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Can I buy train tickets by myself at the railway stations in China?

We don’t recommend regular tourists to go to the railway station to buy the tickets yourselves, where is always packed with Chinese passengers. Tourists have to be cautious of your personal belongings. If you are expats living in China, or speak Chinese, then it might be ok to get your tickets at the station. Please avoid the holiday season like Labor Day Holiday (May 1-3), National Day Holiday (Oct 1-7) and Spring Festival period. 

In China, more and more Chinese people choose to book train tickets online at the official ticketing site 12306.cn (Chinese only). Unless you have a Chinese friend to help you with it, it will be quite complicated to go through the booking procedures. What is more, you are required to make payment via Chinese online banking or Unionpay system. International credit cards are not accepted. Another disadvantage is that you can’t choose the berth at hard or soft sleeper class. Imagine that if you prefer to stay at a lower berth, but the online ticket is issued at random, finally it could turn out to be an upper berth, which could be inconvenient and frustrating. After completion of online ticket booking, you still need to use the original copy of your passport to go to the train station to get your tickets printed.

 

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