When traveling in China, there are many options to fit every budget and level of comfort. To get to Xi’an, which is south of Beijing and known for the Terracotta Warriors, we opted to take an overnight train, which would be about an 11 hour journey.
Riding on the overnight train was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and despite not being incredibly comfortable at first, I actually grew to enjoy it. On board the train, there are rooms no bigger than a couple yards wide, each hosting 6 single beds, with three bunks stacked on top of each other on each side. Each bed is barely big enough to sleep one person. At the end of each train is a communal bathroom, fully furnished with a traditional “squatty potty”.
Riding the overnight train is one of the most cost effective but least comfortable ways to travel, however we made the best of this new experience. There’s nothing like the excitement of being with close friends on the way to a new place, drinking beers, playing card games and talking for hours even after the lights go out. Finally, exhausted, we climbed up into our narrow bunks for the night.
I lay on my back the entire night, unable to even fully sit up in bed, but the gentle rock of the train felt nice. We arrived in Xi’an between 7 and 8 and the next morning, and it felt great to get up right away and go take on our first day in Xi’an!