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Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

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england
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Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

Is it worth the extra money for a soft sleeper? Is the bed in a hard sleeper - uncomfortably hard?

If we did book a soft sleeper - which would be best for 2 people? Booing the 2 lower bunks or 1 lower with the upper above?

Melbourne
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11. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

oh yes, apologies it was a deluxe sleeper we had.

By the time we took into consideration the price of a night in a hotel there was not a lot of difference between going this way and via flying and over night in a hotel.

BC
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12. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

I took the Deluxe Soft Sleeper from Beijing to Xian in July and I can tell you that it is no where near as expensive as flying. I had read that earlier so had thought about flying there.

A flight for us would have cost $208 per person. There was some possibility for slightly cheaper, but these were at very bad times, which would not at all be convenient.

The cost per person of deluxe soft sleeper is about $121 [767 yuan], so significantly cheaper.

The cost of soft sleeper is about $66 per person [417 yuan], upper bunk is slightly less. Both these prices are non-commission bought directly, so no extra charges added in and are the prices printed on our tickets which I have in front of me.

A word of warning about flying. After we did our trip to Xi'an, other visitors thought they would like to go as well. They had not done their homework and expected to get deluxe soft sleepers at the last minute (3 days ahead). Only hard sleepers available.

So they thought they would fly, supposed to leave at 7:30 pm on a Thursday evening. The flight was delayed 15 hours until 9.30 Friday morning. They lost the non-refundable hotel in Xi'an, as well as valuable touring time. Spent the night in the airport.

Melbourne
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13. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

Slightly off topic, but that happened to us too due to the weather.

our 8:10PM flight from Xian to Chengdu left at 2AM a 5 hour delay and our flight from Chengdu, just missed it's take off slot and we sat in the plane for an hour.

At least the trains are reliable :)

BC
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14. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

Yes, during my limited usage (7 trains) all were exactly on time.

I only mentioned that about the airplanes because if one is weighing the pros and cons of both, it is something to consider. Not just cost alone is important.

The incident I discussed was NOT weather related at all, it was a clear night in Beijing, no rain. There was compensation involved, but nothing can compensate you for that, I figure, when you only have one chance to go to Xi'an.

Sudbury
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15. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

For soft sleepers: If you are traveling in a party of four, then book a soft sleeper - you can have privacy which is great. If you are three, you can buy all four beds and keep your privacy. If you are two, book the top and the lower bunk - all travel agents can choose the bunk for you. If you are one, choose the top bunk. If you are single and choose the bottom bunk, likely the person who has the top bunk will sit on your bed during the day.

For hard sleepers: If you are six, perfect! If you are five, book six places. If you are four choose the two middle bunks and the two lower bunks - the people who have chosen the tops bunks will likely sit at the aisle tables during the day. If three, choose top, middle and lower, if two choose middle and lower and if one, choose the top one, you will like the relative privacy.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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16. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

@larryp94 - considering that tickets require a name and passport number, how do you suggest that 3 people book a cabin for 4?

Actually, one is no even sure that when buying four tickets tha they will be in the same cabin.

Beijing, China
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17. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

The days of being able to buy out entire compartments and reliably guarantee the extra will stay empty are pretty much over. Even if you manage to procure a 4th person's ID in order to purchase the ticket, when you board and the train staff comes around to check tickets and double count berths, it's going to be obvious that there are more beds than bodies. You can try to use the gambit that the "missing" person is in the toilet, or the dining car, etc. but it may not work when the staff demand to see this mystery person. In which case, that empty berth will be fair game for the staff to upgrade another passenger or use it to reshuffle or sell.

And as JP pointed out, there's no guarantee that all four berths will be in the same compartment...or even same carriage. Only on some routes, in non-busy times, and if you get the tickets right when the sales period opens, can you have the odds go your way of getting everything neatly ticketed in one compartment.

18. Re: Overnight Trains - Hard vs Soft Sleeper?

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