Buying China Train Tickets from outside of China

This post is about helping you buy train tickets before you arrive in China!

Train travel in China is cheap, efficient and for the most part enjoyable. But buying tickets before you arrive in China is problematic. For many online sites, you need to pay with a Chinese bank-issued credit card. Other sites charge a rather hefty service fee and still require you to send copies of your passport. Also, tickets go on sale 18-20 days before departure, so some of the more popular routes can sell out before you get to China. And if your travel dates fall during a holiday, well..........fuggedaboudit!

That's the position I found myself in when I checked seat availability at This site, in itself, is an invaluable resource for planning your China train travel. Type in your departure and arrival cities, date of travel, then click on Search Tickets. On the results page, click on More Details to see real-time seat availability. In the example below, you can see Train No. 2669 is completely sold out including Standing-Room Only!

This is where came to my rescue! In a nutshell here's what they do:
  • For a fee of AU$10 per ticket + 3.4% Paypal fee, they buy your China train tickets.
  • You pay only after they have purchased the tickets
  • You only need to send them your passport #s
  • They send eTickets. You pick up the real tickets at the train station.
For me, this was totally worth it. On a jam-packed 3 week trip to China, my family did not have the option of rearranging our itinerary. If train tickets were completely sold out, our only other option would be flying. Comparing costs between the two options:

Train fare(US$38) + AU$10 + 3.4% Paypal fee   =   US$50 per person (soft sleeper)
Flying  =  US$126 per person

That's a substantial savings x 6!

But here's the other thing that did for me. On that sold out route, they figured out a way to get me 6 hard sleeper tickets!! It turned out this train route goes thru Pingyao, a city that we were going to be in. So rather than traveling up to Taiyuan and getting on the train there, we could just stay in Pingyao and get on a few stops later. By the time the train arrived in Pingyao, enough people planned to get off the train, that six hard sleeper spots would become available. Brilliant!


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