Headed to China but have no idea how to actually book a train ticket (or even speak a single word of Mandarin?) Not a problem — we promise!
I’ve got good news for anyone going to China — no one in your ILP group even needs to speak Mandarin to adventure around and see some ah-mazing sites. That’s right, you can totally vacation and even live in China and not even speak Chinese! Even when it comes to buying a train ticket for a weekend of shopping at the Beijing Pearl Market (see our tips right here) or the incredible lakes of Jiuzhaigou (seriously, come look at these pictures) you just have to know about a single website and all your train-ticket worries will melt away.
Interested in actually living in China for a semester? Come volunteer with ILP! We put this guide about volunteering in China together to help answer your questions.
Volunteer teach English part-time and have the rest of the day (and every weekend) to explore, plus scheduled vacation time to see The Great Wall, The Terra Cotta Warriors and other sites!
Make C-Trip Your Best Friend
C-Trip is the answer to your prayers. This Chinese website is sooooooo handy when it comes to planning and booking vacations (especially since the website has an English version). Basically, all you’ll need to do is click the “train” tab, select your destination (let’s say you’re taking a train from Shanghai to Beijing), enter your dates, and and click "Search". Once you pick your train (here’s how to know the difference between the trains), click book and pay for your ticket with your American debit or credit card.
What Do I Do Next?
To actually get your ticket, select that you'll pick up your train ticket at the station rather than having it mailed to you. Once you get to the train station, just go to any of the ticket counters and show them your e-confirmation in your email that you've pulled up on your phone. You'll also need your passport. That’s it! No Mandarin necessary.
Big tip for you - make sure you get to the train station plenty early, especially if it's in a bigger city. The lines are often long at a large train station and you could be standing in line for 30 minutes. I'd recommend getting there at least an hour early (if not earlier) because if you miss your train you're just going to have to buy another ticket.
It’s even easy-peasy to know how to read a Chinese ticket (even if you don’t know any Chinese). ILP is here to help make your dream of visiting China totally do-able. International Language Programs is non-profit organization that sends volunteers to live for a semester in China (and a few other countries) so click right here to learn more about that. We can help you have an affordable semester abroad, just click that green button: