How to Buy Train Tickets in Chinese (Part I)

One of the best things about traveling in China is the country’s convenient transportation network. China’s cities are well connected by trains, which are generally quick, comfortable, and with regular departures to choose from. To enjoy your trip in China, you must learn some essential phrases, e.g. how to buy train tickets in Chinese, etc. You get learn more through some travel Chinese lessons.

Travel by train in China

What kinds of train tickets “火车票(huǒchēpiào)” are available? Long distance trains tend to offer a number of options when it comes to tickets, including hard seats “硬座(yìngzuò)” and sleeping berths “卧铺(wòpù).” If you prefer to lie down and rest during your journey, sleeping berths are the best choice. Carriages with hard berths “硬卧(yìngwò)” usually have six berths arranged with two on the bottom, two in the middle, and two on top. They face each other and share a public aisle way which other passengers will use.
The bottom bunk “下铺(xiàpù)” tends to become a seat for those on the upper bunks during non-sleeping hours, so you might prefer a middle “中铺(zhōngpù)” or top bunk “上铺(shàngpù)” for more privacy.
For a greater sense of privacy, you can opt for a soft sleeper berth “软卧(ruǎnwò),” which is in a private room of four berths and a closed door that leads to the public aisle way.

Buy a train ticket in China

Chéngkè: Nǐ hǎo! Qǐng gěi wǒ yìzhāng Xī ’ān dào Shànghǎi de huǒchēpiào.
乘客:     你 好!  请    给   我  一 张     西安    到    上海        的  火车票。
Passenger: Please give me a train ticket from Xi’an to Shanghai.

Shòupiàoyuán: Hǎo de, qǐngwèn nín yào jǐ hào de piào?
售票员:           好   的,请问       您   要 几 号  的  票?
Booking-office clerk: OK. What is the departure date?

Chéngkè: Shíyī yuè jiǔ hào.
乘客:      11    月   9    号。
Passenger: November 9th.

Shòupiàoyuán: Nín yào yìngzuò hái shì wòpù?
售票员:           您   要   硬座还   是  卧铺
Booking-office clerk: Hard seat or sleeping berth?

Chéngkè: Yìngzuò.
乘客:      硬座。
Passenger: Hard seat.

Shòupiàoyuán: Hǎo de. Yígòng yìbǎièrshíqī kuài.
售票员:           好   的,一共    127             块。
Booking-office clerk: OK. 127 yuan in total.

On shorter train rides, you will generally have the choice of a seat in either 1st class “一等(yīděng)” or 2nd class “二等(èrděng).” The difference is usually that 1st class seats are larger and provide more wiggle room and leg space, but the 2nd class hard seats “二等座(èrděngzuò)” are fairly comfortable as well.
Most importantly, don’t forget your passport “护照(hùzhào)”! You’ll need it to buy your ticket and to board the train.

How to buy a train ticket in China

Chéngkè: Nǐ hǎo! Qǐng gěi wǒ yìzhāng dào Shànghǎi de huǒchēpiào.
乘客:     你  好! 请     给  我  一张       到   上海        的  火车票。
Passenger: One train ticket to Shanghai, please.

Shòupiàoyuán: Nín yào yīděngzuò háishì èrděngzuò?
售票员:           您   要    一等座      还是    二等座?
Booking-office clerk: Do you want a 1st or 2nd class seat?

Chéngkè: Yīděngzuò. Xièxie.
乘客:     一等座。    谢谢!
Passenger: 1st class.Thank you.

Shòupiàoyuán: Wǔshí yuán. Qǐng gěi wǒ kàn xià nín de hùzhào. Xièxie!
售票员:           50       元。   请    给   我 看    下  您  的  护照。   谢谢!
Booking-office clerk: That’s 50 yuan. Passport, please.

Travel by train in China

If you are desperate to get to your destination and cannot wait for a later train, or if you are traveling during a peak time and there are not any seats left, you might be able to get a standing-room-only ticket “站票(zhànpiào).” For this type of ticket you will not have an assigned seat, so you will only be allowed to stand in the corridor during the journey. This type of ticket is only advisable or very short trips!


Chéngkè: Nǐ hǎo! Wǒ yào yìzhāng míngtiān cóng Shēnzhèn dào Běijīng de yìngwò.
乘客:     你 好! 我  要    一张       明天        从     深圳         到    北京     的   硬卧。
Passenger: Hello! I want a hard-sleeper berth from Shenzhen to Beijing for tomorrow.

Shòupiàoyuán: Duìbuqǐ, xiànzài zhǐ yǒu zhànpiào.
售票员:           对不起, 现在   只   有   站票。
Booking-office clerk: Sorry. There are only standing-room-only tickets.

Chéngkè: Nà qǐng bāngmáng kàn xià xīngqī yī yǒu wòpù ma?
乘客:      那  请     帮忙          看    下  星期  一 有   卧铺  吗?
Passenger: Could you please help to check if there are any sleeping berths on Monday?

Shòupiàoyuán: Hǎo de, qǐng shāoděng. Xīngqī yī yǒu wòpù.
售票员:           好   的,请    稍等。      星期    一 有   卧铺。
Booking-office clerk: Ok, a moment, please. Yes, we have sleeping berths on Monday.

Chéngkè: Qǐng gěi wǒ yìzhāng xīngqī yī de wòpù, xiè xie!
乘客:     请      给  我   一张    星期   一 的  卧铺,谢谢!
Passenger: A hard-sleeper berth for Monday. Thank you.

Understanding Your Train Ticket

Once you have successfully bought your ticket, you will need to read it to understand which platform, carriage, and seat you need to head to.
The first step is to find the train number, usually printed on the top of the ticket, and check on the departure board in the station to see which platform “站台(zhàntái)” you should go to.

Chinese train ticket

Your carriage “车厢号(chēxiāng hào)” and seat number “座位号(zuòwèi hào)” should be printed on the ticket. If you are still not sure where to go and where to sit, there are always attendants and railway staff on the platform to help point you in the right direction.

Related Post:

10 Essential Chinese Sentences for Traveling in China (Part 1)
10 Essential Chinese Sentences for Traveling in China (Part 2)
“驴友(lǘyŏu)” – What It Means and Why They Are Popular
Let’s Go! “驴友(lǘyŏu)!”

HSK 3 quiz

1. If you want a sleeping berth train ticket, you could ask for any of the following except _____.
A. “硬卧(yìngwò)”
B. “软卧(ruǎnwò)”
C. “硬座(yìngzuò)”
2. If you bought a “站票(zhànpiào),” you got a ____.
A. 1st class seat ticket
B. 2nd class sleeping berth ticket
C. standing-room-only ticket

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