Choosing the Right Train
Choosing the right train is quintessential for any tour in China. Trains in China are categorized by letters G, D, C, Z, T and K. Depending on which train you choose the types of seats and the duration of the journey will differ.
G & D-Trains
G category trains are high-speed trains that travel at speeds between 250km and 480km per hour. High speed trains are the most expensive trains but are the most convenient especially for travelers who have limited time. D category trains are the next fastest trains after the G category train. The train travels at an average speed of 250km per hour. Facilities on both these trains are clean and perhaps meet western travelers’ standards in comparison with the other trains. There are three seating classes available on G and D trains which are Business Class, First Class and Second Class. Previously there were Soft Sleepers available but are no longer available.
C category trains are often interlinking trains between two cities which are in the same province known as CRH (China Railway High Speed). The trains are also high-speed so for those who are looking to travel within the province then C trains is one of the best options. For example the CRH services between Shenzhen and Guangzhou only takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.
Z Trains are often referred to as Express Trains which are usually overnight trains. This means that the majority of Z Trains offer sleeper classes only. The majority offer hard sleepers, soft sleepers and some even have deluxe soft sleepers. The advantage of travelling by Z Trains is they are value for money, though on the other hand if you are strapped for time then taking an overnight train is not the best option.
If you’re options are limited and not in a rush for your next destination taking a T Train is also another option. In comparison to the Z Trains it is much slower, for example a journey from Beijing to Xian a T Train will take 1 hour 30 minutes longer. As for seating classes, there are soft and hard seats. For sleeper classes both hard and soft sleeper are available.
Of all trains the K trains are the slowest with the most number of stops. If you’re looking the experience the absolute rail experience and don’t have to worry about time then the K Train is for you. There are both hard and soft seats available along with hard and soft sleepers. The only downside of taking the K Train is timing and in comparison with the other trains the conditions are perhaps not as favorable as the other trains.
Choosing the right seating class along with a suitable a train will make your journey more comfortable. Check out the information on seating classes below so you know what to expect.
Luxury Soft Sleeper
The luxury soft sleeper is only available on Z, T and overnight D trains. For those who prefer privacy and peace whilst travelling the luxury soft sleeper caters to those needs. Each compartment has two upper bunks with sofas below, there is also LCD TVs and a closet.
The soft sleeper is the most comfortable option if you’re travelling long distance overnight especially if you have children. There are four bunks in each compartment with the lower two bunks being the most expensive. The top two bunks also have limited space. Each bunk has its own LCD TV with bedding, pillows and quilts. For absolute comfort and rest the soft sleeper is ideal for long journeys. The price of the soft sleeper is almost double that of the hard sleeper.
Hard seats are the cheapest option but not the most comfortable. The seats are padded thinly and are often crowded. During the peak seasons of travel the hard seats are usually packed full as it’s the most popular options with domestic travelers. On most occasions we don’t advise you choose hard seats as its not comfortable especially for long journeys.
Soft seats are in comparison to the hard seats are much more comfortable. If you’re travelling between 4 hours and 5 hours the soft seats are comfortable enough for the journey. However, the price of the soft seats is almost the same as a hard sleeper. During the peak seasons the soft seats are also overcrowded.
The hard sleeper is made up of a three level bunk bed with the top bunk being the cheapest as there is limited space if you want to sit up. The lowest bunk is the most expensive due to the spaciousness. However, the hard sleeper carriages are rather noisy as there is no compartment with doors. So if you’re travelling with children this is not ideal. Though on the plus side you can enjoy the scenery in the aisle of portable seats next to the window.