Should I book my trains in China ahead of time?

Travel Forums Asia Should I book my trains in China ahead of time?

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about China
1. Posted by Islandgirl8600 (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi there, I will be taking 3 trains throughout China between January 18-21 in 2013, Beijing to Datong & Datong to Xian sleeper trains as well as Xian to Shenzhen on the bullet train. I am unsure whether or not I should book these online through a travel agent to guarantee a spot or if I should be alright to book them when I arrive in Beijing on the 15th...? I would rather not book them ahead of time because I see that the travel agents charge quite a bit extra for that luxury but I have never been to China and do not know how busy it will at that time of the year, say if it's close enough to Chinese New Year (Feb. 10th) to want to book in advance. I am on a fairly tight schedule and would like to make the trains I am aiming for. If anyone has any insight that would be great! Thanks

2. Posted by julia0094 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

You'd better book it just in case,while I know travel agencies do charge a lot for tickets booking,I am wondering how many people do you have, if it is not a big group, I don't think it would be a big problem. I am a tour guide based in Beijing,I would be happy to assist you with other questions you have.You can view my profile at in Location "BEIJING",where you can see that I am reliable with the answers that tourists asked,my name is Julia Zhu. By the way, no charge for the consulting.

Julia Zhu

3. Posted by Lugor79 (Inactive 74 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Generally I would say you can buy tickets for your travel the day of, especially if your are flexible. However being close to Chinese New Years it is a risk, tickets generally get scarce. Also consider that bullet train tickets will be easier to get day of than sleepers or other slower trains; this is due to the fact most of the migrants returning home don't make enough to justify a 1/2 month salary for a ticket.

Also consider these things: most train stations are very crowded and busy places. Line cutting and pushing and shoving are normal (increasing less tho) behavior. There is usually only 1 (maybe two) booths manned by English speaking attendants, and their English is barely passable.

Find a reputable ticket agent as well, counterfeit tickets are normal in China.

So how adventurous are you?

4. Posted by a122617246 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

hello I am Carson,my hometown in Canton. jan 15th is near chinese new year ,it will be a little busy and a lot of college student back to their hometown.,you can click on -snip- to search the train you want and book it and pay it online ,but it is a Chinses web ,i do not know can you read chinese??
I think you want book the train tiket by yourself is very difficule ,so you had better book somethink by travel agent,if you have any more question ,reply me or send email to me ~help you try my best ~


[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

5. Posted by Aussi Di (Budding Member 10 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Yes, because of the proximity of Chinese New Year, you should book with an agent, otherwise tickets may not be available. Di

6. Posted by Wuan (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I suggest you book tickets ahead, because January 18-21is among the busy time of railways, although it still has three weeks to go for the Chinese new year and its not the busiest time, it is a little risky for you to buy tickets in 15th, or , maybe you will get tickets but with no seat. your time is the peak time for college students going back home. There is an official website for people to book tickets online, if you speak Chinese or have some Chinese friend you can ask them for help.

7. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1116 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Do chinese people even go through travel agents... millions of them won't and they managed.

The QUESTION is simply: 1. What is the period in which tickets will be so scarce... the answer changes every year. Last year, I had to FLY OUT of China, since no more tickets were available and it was on the 1st week of January....

Now can someone tell the rest of the world, when is this mad period starting and when will it end for 2013???? The New Year starts when exactly??? and How days before this party starts will hell begin? I mean when will the mass of people start traveling, assuming go back home to their families.... and how long does this HOLIDAY RUSH last???? They will all be going back home.... I assume few people will be going to the big cities, SO TRAINS to Shanghai and Guanzhou shoud not be a problem???

8. Posted by michellecareyy (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Chinese New Year will be held Feb 10, 2013. New year festivity starts about 15 days prior. Tickets will be bad all Janurary, early feburary and possibly late December.

Trains the Shanghai and Guanzhou are always busy. I've been on sleepers where I had to share a bed with my parents/grandparents/brother. Usually around new years, so I suggest prebooking if that's when you want to go.

Here's a good site

9. Posted by michellecareyy (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I said book before, but if you have someone who can speak fluent chinese with you, I've booked trains on the day. Sometimes there's a bit of a wait though, and they get boring.

10. Posted by AcellPortman (Inactive 11 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I guess you had to. Being new to the place is quite a big difference. It's better to be ready ahead of time than being sorry later.