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Overnight Train in China: Travel Tips

In order to reach some remote destinations in China, travelers sometimes have to take an overnight train. In regard to the condition of Chinese train, sleepers are necessary for more comfort, privacy and space. By taking an overnight train, you’ll have a save and comfortable journey. Besides, you can save a hotel bill. Generally, there are three types of sleepers: hard sleeper, soft sleeper and deluxe soft sleeper, which are available on normal trains like Z, T, K, L trains, and overnight high speed trains (D trains).

Hard Sleeper – Suitable for Budget Travelers and Backpackers

It is the cheapest sleeper on China trains. Normally the hard sleeper coach on China train consists of 11 semi-open compartments. And there are six bunks in each compartment without door, including two upper bunks, two middle and two lower. Every compartment opens to corridor and in most cases, it is noisy even when it is time to go to bed. 

A blanket and a pillow are equipped with every bunk. For the security of middle bunk and lower bunk, there are two safety belts connecting with the bunk. Each carriage has two toilets and a washing basin at the connecting area of the two carriages.

China train Hard Sleeper size
China train hard sleeper size

Tips on how to choose the berth:

Upper berth: The price of upper berth is the cheapest. It is relatively quiet and provides some privacy. But it is difficult to climb up onto an upper berth, especially for children and senior passengers. With the low ceiling, you are not likely to sit up straight on it.  
TCT’s advice: it's better for adults who are thin and not tall to reserve an upper bunk.
Middle berth: The middle berth is cheaper than the lower berth, but it is still difficult to get up and down, with limited space. 
Lower berth: The most convenient, yet the lower berth is the most expensive and posing a risk to personal property. Moreover, you’ll have less privacy, and are easy to be disturbed, as the other people may sit on your bunk during the day time. 
TCT’s advice: for safety, the elderly and children are suggested to choose a lower berth. 

Soft Sleeper – Spacious with a Door, More Room for Privacy

A soft sleeper carriage usually consists of 9 compartments. There are four bunks in each compartment with a door, including two upper bunks and two lower. A blanket and a pillow and sometimes a desk lamp are provided to passengers on soft sleeper bunks. Passengers can control the air-conditioning and broadcast on train through the bottom near the door. At the end of carriage, there are two toilets. One is a Chinese toilet and the other is a Western one. We highly recommend soft sleeper to international travels for the overnight trip. 

China train Soft Sleeper size
China train soft sleeper size

What are the biggest differences between soft sleeper and hard sleeper?

  1. Soft sleeper is more expensive and more comfortable than hard sleeper. 
  2. When the lights out at night, the door of each soft sleeper compartment can be locked. While the hard sleeper compartment has not door, so the passengers can walk around and make much noise. 
  3. The soft sleeper conductor can speak some English.
  4. For the soft sleeper passenger, clothes rack, slippers, clothes brush, stainless steel thermos (anti-inverted frame), a covered porcelain cup, and health bucket are provided. 

Deluxe Soft Sleeper - Best Choice for Couples

A deluxe sleeper carriage usually consists of 8 compartments. Each of the compartments has an upper berth and a lower berth and a sofa. In addition, there are a private toilet, shower, wardrobe, electric kettle, basic bedding, newspaper, disposable slippers, clothes rack, adjustable reading lamp and TV.
The deluxe soft sleeper is the most convenient, comfortable and most expensive sleeper class of China trains. The price of a deluxe soft sleeper is nearly double the ordinary soft sleeper. Usually it is very difficult to get the deluxe soft sleeper tickets, e.g. deluxe soft sleeper on Kunming Lijiang train. 

China train delxue soft sleeper size
China train delxue soft sleeper size

Overnight High-speed Train in China

They are also soft sleepers on overnight D high-speed train. But currently most of those trains are only available between big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. The facilities of soft sleeper on overnight D train are quite similar to those on ordinary China trains, but more modern, convenient and user-friendly. 

China bullet train sleeper

Tips for Taking an Overnight Train Trip in China

► After you get on the train and find your bunk, the conductor will exchange your train ticket to a ‘bunk card’ and exchange the real ticket back to you around one hour before your departure. It is to remind you the right time and right station to get off. 
► Set an alarm if you have to get off the train in early morning. 
►Protect your wallet, cell phone and other valuables, especially when you are asleep or after the lights out at night. 
►The bed with the quit and pillow is not that clean on train (especially hard sleeper). So passengers are not suggested to take clothes off.
► If you are on the upper or middle berth, be very careful when climbing up and down at night. 
► The train won’t be quiet when running even you are in deluxe sleeper compartment let alone the noise made by snoring, baby crying or chatting. So for people who don't sleep well, and it's better to drink a glass of milk before bed and prepare yourself earplug..
► If you can’t get a train ticket for sleeper, and have to take the seat (during the peak season or the public holiday), be ready for a very uncomfortable overnight train trip. 

What to Pack for Overnight Train Trip

Toiletries: toilet paper is a must. Towels, cup, toothpaste, toothbrush, wipes, soap, comb are also in need. 
Things to help sleep on train: milk, eye-patches, and earplug. 
Clothing: always a spare long-sleeved functional shirt or a light-weight coat, scandal if needed
Bedding: a light-weight quit and air pillow if needed
Food and drink: bread, cake, biscuit, fruits, instant noodles, instant coffee, anything you like (China train has restrictions to alcohol)
Entrainment: books, music, downloaded videos or movies