Author: karenb

Traveling by Train in China [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 4

Post time 2003-12-9 23:02:47 |Display all floors

Going by train: soft sleeper vs. hard sleeper

If you're the kind of traveller who is paranoid about luggage - soft sleeper is the way to go as your luggage is in your compartment with you.

However, for almost all other kinds of travellers hard sleeper is the way to go. There is more air, a bit more room, and you (usually) don't get a speaker blaring music right above you, and if you buy the top bunk (as long as you are relatively agile), no-one bothers you and you get a great night's sleep. There's no door banging open and closed when others go to the bathroom. And it's cheaper!

The best trains in my reasonably extensive experience are those with the "T" prefix. They are (usually) cleaner and less prone to the train staff endlessly parading noisy carts of goodies through the train while you are trying to sleep.

One thing about both kinds of sleeper that is worse than the seats, though, is that you really don't get a chance to practice your Chinese unless it's a multi-day journey. If it's overnight, then usually you're on the train late, everyone goes to sleep pretty soon, and you're off the train early in the morning. (Shanghai to Beijing, for example).

I personally love travelling by train in China. I actually even enjoy the train food, although it's (comparatively) expensive. And holding up the bar with the train staff late at night is _really_ fun and great for your Chinese. Train staff have such great stories, like one barman who regaled me with the tale of the time he served JZ and friends on an inspection tour!

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Rank: 4

Post time 2003-12-10 13:27:44 |Display all floors

by train

yes by train is definitely more exciting.

by train, though it's more expensive than by airplane from HK, I get to see people's livelihood, cave homes and modes of travel. I see mules, horses and those huge rotter-tiller used as transports, deliveries etc. Oh ya, their rice field is just next to their ancestors' graves, with no inch to spare and that's how precious arable land is. I also wonder what those big pots sitting besides the graves, anyone? [i have seen big gorgeous Ming pots measuring 4 feet high for the deceased of early chinese migrants in a Malaysian museum)

would certainly choose the 2 person soft sleeper. lots of privacy and quiet ... no  human chimney nearby!

well, about expensive food on the train, hmm .... didn't enjoy it.

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Post time 2003-12-15 03:11:43 |Display all floors

One of the best ways to see and live China!

I love travelling by train in China. I think it is one of the  best ways to meet people and live the countries culture.

I think it´s a good tip not to book the bottom bed! For the Chinese it is just perfectly alright to use the bottom bed during the daytime for sitting, since otherwise there would be no possibillity for everyone to sit.
I guess this is alright since you can´t expect people to be squeezed in the top bunk, right at the neon lights and the speaker with chinese "travel music" blasting into your ear. (and this is the secret why the bed in the middle is undoubtly the best choice!!!)

Sure, the system of selling tickets isn´t the most convinient, I absolutely agree, and a person not speaking Chinese will probably have problems with buying tickets or finding their way.
But I think one of the most important things while traveling a foreign country is being open and tolerant to the differences. And if you are, you will have great experiences meeting people from all over the country.

I have to add in 2 years living in China I never had problems with the seat or bed I booked being taken. As soon as I showed my ticket, people always got up.
Besides that, the inspector in the sleeper carrige collects your ticket at the beginning of the trip, puts it into a little book and gives it back to you shortly before you have to get off the train (Great thing-  everyone can be sure to get off at the right stop, even during nightime!). So they normaly make sure that everyone has a valid ticket and is in the right bed he or she booked.

I love traveling by train, and even I could afford a soft sleeper sometimes, I usually go for the hard sleeper, because it´s much more fun!

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Post time 2004-1-13 19:37:04 |Display all floors

New in China


I'm new in china, but i would love to travel by train, when i get the chance and time.
What is the price in China, for example from Shanghai to Beijing at soft sleeper level? and the food, what does that cost?

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Rank: 4

Post time 2004-1-13 20:25:56 |Display all floors

don't take soft sleeper

The price for a soft sleeper ticket is about the same as that of an airplane ticket.  As a rule of thumb: roughly somewhat less than a yuan per kilometer.

Hard sleeper is also very comfortable and much cheaper.   Say about 2 or three mao per kilometer.   There is however much demand for them so they can be hard to get - and impossible around national holidays.    Tip: travel agencies near railway stations can often get you tickets for a small surcharge (this may be officially illegal).

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Post time 2004-1-18 05:46:27 |Display all floors

travelling by train in China

thanks for all the tips ; I am going to Guangzou on Jan 26 for a month and I really need advices; I am travelling alone, but I have a  chinesefriend there whom I met in France. I'll be happy if you can tell me which sites I should visit, Guillin for sure, HK, Macao???awaiting for your suggestions

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Post time 2004-1-18 16:07:42 |Display all floors

Re: 2meter

I've travelled on the Shanghai-Beijing line on both soft and hard sleeper. The soft sleeper costs abt RMB500 and hard sleeper RMB300. Make sure you get the bottom bunk if you get the soft sleeper cos the carriages are compartmented into little rooms, and the upper bunkers have no where to go when you don't want to sleep. Personally I prefer the hardsleeper cos it's cheaper and still quite comfortable. I enjoy sitting on the aisles and watching the world go by.  The hard sleeper feels like a clean and cheap motel. The choice is up to you!

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