Get Your Ticket to Ride

Too many times have we missed trains because of the eternal queues to buy tickets. What is taking so long?! Skip the lines and join the modern age with Dongguan’s ticketing machines. Just don’t forget your passport.


The opening of Dongguan’s metro is the first stepping stone towards linking the entire region via rail. Since opening, both ends of Line 2 have been able to conveniently bring you to neighboring cities, which is a great quick weekend escape.

At the southern tip of the line waits Humen station. There, a high-speed train (Gao Tie) connection offers you destinations of either Shenzhen North or Guangzhou South stations. Both trips take roughly twenty minutes and will cost you around 40 RMB. Initially, this might sound good, but bear in mind, these trains will take you to stations that are actually on the outskirts and require further metro/bus travel to get to the city centers.

For an extra 15 RMB and 10 more minutes, you can also take the train from Humen to Futian. This is definitely a better option to get into the center of Shenzhen more quickly. However, be careful not to confuse this station with the Futian checkpoint if you are merely attempting to cross the border to Hong Kong. This is a separate station entirely, which is at the far southern end of Shenzhen’s red, Longhua Line.

At the other end of Line 2 is Shilong, the home of Dongguan’s official train station. The options here are slightly slower and a shade more expensive than the Gao Tie, with trains taking about forty minutes to go in either direction and several stations in between. Despite the negatives, this station can take you directly into the heart of Guangzhou or to the Luohu border crossing in Shenzhen.

How to buy
There are a few ways you can obtain a train ticket, but some can be more laborious than others.

If you opt for the old-fashioned waiting in line method, prepare for some serious high blood pressure. The queues will generally take anything from ten minutes to half an hour and people will be nonchalantly pushing in constantly. After all this, you might possibly be told there are no tickets available. This approach should be your last resort.

The more tech savvy among you may attempt booking with a smart phone. This technique may prove to be slightly more efficient, provided that you don’t end up still waiting in some line at the station to collect your ticket. The trick is to find one of the train station outlets, or travel agencies, in your area. Ask around, they shouldn’t be too hard to find.

There, you can either collect pre-booked tickets or arrange your trip then and there. For an extra 5 RMB, this is a quick and simple alternative. The satisfaction of effortlessly breezing through the pandemonium of a crowded ticket hall is priceless in itself.

Finally, we come to the automated ticket dispensing machines. This is a great option for those people who forgot or had no time to buy tickets in advance. There are two types and they both generally have shorter queues. One accepts Chinese ID cards only; the other has a passport option. Because English didn’t seem to be available on the machines we tried, we took the liberty of mapping out the steps (left) to help you through the process.

Whenever possible, try to buy tickets in advance. We tried multiple machines at different stations and some worked, while others didn’t. If you can’t get your passport scanned, move to another kiosk and try again. It’s also unclear if it’s necessary to visit an actual attendant first to put all your passport information into the system.

When in doubt, ask for help, or begrudgingly join the window queue. Just prepare that stiff arm to ward off any cutters.

Buy Tickets Step by Step:

WWW graphic1-01-011. By clicking the second button on the right, change destinations.

WWW graphic2-012. This page guides you to choose trains with different departure times. Click to choose the desired one.
WWW graphic3 A-013. Three types of seats: (from top to bottom) First Class, Second Class and Standing.
WWW graphic3-014. If you wish to buy more than one ticket, click the “更改” button on the right and add or minus ticket number. (From top to bottom) adult, children, students and disabled soldiers tickets. Then, press the big blue button on the right.
WWW graphic4-015. Choose the second blue button
“mainland travel permit for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwai residents or passport” to verify your identity.
WWW graphic6-016. Choose to buy the 3-RMB accident insurance. Left button “don’t buy,” right button “buy.”
WWW graphic7-017. Choose payment method: (from top to bottom) Union Pay bank card, Quick Pass, Alipay. The fourth button is purchasing return tickets.