Just before departure my friend who has been in China for many years asks me: “Have you traveled in a sleeper bus yet?” – and I reply that not in China, but I crossed Venezuela by them.
And after that I enter the bus and… wow… it’s SLEEPER! I mean way more sleeper than any other I saw in South America. There are beds! Like in a train! But in 3 lines, narrower and shorter…
So, I’ve decided that Chinese sleeper buses deserve a single post.
So far there were 3 of them: Shenzhen-Yanghou, Chengdu-Lidjang, Nanning-Shenzhen. First of them took 7 hours instead of 12 promised, second one – exactly 24 hours and third one – same 12 ours as it was said.
So, why transport in China are so special for a person from the West?
firstly, all “sleeper” buses in China have beds inside, no chairs.
second, they could be different. In the way of level of comfort they provide. Shenzhen-Yanghou was like a king’s carriage in comparison with that one to Lidjang. What’s the difference? – well, it was possible to undress to underwear in Shenzhen-Yanghou bus as it was clean with brand new bed sheets. But Chengdu-Lidjang bus… I’ve regretted that I left my sleeping bag in the luggage so much because the bus was so dirty. I have no idea when those sheets were cleaned for the last time. And were they at all??? I hardly could imagine how many Chinese men slept on those sheets between last wash and my trip. God, that was really disgusting! So, IMHO, a sleeping bag must be always with you and not in a hardly accessible luggage store while travelling China in buses. Just in case.
The beds and their location were very different as well: in the first bus they were single-seated but in the second one there was a king-size bed (made of 6 single but joined together) in the end of the bus and one row before it – another one, made of 3 singles. It was fine as I traveled with friends but when I think about getting a ticket there with 5 unknown Chinese men… Woooo… That would be an experience to tell grand-kids!
And what’s about third but – there were just 2 lines of beds and they were almost two-seated. It was pretty dirty there but still you can lie down there freely and there was some space for legs.
And yeh, the toilet! Just one bus of three had the toilet inside. God, I was lucky one to get the bed which was just above this smelly place! Good that I could open a window, otherwise I would be suffocated there.
Btw, windows could be different as well – you might be not that lucky and it would be impossible to open them.
Anyway, third thing about those buses – Chinese men smoke inside. Ir seems that it’s forbidden but they don’t really care. Well, actually people smoke in any kind of transport in China – buses, trains… not in airplanes luckily.
So, what else? Oh yeh! Let’s dance! Almost all the time the buses were filled with loud Chinese pop-songs. Luckily, everywhere part of speakers were broken and I always had the bed under the broken and silent one.
Yeh, one more word about size of those beds. Well, it could be not that bad and even basketball player (but short one =)) can lie down there freely. But then, it could be so bad, that even hobbit would decide that he is incredibly tall and fat when he will try to squeeze to his bed.
So, summing up, it’s a good thing to have a sleeping bag with you. And ear plugs as well. And sleeping mask as Chinese Neon Standard is pretty rough for one’s eyes in the night. Plus you need to carry something to stop ventilation if it’s broken (well, actually it is always broken). As for me, I’ve figured out that plastic bags work perfectly for this purpose.
And who’s gonna take a sleeper bus in China should be ready for a jolting. Roads could be good and could be crashed. And by some reasons almost all places white people wanna see are accessible only by bad roads. So sometimes you feel like you are inside a washing machine.
But then buses have one serious advantage – view from the window! Roads are often pass through mountains and it is so beautiful around! It’s hard to take pics from the window of a sleeper bus in lying position but still here are some:
If you haven’t got any accommodation for your next trip booked yet, try it here: Airbnb.
You will get $25 discount for your first booking
and would be able to stay in a nice room or apartment rented from locals and not just in a dorm!