Booking Train and Bus Tickets Online for India Travel

For days now I have tried to book train and bus tickets for my India trip without succeeding.

It’s not a very tourist friendly system I must say because you either need an Indian phone number to be able to book and/or an Indian credit/debit card which is just crazy if you ask me.

I can’t book a bus ticket with my card because they don’t accept foreign cards so what is one to do?

There’s a site called cleartrip.com from where you can purchase train tickets but the traffic is so high on the Indian railway system site (which they are connected to) that after have tried to book for days now I just have to let it go for now.

Maybe it’s best to book sometime in the middle of the night when the traffic is not as high.

Since this is a somewhat complicated process I wanted to share it with you because it’s not like anything else I have experienced in any other country before.

Hopefully this post can be helpful to others as I share my progress (will be updating this particular page soon) and also if anyone have any advice to give then please comment below.

The best explanation I have read online on how to book train tickets in India is this page:

http://seat61.com/India.htm#.Vm1Z8UorLIW

Follow the steps described under “Option 1: Buy Indian train tickets online at www.cleartrip.com” and then, once you have your Cleartrip account activated and connected with the Indian IRCTC website, then you can begin your ticket purchase process but you need to get the connection in place first.

And it can take days (as it did for me) because you have to try and try again and send emails and then send another one and so on because they keep bouncing back etc etc.

Just be patient and follow each step to the letter as described on the page I just shared with you.

When that is done you can begin the process of actually buying the tickets but unfortunately it’s not a five-minute thing that you might be used to in your own country but it’s a somewhat frustrating/time-consuming process because of the massive traffic on the site so you just have to keep trying and trying and trying,..!

I have tried enough for today, realizing that Sunday might not be the best time since many people are trying to do just the same as I am.

And I also have to figure out how to book a bus ticket since the alternatives I have tried so far all refuse non-Indian credit cards.

I have tried both RedBus and buying directly from the bus service companies without any luck. (I haven’t tried all of them though so if you know of any who do accept foreign cards please share below).

RedBus for example uses the PayUmoney system and after have contacted them because I wasn’t able to buy for my ticket I’ve got a reply from them saying “Regret to inform you that we don’t accept international cards for the payments” so that’s not going to work either.

This is a bit annoying to say the least.

If anyone have any advice to give, experiences to share and so on when it comes to this particular process please share below so that others can benefit from your comments and answers/solutions as well.

(And I’ll keep you updated on how it goes for me personally and will update this page when I finally have my tickets in my hand).

UPDATE:

I finally was able to buy train ticket via Cleartrip so that’s great! It’s just a matter of having the patience to try and try again until you get through the booking and payment system.

Also, since I couldn’t use my Spanish phone number I used a number of someone who lives in India so unfortunately I can’t tell how else to get through the process since I believe they require an Indian phone number, or a ten digit number (and Spanish phone numbers only have 9). 

So I have now booked the “Goa Express”: New Delhi → Goa, which is a very long journey;

It’s one day and 15 hours long and the longest train journey I have ever done so it’s going to be an interesting experience.

I chose the upper berth (because of the privacy) in sleeper class and the ticket cost was 816 Rupees which is about ten Euros/USD, can you believe that? It’s amazing 🙂

I received an email saying “your one-way train ticket is booked, however your PNR status is RAC” so what I think that means is that I’m on some kind of waiting list, not sure.

I’ll keep you updated on that as well, stay tuned.  

FINAL UPDATE:

Unfortunately it seems like you can’t purchase bus-tickets online for India traveling unless you have an Indian credit/debit card.

You might be able to get tickets to some of the day-buses via Cleartrip but if not then the only option is to go via a travel agency or have someone in India helping you purchase the ticket online (which I have so they helped me with it).

Or you can buy the ticket directly from the bus driver but since it’s a night-bus it felt safer for me to have it all done beforehand in case the bus was full.

If anyone has any other options or alternatives then do share below in comments so that others can benefit from your knowledge and insights as well.

Thank you.

Train tickets in India
Buying train and bus tickets in India is a time consuming process. If someone has a short version of this to share then please do!

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Comments

  1. Hi Maria, just came across your webpage. I am based in Mumbai. If there is anything I can do help your local bus & train bookings, do let me know. Booking train tickets is a nightmare even for us Indians, but maybe I can get a local agent to do it for you?

  2. Thank you Aalif, that’s very kind of you. I’m actually in the process of purchasing a train ticket (finally!), it’s the Goa Express (New Delhi to Goa).

    Could you please tell me if this is a good option?

    I’m right in the middle of the payment process.

  3. Too late! I just booked it, I couldn’t wait for your reply. I booked the Goa Express which is about a 40 hour train journey – woah! It’s the longest I have ever done so it’s definitely going to be a new experience for me 🙂

  4. Okay… Do email me in future if there’s anything my wife or I can help with… I can respond quicker that way 🙂

  5. Thank you Aalif, I will keep that in mind. I think I might visit Mumbai on my way back to Delhi actually (my return to Spain is in July) so it’s great to know in case there’s something I would want to know or ask so thank you for offering to help 🙂

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