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To save some money, I decided to get my Nanning – Hanoi ticket in person when I got to China. Tickets for international trains are not sold in all railway stations – only the ones where the train is departing from. If the station you are departing from is not close by, the best bet you have is to find a rail travel agent.
I followed the advice on seat61 regarding purchasing tickets in Beijing for the Nanning – Hanoi train.
The address of the travel agent closest to Beijing West Railway Station is:
China Railway Travel Service (中国铁道旅行社)
20 Beifengwo Road, Haidian, Beijing, China
If there are inaccuracies in address format or actual location, please inform me so that I can do the necessary updates. Should the address be inaccurate, I bear no responsibility for any untoward outcome as this is Googled information and I personally did not use it to find the location of the travel agent.
Get on Beijing Subway Line 1 or Line 9 to Military Museum station (军事博物馆). You can also walk from Beijing West Railway station, but I decided to skip the perpetual crowds there.
Look out for Exit C1 to Fuxing Road (复兴路) and exit the station there.
Head straight along this path.
Upon seeing this L-shaped overhead bridge and the blue sign pointing out Beifengwo Road (北蜂窝路), turn right into the said road.
You will reach Tianyou Hotel (天佑大厦).
Once you approach Tianyou Hotel (天佑大厦), cross the road to the building opposite it. You are looking for China Railway Travel Service (中国铁道旅行社), highlighted in the red box I’ve drawn.
The shop front of China Railway Travel Service (中国铁道旅行社). Get your domestic train tickets from the small sliding window highlighted in red. Knock and the window will be opened to you. For international tickets, knock anyway, so that you’ll be sent inside the international ticket office.
You might be sent here instead, which is not the right place, but still a step closer to where you need to be. They will then attempt to tell you to go back to the window outside, but tell them that you already came from there, and that you want tickets to Hanoi. You will be ushered to an international ticket office in one of the rooms at a back corridor.
Do note that China Railway Travel Service (中国铁道旅行社) only sells one-way tickets for the through cars from Beijing to Hanoi, departing Beijing West Railway Station on Thursdays and Sundays. I learnt this the hard way when I actually went there to attempt to get my Nanning – Hanoi tickets, and they redirected me to Nanning Railway Station instead.