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Purchasing train tickets in China

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1. Posted by Cookee (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi all! This forum has been recommended as a great source of travel knowledge and I was hoping someone may be able to give me some advice on purchasing train tickets in China.

I'm heading to China in just over a week and would feel a lot more comfortable if I had my two sleeper trains booked before I get there, but I'm really struggling to find anywhere online which isn't taking my eyes out with extortionate prices! I will be travelling from Beijing to xi'an and from xi'an to Chengdu by sleeper. We arrive in Beijing 4 days before we need the sleeper but only two days before in xi'an. Is this leaving it too late to get a soft sleeper cabin for 3 people?? Our hostels have confirmed they can help us but not until we arrive - this makes me very anxious as we don't have time when we get there to miss the planned train :(

Am I missing a trick here, is there a way I can purchase tickets in advance without paying a fortune? Or am I worrying for no reason, as there will be plenty of space on the trains? Any reassurance or advice would be massively appreciated :)

2. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 415 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

You should be able to buy the tickets in Beijing and Xian. Even if you can't get soft sleeper, you should have no problem getting hard sleeper tickets (there's really not much difference, except for privacy). Hard sleeper is much cheaper, too.

If, by some chance, you can't get sleeper tickets, you could just fly. Domestic flights within China are fairly cheap (BJ to Xian should be less than $100, including tax).

3. Posted by kichikacha (Respected Member 328 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi Cookee,

You can find all the train schedules and prices on:

April 30-May 2 will be holiday in China, so it will be very difficult to get train and plane tickets during that period.

- you can usually buy train tickets to sleepers on any route in china in any provincial capital. typically, you can book it 7-10 days in advance, around holiday period advance-booking is limited sometimes to 5 days. ie: normally, you could buy the ticket for the xian-chendgu route in beijing too. (they charge extra 5 yuan for each ticket at the booking offices)
- beside train stations, in big cities there are small booking offices too. ask your hostel/hotel in beijing where the nearest office is and try to go there as early as possible.

- you can check/book tickets online on "elong" or "ctrip". i think elong is better, i had problems with my international card with ctrip, although it might have changed.

- even at the busiest periods (ie holiday) it is relatively easy to take buses all over china.
- however, the planned route would be too long to take buses only. although it would be more adventurous and you would see/experience more.

lots of travellers complain that after taking beijing-xian-chengdu route they don't like china and have had enough of big cities. all these cities are interesting, however i always recommend to take trips to the countryside as well.
should you not be able to make your planned route, don't get discouraged, there are many places around beijing and even if you make hop on, hop off bus trip from beijing to xian, covering many small towns, villages, you will probably leave with more experience than most people...

have a nice trip!

4. Posted by Messus (Budding Member 3 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

check this out, open in google chrome as it translates it to your language:

Have been using this in china, good way to check out times, places and how much you may be looking at (also has the option to book tickets online but haven't used this bit yet. )