Back to top Chinese trains link virtually all main cities and towns in China, and are a safe, comfortable & civilised way to travel, even for families or women travelling alone.Chinese trains generally have four classes, although you won't find every class on every train: Chinese train numbers usually start with a letter, which indicates the category of train.
However, a temporary shortening to 30 days in early 2017 seems to have become permanent.
Yes they do, and most long-distance trains get fully-booked days ahead.
At other times, trains can still sell out but it's usually possible to secure seats or sleepers a few days ahead. If you run an enquiry on for today, tomorrow or a few days time, you'll see how many tickets are left in each class for each train.
As I write this, most Beijing-Shanghai trains are sold out for the day after tomorrow, but a few trains still have seats left the day after that. First the good news: Chinese Railways launched online booking in 2011 at
Luggage & bikes on Chinese trains Recommended guidebooks for China Travel insurance Hotels in Beijing Hotels in Shanghai Hotels in Xian Hotel suggestions in Beijing & Shanghai Chinese Railways. Reservations usually open 30 days before departure for online bookings and 28 days before departure for sale at stations, for most long-distance trains.
Some overnight D-category sleeper trains only open 20 days ahead, some C-category trains only 10 days ahead. The booking horizon used to be 12 days (10 days at stations), but was increased to 20 days in January 2013, then to 60 days in December 2014.
But there's plenty of availability in all classes tomorrow (2nd August) including 13 seats in business class and 36 seats in 1st class and 617 in 2nd class.
Collecting your tickets at Beijing railway station ticket office...
But in all other cases, long-distance train tickets often sell out days before departure.