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Hard Sleeper

Hard sleepers, “硬卧” in Chinese, are the lowest-class and cheapest sleepers on China trains. They are available on Z, T, K, L and other normal speed trains. China high speed trains do not have such kind of sleeper berths.

Hard sleepers on China trains are popular among budget travelers for long-distance overnight trips. A hard sleeper China train carriage usually consists of 11 semi-open compartments, so it is noisy but can be a good opportunity to know some common Chinese people. Each compartment has six berths, three in each side. The berth is not big, only 24 inches (60cm) wide and 71 inches (180cm) long. Basic beddings, such as a quilt, a pillow, and a sheet are provided.

A ladder at the end of the beds is for passengers to go up and down. Passengers on the middle and upper berth can hardly sit up straight, as the head spaces for the middle and upper berths are only 28 inches (70cm) and 26 inches (65cm) respectively, hence the hard sleeper tickets of lower berth is higher than that of middle berth and upper berth.

There is a hook by each bunk for passengers to hang their overcoat. A small table is between the two lower bunks. Each compartment also has a thermos, a dustbin and a tray for litter. A LCD TV is also available in each compartment on some trains. A small table and two foldable seats are in the aisle by the window; the luggage rack is above the seats and large enough to hold a 28 inch suitcase.

Hard sleeper bunks are numbered as No.1 Top, No.1 Middle, and No.1 Bottom. Bunks No.1, 2, 21, and 22 are at the two ends of the carriage, thus close to the toilet, hot water heater, and the smoking area, so it will be a little smelly and noisy during trip. 
Hard Sleeper
Washbasins and A Water Heater
Washbasins and A Water Heater
The toilet is a squat type and at one end of the carriage without toilet paper. A red sign on the door means it is occupied and a green sign means it is available. A water heater at the end of the carriage works during the trip and provides free drinkable hot water for passengers. Use it when the green light on. Washbasins and a mirror are usually near the toilet, but you need to take your own towel and tooth brush. A large dustbin is available here for passengers to throw large rubbish, like instant noodle bowls. Smokers can go to the connecting area where there is an ashtray. 
Kids in Hard Sleeper Carriage
Kids in Hard Sleeper Carriage
Sleeper Exchange Card
Sleeper Exchange Card
Only passengers holding a hard sleeper train ticket can get in the carriage, so the carriage will not be overcrowded. After the train starts, a conductor will collect passengers’ paper tickets and give them a sleeper exchange card. The conductor will give the tickets back before passengers reach their destination. At night, the lights in hard sleeper carriages will be turn off around 22:30 and only the small wall lamps remain on. Passengers will have a good sleep. 
Size of Hard Sleeper Bunks
Size of Hard Sleeper Bunks
The hard sleeper ticket price is about twice that of a hard seat. Many foreign backpackers and budget travelers choose it because of the reasonable price and comfortableness. Top, middle, and bottom bunks are differently priced: the middle bunk is about CNY10 cheaper than the top bunk, and the bottom bunk is CNY10 cheaper than middle. The experiences are also quite different.

A bottom bunk serves as a public couch, as other passengers in the same compartment usually sit on it in day time. After you go to sleep, you can still hear people move back and forth in the aisle. But though there is good head room. The middle bunk is moderate. You have to climb up and down but you have a relative private bed. The head room is less than the bottom, but it is fine to sit on your bed a little bent over. The top bunk is actually not very easy to climb to, so it is not recommended to those who are not fit enough. You enjoy the privacy but lose some head room. The good thing is it is easy to get your bags on the luggage rack.

Note: On international trains to/ from China, the hard sleeper carriages may be different.
1. Foreign passengers are usually ‘attractive’ on a Chinese train. Other passengers may come to talk to you and take photos with you. Most of them are friendly and warm-hearted. You will have a good time if you like to talk to them.
2. If you prefer to have a good rest during your trip, just show an I-don’t-want-to-talk face, or just keep reading.
3. Pack a small bag with the things you are going to use on the train, such as a towel, a tooth brush, a comb, toilet paper, magazine or news paper, instant noodles, water, and other snacks. Leave the small bag with you on your bunk and put your large luggage on the rack or under the bottom bunk.
 Both hard sleeper and soft sleeper are recommended when traveling by overnight trains. Hard sleeper costing less is welcomed among budget travelers. But the compartment may be noisy without a door. However, passengers have a chance to chat with each other and learn about the locals' life style. There are six beerths inside each compartment. In contrast, soft sleeper compartment with 4 berths and a door provides passengers a better traveling experience, a quiet environment and more privacy.
- Last modified on Oct. 05, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Hard Sleeper
Asked by julius from INDIA | Oct. 05, 2018 03:32Reply
Bed linen in hard sleeper
Are passengers provided with bedsheets, pillows and blankets in hard sleeper? Is their cost included in the ticket?
Answers (1)
Answered by Suzanne | Oct. 05, 2018 23:10

Yes, bedssheets, pillows and blankets are provided on the hard sleeper cars, no extra costs.
Asked by E. Lee from MALAYSIA | Sep. 14, 2018 14:39Reply
Buying train tickets on day of travel
I will be traveling from Kunming to Lijiang by night train in next week, and I'm planning to buy them on the day I travel. Are the trains very full that I won't get sleepers? Thanks.
Answers (1)
Answered by Troy | Sep. 15, 2018 01:10

Soft sleeper for some of the trains would be sold out on the travel date, it is hard to say.
Asked by Liza from MALAYSIA | Jul. 08, 2018 04:39Reply
Kunming - Lijiang
Is the new fast train from Kunming to Lijiang in operation now? Where can I read some update on this. I'm planning to visit Lijiang in September. Thanks
Answers (2)
Answered by Victor | Jul. 08, 2018 23:52

I think the new high speed rides is for Kunming-Dali route, not for Lijiang. There are still only normal rides between Kunming and Lijiang
Answered by izza from MALAYSIA | Sep. 13, 2018 04:15

hi liza. when your trip? please reply me. dd.izza-IG
Asked by Eloy from SPAIN | Feb. 03, 2018 05:54Reply
Guaranteed seat
In the fast train type D: does the ‘second class’ ticket guarantee you a seat? Being second class and standing the same price I dont know if you get only a seat if you are lucky or a specific seat number is written in your ticket if you buy a second class ticket and like this you are 100% sure that you will not be standing.

The same question for the normal trains such as K type: between ‘hard seat’ and ‘standing’: if you buy a hard seat ticket: is the seat guaranteed or you have the risk to be standing?

Thank you for your reply
Answers (1)
Answered by SANDRA from GERMANY | Feb. 03, 2018 21:04

The carriage and seat no will be shown on your tickets, such as 01 车 09A. If you got standing tickets, is shows:'无座'.
Asked by Sirleide from ARGENTINA | Jul. 10, 2017 10:57Reply
Bottom HARD Sleeper tickets
How can I buy hard sleeper bottom tickets online from Beijing to Xian and Xian to Shanghai? I tried to buy, but it seems that the only tickets available are the middle tickets, no matter the dates. We are a couple and we would like to buy both bottom tickets.
Answers (1)
Answered by Daria from SINGAPORE | Jul. 10, 2017 20:35

The beds are all assigned randomly by the authority's system. Thus you cannot choose it. As I know, for two passengers, the system usually assign one lower and one upper bed. If you need 2 lower beds, you may need to ask for it at a station directly. This may able to work if the staff kindly help you.
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