board a train on platform

A Chinese station platform

After collecting the train ticket(s) you booked online, you need to know how to board your train correctly.

And the most important thing among all the steps is to know how to find the right platform to board — sometimes even a Chinese people get confused with this.

This article explains every detail about boarding trains in China, including images within a station pictures and translations of signs to help you understand how the process works.
If you don't know how to collect online-booking tickets, please read How to Collect Tickets in China firstly.

Step 1. Go to Your Departure Station in Advance

Although we always remind our customers to arrive at the station in advance, sometimes they still get late and miss their train. This might cause huge losses for their whole journey and ticket fares.
What to Do If I Missed My Train?

To avoid this situation, we highly recommend you:
  • Arrive at the station 30–60 minutes before the departure time if you have collected your ticket(s) before.
  • Arrive at the station at least 1 hour before the departure time if you decide to collect your ticket(s) on the departure date.
  • If you are not sure about distance and time to go the station, please consult your hotel reception before your travel date.
  • If you go to the station during rush hours, please depart an extra 30 minutes prior.

Step 2. Pass Through the Security Check with Your Passport and Train Ticket

Passengers need to go through a security check before entering the station:

  1. Show your passport and train ticket to the station clerk to check.
  2. Have your baggage checked on the security scanner conveyor belt.
    Find out what can’t be carried on the train by reading Baggage Rules of China Rail.
  3. Walk through a detector gate and be scanned by the station staff.
  4. Successfully enter the train station.

Please note that some train stations' ticket windows are built inside of the train station. In that case, you just need to show your passport to pass through the security check, and collect your train ticket(s) after entering the station.

And nowadays some stations have automatic ticket checking machines/face-identification machines, which are not available for foreigners to use. Please queue up in the line for manual ticket check.

the process of having the security check in China

Step 3. Find the Right Waiting Area

An open-plan waiting section and a waiting room

After you have collected your ticket(s) and pass through the security check, you need to find your check-in gate and wait in the nearest waiting area (just like waiting for the flight).
Some stations’ waiting areas are built as waiting rooms, while other stations’ waiting areas are built as open-plan waiting sections.

In most cases, the check-in gate number is printed on the upper right corner of your ticket:

Boarding information on a Chinese train ticket

Under this circumstance, you can directly go to the check-in gate and wait to board.

However, sometimes the check-in gate number is not printed on your train ticket. In this case, you need to find your check-in gate on the LED screen at the station.

First, you need to know your train number. You can find it on your train ticket:

Train number on a Chinese train ticket

Then, please find the check-in gate number which is corresponded to your train number on the LED screen.

The train numbers are usually in the first column on the LED screen:

Find the boarding gate on a LED screen

Or, you can ask for help from the station clerk:

  • 这是我的车票。请问,我应该去哪里候车?
    (This is my train ticket. Could you please tell me where to wait for my train?)

Step 4. Have Your Ticket Checked at the Check-In Gate

Please hold your ticket and queue up to board the train 15–30 minutes before its departure time.

  • If your ticket is blue, you can scan it with the machine to pass through the check-in gate (just like taking a subway train).
  • If your ticket is red, you need to queue up in the line for manual ticket checks to pass through the gate.

Step 5. Find the Right Platform

After passing through the check-in gate, please follow the signs to get to the right platform. The key is to find the platform number which corresponds to your train number.

Follow the signs to reach the right platform
  • 这是我的车票,你能告诉我我应该去哪个站台吗?
    (This is my ticket. Could you tell me which platform I should go to?)

Step 6. Find the Right Carriage to Board and Sit in the Right Seat

Get on to a right carriage according to the number

There is a small screem showing the carriage number

Each train carriage has a small LED screen showing the carriage number. Please board the right carriage by reading the carriage number on your train ticket correctly.
You also need to find your seat according to the information on your ticket.

How to Read a Chinese Train Ticket?

You might find these sentences helpful when looking for your seat or if would like to change seats with someone else:

  • 请问我的座位在哪里?
    (Could you please tell me where my seat is?)
  • 对不起,我和我的同伴不在一起,请问你是否愿意和我换一下座位让我和我的同伴坐在一起?
    (Excuse me, my companion and I are not seated together. Do you mind swapping your seat with me so that I can sit with my companion?)

Leave the Station

Please remember to keep your ticket with you during the whole journey because your ticket is checked again as you leave the station.

China Train Booking App

We've focused on helping foreigners of their journeys in China for over 20 years, and we are confident to say that we have an excellent service team and we are the expert of traveling and transportation.

Our China Train Booking app has helped millions of foreigners booking their Chinese train ticekts without any language barriers and hassles.

If you are ready to discover China by trains, why not try out our China Train Booking app to get your train tickets within 3 minutes after booking!