Chinese train station

On our journey to China we found ourselves facing 5000-kilometer route. To be able to travel such distance, we planned two national flights and three journeys on night trains. Because we wanted to make sure that we'll be travelling at night on a train designated for sleeping and not on a day train which would mean we have to stand for 15 hours, we planned well ahead and got our tickets even before we left to China.



Travelling on train in China

We got our train tickets beforehand through Chinese travel agency, which sent us tickets and timetables straight to reception of the hotel we stayed in. There are many options to get tickets through online reservations, like on, that lets you pick up your tickets on the train station before departure.

Passengers should arrive on the train station at least 40 minutes before departure. First you go through metal detector gate and passport control and then you continue to waiting room along with hundreds of other passengers. An employee with a megaphone invites all passengers to get aboard right before departure.

Sleeping coaches are divided into soft sleeper (1st class) and hard sleeper (2nd class). The main difference between them is that there are four beds in 1st class and coupe door can be closed and locked, unlike in 2nd class where there are six beds and coupe has no doors at all. In the latter it is best to have the middle bed, because the bottom ones are always occupied by people who are not currently sleeping and the top one has almost no space above it. When conductor comes to check the tickets, he swaps them with little plastic cards so he knows which passenger needs to be woken up at which time. When you're hungry you can purchase food on the train, either soup or noodles.

chinese train



You can't choose your fellow traveler

We were usually the only European tourists on the train station, all around us were Chinese people of all generations with their flasks full of tea, so we sat watching them and picking our fellow travelers in our minds. We got lucky twice but that last time was something else. On our way from Guilin to Shenzen, an old man dressed in a suit (why most of villagers in the world wears a suit is beyond my understanding) and a little child, stepped in our shared coupe. Both of them took over the bottom right bed so instead of four people in a coupe we were a party of five. The minute the train left station this old grandpa pulled out bag full of eggs from his luggage and started to peel them and eat. He was placing the eggshells on our shared table. The rest of us just sat there staring in disbelief and it was clear that none of us could understand why he couldn’t eat his ten smelly eggs on the station instead. We all had to get out of the coupe to get some air before he was finished. He was feeding the small child too and washed up those eggs with cheap liquor. When he was finally finished after an hour (it took another hour to air the smell out), we turned the lights off. All of us apart from him. He left his light on and to add to this disturbance he started to play card game on his phone. That alone wouldn’t be that bad, but his game was accompanied by such an annoying tune, that we had to tell him to stop. Everyone tried to get some sleep but the child was still restless, looking for attention. The old man gave a loud shout every ten minutes to warn the child to be quiet, so every time we felt our eyes slowly closing we got woken up again, in shock. When this continued for at least another fifty times till one o'clock in the morning, I had to get up, turn my light back on and forgetting all I know about Confucianism I gave him a very strict stare. In English I explained to him, that he's not here alone and that everyone else would like to get some sleep. What I understood from his reply was that I should be more considerate as this child is only two years old. So, I said that the most considerate thing anyone can do for this child is to turn the lights off at one o'clock in the morning. Surprisingly it worked, he turned the lights off and we all slept till seven o'clock in the morning when all disturbance came back in a form of coughing grandpa. Well at least we got six hours of sleep.

We thought ourselves lucky the other times as our train was always on time, but not this one. It must have been an added bonus for us, just to really enjoy this fellow passenger, and we arrived in Shenzen with two-hour delay. However, we arrived in the end, quickly left grandpa and the child and went for another adventure to Macaa.


More about my travels to China, you can read in the travelogue.



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