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As we’ve related here amongst our China ravel tips before, Trains are some of the most efficient, affordable and comfortable ways to get around in China. It is certain that everyplace is well connected and the better known places for tourists have tons of options every day. Tickets can usually be bought ten days ahead of time at railway stations, but in the case you need more time there are other train offices where tickets can be purchased up to 18 days in advance.
Chinese people love their trains too and use them often, that’s why we recommend as before to get one’s tickets sooner rather than later. Try and write your hotel concierge ahead of time with exact places and dates. Many hotels, especially among the bigger names are able to go and get the tickets 10 days before for a minimal taxi fee of picking them up, you can pay the hotel the ticket fare on arrival. Remember you just need to send a scanned copy of your passport too.
Sometimes one may need to get tickets even further ahead of time, or one will find that certain tickets are sold at train stations only three days before. This can be a tough thing to wait for if hotels are already booked and you might not be within reach of a train station in the meantime. In this case we recommend seeking out an official train ticket office. This is more like a public office which won’t be found in train stations proper. We have fixed here a photo of one in Shanghai, which we used: (92 Meiyuan Rd. Puxi Shanghai, China) It occupied a small office in a public services building. Our concierge was able to telephone and found it was a two-minute walk from the hotel. He said there are many such offices around cities.
Once we found the address we ventured inside with our handwritten Chinese instructions, courtesy of the concierge. We were shown the appropriate ticket window by a building guard, We gave the exact trains, times and dates we needed along with our passports to the attendant. We were able to pay in cash with only a fee of 5 RMB extra for the service. This was a very handy service that allowed us access to tickets that were not yet being sold by the train station ticket counters. One can buy tickets between any two destinations even if buying in a different city. This is a handy tip that requires a little bit of preparation and some inquiry from a concierge or someone who speaks Chinese that can help one locate the official ticket offices of the railway company.