Old Aug 2, 06, 1:11 am
Peter N-H
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 153
The posting immediately above has it about right. The difficulty of obtaining train tickets varies from place to place and time to time, but in general is overstated. I almost always buy for myself at railway stations, and can't remember the last time I failed to obtain the ticket I wanted, typically for travel the next day.

The advice to use the ticket bureaux scattered around all major cities (and usually marked on locally produced maps with the railway symbol) is sound, with, as said, a standard Y5 surcharge for those with a terminal on the railway system. But there are travel agencies all over the place that will obtain the tickets for you by going to the station themselves. The service charge is typically Y20 per ticket, and will include delivery to your hotel. (Hotel-based agencies may try for Y60 or Y80 per ticket, however.)

In Xi'an most branches of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China sell railway tickets for Y5, making obtaining them easier than in many other cities.

It's the obsession with booking everything in advance (hotels and transport) that makes travel in China seem tricky. This isn't how China works, and you are best to book as you go. There are very many agencies willing to do the running about for you for a modest fee.

Peter N-H
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