High speed train between Shanghai and Beijing?
September 21, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

How do I buy train tickets for the new high speed train between Shanghai and Beijing? Have you taken the train? Tips?

Need to take it from Shanghai to Beijing in 2 weeks time. Googling getting me nowhere. Suggestions? Thanks.
posted by meerkatty to Travel & Transportation around China (4 answers total)
Off the top of my head, and there may actually be resources others can point to, it's hard to book train tickets in advance in China. I would think there would be enough departures for you to go from either origin and buy your ticket the day that you depart.
posted by elisse at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2011

I just read a friend's blog post on this. You have to purchase them in person but no more than six days in advance of travel.
posted by coolsara at 9:25 AM on September 21, 2011

I took that train in July from Nanjing to Beijing and booked the ticket at the Shanghai train station a day in advance of my trip with no problems. I also booked a ticket just prior to when I wanted to travel on the line from Shanghai to Nanjing, and only had to wait 1.5 hours for an open seat in coach class.

There's an English-speaking window in the ticket office, which is across the street from the station. I think the ticket was 599 RMB, and the process of waiting in line and buying the ticket took about an hour. You need to bring your passport, as your passport number will be printed on the ticket itself. Unless you have a Chinese ID, you can't use the electronic ticketing machines.

The ride itself was fast, smooth and uneventful, though the train goes a little slower now, as my trip was prior to the Wenzhou crash.

You used to be able to also book tickets in advance using an agency, paying a higher price for the convenience-- I used China Trip Advisor a few years ago, and Googling will get you other, similar agencies like China Train Tickets. If you want to do this, Lonely Planet's Thorntree forums, or other travel forums, might be worth checking as to these agencies' reputations, as well as to how (or if) they're now working with the requirement that the ticket have the traveller's ID number on it.

If you're staying in a hostel or hotel, they may also be able to advise you as to whether you can still use an ordinary Chinese booking office without a Chinese ID, as this would be less annoying than waiting in the chaotic "queues" at the station.

The Wikipedia page about the train has information about the travel time, fares, and links to a schedule in English.
posted by neko75 at 9:37 AM on September 21, 2011

When I rode it with my family we went to the train station, bought a ticket, and got on the train. It was a pretty weird sensation going that fast on the ground.
posted by cmoj at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2011

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