guard against theft.
  • 4. Never give your personal information to strangers during a train trip. And don’t accept food or drinks given by a stranger.  

Some Useful Chinese Sentences for Taking Train in China

(You can print it out and show the Chinese sentence for help during a train trip)

Chinese English
请送我到这个火车站。 Please drive me to this train station. (show the Chinese name of the station to the driver)
请问售票大厅在哪里? Excuse me. Where is the ticket office?
请问在哪里取票? Could you please tell me where to collect train ticket?
你好,我要取票,这是我的订单号和护照。 Hi, I would like to pick up my ticket. This is my ticket collection number and passport.
请问在哪个窗口办理改签? Could you please tell me where to change my train ticket?
请问在哪个窗口办理退票? Could you please tell me which window is for canceling/refunding ticket?
请问我应该去哪个候车室? Would you please tell me where my waiting room is? (show your ticket)
请问我应该在哪个检票口检票? Could you tell me which ticket gate should I go for ticket checking? (show your ticket)
请问在哪里上车? Could you tell me where to get on board? (show your ticket)
请问我的座位在哪里? Could you tell me where my seat is? (show your ticket)
请问可以跟您换个座位吗?我想和朋友坐一起。谢谢! Excuse me. May I change a seat with you? As I want to sit together with my friends. Thank you.
麻烦您提前十分钟提醒我准备下车。 Please remind me to get off 10 minutes before arrival.