The Cheapest Way to Buy Trans-Siberian Train Tickets in China

Walked to the back of the train for this picture

Shortly after our Egypt trip, Phil and I made a decision to go on our dream trip - the Trans-Siberian railroad.  The timing was perfect.  My brother-in-law, Daniel was finishing up his two-year assignment in China.  That meant we would still have a place to stay in Shanghai, and Sophia and her family would be able to join us in Beijing for a few days.  Now the decision was made, I went on to do research.  It surprised me how little information there was on how to buy the Trans-Siberian train tickets for independent travelers.  There were plenty of agencies and sites selling tickets at a premium.  But to get the absolutely cheapest price was not an easy task.  The best resource I found was The Man in Seat Sixty-One. The site has a lot of information.  I do recommend travelers read through the section on the Trans-Siberian.  However, there was no information on how to buy international train tickets in China.  You can't just walk up to a train station and buy the tickets at the counter.  All the information I found seemed to tell me that the only way was to use a travel agency.

I don't remember what was so funny, I just remember laughing hysterically...

Obviously, I was not going to take that for an answer.  So I went on to search the answer on Chinese sites.  And it really didn't take me long to find the Chinese Tourism Board's Official Agency site, CITS.  From there I quickly found my answer.  We had to go into one of their offices in person, bring our passports, show our Russian visas, then we could purchase the international train tickets.  If you can read Chinese, here is the link to the Price Page.  On the site, there is a page showing all of the CITS offices, but I am not sure if every office listed is able to sell international train tickets.

Phil in the fancy two-berth cabin and our Chinese instant noodles

On the morning of September 4, 2011, we arrived in Beijing by train from Xian.  Soph had arranged a driver for the day, since we had a total of 7 people in our group, including my little nephew, who was two years old.  The driver took us to the Beijing International Hotel.  The CITS head office is located in the hotel's West Lobby.  Once we were there, it was straight forward and easy to buy the tickets.  The staff spoke English and were super nice.  You can buy tickets for trains K3, K19, K23 & K27 here.  All other international trains are Russian or Mongolian.  You will have to buy tickets either through an agency or from the train station in the respective country. If  you can't speak Chinese at all, here is the address of Beijing International Hotel.  Print it out and hand it to the taxi driver.  When you walk in the lobby, go towards the left, there is a corridor there.  And you will see the CITS office.  Before you leave, use the restroom.  They were very nice!  
Beijing International Hotel 北京国际饭店一层西大厅 北京建国门内大街9号 Tel: 010-65120507 Mon-Fri: 9:00 - 12:00, 13:30 - 17:00 Sat, Sun & Holidays: 9:00 - 12:00
  • It was very confusing to find out where are these tickets are actully sold. I had to call so many different people and agents and nobody knows exactly where. Although it is a very well-known line, only a very few poeple had actually done the trip.

  • Ariunaa1

    Hi there,

    We are family of 5, 4 adults and a child planning to do Trans-Siberian trip this summer in July 2011. Can you please tell me, how much did you pay at the end and were the cabins comfortable? Thank you.

    • Our total trip costs, including all ground transportation, food, lodging, really everything but airfare, were $6600 for 2 people over 36 days. We spent quite a bit more than we had planned in China before actually boarding the Trans-Sib, though. Our Huangshan adventure was quite expensive for such a short time. The cabins were very comfortable, but there are only 4 bunks per cabin, unless you go to the open cabins, which is an entirely different experience.

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