Home / Train / Types /

Hard Seats & Soft Seats

Hard Seats

A hard seat on China trains only appears on K, T, Z, L and other old type trains. Inside China hard seat train carriage, two rows sit face to face with a small table in between. Each row has 5 seats, a three-seat bench and a two-seat bench on either side of the aisle. The seat back is almost vertical and cannot be adjusted; the seat is only 16 inches (40cm) wide, the smallest among all China train seats, and without any armrest. It is not recommended for a long-distance overnight trip or to foreign passengers, even though China train hard seat ticket price is the cheapest among all.

Luggage racks are above the seats at both sides of the carriage, measuring 20-24 inches (50-60cm) wide and 24-28 inches (60-70cm) high, large enough for big suitcases and backpacks. Passengers can also put their baggage under their seats.

Hard Seat
Hard Seat
Two rows of hard seats sit face to face
A hard seat carriage on a China train has 108 or 118 seats, and 180 seats in the double-decker trains. The seats are numbered and you can find the number on the signs between two rows. On the three-seat side, seats No. 5, 10, 15, 20… are by the window, seats No. 6, 11, 16, 21… are in the middle, and seat No2, 7, 12, 17…are by the aisle; on the two-seat side, No.4, 9, 14, 19… are by the window, and No.3, 8, 13, 18…are by the aisle. According to the above rule, in the first row, seats No.1, 2 and 3 should have been on the three-seat bench, and seats No.4 and 5 should have been on the two-seat bench. However, as this row is close to the door of the carriage, there are only four seats, two on either side of the aisle. So, the seats come as No.1 window, No.2 aisle, No.3 aisle, and No.4 window.

A hot water heater for drinking water is available at one end of the carriage. It is working when the red light is on, and the water is boiled when the green light is on. Passengers should be careful not to be scalded when using the heater. The toilet is also at the end of each carriage, which are of course squat type and have no toilet paper. Washbasins are both inside and outside of toilet. A dustbin is near to the washing basins outside of the toilet. The connecting area between two carriages is smoking area, where an ashtray is on the wall. Fire extinguishers are also at one end of the carriage.
Hard Seat Number
Seat Number
A hard seat carriage is usually crowded and noisy. People holding standing room tickets will stand along aisles; even toilets and washing basins are taken by people and their luggage in peak times. During holidays and festivals, it is nearly impossible for you to walk through the aisle to the toilet. Passengers in hard seat carriages are mostly students, farmers, and migrant workers. Foreign passengers are seldom seen here. If a foreigner “accidentally” boards a hard seat carriage, he or she will receive many surprise and curious looks. Some people may talk to you, but some may just stare at you from time to time.

A long journey in hard seat carriage is definitely uncomfortable and even unbearable, and is not suggested to foreign visitors, unless you really want to experience a difficult journey in China. An old saying is that 'he who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man’, but a new one among some foreign visitors is that 'he who does not take a hard seat train trip during the Spring Festival Rush is not a true man’. For the adventurous or maybe just a short daytime journey this is acceptable as it is a wonderful way to experience something of the timelessness of the real China and its people.
Hard Seat Carriage
Crowded Carriage
The Washbasins Are Taken by Luggage
Luggage on Washbasins
1. Take care of your luggage. If you find any thieves, call for help. There are policemen on the train.
2. Bring some essential medicine with you.
3. Take a bottle and drink hot water rather than cold water.
4. Wear a pair of loose shoes. Sitting for a long period of time and wearing a pair of tight shoes will lead to poor blood circulation, which may cause blood clots in your legs.
5. Carry enough food and snacks.
6. Magazines, newspapers, and playing cards are good to kill time.
7. Pay attention to the food and drinks offered by strangers, a few may be using the offer with an ulterior motive, although this is rare.
8. When the carriage is filled with people and you are wondering how to walk through the aisle to answer the nature’s call, you can follow the food trolley that goes up and down the carriage. People will always make way for the trolley.


Soft Seat

Soft seat on China trains is more comfortable than hard seat. They are only available on a few non-high speed trains in China, including K, T, Y, and S trains. Two rows sit face to face with a table in between. Four soft seats make a row with two at either side of the aisle. Measuring 18 inches (45 cm) wide and with cushion, the seats are roomier and softer. Some seats have armrests and the backs are adjustable. The China train soft seat ticket price is about 1.5 time of that of a hard seat.
Soft Seat
Soft Seats Waiting Room
Soft Seats Waiting Room
 The facilities in a soft seat carriage are the same as those in a hard seat carriage, while their differences are listed below:
1. The soft seat carriages are quiet and clean, and will not be overloaded - only passengers holding a soft seat ticket are allowed to enter.
2. Some railway stations have special waiting rooms for soft seat passengers, which are clean, quiet and roomy. The seats are sofas rather than plastic and hard chairs in the ordinary waiting rooms. Tea or hot water is also served.
3. Chinese college students get a 50% discount for hard seat, but not for soft seat.
- Last updated on Jan. 06, 2021 -
  • Customer Reviews
  • Questions & Answers
    4.944 Reviews
    Philip K
    Posted on Mar. 15, 2023
    Thank you for being so patient to check my full name and passport no. and to explain the China train tickets booking policy for me over the phone. I will take you as my only train booking agency in China.
    Amber Scullion
    Posted on Jul. 20, 2020
    We are a group of 20 passengers. We bought the train tickets from Shanghai to Beijing through TravelChinaGuide.com. They offered us a discount for the service fee. They booked the tickets next to each other for all of us. It is really considerate. Next time, we will still book train tickets with TravelChinaGuide.com.
    Posted on Jun. 29, 2020
    TravelChinaGuide is one agency you can totally count on. No matter what questions you have, they will reply you with professional ideas and patience.
    Posted on Jun. 06, 2020
    Thank you for your prompt reply and for sending over that useful information! The terracotta Army is a monumental attraction of ancient city Xian. Once we reach Xian by train in the morning, we took a taxi to the Terracotta Warrior Museum, and we were very impressed by its amazing antioxidant effect. We love it.
    Posted on Apr. 05, 2020
    Used travel China guide to book four different train trips. They provided excellent service. Tickets delivered to our apartment as agreed and no problems what so ever. I would definitely recommend them to others.
    Posted on Mar. 20, 2020
    I booked the train tickets for my daughter through TravelChinaguide.com. She is in China. I paid for the order with my credit card and they delivered the paper tickets to my daughter's college. It is really convenient to book the tickets through this website.
    Posted on Jan. 12, 2020
    My trip for Guangzhou-Guilin-Yangshuo-Guangzhou was smooth and pleasant. The staff were patient and helpful. They emailed us much useful information about the bullet trains and tickets. We really appreciated their help in our train trip in China!
    Posted on Dec. 26, 2019
    I submitted my order on TravelChinaGuide website after reading the recommendation on TA, and I received my ticket confirmation together with the Pick UP numbers. So easy, so fast. I was impressed deeply by this and I've recommended this website to many folk I've met on my travels in China.
    Posted on Dec. 13, 2019
    I have to say that it’s a little horriable to buy train tickets. The tickets are under great demands, we can feel that when we got to the train station. The staff offered me many options to replace the sold out one and I have to adjust my journey. I really appreciated their help and I would suggest other travelers to be ready for the possibility of some changes!
    Posted on Nov. 28, 2019
    We just got back from China and I want to share our experience with Travel China Guide. I booked our train tickets from Beijing to Chengde and Chengde back to Beijing. My booking consultant Jessica communicated with me and patiently answered my questions. I was relieved and happy that our tickets were delivered at our Beijing hotel upon our arrival as promised. I will not hesitate to secure the services of TravelChinaGuide again.
    Page 1 of 5