Generally speaking, China domestic trains start to check in 15-30 minutes before departure. Train stations are large and busy especially in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, etc; it takes a while to get the tickets from the counter and find your train. Therefore, it is advisable to arrive at the rail station at least 60 minutes before departure, and during spring festival or other Chinese national holidays, you’d better to arrive 2 hours earlier.
Here are some basic steps for train boarding.
Usually the travel agent will book the ticket for you online, and send you the booking code. You need to get to the train station at least 1.5 hours early and line up at the ticket counter to get the train tickets by showing the original passport + booking code. Please do remember this.
If you are boarding a train to Tibet, the travel agent will send you the Tibet Travel Permit beforehand, which you need to print out TWICE for boarding the train.
The train offers some food and drinks, but you may also prepare some drinks, fruits, snacks, etc for the long train ride.
Step 1 Security Check
Which you will be requested to show your ticket and passport when entering the rail station. There are security checks (including X-ray luggage checks) at the entrance of each railway station, where your baggage will be checked.
Step 2 Find the right waiting room
After the security check, you should check from the electronic screen and find out the right waiting room to go. In some big cities, departure information is in both Chinese and English, while some other cities may only show Chinese, but do not worry, you could always get the help from the train station staffs or other passengers, or simply find your train by yourselves according to train info shown on your ticket. Note: One waiting room usually will be used by a few trains rather than just one.
Step 3 Passing the ticket gate and get into the platform
In most cases, check-in starts 30 minutes before the train's departure. But sometimes G, C & D trains may start check in 15-20 minutes. When your train starts the check-in process, you should stand in a queue and go through the ticket barrier. At the barrier you need to show your ticket and passport.
Step 4 Board a train compartment correctly
There is specific compartment and seat number on you train ticket. You are required to board a train from the certain compartment and take the certain seat according to your ticket.