5 Tips To Help You Survive Train Travel In China

CRH / 和谐号 © Tauno Tõhk / 陶诺 /Flickr
CRH / 和谐号 © Tauno Tõhk / 陶诺 /Flickr
Photo of Julianna Tetreault
Contributer4 November 2017

Traveling in China means traveling with options; commuters are not limited to strictly air travel for lengthy commutes, but also have the option to take a 高铁 (high-speed train) to their destination. While choosing to fly can prove to be faster, train travel is an overall efficient way to get around. With fewer delays, cheaper ticket prices, and access to almost anywhere in China, traveling by train is a local favorite. First-timers, continue reading for tips on surviving train travel!

China Railway High-speed train 高铁 at Nanjing South Railway Station 南京南站 | © Kristoffer Trolle

Pack lightly

Before boarding your first high-speed train, it is important to prepare for your trip ahead. As with any other journey, be sure to pack all essential items, and pack as lightly as you can; luggage storage space is limited on the train, and the more baggage you have, the longer security will take you!

Bring what you’ll really need

When in China, you should have wet wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer with you at all times; the majority of restrooms will not be western-style and will not supply you with toilet paper of any kind, or soap, so having your own is essential. Other items you may want to pack for your commute are a pillow and earplugs (if you plan on napping), a WiFi hotspot (if you plan on working during the commute, as WiFi on board trains can be unreliable), and snacks and drinks for the ride. Unlike airlines, the trains do not provide passengers with free food or drinks, so to avoid paying for overpriced items, be sure to bring your own!

Get there early

Plan on arriving at the train station at least an hour before your departure time, just as you would if you were checking in for a flight. Upon arrival, purchase or pick-up your train tickets in the ticket area; unlike airports, the economy class ticket price for train travel isn’t too expensive – buy economy tickets if you can afford them for extra comfort during your commute. Passengers must present their tickets and go through a customary security check pre-boarding, so leaving yourself some extra time never hurts.

High-speed train tickets | © Julianna Tetreault

Plan the boarding process

Once you’ve made it through security, take a look at your ticket and locate your appropriate boarding area. While waiting to board your train, you should take the initiative to check to see which car you will be sitting in, which row your seat will be in and ultimately, which seat is yours for the trip. Boarding can be a bit rushed at times, so having an idea of what you should look for will make the boarding process even smoother.

Keep your ticket safe

Be sure to keep your ticket readily available throughout your trip, as train attendants will occasionally check them. Your tickets are also necessary for exiting the train station upon arrival at your destination, so do not misplace them. Finally, make sure that you know which stop is yours; the arrival announcements can be hard to hear at times, and the train’s stops are both very quick, and very quiet.

High-speed train travel throughout China is both efficient and essential to travelers exploring the country. Equipping yourself with these tips to surviving your first train trip will make traveling a breeze.

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