Travelling by Train in China

The rail network in the People’s Republic of China is the third largest in the world. It stretches all the way from the icy cold regions of Harbin in the North East, to the tropical and cool climates of Yunnan Province in the south west. The expansive system has been growing at a rapid pace since the 21st Century and continues to expand up to the present day. China’s train lines are not only amazing people in their expansive development, but also for their display of technological advances which have not been seen yet in western models.

train map


Travelling by train in China is a very convenient method and is extremely popular both for speed and price with Chinese and tourists alike. There are four classes of seat on Chinese trains. The lowest class is hard seat; the next class up is soft seat; the next class up is hard sleeper; and the highest class is soft sleeper. With China Holidays, unless a short journey, we will always suggest to our clients to travel by soft sleeper, especially if doing an overnight journey. The price of a soft sleeper is still very affordable and is the most relaxing and enjoyable form of transport on the train. For soft sleepers, there are usually 4 berths (beds) in each carriage. These carriages sometimes have private televisions, kettles; and always have areas for your luggage. In the majority of trains in China (especially on major routes), there will be a dining cart and there are toilets (both Chinese and western) at the ends of each carriage.

When travelling by train in China, it is important to check when the Chinese national holidays are. During the National Holiday periods, Chinese who work in the big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, travel by train to visit their families back in their rural homes which leads to jam-packed trains. There is a word in Chinese called ‘春运’ (Chun Yun). The meaning of this word is ‘Spring Movement’ and it refers to when movement of people is at its highest level during the Spring Festival in late January/early February. We at China Holidays advise our customers not to travel to China during this period, especially by train.

high speed train, Trains in China, High-speed train, Beijing Shanghai, China Holidays

When booking your train, you must bring a copy of your passport photos along with you for identification. Furthermore, you cannot book your train tickets prior to 10 days before your departure date. Once tickets have been issued, they are non-refundable and cannot be changed. Regarding luggage, there is a limit on how much you can take on the trains. The weight of the luggage should be around 20-23KG. The luggage should not be too tall or wide as there will be no room to fit it in the carriage. There are safety measures on the trains. At the end of each carriage, there are guards watching the carriages. Furthermore, the rooms for soft sleepers can be locked from the inside, preventing people from coming in from the outside. We at China Holidays can assist you in booking train tickets in China, through a copy of your passport photo pages.

Travelling by train in China is a viable option and is a great choice to allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery China has to offer. Not only is it a rather pleasant experience, it is also efficient, high-speed and accessible for tourists to use. We at China Holidays greatly recommend using the train as a mode of transport not only for its overall efficiency, but due to the unique experience you will receive and the interesting people you will meet on the way.

If you are interested in travelling around China by train and would like information on doing so, please contact China Holidays at or call our London office on 020 7487 2999.

Travelling by Train in China
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