On this page you'll find: Beijing to Ulan Bator & Moscow by Trans-Siberian railway; Onward to Paris & London Beijing to Hanoi (Vietnam) by train; Onwards to Saigon; Onwards to Phnom Penh & Bangkok Beijing to Japan by ferry Beijing to South Korea by ferry Beijing to North Korea by train Hong Kong to Hanoi (Vietnam) Kunming to Hanoi (Vietnam) by train Lhasa to Kathmandu by bus & onwards to to Delhi How to buy tickets online How to buy tickets at the station How to check train schedules & fares Maps of China's train network Collecting tickets bought online How to read a Chinese train ticket Finding & boarding your train What are Chinese trains like? Yes they do, and most long-distance trains get fully-booked days ahead.Luggage & bikes on Chinese trains Recommended guidebooks for China Travel insurance Hotels in Beijing Hotels in Shanghai Hotels in Xian Hotel suggestions in Beijing & Shanghai Chinese Railways. So book as many days ahead as you can or pre-arrange tickets online as explained below.
Train tickets are best booked at least 3-4 days in advance, preferably more, apart from peak holiday periods when they should be booked as soon as reservations open or secured through a train ticketing agency who knows the ropes, as trains get very fully-booked weeks ahead.
Peak holiday periods means on and around the Spring Festival, May Day on 1st May and National Day on 1st October.
It's also busy throughout the summer, and the beginning or end of university terms.
At other times, trains can still sell out but it's usually possible to secure seats or sleepers a few days ahead. If you run an enquiry on for today, tomorrow or a few days time, you'll see how many tickets are left in each class for each train.
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China has one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world, and trains link almost every town & city.
Chinese trains are a safe, comfortable & cheap way to travel around China, and a Chinese train journey is an experience in itself, in contrast with less reliable and environmentally-unfriendly internal flights. Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (local trains in Hong Kong plus through trains HK to Beijing & Shanghai):
This page will help you understand & plan train travel in China, & arrange your train tickets. Reservations open 60 days before departure for online bookings and 58 days before departure for sale at stations, for all long-distance trains. The booking horizon was increased from 10/12 days (stations/online) to 18/20 days in January 2013, and to 58/60 days from 7 December 2014.
As I write this, most Beijing-Shanghai trains are sold out for the day after tomorrow, but a few trains still have seats left the day after that. First the good news: Chinese Railways launched online booking in 2011 at
Now the bad news: Foreigners cannot buy tickets at it's only in Chinese and only accepts Chinese bank cards (although if you happen to be an ex-pat with a Chinese bank card and a basic knowledge of Mandarin, you can follow these instructions for using 12306here).
So you should buy tickets through one of the following reliable recommended agencies, who charge a small fee. Or buy from a local train ticket agency for an RMB 5 fee.