Booking a Train in Beijing

(note: this post was updated in 2019.)

Imagine trying to book a train in Penn Station in New York City when you aren’t sure of your geography, language, and transportation choice.

Do you take the subway, the Long Island Railroad or New Jersey transit to Poughkeepsie? And if you aren’t sure, which help desk do you ask? Well, I think the Beijing train station could be the death of me. I don’t know the language nor the geography, and I am finding that booking a train in Beijing could be impossible.

Thank god for Google and travelers who share.

Tour Guides in China are Overpriced

For a moment, I considered throwing out the self-directed adventure and hiring a tour company to put this trip to Xian together. But why pay a guide to book our transportation when we could just research and figure it all out? I may end up regretting this decision. After all, by the time we get to Beijing, we will have conquered Stockholm, Athens, and Moscow. Might we simply be too exhausted just want the simple choice?

The tour guides would charge us about $1000 for the three of us, including round trip overnight tickets, transport to/from the hotel, tickets into the facility, and lunch while visiting the Warriors. I began to price out the components of the trip, and I discovered our tour guide would pocket about $500. That seemed a bit high, so I trudged forward on my own.

Good Websites Help Immensely

But thank heavens for the maninseat61. If I ever meet him I will kiss him and offer bags of treats. He has provided the best travel-oriented website I think I’ve ever seen. His site covers exactly how to find your train, read your ticket, and board.

From reading his site, I have learned that I can’t book our train tickets more than twenty days in advance. So I have some time to think this through a bit. Thus, I’ll work on Moscow next.