We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Need direction regarding train travel

Minneapolis
Level Contributor
313 posts
6 reviews
Save Topic
Need direction regarding train travel

I am trying to finalize our travel within China for our March trip. I have decided that we would prefer to take the train rather than fly between many locales. For our Beijing-Xi'an journey, I know that we have two options....high speed or overnight. Which makes more sense? Is there any benefit to doing one or the other?

In terms of purchasing tickets, I see that my options are to wait til we get there and hope that the tickets we want are available. Alternatively, we can pay a small premium and have an outside company buy them for us recognizing that there is still no guarantee that the tickets will be available.

If we decide to take the overnight train, I think I would like to contract with an agent to get the tickets for us. Which group do you all recommend?

Thank you for the help.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
42,008 posts
826 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

The main advantage (or disadvantage for some) is that with the night train you do not need to book a hotel room and you do not use valuable daytime to travel.

The agent mentioned the most here these days is http://www.china-diy-travel.com/ See their excellent reviews here: tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g294212-d38…

There is never any guarantee that agents will get you the tickets but if they can't get them then you could not yourself either.

2. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post has been removed at the author's request. The author may post again if desired.

Posts on the TripAdvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Once the edit period has expired, authors may update their posts by removing and reposting them.

To read more about editing your posts, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/how_to_edit_your_posts

Removed on: 31 December 2013, 21:20
Edited: 31 December 2013, 21:20
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
12,382 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

You can search on YouTube for Z20 or Z19 trains, there are videos taken by travelers of their rides on these BJ to/from Xian night trains. One look, you will understand far more than just words.

You can do that with any tour sites anywhere, gives you a grip on where, what, and how.

Edited: 31 December 2013, 21:21
Beijing, China
Level Contributor
9,917 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

I like the overnight Z trains between Beijing and Xi'an for myself, but overnight train travel is not for everybody. My suggested list of people who should forego overnight trains and either book daytime high-speed rail or fly....or alter itinerary to include intermediate stopovers:

--Those who cannot endure a certain lack of privacy and particularly if traveling with less than four people, since there's a high possibility you'll be sharing a compartment with others. If one ends up in open-rack hard sleeper rather than closeable-door soft sleeper, there will be even less privacy.

--Those who have a history of not sleeping well on trains or other public transport, unless you are prepared to spend the next day fighting fatigue while sightseeing (I am in this category but take overnight trains anyway).

--Those who are over 182 cm (6 feet) tall due to compartment length. Now there are plenty of people this tall who are OK with fitting themselves into a berth, but tall folks who require a full stretch-out may not be able to find a comfortable position.

--Those who have medical issues that require high-frequency toilet visits. Also those who are particularly squeamish about toilet sanitation and/or in-floor toilets. Note that high-speed trains (including the D's which run overnight on some routes) have larger and better quality toilets that usually are kept in better shape.

--Those who get motion sickness from standard trains. (High speed trains in China usually have a very smooth motion that doesn't produce the typical train-rocking effect.)

There are definitely routes that have poorer quality trains than others, so laying out your planned itinerary might give you some more specific recommendations.

Edited: 31 December 2013, 22:15
Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
42,008 posts
826 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

Some trains have deluxe sleepers which are private compartments for 2 with your own toilet, which solves some of the valid issues raised by kvchina.

In the end, it is a matter of personal travel style.

Edited: 31 December 2013, 22:44
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
12,382 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

On youtube, for those outside of China, the videos show both 4 people and 2 people deluxe compartments, with a private bathroom, 4 people rooms share public bathroom.

Beijing, China
Level Contributor
9,917 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

There are very few routes in China that offer the 2-person "deluxe soft sleeper" compartments and there aren't very many on a train that does have them. Point being, they are an option for a subset of travelers but their availability is the exception not the rule. And they can be as expensive as flying. I want to add one more general partial caveat:

--Those who cannot climb need to be careful to obtain a lower berth. Lower berth sleepers are usually are the first to sell out, so if this is a requirement for overnight train travel, one needs to err on the side of caution and book earlier rather than later in the advance sales period.

Edited: 01 January 2014, 00:20
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
190 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

We took the overnight train from Beijing to Xian in November2013. We booked our tickets through china-diy-travel. Their service was excellent!!! Because we were 2 parties of 3 each, we chose to book out an entire berth for each party of 3, paying for the empty berth to ensure that we were all comfortable and to have our privacy. This worked out very well since we used the bottom sleeper to put all our luggage onto. We all managed to get some sleep!

Beijing, China
Level Contributor
9,917 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

#8 did you use an extra passport or ID to book the extra berth? Because ticket sales are now one ID/passport required for every berth purchased. If you were allowed to book 4 berths using only 3 ID's, then some shenanigans went on somewhere, and that gambit may or may not be replicatable by other travelers.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
190 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Need direction regarding train travel

Kv, no shenanigans! :-) everything was done above board and we provided ID for all the tickets purchased.