China's excellent high-speed rail system has made Shandong and Jiangsu more accessible than ever before, with many trains whizzing along at over 300 kph (186 mph). Tickets can usually be purchased through your hotel (strongly recommended), online at www.ctrip.com (after which they're couriered to your accommodation), or inside the station itself, although the lines are often long and vendors can be curt with non-Chinese speakers. Buy tickets at least 24 hours ahead (even more in advance during peak periods) of when you intend to travel. Passports are mandatory for buying tickets and boarding the train. If you miss your train, go to a ticket counter—they will usually put you on the next available service for a nominal fee. Note: only holders of Chinese ID cards can use the electronic ticket machines in stations.