Super important – Accuracy of the passengers information is key in the order form

From March 1, 2014, the train authority instituted new rules. When you will pick up the tickets at the station, the clerk will key in the information from your passport. It needs to match perfectly what you gave us and what we used to purchase your tickets. Obviously, your passport number needs to be the same. They will also enter your name in the sequence as it appears on your passport without spaces. So if in your country, they list the surname before the first name, you need to fill our form in the same way. For example, if your name is William Smith but your passport says:

Surname: Smith
First name: William Richard

Then you will fill our form as SmithWilliamRichard

This is very important.

Is your train schedule up to date?

Our search function gets the information live from the official railway company’s website. So the information is current. However, beyond 30 days, tickets are not released yet so schedules are subject to change. If, at the time of purchasing your tickets, your selected train is no longer available, we’ll get in touch with you beforehand and suggest alternatives.

Is the number of seats shown in your search results reliable?

Our search tool is checking the information directly from the official website so the information is current at the time of your search. Understand that by the time that you place your order and confirm it, the quantities available will probably change. When the number of tickets available is less than 20, we indicate the exact number of tickets left. In this situation, it is more important than ever for you to select a second and third choice.

What if I can’t find a train for my route or there are no tickets available?

Send us an email. We have a very good knowledge of the Chinese train network. We can probably propose a different way of getting to your destination.

What if the tickets are sold out, can you help me?

Even when tickets are sold out on a certain route we can sometimes find combinations to get you what you need. Still contact us and let us try.

Can you get tickets to or from Tibet?

Tickets to Tibet are very hard to get, especially during the peak season. This is why some of our competitors can charge as much as $100 premium. Contact us early with your plan. Some trains do not run every day. We may have to suggest alternative routes. Our fee for Tibet train tickets is US$25. Tickets to and from Tibet cannot be cancelled online. You need to go to a train station to change or cancel them yourself. If this ever happens, we will provide you with detailed instructions in English and Chinese. We also require full prepayment for these tickets.

I sent you an email and did not hear from you yet

We respond to all emails within 24 hours. We get emails all day long from all over the world, 7 days a week. However we are probably in a different time zone than you are and cannot always answer all emails right away. We also sleep sometimes while you are at work in your time zone. Also in the morning, Beijing time, we are usually busy buying the tickets. So please be patient. Jeremy is already complaining that Helen is checking emails on her phone at 4am when going to the toilet…

I paid your invoice on PayPal but did not hear back yet

No need to remind us when you pay via PayPal as our PayPal app pops up a message each time we get a payment. We will send you the ticket information within 24 hours and not necessarily within minutes of your payment, as we may be busy on other things at that time or simply sleeping (remember that we are probably in another time zone). If you do not hear from us within 24 hours, please go ahead and bother us. It was possibly a busy day and we forgot to follow up. It happens.

You were supposed to buy my tickets today but I did not hear from you yet

Depending on the originating city of the train, the tickets are released at different hours during the day, usually between 8am and 6pm. Our priority is to purchase the tickets, and we do our billing later when things are quieter. If you do not hear from us by the end of the next day, then please check with us.

Have people ever had problems picking up tickets?

Etickets are not new anymore in China and every train station ticket counter sees this all the time. Some bigger stations even have dedicated counters for ticket pick-up.
There are three types of circumstances when clients had issues:

  1. a client renewed his passport after booking the tickets, so the passport numbers do not match;
  2. a client made some errors in the passport numbers in his order; and
  3. a client had the passport numbers next to the wrong names in the order.

So make sure that you TRIPLE check your passport number when you place your order. To avoid typos at our end, we copy and paste from your order directly to the railroad company software rather than retype your number.

I cannot speak any mandarin, how can I pick up the tickets?

Along with your ticket confirmation we will send you a document that you can print before leaving home. The first part is to show that taxi driver to make sure he takes you to the right place. The second part is to give the clerk along with your passports asking for your tickets. These two documents are in English and Chinese. We will also send you a document explaining how to find your way around Chinese train stations. For the most popular stations we even include photos. We also have videos of most popular stations. We have published a video showing the pickup process. Look it up to see how easy it is: click here to watch.

Why is your final invoice different from the quote you gave me?

If we provided you with an estimate you should understand that two factors would make the final price vary a bit. Firstly, we made an assumption on the type of bed you may get but we do not know if you get upper or lower bunks until we buy the tickets. (Read the FAQ item about “Can I specifically buy a lower sleeper bed?”). Secondly, exchange rates vary all the time and will most certainly be different at the time of final invoicing. In any case the difference will not be very important. We never give firm quotes, only estimates.

How do I pay if I do not have a PayPal account?

You do not need a PayPal account to pay our invoice. You can simply pay the PayPal invoice by credit card. You can use your PayPal account if you have one. Setting up a new account can take 3 to 5 days so, there is no point setting up a new PayPal account for this, just use your credit card. We will send you a PayPal invoice by email and you simply click on the link provided and follow the instructions. Clients from Australia, Canada and China can also pay us directly to our bank account via ebanking and avoid the PayPal fee.

Instead of using PayPal can I wire you the funds?

Yes but the cost is usually higher than using PayPal and it can take several days for the funds to arrive. Clients with a bank account in Canada, Australia and China can send the funds directly to our bank account via internet banking.

My PayPal account is set up in a currency other Australian, Canadian or US dollars.

This is not a problem. We bill you in dollars and when you make the payment, PayPal will convert from your currency to dollars.

What exchange rate do you use?

We buy the tickets in RMB (Chinese currency) and invoice you in dollars, as it is not possible to set up a PayPal account in RMB. The funds are sent from PayPal to our bank accounts overseas. We then convert back these funds in RMB, as we need to pay the tickets in RMB.

  • For Australian dollars we use the exchange rate of the Commonwealth Bank (found here);
  • For Canadian dollars we use the exchange rate of RBC (found here).
  • For US dollar we use the exchange rate of the Well Fargo bank (found here)

One can find many different exchange rates on the internet but we use the one that our bank gives us to buy RMB so that we do not lose money on the exchange rate. At the time of writing this (late August 2013) the exchange rate for Australian dollars was 4.8, 5.6 for US dollars and 5.4 for Canadian dollars.

I bought tickets for several trains, can I collect them all at my first train station?

Yes you can (but make sure you do not lose them – see “I picked up my paper ticket and lost it. What to do now?”). Tickets can be picked up at any train station in China at any time after we have purchased them.

Do we all have to show up together when picking up the paper tickets?

No just send one member of your group along with all the passports and the confirmation number. The person picking up the ticket does not even need to be one of the travellers.

Can you deliver tickets to our hotels?

Sorry but we do not. This would be too costly and we (and you) would rather not deal with lost tickets (see “What if I lose my ticket?”)

Can I leave my luggage at the train station while I explore the city?

Every train or bus station has a storage unit (usually not lockers). The space is manned and your luggage will be safe there. In some cases such luggage storage may be hard to find. If you wish, we can provide you with written text in Chinese so you can ask where it is and how much it will cost.

Can you purchase domestic flight tickets for us as well?

Yes we can. Unlike train tickets, flights can be bought 90 days in advance. Our fee and arrangements are the same as for the train tickets. Just ask us for a quote.

Do you sell international train tickets?

The only international train tickets that we sell are the tickets between Nanning (China) and Hanoi (Vietnam). Download the order form here. We are unable to provide you with tickets to or from Mongolia or Russia. For travel to Hong Kong, we suggest the better bullet trains that drop you near the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen. For example one can travel daily by bullet train from Beijing to Shenzhen in about 8.5 hours compared to 22 hours for the train to HK that only runs every other day. You can also reach Shenzhen from Shanghai in a little over 11.5 hours. Much better than the slow old overnight train.

Can I specifically buy a lower or upper sleeper bed?

It is not possible. The system assigns beds in sequential manner, so we cannot choose. Generally all tickets will be together or near each other. If your sleeper beds are not in the same compartment, you can easily change with other passengers. Everybody is doing this once the train departs. People are very accommodating. Usually sign language will suffice to get the point across. Understand that you can only exchange lower bed for a lower bed and an upper bed for an upper bed. Our experience is that when we buy tickets on the day that they are released, we get all passengers in the same sleeper compartment. As the travel date draws closer and there are only few tickets left then they may be scattered all over the train.

What if I wish to cancel my tickets?

Purchased tickets can be cancelled or changed*. How it is done and the cost depends mostly on the timing and is based on the policies of the railway company. Click to read our “Cancelation and Change Policy”

*There is a new policy applied to foreign travelers from September 2019. The train company randomly selects some passengers for passport verification before cancel or change the tickets. For those travelers, We can’t change or cancel online after we book your tickets.

What if I want to change my tickets for another train?

If we have not purchased the tickets, just advise us of your new plans. Purchased tickets can be cancelled or changed*. How it is done and the cost depends mostly on the timing based on the policies of the railway company. Click to read our “Cancellation and Change Policy”

There is a new policy applied to foreign travelers from September 2019. The train company randomly selects some passengers for passport verification before cancel or change the tickets. For those travelers, We can’t change or cancel online after we book your tickets.

I picked up my paper ticket then I lost it. What to do now?

This is not simple. Here is the procedure. You go to a ticket counter and tell them that you lost your ticket (we can provide you with text in Chinese for this). You show them your passport and the ticket confirmation (which we sent to you after you paid). They will sell you another ticket (you need to pay) and give you a voucher. Once on the train you need to have the conductor sign the voucher to confirm that nobody else showed up for this seat. Once you arrive at destination, you go to a ticket counter with the voucher to get the refund. Since your name is on the ticket, if someone shows up to take the seat, it will be easy for the conductor to figure out that you are the real owner of such ticket. Now you understand why we do not want to deliver tickets and run the risk of losing them.

Any scams that I should be aware of at the train stations?

Ignore people who approach you to help you. Ignore people offering you a taxi. The big stations will have a clearly marked taxi line. In smaller places, just go out and look where the taxis are waiting. We usually use a taxi where the driver is sitting in his car rather than the ones walking around looking for customers. If you need some assistance in a train station, look for someone “official” who is wearing a uniform. You can also try to ask younger people wearing glasses, they are likely to be students and odds are that they speak some English. Note that in smaller cities, it is not unusual for taxi drivers to quote you a price rather than use the meter. When arriving at your destination, do not sell your used ticket or exchange it for something like a local map. Remember that your name and passport number are on this ticket.

Can you help me with my itinerary?

For sure. Our experience in buying so many tickets can be to your benefit. Especially for less travelled routes. There is sometimes a best sequence, or one that makes getting train tickets easier. Note that when a smaller city is not the originating city of that train, there may be only a few tickets allocated to this station. One example is trying to travel from Pingyao to Xi’An. It is nearly impossible to get these tickets for soft or hard sleepers. Actually, we have never been able to buy one. We recommend instead that our clients purchase a ticket from Taiyuan to Xi’An and board the train in Pingyao. You just need to get the paper tickets before the train departs Taiyuan (where the train originates) otherwise the tickets will be cancelled.

Do train schedules change often in China?

Yes, but not in a major way. Often tickets can become unavailable for a few days on a certain route when the railway company is making adjustments for a certain line. We are generally able to buy the tickets 2 or 3 days later. This is more likely to happen just after the Chinese New Year. We cannot be responsible if the ticket that you wish to buy is not available on the day that we are supposed to buy them. We do make sure to keep you informed when this happens and will propose a strategy which may be to wait a few days or go for another train.

Do you require a deposit before buying the tickets?

Unlike every other train ticket agent that we know of, we do not require advance payment. However, in the case of larger orders or orders the entail a certain risk, we may require a deposit before purchasing the tickets to protect ourselves. Also, if your train is leaving in the next 15 days then we will require a deposit as we cannot cancel tickets without a penalty within 15 days of the travel date.

I used your services and was quite happy with the level of service. How can I recommend you to others?

You can write a review on TripAdvisor or like us on Facebook.

There are only 3 of us, can we get the whole sleeper compartment?

Soft sleeper compartments consist of 4 beds and have some privacy since, unlike hard sleepers, there is a door and it can be locked. The only way to get a whole compartment to yourself is to buy all four tickets. However, individuals cannot have more than one ticket per train. There is one exception. In the case of D overnight trains, it is possible for a single traveler, a couple or three passengers to buy the whole soft sleeper compartment. To do so, you must buy all 4 tickets.

On certain trains between Kunming and Lijiang, there is a three-person compartment and two people can buy it for themselves without a third passenger.

I missed my train, what should I do?

If you missed your train and you were supposed to ride on a fast train (C, D or G train) then you can go to the station’s ticket counter and exchange it for a later train. You can only exchange for another train on the same day, if any.

For any other train, Z, T, K, L or no letter, you are out of luck and your ticket is void.

If you miss your train because your previous train arrived late, read the item “My train is late and I missed my connection, what should I do?”

My train is late and I missed my connection, what should I do?

If your train is late then it is the train company’s responsibility.

Before you arrive at your destination, find the train conductor and using sign language (he or she probably will not speak English), show your tickets, pointing at the departure time of your next journey. He will stamp your ticket which will allow you to exchange it.

When you arrive at your destination, you go to the ticket counter to exchange your ticket for a later one. There will be no charge.