Let’s say you want to go from Shanghai to Nanjing. How in the world do you do it? I’ll walk you through my process. I’ve mentioned before that I am super cheap, so I do what I can to avoid any extra fees, including those acquired by booking train tickets online. There are no extra fees when you book directly at the train station. So, for my non-Chinese speaking friends, I suggest you follow the steps below, take a screenshot of the tickets you want, and hand your phone to the ticket teller at the train station. They’ll scroll through the options you’ve given them and book you on whichever train still has tickets left. Boom. Tickets bought, fees avoided.
Note: I’m writing this assuming that most of the readers do not speak conversational Chinese. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can speak Chinese, please do not be annoyed with all my nonverbal communication methods 🙏🏼.
- After I have a destination in mind, Nanjing for the purposes of this demonstration, I go to www.travelchinaguide.com and starting looking for trains that will work with my schedule. This is what the homepage will look like:
- Here are the search results:
- Make sure you’ve read the “Different Kinds of Trains” post. Pay attention to the letter included in the train number, it will tell you what condition the train is in, how fast it is, and how many stops it will make.
- The little camera icon next to the seat options will give you an idea of the kind of seat or bed you will be buying.
- Here’s where we have a couple options 1) you could hit the little “book” button and be done. If this is the case, you’ll pay online with a credit or debit card (I think sometimes it will only accept Chinese bank cards) and then pick up your tickets at the train station later before your trip. Or, 2) you can take a screen shot of a couple trains that would work with you schedule.
- If you’re cheap like me and choose option 2, here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Give your phone to the worker at the train station’s ticket office. They’ll scroll through your screenshots until they find a train that still have tickets available. You might want a to a have a picture of the kind of seat or bed you want in order to get exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll also need to give them your passport.
- After they print out your ticket, step to the side of the line and check that everything is correct, especially the dates. Here’s how to read it:If everything is correct, you’re good to go! Just make sure to be an hour or so early to the train station on the day of departure, just in case. Have fun!