The Spring Festival travel rush has begun, with the first round of train tickets going on sale today (January 3).
You can also now pay for tickets via WeChat and check up on the status of your train by connecting your WeChat account to the 12306 ticketing website (available only in Chinese for now). If you're looking to book tickets in English, Trip (previously known as 'Ctrip') has you covered.
Train tickets are able to be purchased up to 30 days in advance, with new tickets being released daily during specific timeslots. That means sales for February 1 trips are available for purchase on January 3, while tickets for February 2 can be purchased starting from January 4 (and so on). In Shanghai, bookings can also be made from agencies around the city and at train station ticket windows starting from Friday, January 5.
Tickets sell out fast, though, so if you're looking to book, we'd recommend doing it as early as possible. That means making sure your trip is ready to be booked from your platform of choice as soon as tickets are released for your travel date of choice.
Here's a general schedule of when tickets will be released online for China's major high-speed railway stations each day (note: may be subject to change depending on availability; consult your booking platform of choice for exact details):
• Beijing South Railway Station: 12.30pm
• Tianjin South Railway Station: 1pm
• Guangzhou South Railway Station: 1pm
• Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station: 1.30pm
• Shenzhen Pingshan Railway Station: 2pm
• Shanghai Railway Station: 2.30pm
• Shanghai South Railway Station: 3.30pm
The (in)famous Chunyun period (春运), which is the largest annual migration of humans on Earth, typically starts a fortnight before New Year's Eve and lasts forty days and nights. Up to 357 million rail journeys were made during Chunyun 2017.
The 2018 Chunyun period will start on February 1 and last until March 12. Chinese New Year falls on February 16 this year.
READ MORE: How-To Guide - Chinese Train Travel