The Future is now: Buy Chinese Train Tickets Online

By Zolzaya Erdenebileg

Ctrip is a convenient ticket purchasing resource for anyone looking to do some travelling within China. Previously, you had to go to the train station or one of the booking offices around town, but now a simple trip to the computer works for train ticketing. The easy-to-navigate website coupled with ticket delivery make Ctrip a good option, even if you are still in your home country planning a trip.  Read on for a description and some helpful tips on using this service.

 How to Use:

First go to and click on your language of choice.  At the top banner, choose trains.  In the box that appears, insert city of departure, destination and time of departure. You will be given a list of all possible trains on the departure date you indicated.Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 2.52.44 PM


You will only have the high-speed options – G- and D-trains. Slower trains (Z, K etc.) are not sold on Ctrip. Train tickets must be booked a minimum of 2 days and maximum of 17 days in advance of when you want to travel.

Once you locate the magic ticket, you’ll be brought to the booking page. Fill in the passenger(s) information, your address in China (your hotel should work, but you will want to notify the concierge in advance), and your credit card information. You can pay using either a domestic Chinese credit card or a major international credit card.

If your ticket is available, Ctrip will deliver the ticket(s) to the address you put down within 24 hours. Bam! Done.

Here are some of the limitations:

Booking Trains:

Customers are limited to booking 5 tickets per order for the same date, same train number and same seat type tickets. Tickets bought together will be next to each other most of the time, but isn’t guaranteed.

Ctrip does not yet allow for round trip booking, so return trips will have to be booked separately.

Ticket Delivery:

Your address in China will most likely be your hotel address. At the moment, Ctrip ticket deliveries are limited to addresses within the Shanghai Outer Ring Road, which includes Huangpu District, Xuhui District, Changning District, Jing’an District, Putuo District, Zhabei District, Hongkou District, Yangpu District and Pudong District – this encompasses basically all of the major hotels. Note that there is a 40 RMB delivery fee for the first ticket and 20 RMB for each subsequent ticket. Addresses cannot be changed after the information is sent. Tickets are delivered within 24 hours. Orders posted after 1 pm will be sent the next day. The tickets must be signed at time of delivery, or risk being forfeited. Some hotels, like the Waldorf, will sign for you, but you should make sure to arrange with your hotel ahead of time.    

Seat Options:

High-speed trains offer seats in either 1st class or 2nd class. A 2nd class seat costs about 60%-80% of a first class seat. It has five seats in a row, with two seats on one side of the aisle and three seats on the other. Each chair has a folding table in front. Outlets are available on the bottom of the aisle seats.

A first class seat is roomier, and only has four seats in a row, creating more aisle space. The seat has room for the passenger and a carryon bag.

Child Tickets:

Child ticket prices are available for those under 18 years of age and under 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in). Those above 1.5 m are not qualified for the discounted price. Child ticket prices vary and are only confirmed after the ticket purchase. The difference between the full adult price the discounted child price will be refunded through the same medium used to buy the tickets.

Only one child under 1.2 m can ride for free with adult accompaniment. Any additional child under 1.2 m must have a child ticket. Any child between 1.2 m and 1.5 m must have a child ticket. Children under 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) are not allowed to travel unaccompanied.

Cancellation and Modifications:

Ctrip also does not guarantee ticket availability, nor can they cancel or modify tickets after it has been issued. To cancel or make any changes to tickets, you will be required to go to the refund window at the boarding station with the ticket and a valid ID (the same ID used at time of booking).


You are allowed to bring in a maximum of 20 kg per adult ticket and 10 kg per child ticket. Maximum combined linear measurement is 130 cm (51 in).

Other Reminders:

-Always bring your passport (and all passengers traveling) when buying/changing tickets at the station or ticket office

-If you must get service in person while in China, there is generally only English service at a few windows at the main stations, not at the ticket agents around the city

-Last minute tickets are almost always available for major routes, but are often nearly impossible to obtain around major Chinese holidays:

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