Train Tickets in China

Places in China


How much refund can you get when you cancel train tickets in China?

Train tickets in China


Who can get and what kind of discount on train tickets in China?


When should you buy the train tickets in China?



In May, meaning 3 months after the Chinese New Year and me being sick, my mum came to China to visit me. I needed this break. My body and mind each time seemed to be more and more tired. The last week of April was a big struggle to stay motivated and train hard.


Before coming to China, when I was still in Poland, my mum and sister declared that they will visit me in China. In the end, my sister didn’t have money and my mum was scared to go alone. But, she was willing to overcome the fear and come anyway.


 We were speaking about it in March: “Mum – I said – it would be really good if you come to China in May, instead of September or October.

– Well…  it actually could work – she answered slowly – You know… I met one girl in the course I am doing right now – which was Natural Therapy and Herbs – her name is Marta and she was studying in China 10 years ago. Maybe she would like to come with me?”

Next time we were all talking together – my mum, Marta, and me – and planning the two-and-a-half-week trip across China. Marta was very happy that she could visit locations of her memories and show them to her 7 years old son – Ignacy. We chose 6 exciting and interesting places in China: Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Avatar Mountain, and Beijing.

Despite our best efforts to avoid troubles, they couldn’t pass us by. We stayed positive and we called all our troubles – adventures. In the end, we had a good time and we had learned from our mistakes.


Cancel Train Tickets in China

It started simply. One month before my mum’s, Marta’s and her son’s arrival, I bought normal tickets for all of us. After two weeks my travel companions changed their minds and I had to cancel one trip and buy tickets for two new destinations. If they would tell me that a bit earlier, I could get a full refund. Who would have known? Anyway, I still got some money back.

Places in China


  1. If you cancel a train ticket more than 15 days before departure, you receive a full refund.
  2. 15 days till 2 days (48 hours) before departure, you lose 5 % of the original price.
  3. 48 hours to 24 hours before departure, you lose 10%.
  4. Less than 24 hours before departure, you lose 20%.

All Train Tickets Sold Out

Finally, my mum, Marta, and Ignacy arrived in Beijing on the 26th of April. They didn’t make any reservation for the train from Beijing to Qufu (the city close to my Shaolin Kung Fu school). Last time, when I was with my dad, we didn’t have any problems buying these tickets. The trains from Beijing to Qufu were available every hour. In my head, it was impossible that all the trains could be full.


Not in China !!!


If the trip is limited in time and you don’t want any surprises, it is better to buy all train tickets at least one or two weeks before.

They arrived in the morning around 8 o’clock and all the trains to Qufu, even the ones going to the nearby cities were already booked. The earliest available tickets were for the next day. It was very inconvenient. We had planned only two days to see my school and Qufu city – a Confucius origin, and these two days were not enough, not to say if they would come a day later.

Luckily or unluckily, somehow with Marta’s knowledge of the Chinese language, they managed to buy 3 tickets to Jinan – a city situated around 200 km from Qufu. I said luckily or unluckily, because:

Firstly, they bought the tickets “on the side” from illegal sellers for the price way too high. Secondly, they didn’t know if there will be an available train from Jinan to Qufu.

Everything took a lot of time to organize. They arrived in Jinan around 9 p.m. They stayed on the same platform. The train to Qufu, luckily for them, was just in 5 min. They didn’t have time to buy tickets. Very probably, if they tried to get them from the counter, they would have faced the same problem as in Beijing –  no places available.

Instead, they just got on the train, hoping everything would end up positively.

It did.

They didn’t encounter any further troubles. They arrived very late in Qufu, took a taxi to the hostel, and went to sleep, thinking: “Was the decision to come to China the right one?” They were tired and a bit disappointed with the first hours in a new country.

And this was just the beginning.

Free Train Tickets In China

On the day they arrived at Qufu and we all met in the hostel, I found out – by accident while talking to the hostel personnel – that I could have bought the tickets for Ignacy (7-year-old child) with a discount.

Places in China


The rules are very interesting. The age doesn’t really matter. It is the height that they are looking at. Accordingly:

  1. If your height is no more than 120cm, you travel for free (in a train, however in buses sometimes you have to pay 50%);
  2. Between 120 – 150 cm you get 50% discount;
  3. Above 150 cm you have to pay a full price;

Ignacy was 123 cm high.

Other useful information: It was impossible to change the tickets at the small counter in the city. Instead, I had to drive 30 min to the main railway station.

Trying To Change The Train Tickets For Discount Ones

Not all tickets were available to change. In some cases, the trains were already full. For me, it was not clear at all. “I had a ticket, meaning a place. I didn’t want a new place. I just wanted a discount.”

However, to make it happen, they had to book a new place and afterward cancel the old ticket. If the train was full, they couldn’t give me a discount…

I was standing at the counter. Behind me was a line of Chinese people staring at me with impatience. I was trying to understand the guy behind the window. Despite my best effort, I couldn’t get any of what he was saying.

I knew I had to call a translator from the school. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use my phone. I looked around. I saw a young guy close by. I showed him with my hands that I would like to make a call.

I could feel the tension in the line building up. I felt uncomfortable.

“What can I do?! I am not Chinese, guys !” – I screamed to them in my thoughts.

Luckily, the young man gave me his phone and I was able to call Joy – the chief of the school.

Now I understood. If they cancel the old ticket before buying a new one, somebody during this few seconds could book that place and I would end up with empty hands. This is how it looks in China. The whole country is a big net, which works super fast.

I received four tickets out of six with a discount. It wasn’t bad. The new places were of course far away from the old places. We didn’t care though. Now, we really hoped everything will go smoothly.

The best is yet to be.

Robert Browning

Shaolin Kung Fu


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