Let’s say you are in Beijing and you plan to travel to Xi’an you don’t want to take a China flight because it cost too much so you choose to travel by train. The first thing you need to know is that there are five kinds of trains they are regular (only have numbers), fast (K/N), express (D/T), direct (Z), tourist(Y) and temporary (L). Second thing you need to know about trains is that there are different class hard seat, hard sleeper, soft seat and soft sleeper.

Kinds of Trains

Direct Express Train (Z) or Zhida in Chinese can reach up to 160km per hour as their top speed. The (Z) trains only have soft sleepers and soft seats so this train is ideal for long distance travel. Some (Z) trains will have several stops while others will have only one stop. Express Train (T) or Tekuai in Chinese have limited of stops on their route but these stops are usually in major cities. Express Train top speed is 140km per hour. The (T) trains are equipped with soft/hard seats and sleepers.

Fast Train (K) or Kuaiche in Chinese is slower the (Z) and (T) trains. The top speed of (K) train is only 120km per hour. This train has multiple of stops. The good thing about this train that it has air condition and four classes of train berths. Temporary train (L) also known as Linke in Chinese is only used during holiday travel time such as Chinese Spring Festival and National Holiday. You can find this train listed in the official fixed train schedule. Try not to take (L) train since they are known for delays. The (Y) train is for the tourist. If you want to travel to popular sights or destinations then you can travel by a (Y) train. For example a (Y) train will take people to the Great Wall.

Classes of train

There are four classes of Train seats one soft sleeper, two hard sleeper, three Soft seat and fourth hard seat. The soft sleeper has two bunks in each compartment. Each compartment has a door allowing separate access plus they come with slippers, cloths brush, tea cups, trash can. If you need to plug something in don’t worry each compartment has a wall socket. The toilets will be the clean and have toilet paper. If you travel by a sleeper train the price will be higher.

Hard Sleepers are not as comfortable as a soft sleeper. Each compartment has six fix bunks; there is no door so it will be noisy. Each bed will come with a pillow blankets and sheets. If you want to be more comfortable then sitting on a seat then hard sleeper is want you want it will also be cost effective.

Soft seats are nice and comfortable seats. They do have cushions. There will be five seats in a row each one will have a folding table. Hard seats are the lowest price. They are not comfortable if you going on a long or overnight train. The carriage will be noisy and crowed. The toilets are unclean and cramped and will not have toilet paper. If you want to be adventurous or travel like a local then the hard seat is a wonderful way to travel.

Your China tour should include at least one train ride. It will help you make your vacation more exciting. It will also help you save money on travel since it will cost you less then a plan ticket. Remember there are different trains and different classes just pick the one you want to experience.

Jack Li
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