There are three types of coaches on the Tibet train, the first class soft-berth sleeper, the second class soft-berth sleeper and soft seat coaches. Since the journey is really long, most travellers prefer the soft sleepers.
The second class soft-berth sleeper is also known as hard sleeper. Actually, both of the soft sleeper and hard sleeper are soft and comfortable. Generally speaking, the main difference between soft sleeper and hard sleeper is that in hard sleeper you are in a compartment having 6 beds with 3 levels rather than 4 beds with 2 levels and there’s no door on the compartment. It just provides basic beds and quilts.
It is about 600 hard sleeper berths in one train, so the tickets are relatively easier to be reserved.
A handy comparison of three accommodations
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.
There are 8 hard-sleeper cars in each Qinghai-Tibet train. Each car can hold 60 people which make the total capacity to 480 people. Compared to the soft-sleeper, the hard sleeper are less expensive and less privacy. But you will have more chance to make new friends and share stories, foods and many things with other like-minded passengers.
There are 2 soft-sleeper cars in each Qinghai-Tibet train. Each soft-sleeper car has 8 small cabins with 4 beds which make it can contain totally 64 passengers. And each cabin has a door to shut which offer more privacy to passengers.
There are personal reading lights and oxygen outlets for each passengers in all the beds. Then you can read your books during the long journey and have no worries about the high altitude sickness.