Trip.com Trains Review
• Really the only place available to book China Trains
Ease of Use
For many years Trip.com has been the undisputed leader when it comes to China trains tickets, which is what you would expect from a Chinese company of course. The slick experience is available on pc, mobile and in app form and is without a doubt the best experience out there, although there are a few other competitors in recently. In recent years Trip.com’s train coverage has expanded into other countries and regions, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the UK and other major European countries like France, Germany and Spain. Unfortunately the experience is nowhere near as nice as their China trains product, and feels a little bit unfinished. Having said that it’s still solid overall and definitely worth checking out if you’re heading to one of those countries. They often give away promo codes for trains when you book a hotel in those countries so their worth looking out for.
One of the features Trip.com offers is seat selection, which is generally much better than their competitors. Although the seats aren’t guaranteed, if you’re booking early you should have no trouble getting the seats you want. Trip.com also supports purchasing “return tickets”. In actual fact there are no such thing as return tickets when it comes to trains in China, so be aware that you’re actually just buying two single tickets. It is useful however as you can pay within one transaction. Another handy feature is the ability to pre-book tickets before the 30 day booking window opens.. This quirk of China’s train system can be quite annoying but with Trip.com’s system they’ll snap up your tickets the moment they become available. Their platform allows you the purchase all classes of tickets including the premium business class, and all kinds of seats and bunks on slower speed trains and overnight trains as well. Of course, child tickets are also supported.
Rail prices in China are set by the government and don’t change depending on where you book. As Trip.com obviously needs to make a profit they charge a small booking fee on top of each ticket which you can see details of in the “Payment and Fees” section. Most of their competitors charge similar prices or higher. For European trains their prices appear to cost more that other competitors such as Trainline, however are still very reasonable overall. For products like Korea trains, they are almost exclusive to Trip.com, and their prices compare reasonably to the local competitors.
All routes and classes are available for all trains, for both their China and non-China train offerings.
Trip.com’s train offering appear to be available across all their different sites, which means around 20 languages in total. The China trains product is available on desktop, mobile app, as well as mobile web – with the app being the best bet if you’re into mobile. For their non-China travel products, Germany, UK and Korean trains appear to be available on their desktop website, however only Korea trains appear to be available on their mobile website, with Europeans trains being listed as coming soon. As with other Trip.com products their app is clearly their strongest product so we’d recommend downloading that.
One of the disadvantages of Trip.com is that they charge a booking fee. For China trains this ranges from 20 to 70rmb per ticket, and appears to be based off of how far you are traveling. Expect to pay 30rmb for most 1-3 hour trips. They don’t however add any extra credit card fees on top so that’s a bonus. When it comes to changes and cancellations they’re all done according to the standards imposed by China Rail and don’t attract and additional charges besides that. Depends of what currency you have selected, beside any credit and debit card, you can also use PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay. If you happen to be living in China, Alipay, WeChat Pay and local UnionPay credit and debit cards are also selected if you are paying in CNY. Similarly for trains in other countries, Trip.com also charges a booking fee like most competitors. Once again, there are no additional charges for changes and refunds besides what the operators charge, but be careful as some tickets are non-refundable (as per supplier rules).
If you do a quick search you’ll find that Trip.com, as with a lot of other OTAs, has some horror stories floating around. That said it also has a fair amount of positive feedback, especially in the app stores. It gets a Trustscore of 3.5/5 on TrustPilot, which isn’t a great score, but it’s also not terrible considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic which has no doubt battered travel company’s reputations.
One of the advantages of booking China Trains with Trip.com is that have a lot of experience in this area, especially with their parent company selling tens of thousands of tickets per day. Thus, the service you will receive for China train booking is second-to-none. As with most Trip.com products, service is available through phone, email or service chat directly within their app/website so you’ll be spoiled for choice. They can even help you in multiple different languages if English isn’t your preferred languages.
When if comes to booking China Trains, Trip.com is a sure bet. For the best experience we recommend you download their mobile app. This way you’ll have a record of your ticket’s with you while you are traveling. If you're travelling elsewhere in the world they are worth a quick look but probably better to stick with one of the other major competitors.