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Tips-off for train travel in China

Booking a train ticket is not so easy and convenient in China, especially during the festivals and holidays, though it has been well improved in the past decades. All the tickets are printed in Chinese with only the starts and ends of the train ride as well as the digits readable for foreigners like the train number and departure time. Please buy the tickets at ticketing offices of train station or through travel agents.

Other notes:

   1. If buying tickets from local scalpers near the train station, you may get fake ones.
   2. When you go to board a train without an escort (guide), they should be cautious not to leave your train ticket to a stranger's hand (he/she may offer to show you the way), even those in uniform unless they are in working position. He may change another fake one secretly to you and get refund from your ticket.
   3. Usually in China the crime rate is comparatively higher at train station area than other parts of the city. So keep an eye on your belongings and travel companions. There may be some pickpockets around you.
   4. At present, China's Railway can only allow to issue the train tickets (hard and soft sleepers) 5-10 days before departure. China Tour Hub can only 99% guarantee the availability of train tickets. In case of unavailability, China Tour Hub reserves the right to change the tour itinerary and mode of transport.
   5. In Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guilin and Wuhan, there are 2 train stations in these cities, please kindly find out in which train station you are supposed to board your train in advance. Otherwise, you may miss your train.

Bathroom (toilet):

The big issue while traveling by train in China is the bathroom on board. At the each end of cars, there is one toilet (one is western seat-style in soft sleeper car). As your train trip progresses, the toilet may get very dirty and smelly, in some cases you have to hold your nose to step in, get everything done ASAP and leave. Usually the toilets at soft sleeper class look better. Please don't forget to bring your own toilet paper since it is not available at bathroom.
Staff:

The staff working on trains has very little knowledge of English except international trains. If possible, please prepare a phrase book for the emergency. In fact, more and more Chinese people, especially younger generations can speak English. Many of them will love to talk with their foreign travel companions on the way.
Meals:

There is a dining car next to soft sleeper car in most trains, while most food is Chinese style. Usually the non-stop trains like Beijing/Shanghai and Beijing/Xian plus those international trains serve some simple Western food. Most of domestic trains don't have an English menu. Passengers (like many Chinese do!) can also challenge their stomach to buy the boxed meals carried by a food trolley during mealtime - USD2-3 /meal.
Luggage:

Clients are suggested to take their luggage with them while traveling by train. You can leave the suitcases in your compartment. Baggage space is limited, so it is better to take smaller and handy luggage rather than large suitcases. Many train stations have lots of stairs up and down before you get into the train. The cases with wheels will be helpful to your way out.