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Traveling around China by train (火车 – huǒ chē) is a great way to travel like a local and see the country. With a highly developed rail system that connects all points of this massive country, riding that train in China is much better and cheaper than flying. While taking the train sounds like a great idea in theory, how does one go about procuring tickets? Well, you could pay a high fee to agencies that will do it for you, or you could practice your Chinese and just do it yourself!
First of all, look up the train that you want to take. This is a great online resource for checking train timetables in China. Next up, find your local train ticket office (火车售票处 – huǒ chē shòu piào chù). These are located all over the place, so it shouldn’t be hard.
Finally, put your Chinese skills to the test and order that ticket! To help you practice, here’s a sample conversation between two people in the ticket office. Do your best to just follow along with the Chinese characters and pinyin. If you need it, the English translation can be found below.
nǐ hǎo, wǒ xiǎng wèn nǐ yí xià. bā yuè sān shí hào de piào kě yǐ mǎi ma
kě yǐ. nǐ xiǎng qù nǎ’er
wǒ xiǎng zuò T wǔ chē cóng běi jīng xī zhàn dào guì lín
nǐ yào yìng zuò, yìng wò, hái shì ruǎn wò
ruǎn wò duō shǎo qián
liù bǎi wǔ shí liù kuài yì zhāng
yìng wò ne
yìng wò sì bǎi èr shí bā yì zhāng
好 – 我想买两张硬卧票.
hǎo – wǒ xiǎng mǎi liǎng zhāng yìng wò piào
nǐ yào liǎng gè xià pù hái shì yí gè xià yí gè zhōng
yǒu liǎng gè xià pù ma
好 – 一共多少钱？
hǎo – yí gòng duō shǎo qián
一共八百六十六块. 八月三十号，T5车从北京西站到桂林，两个硬卧，都是下铺. 对吗？
yī gòng bā bǎi liù shí liù kuài. bā yuè sān shí hào, T wǔ chē cóng běi jīng xī zhàn dào guì lín, liǎng gè yìng wò, dōu shì xià pù. duì ma?
nǐ yǒu hù zhào ma
有 – 这是我的，这是我朋友的.
yǒu – zhè shì wǒ de, zhè shì wǒ péng yǒu de
好 – 出票了.
hǎo – chū piào le
bú yòng xiè
Hello. I’d like to ask you a quick question – can I buy tickets for August 30th?
Yes you can. Where would you like to go?
I’d like to take train T5 from Beijing West Station to Guilin.
Do you want a hard seat, hard sleeper, or soft sleeper?
How much is a soft sleeper?
It’s 656 RMB for one ticket.
How about the hard sleeper?
The hard sleeper is 428 RMB per ticket.
Alright – I’d like to buy two hard sleeper tickets.
Do you want two lower bunks or one lower and one middle?
Do you have two lower bunks?
Great – how much is it in total?
In total it’s 866 RMB. August 30th, T5 from Beijing West to Guilin, two hard sleepers, both lower bunks. Right?
Do you have a passport?
Yes – this is mine, and this is my friend’s.
Alright – the tickets have been printed.
If you need more practice, follow along with this YouTube video.