China Normal Trains – What to expect?

Normal China trains are not as fast as the high-speed trains but are still an excellent and cheap alternative to explore China as they reach nearly every corner of China.


Why ride the normal China trains?

– Very cost-efficient way to travel.
– Overnight trains allow you to save on the cost of a hotel room.
– Overnight trains also allow you to have more time to visit tourist attractions.
– Normal trains will take you to just about every town.

Normal train numbers have the Z, T or K prefix or no prefix, what does it mean?

The difference is mostly about speed and age of equipment.

– Z trains are known as “direct express” because they often make very few stops between 2 major cities. Top speed is 160km/h. These are usually overnight trains and have hard and soft sleepers, and sometimes deluxe soft sleepers. The most popular Z train is the Z19/20 between Beijing and Xi’An. The facilities on these trains are usually pretty good.

– T trains are known as “express” trains that only stop in major cities. These trains have a top speed of 140km/h and cover long distances.

– K trains are “fast” trains that stop at many stations and have a top speed of 120km/h

– There are also “regular” trains that have just numbers and no letter prefix. These trains stop very often and cover many villages. These are not ideal, sometimes have no air conditioning and should be avoided unless it is your only option.


Normal trains offer hard or soft seats (very rare) of varying comfort as well as hard sleepers, soft sleepers and deluxe soft sleepers (very rare) on some trains. Learn more about classes of travel on this page

To visualize what normal trains are like, watch this video that gives you a detailed look at the trains, the services available and classes of travel.

Learn more about:

High-Speed China trains
Classes of travel on China trains
China train stations

Popular Overnight Trains

Beijing – Hong Kong
Beijing – Shanghai
Beijing – Xi’An
Beijing – Datong
Shanghai – Hong Kong
Guilin – Zhangjiajie
Xi’An – Chengdu
Kunming – Dali – Lijiang
Trains to Tibet

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  • is there a high speed train from Hainan province to hangzhou.?
    we are travelling in February…how soon do we need to book our train travel?

    ---- marlene irwin
    • No bullet train from Hainan to mainland. you could take Haikou to Zhanjiang 5 hours normal train. zhanjiang to Hangzhou sleeper bullet train 13 hours. You can send the request now, we will review it and get your confirmation. when the tickets are released, we will purchase asap.

      ---- admin