2016-02-14newbie

How to Buy a Train Ticket in China

Are you taking the train in China and need tickets? Are you unsure how to buy train tickets in China? In this lesson, we will learn all about it.

To purchase a train ticket in Mainland China, you can go to any railway station a maximum of 58 days ahead of departure. Unfortunately, in many places it is difficult to buy tickets using only English, so let’s learn how to say “I want to buy a train ticket” in Chinese.

Hover over any word to show translation
nǐ hǎo
你好
你好
Hello!
 
I
yào
to want, to ask for
mǎi
to buy, to purchase
huǒ chē
火车
火車
train
piào
ticket
 

Hello! I would like to buy a train ticket.

Character set
Pinyin

You can also use a numeral-classifier compound in the sentence to express how many tickets you want.

Hover over any word to show translation
nǐ hǎo
你好
你好
Hello!, Hi!
 
I, me
yào
to want, to ask for
mǎi
to buy, to purchase
liǎng
two
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
huǒ chē
火车
火車
train
piào
ticket
 

Hello! I would like to buy two train tickets.

Character set
Pinyin

“张 [zhāng]” is the classifier for flat objects, like sheets of paper. To express the number of tickets wanted, we use “number+张”. Here are some examples of how you can use 张.

Hover over any word to show translation
1
1
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
huǒ chē
火车
火車
train
piào
ticket
 
/
liǎng
two
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
zhǐ
paper
 
/
5
5
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
zhuō zi
桌子
桌子
table, desk
 
/
shí
10
10
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
chuáng
bed

1 train ticket / 2 sheets of paper / 5 tables / 10 Beds

Character set
Pinyin

Ok, now the staff knows how many train tickets you want. But you have to tell them when and where you want to go, right? Let’s see how you do that!

Hover over any word to show translation
I
yào
to want, to ask for
mǎi
to buy, to purchase
sān
3
3
yuè
month
1
1
hào
day of a month
cóng
from
běi jīng
北京
北京
Beijing
dào
to (a place)
shàng hǎi
上海
上海
Shanghai
de
(used after an attribute)
 
huǒ chē
火车
火車
train
piào
ticket
 
),
shí jiān
时间
時間
time
yuè
the more... the more
zǎo
early
yuè
the more... the more
hǎo
good, well
 

I would like to buy a ticket for March 1st, from Beijing to Shanghai. The earlier in the morning the better.

Character set
Pinyin

Let's take a quick look at some of the grammar structures in the above sentence.

从[cóng]~到[dào]~ From~to~

The expression 从~到 (from..to) can be used for both for time and places, to express e.g.: from one place to another, from one time to another.

Examples

  • 从中国到美国 / cóng Zhōngguó dào Měiguó / from China to America
  • 从1点到5点 / cóng yīdiǎn dào wǔdiǎn / from 1 to 5 o’clock

You can read more about this structure on the grammar wiki

越[yuè]~越[yuè]~ the more .. the more

This construction is used to express that one change causes something else to also change.

Examples

  • 越长越大 / yuè zhǎng yuè dà / bigger and bigger
  • 越来越美 / yuè lái yuè měi / more and more beautiful

Read more on this structure on the grammar wiki

The above example can be used when you don't know the train timetable, to let the staff give you some options for departure time. If you know the timetable however, you can tell staff the correct time of course. In that situation, you can say like this:

Hover over any word to show translation
I
yào
to want, to ask for
mǎi
to buy, to purchase
sān
3
3
yuè
month
liù
6
6
hào
day of a month
xià wǔ
下午
下午
afternoon
1
1
diǎn
o'clock
èr shí
20
20
fēn
minute
cóng
from
shàng hǎi
上海
上海
Shanghai
dào
to (a place)
běi jīng
北京
北京
Beijing
de
(used after an attribute)
yìng wò
硬卧
硬臥
hard sleeper
piào
ticket
 

I would like to buy a hard sleeper ticket for March 6th at 1:20 PM, from Shanghai to Beijing.

Character set
Pinyin

硬卧[yìng wò] is short for 硬席卧铺[yìng xí wò pù], which is a sleeper train ticket class with a hard bunk bed. China is very big, and if you want to take a train from Guangxi Nanning to Beijing it will be take around 28 hours, so it’s better to have a bed to sleep in. The 硬卧 also has three types, which are 上铺[shàng pù] (upper bunk), 中铺[zhōng pù] (middle bunk), 下铺[xià pù] (lower bunk).

There are a lot of seat classes in China, let’s have a look.

Train seat classes

Hover over any word to show translation
gāo jí
高级
高級
high grade, luxury
ruǎn wò
软卧
軟臥
soft sleeper
 
ruǎn wò
软卧
軟臥
soft sleeper
 
yìng wò
硬卧
硬臥
hard sleeper
 
shāng wù
商务
商務
business
zuò
seat
 
tè děng
特等
特等
special grade
zuò
seat
 
yī děng
一等
一等
first class
zuò
seat
 
èr děng
二等
二等
second class
zuò
seat
 
ruǎn zuò
软座
軟座
soft seat
 
yìng zuò
硬座
硬座
hard seat
 
none, not
zuò
seat
 

Luxury Soft Sleeper, Soft Sleeper, Hard Sleeper, Business Class Seat, VIP Class Seat, First Class Seat, Second Class Seat, Soft Seat, Hard Seat, Standing.

Character set
Pinyin

Ok! Now we can say the time, the destination and the type of seat we want! But we still cannot buy a ticket! Why? Because we have to show our passport or identity card. In China, your name and your passport number will be printed on the ticket, and only the person on the ticket can ride the train.

Hover over any word to show translation
zhè
this
shì
is
I, my
de
~'s (possessive particle)
hù zhào
护照
護照
passport
 
。/
zhè
this
shì
is
I, my
de
~'s (possessive particle)
shēn fèn zhèng
身份证
身份證
identity card
 

Here is my passport. Here is my ID.

Character set
Pinyin

Now we know all we need to know! Let's summarize:

Hover over any word to show translation
nǐ hǎo
你好
你好
Hello!, Hi!
 
I, me
yào
to want, to ask for
mǎi
to buy, to purchase
liǎng
two
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
huǒ chē
火车
火車
train
piào
ticket
 
1
1
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
shì
is, are
sān
3
3
yuè
month
1
1
hào
day of a month
cóng
from
běi jīng
北京
北京
Beijing, capital of People's Republic of China
dào
to (a place)
shàng hǎi
上海
上海
Shanghai
de
(used to form a nominal expression)
 
shí jiān
时间
時間
time, period
yuè
the more... the more
zǎo
early
yuè
the more... the more
hǎo
good, well
 
1
1
zhāng
classifier for flat objects, sheet
shì
is, are
sān
3
3
yuè
month
liù
6
6
hào
day of a month
xià wǔ
下午
下午
afternoon, p.m.
cóng
from
shàng hǎi
上海
上海
Shanghai
dào
to (a place)
běi jīng
北京
北京
Beijing, capital of People's Republic of China
de
(used to form a nominal expression)
 
jià gé
价格
價格
price
yuè
the more... the more
pián yi
便宜
便宜
cheap, inexpensive
yuè
the more... the more
hǎo
good, well
 
zhè
this, these
shì
is, are
I, me
de
(used after an attribute)
hù zhào
护照
護照
passport
 
xiè xie
谢谢
謝謝
thanks, thank you
 

Hello. I would like to buy two train tickets. One for March 1st, from Beijing to Shanghai. The earlier in the day the better. One for March 6th in the afternoon, from Shanghai to Beijing. The cheaper the price the better. Here is my passport, thank you!

Character set
Pinyin

Finally you can get your ticket!

Train ticket

But, oh no! The ticket is entirely in Chinese!! How do you read it? Let's have a look.

  • D1770058576 / Ticket Number
  • 上海 / Shànghǎi / Departure Station
  • T110次 / T110 cì / Train Number
  • 北京 / Běijīng / Arrival Station
  • 2014年10月18日 18:14开 / 2014nián 10yuè 18rì 18:14kāi / Departure Year.Month.Date.Hour
  • 03车044号 / 03 chē 044 hào / Seat Number
  • 177.50元 / 177.50yuán / Price(CNY)
  • 新空调硬座 / xīnkōngtiáo yìngzuò / Class
  • 限乘当日当次车 / xiàn chéng dāngrì dāngcì chē / Rule ("Only valid for this date and this train")
  • 陈晓东 / Chén xiǎo dōng / Passenger’s Name
  • 4103271992****5014 / Passenger’s Passport Number
  • 候车室5 / hòuchēshì 5 / Waiting Room

Now you have your ticket and can get on the right train!
Have a nice trip!