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China FAQs

Questions: 117. How to buy a train ticket at the station?
You can buy tickets yourself at the station reservation office, remember to take your passport with you.

In big cities such as Beijing or Shanghai you should use the special reservations office for foreigners.

Reservations for the best Z-category express trains open 20 days (or in some cases 10 days) before departure, reservations for most other trains open up to 10 days before departure, assuming the train you want starts its journey at that station.

If the train you want starts its journey somewhere else and calls at your boarding station already well into its journey, tickets may only be available 2 days before departure.

The rules vary by city..! You can generally only book a train journey at the station where your journey starts, so (for example) the reservations office at Shanghai can sell you a Shanghai-Beijing ticket but not a Beijing-Xian ticket.

Berths are best booked at least 2-3 days in advance, apart from peak periods (the Spring Festival, May Day 1st May, National Day 1st October) when they should be booked as soon as reservations open.

In Beijing, you can buy tickets at Beijing Main station (metro Bejingzhan), or Beijing West station (called Beijing Xi or Xizhan, metro Junshibowuguan).

At Beijing Main station, the ticketing office for foreigners is on the north west corner of the 1st floor, accessed via the soft seat waiting room. It is open 05:30-07:30, 08:00-18:30, 19:00-23:00. Only domestic Chinese tickets are sold, no international tickets. At Beijing West station, the foreigners ticketing office is on the 2nd floor, open 24 hours.
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