Children can sometimes travel for free or at a discount. The eligibility for discounts is not based on their age; it depends on how tall they are.
Children under 120cm can travel for free. However they do not get a seat or a bed. They must share with a parent. As a result there can only be one free child per parent. For example, two parents traveling with two children under 120cm can bring two kids on board for free. One parent traveling with two children under 120cm can only get one child to travel for free. But in this last case, the parent can purchase a discounted child ticket for the second child. Note that in the case of kids travelling for free, no ticket is issued.
Children under 150cm can purchase tickets at a discount and get their own seat or sleeper. There is not limit to the number of child tickets that a family is allowed to purchase. For seats, the discount is 50%. For sleepers, the ticket price can be broken down between the cost of a seat plus an addition for the bed. The discount applies to the “seat portion” of the fare. The result is usually a discount of about 25%. There is an exception for overnight D trains for which the discount on seats is 25% and there is no discount on sleepers.
When placing your order for China train tickets, please specify if the passenger is under 150cm by clicking the “child ticket” box. If the child is under 120cm and you intend to have the child share a seat or sleeper with a parent, you do not order any ticket for this child.
Sharing a sleeper with a child can be somewhat uncomfortable in the case of a hard sleeper as these are quite narrow. Soft sleepers are a bit more spacious. Visit our page about classes of travel to understand the size of seats and beds for various classes.
On some modern trains, like D overnight sleeper trains, there is one bathroom per train with a baby changing table. It is generally located around the middle of the train. We are not aware of such facilities on normal trains. Train stations in China rarely have pre-boarding privileges for families with children although you may miss the announcement that will be made in Mandarin only. There are no student discounts available for tourists.