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Soft Sleeper Berth Train

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A “soft sleeper”, as the name suggests, has a softer bed than a “hard sleeper”. But more importantly, the compartment is more spacious with only four berths inside a closed compartment as opposed to 6 berths in an open compartment for the hard sleeper. In the soft sleeper compartment there are two upper and two lower beds; the berth is wider and longer, about 30 inches (75cm) wider and 75 inches (190cm) longer. The soft sleeper compartment also has a door, which separates it from the aisle and provides a quiet and private room for the passengers inside.

The soft sleeper ticket price is about 1.5 times that of a hard sleeper ticket, and a lower berth costs more than an upper berth.

A soft sleeper train carriage has a luggage closet above the door in each compartment. The luggage rack inside the compartment is about 16 inches (40 cm) high and 20 inches (50 cm) wide, just large enough for a 20-inch suitcase. The larger luggage can be put under the lower berth or under the table between the two lower berths.
Quality comforters, sheets and pillows are provided. Each bunk has a reading lamp. Some trains also have an LCD TV screen and a headphone for each soft sleeper bunk. Radio and temperature controls are alongside the door.

On a small table between the two lower bunks, there is a tray for litter and a hot water thermos. On some routes, you may also find a plug under the table for your laptop and mobile phone. Disposable slippers are also provided for passengers.  Foldable seats are also available by the windows in the aisle of each train car.

A soft sleeper train carriage in China has 9 compartments. With four bunks inside each compartment, soft sleeper beds inside a carriage are numbered from 1 to 36. The even numbers are the upper bunks while the odd numbers are the lower bunks. If you travel with friends, remember to notify the conductor that you all wish to stay in the same compartment.  As with other carriage types, the dustbin, toilet, smoking area, washbasins, mirror, drinkable water heater and fire extinguisher are located at the end of each carriage. Please note that all D (bullet type) trains do not have smoking areas as smoking is not allowed anywhere on the trains, not even in the toilets. Some trains such as the D trains have sit-down toilets with toilet paper provided, but this is not universal and soft sleeper carriages in most trains still only have the squat-type toilets and toilet paper is not provided.

It is about 600 hard sleeper berths in one train, so the tickets are relatively easier to be reserved.

Passengers in the cabin of the first class soft sleeper

The corridor next to soft sleeper cabin

4 bunks number in a soft sleeper cabin

oxygen supply outlet

light and broadcast switch

hanger for clothes and other stuff

television on the upper bunk of soft sleeper cabin

Battery recharge facility

A handy comparsion of three accommodations may help you make the right choice



Tv Screen

Sleeping Space

Ticket Price



Soft Sleeper







Hard Sleeper







Hard Seat






Apparently, soft sleeper enjoys many advantages over other 2 kinds of cabin. Though the price of soft sleeper is the highest, it is definitely the best option a tourist can expect to have given the long ride at the roof of the world. One thing to mention is that if one fails to book the seat in a soft sleeper, the lowest bunk of a hard sleeper should be another alternative as the sleeping space of the hard sleeper varies with the lowest bunk being the most spacious comparatively. In addition, compared with hard sleeper cabin, soft sleeper has a door to close, which shields tourists from annoying passerbys and makes the cabin safer at night.

As to hard seat carriage, it is not recommended to tourists because sitting still for too long is not something all people can stand during the long ride on the plateau and there is little privacy as well.

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