Aaah, sleeper trains, brings back so many memories 🙂 Sleeper trains are in our top picks of places the spend the night in China. They are a unique experience, cheap and timesaving. If you weren’t in China before, or if you have no experience with booking and taking sleeper trains, it can be a tough cookie. We looked for tons of information before heading to China, so why let you do the job too. We are happy to share, and happy to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
1. Classes of seaters and sleepers
In general, Chinese trains have two types of seaters and two types of sleepers.
Equivalent to second class seats on Western trains
Cheapest and smallest seats (on average 40cm wide), without armrests
Seats are usually padded and reasonable comfortable
Two rows of five seats (3+2) sit face to face with a small table in between
It is mostly crowded and noisy
In peak hours / holidays / weekends people with standing ticket will take place EVERYHWERE. To be honest, that’s no difference in peak hours in Belgium. It’s just for 16 hours instead of 20 minutes, that’s all 😉 If it helps: we did it for 16 hours and survived without mental damage.
Equivalent to first class seats on Western trains
Second cheapest and slightly bigger seats (on average 45cm wide), sometimes with armrests
Seats are softer and more comfortable, sometimes with adjustable backs
Two rows of four seats (2+2) sit face to face with a small table in between
It is mostly quiet and clean, people with standing / other ticket are not allowed
Open-plan carriages with a broad aisle on one side and bunk beds on the other
Each compartment has 6 beds: 2 bunks with upper, middle and lower bed
The beds are padded and basic bedding is supplied
There is a small table between the two lower beds, sometimes also a power socket
Sometimes there are foldable seats and tables in the aisle. If not, the middle bed is folded and the lower bed is used as public couch. If you are fit, the upper bed (quite a climb) is the best. It offers easy access to luggage and more privacy.
Carriages with a broad aisle on one side and closed sleeping compartments on the other
Each compartment is closed and has 4 beds: 2 bunks with upper and lower bed
The beds are softer and quality bedding is supplied
There is a small table between the two lower beds, sometimes also a power socket and television/radio with headphone for each passenger
Each bunk has a reading lamp
Luggage is stored inside the compartment, which you can close from the inside
Sometimes there are foldable seats and tables in the aisle. You can sit up straight in your bed.
A hot water heater is available in each carriage (for seaters) or each compartment (for sleepers).
One thermos per carriage (for seaters) or per compartment (for sleepers) is foreseen.
The toilet is at the end of each carriage. It is the squat type, without toilet paper.
Washbasins are inside and outside the toilet.
A dustbin is near the washbasins (for all) or under the table (for sleepers).
The area between two carriages is smoking area, although not always allowed anymore.
Fire extinguishers are also at one end of the carriage (for all).
Vendors run up and down the aisles to sell drinks and snacks (fruit, instant noodles, cookies, …).