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Soft Sleeper on Tibet Trains

Last Update: February 21, 2023

On all trains to Tibet, there are usually at least two soft sleeper cars, which contain eight 4-berth cabins on each. This means that the trains can normally cater to up to 64 passengers in their soft sleeper cabins. However, these are the most popular option for international and domestic tourists traveling to Tibet by train, and often sell out fast, especially in the peak season for tourism in Tibet.

Soft Sleeper Berth on Tibet Trains

Each soft sleeper cabin on Tibet trains has four berths over two levels. A large window is available, taking up almost half of the outer hull of the train with a small table below it, which sites between the two lower bunks. The soft sleeper cabins also contain an LED television, a full length mirror, a coat rack, and storage space for luggage above the door.

Soft Sleeper Berth on Tibet TrainsSoft Sleeper Berth on Tibet Trains

The doors in the cabins can also be locked from the inside, to allow more privacy during your train journey. While it is comfortable, and kept well-cleaned, the cabins are a little small, 6.5 feet wide and 10 feet long, and there is not much room when four adults are in the cabins.

Upper Berth and Lower Berth

There is an option when booking the tickets to choose your berth, and you can opt for upper or lower, if there is availability. The upper berth in the soft sleeper cabin is the least expensive option, with the lower berth costing more, being on the bottom and often preferred. However, as the passengers of the cabin tend to sit on the lower bunks during the day, if you want to rest more, then an upper berth is much better. While there is no difference in the size of the bunks – both being around 30 inches wide and 75 inches long, the size of a standard single bed – the lower bunk has more headroom.

How to Find My Berth?

If you think you may have a problem finding which is your berth in the trains in China, do not worry. While many things on the train are written in Chinese, numbers are the same. Each car has eight numbered cabins, and each cabin door is numbered with the berth number on it, with the upper berth numbers above the line and the lower berth numbers below.

Upper bunks are always even numbers, while lower bunks are odd numbers. This corresponds with the car and seat number on your ticket, below the destination in English on the top right of the ticket. The first digit is the car number, and the second the berth number. The Chinese writing after is the berth position, upper or lower, but the easiest way to know is from odd or even, as explained previously.

If you still feel confused on finding your berth, you can turn to the trainman for help. They are always glad to solve any problem you confront with.

Facilities in Soft Sleeper Cabin

Each berth has its own TV screen in the wall that shows local Chinese movies, as well as an independent reading light, plug sockets, and an oxygen outlet for personal use.

Oxygen Outlet

The oxygen outlet in soft sleeper cabin is normally located in the corner of the berth, above your head, next to or below the reading light. Generally, the “head” of the bed is the end closest to the window, with the TV in the wall at the foot of the beds by the door.

Oxygen outlet on Tibet trainOxygen outlet can easily be found in Tibet train soft sleeper.

Oxygen supply is available for use after the trains pass through Golmud in Qinghai Province, on the route up to the heights of the Kunlun Mountains. As the altitude increases, the oxygen content gets lower per cubic meter of air, and the system pumps oxygen direct into the train through vents. However, if you are suffering a little from altitude sickness, you can use the oxygen outlet for personal use in the berth.

The train staff will be able to provide you with an oxygen tube on request, which can be used by placing it around your head with the small nostril tubes below your nose, on your top lip. The main tube around your head can easily fit over your ears, but if you wear spectacles, it is best to remove them. The other end of the tube is then plugged into the outlet. Lift the red outlet cover, and you will find a hole inside. Plug the tube into the hole, and turn on the oxygen flow. The flow is continuous, and cannot be adjusted, so it is important you take care when using it.

Luggage Space in Soft Sleeper Cabin

There is space in each cabin for your luggage, though you should not leave valuable items in the cabins when you go out. While the cabins can be locked and there is little crime on the trains, it is likely to err on the side of caution. The main luggage storage is above the door, where a large recess can hold several hold-all style bags at the foot of the upper berths. Luggage can also be stored under the lower berths, which have a foot of space for flatter luggage.

Public Facilities

Outside the cabin, you have a nice open corridor with huge windows that are perfect for relaxing to watch the world pass by. The windows have foldable seats under them, so you can sit and watch the view as you cross the vast Tibetan plateau.

At the end of each carriage are the toilets and washing facilities. On one side of the carriage is a western-style toilet, complete with toilet seat and lid, and on the other side is a Chinese squat-type toilet, for those that prefer them. Each toilet cubicle has its own hand-wash basin with running water.

Outside the toilets, at each end of the car, are the washing facilities for train passengers. Each washing area contains three sinks, with racks, and sometimes soap for washing your hands. These are used daily by all the passengers to wash in the mornings, and it is best to get up early, to be first to the sinks.

Soft Sleeper or Hard Sleeper

While there is little difference between the beds in the soft and hard sleeper cabins, there is a huge difference in the quality and style of travel, not to mention the price. The hard sleeper is a lot cheaper for all berths than the soft sleeper, and is often more affordable for budget travelers. However, it is open to the train, with only a small curtain for a modicum of privacy, and six berths per cabin, over three levels, so is a little more cramped.

The soft sleeper has the advantage of a lockable door for added security, as well as only four berths, to give you more room in the cabin. While the soft sleeper does give you a better cabin, for a higher price, the hard sleeper is actually a better way of getting to know the people you travel with. You can spend time getting to know the locals that are traveling on the train home to Tibet, as well as the Chinese travelers, who love to talk.

Comparison of Hard Sleeper and Soft Sleeper on Tibet Trains

Hard SleeperSoft Sleeper
Amount of Sleepers 6 4
Size of Sleeper 60cm * 180cm 70cm * 19cm
Door No Yes
TV No Yes
Ticket Price Medium High

Get a Tibet Train Ticket of Soft Sleeper

Booking the Tibet train ticket for the soft sleeper cabin really needs to be done as soon as the ticket sales open. Usually, ticket sales open 60 days before the date of departure, and it is not possible to pre-book them with the railway ticket offices. Sales are on a first-come, first-served basis, and if you are too slow, or late booking your tour, you may miss out on the train tickets.

Tickets can be booked at any railway station ticket office in China, as well as online via the ticketing website, and through travel agencies. However, since it is not often possible for you to buy the ticket when you arrive in China, and only Chinese citizens with a Chinese payment method can book and pay for the tickets online, the best way to get them is through the travel agencies.

When you book your trip to Tibet with us, we can also arrange to book your train tickets for the soft sleeper cabins. With our long-standing relationship with the Chinese railways, we can get your tickets without any problems, and we can arrange your Tibet Travel Permit as well when you book your trip with us, and deliver it to your hotel in China ready for your train adventure to the Roof of the World.

Live onboard Tibet Train with Soft Sleeper

Life on the Tibet Trains is a unique experience, and one that everyone traveling to Tibet should experience at least once in their lifetimes. The journey is wholly unique to any other in the world, and the scenery and landscapes is an amazing sight that will leave you breathless. Except for huge mountain ranges of the Kunlun and Tanggula Mountains, the train also passes through the Kekexili Nature Preserve and across the vast Changtang grasslands, where you can see Tibetan antelopes roaming the prairies.

Scenery to see by Tibet trainOne can enjoy the brilliant scenery outside through the train window.

The train also has a fully fitted dining car that can seat 40-50 passengers at a time, and a complete onboard kitchen to prepare freshly-cooked meals for the passengers. The dining car is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves a wide variety of Chinese and Tibetan dishes. While the price is a little higher than you would find in most restaurants of the same caliber in Chinese cities. The dining car is also open or drinks and snacks for the rest of the time, and only closes for service at night, though you can still sit in there after the kitchen closes.

If you are traveling on the train, and have time to kill, then bringing some music on your cellphone and a set of headphones is a great way to pass the time. You can also bring movies downloaded to your device, and watch them on the trip, or take a book with you to pass the time when not enjoying the spectacular scenery.


While there are other options for travel on the trains to Tibet, the soft sleeper is the obvious choice of the discerning traveler, for its comfort, security, and space. Luggage storage is adequate for four people, and the quieter atmosphere and LED TVs make for a much more comfortable ride. So if you are planning a trip to Tibet on the famous Qinghai Tibet Railway, then take the soft sleeper and travel in style.

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