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Taking an Overnight Train in China

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Introduction to the Overnight Train in China
Taking an Overnight Train in China

Comfortable soft-sleeper waiting lounge at the Lanzhou train station

© 2012 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
Overnight trains are still a very affordable option for travel in China. They are typically much cheaper than a one-way flight and they vary in comfort. There are four classes of travel on overnight trains:
  • Hard seat - this used to be a wooden bench with a 90-degree angle but now it's more like an economy seat in an airplane.
  • Soft seat - this is a larger, more comfortable seat that may recline, depending on the route and newness of the train.
  • Hard sleeper - typically there are six hard bunks in a small compartment with no en-suite bathroom
  • Soft sleeper - typically there are 4 soft bunks with decent bedding in a compartment and on some routes with new trains (e.g. Shanghai-Beijing overnight) there are en-suite bathrooms

Let it be known that the route from Lanzhou to Dunhuang is a relatively older route with relatively older trains so there are no en-suite bathrooms. We took soft-sleeper bunks for our trip as flights between Lanzhou and Dunhuang are relatively few and using the night to get us fro one place to the next saved us not only money, but gave us more time at our destinations.

With the soft sleeper ticket comes access to this luxurious lounge in the Lanzhou Train Station. We didn't spend any time here but the soft chairs gave us hope for decent accommodations on the train.

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