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Q: What are the slow trains like?

Has anyone caught a overnight slow train in China?  I enjoy overnight train trips and want to save money and the price of a hotel room. I have been looking at Chinese trains on the brilliant 'The man in seat 61' website, and they look quite comfortable.

2 years 50 weeks ago in  Transport & Travel - China

 
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I did it once and hated it. Full of dumbasses spitting and smoking, screaming and yelling, filthy bathrooms. For me it's everything I don't like about China rolled up into one.

 

But then to each their own. I can see someone taking it as a different kind of experience to what they are used.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Great way to travel.
This year it was the highlight of my trip.
sleeping car drinking coffee in my warm bed looking out at the snow on the forest trees and ice floating down the river (hope it was ice)
pitty it was just 6 hour trip.
never been a train person till a started going to China

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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I did it once and hated it. Full of dumbasses spitting and smoking, screaming and yelling, filthy bathrooms. For me it's everything I don't like about China rolled up into one.

 

But then to each their own. I can see someone taking it as a different kind of experience to what they are used.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Slow

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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I really like the fact that the high speed trains have fixed seats and only let the correct amount of people onto the trains. My MIL likes the slow train, to save a bit of money. She will even take it to get to the same place my wife and me goes, except she has to leave half a day earlier. 

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Make sure you get a soft sleeper...One of my most enjoyable memories in China is taking the soft sleeper to Wuhan...They only sleep 4 and I was lucky enough to have the cabin to myself. My hopes you will have the same luck.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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The answers are a mixed bag.  I will probably try both as I am planning a few trips.  I have caught fast trains in South Korea and Japan which were both comfortable and spotlessly clean.  I have also caught overnight slow trains in Thailand, old noisy and dirty, and I loved it.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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I've mostly enjoyed sleeper trains and had a few long trips I really enjoyed but also a few where it was really hot and uncomfortable with 5 other people in the compartment who would have freaked out if I opened a window.

I haven't slept on the new fast trains, just the old ones but I'd guess they're good if you like being on trains.

I would suggest getting the soft sleeper.. i was with some friends once and we bought the extra ticket in our compartment so we wouldn't have to share with anyone. That was a great trip.. drinking beer and watching the scenery for about 14 hours was better than the actual destination for me.

Also, get the top bunk if you can so you don't have everyone sitting on your bed to eat.

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I did it a long time ago,,, '06 or '07, can't remember.  JiaXing (near Shanghai) to Kunming.  I think everyone should do it (once).  It's probably going to be as bad as u imagine though, cooping up a bunch of Chinese in a small, confined space for an extended period leads to shows of behavior just as you are imagining. Only you know if you can stand that sort of thing or not.

Good test of your tuffness though,,,, haha,,, I just imagine taking most people I know from the States and dropping them in that environment willy-nilly.... How do you spell  Apoplectic?

I luv that train website and really regret not pushing forward with my (stalled) plan to do the Trans-Siberian Rail journey.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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The first time it was a new experience and so I thought 'oh well...'. After a few more ttmes always hated it. Very slow, and usually very dirty.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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I they're good in short bursts. You can see a lot of great sights but eventually it will be dark. Slow train in my experience means more than 12 hours. Mine was 23 hours. Some others 12 to 16 hours. I would however recommend it because I have had some great cabin mates.

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I travel about once a month on average, often halfway across the country. I sometimes find the slow trains more convenient because I prefer traveling at night. If you buy a soft bed cabin, it is much more quiet and comfortable, more so than on a first class fast train (which is a waste of money, btw). Another waste of money is the so called, VIP ticket for the first car on the fast train. A total rip off. The only economically reasonable way to travel fast is second class or business class. The hard bed on the slow train is a good deal, but be prepared to deal with dirty facilities and the local farmers. I can accept it because I'm always traveling overnight. I'd rather run myself through with a spear than sit in the hard seat section again (but if you want to meet tons of cute college girls, this is the way to go).

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They are a bit of an eye opener.
Used to go from Shenzhen to Guilin....11 hours.

 

Hard-sleeper.....6 bunks to an alcove. 2 x 3.
Open to the walk way, so noisy (but the train clanks a lot away!)

Zero privacy (not that you get much of that in China anyway)

Small curious children returning again and again to shout "Laowai!" and then run away.
Clean enough when they start off, but look like a garbage bomb has hit when they terminate.

 

Soft Sleeper.

4 bunks to a compartment with a door. (2 x 2)

No guarantee of who you will be sharing with.
Technically no smoking in the compartment (technically)

 

Food.....saw it. Avoided it.

Lived off Snickers, nuts and instant noodles (free hot water)

Drank a bottle of sake to help me sleep.

 

Weird thing with tickets. The conductor comes round and takes your ticket, puts it in a file and gives you a plastic card type thing. At the end of the journey you give the card back and get your original ticket back. I have no idea why this happens!

 

Toilets....Errrrrr.

A squat bog....that moves as the train moves. So P & S is usually all over the floor.
So a normal public toilet experience.

 

Would I do it again?

Yes!

Go hard sleeper, keep your sense of humour and have an adventure!

PS - They are a lot better than 15 hours on a night bus (deathtrap!). - That I have no wish to repeat.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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S to the H to the I to the T.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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One never enters the train in China without I-pod & good earphones, battery charger for the longer rides an-dddd... toilet paper.

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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faster than walking

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2 years 50 weeks ago
 
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