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Tips For China Train
1) Type of Tickets
2) How to book
3) F&Q
Types of Train Tickets in China
Hard seat (Yingzuo, YZ): This is the cheapest way to travel. Cars are open, like in European commuter trains. Seats are arranged in 3 + 2 configuration, with seat groups facing each other. 110 seats per car. Comfort is like in a commuter train: The seats are not good to sit in for many hours. However, this class is dirt cheap, and most Chinese people are in these cars. It is often crowded.

Soft seat (Ruanzuo, RZ): This class is not often available. In most cases, if there is any, there is one car of this class. Sometimes it is unmarked and only the conductor can show you. Comfort is varying. It may be an ordinary hard seat car, where they have put some extra cloth over the seats and charge a small surcharge on your hard seat ticket. In other trains, the seat configuration may be 2+2, giving you more space and comfort. Service also varies a lot. In some cases, they serve free tea, sometimes not. Anyway, the biggest benefit of this class is it being less crowded than hard seat.

Hard sleeper (Yingwo, YW): This is a sleeping car, for both day and overnight travel. Three beds above each other, with varying price depending on the position of the bed. 66 beds per car. The “compartments” are open to the gangway. The mattress is a bit hard, and there is a pillow and a blanket. The beds are long and broad enough for tall people. This class has more than double the price of the hard seat. For long distance travel, especially overnight, it is definitely worth its money.

Soft sleeper (Ruanwo, RW): Some trains do not have this at all, most long distance trains have only one such car. This class is expensive, typically about 150 RMB for 500 km. For the Chinese, it is luxury travel. Your have eight compartments with four beds each in a car. This makes 32 beds per car. Two beds above each other. A soft mattress, a linen clad blanket and pillow, a towel, slippers. Sometimes even soap and a tooth brush. In the compartment, you could find teacups, sometimes even tea leaves, and a thermos bottle with hot water. In most cases, one privilege is that you can switch off the music and advertising they are paying in the train all day. Soft sleeper you share with the rich Chinese, many of them speak some English. For your comfort you may want to avoid beds number 1 to 4 and 29 to 32, which are above the bogie or near the toilet door, making for extra noise.