Where to Store Your Luggage on the Tibet Train

Last updated: May,23 2019

Taking a Tibet train tour is one of the most amazing adventures in China. However, as with traveling on the trains anywhere in the world, storing your luggage can sometimes be something of an issue.

Trains to Tibet have different spaces to store luggage for travelers, depending on the class of the ticket booking.This is due to the fact that the different classes of cabins have different spaces available for luggage storage. There are three classes of tickets for the trains to Tibet, and how much storage space you have depends on the class of ticket you have.

Soft sleeper cabin has the most storage space for passengers, while the second-class hard sleeper cabin is a little more restricted. However, the hard seats, the third-class option, have the least amount of space of all three.

You should also remember that there are limits to what you can take on the trains, and certain items are forbidden to be carried, both in hand luggage and locked luggage. Your cases will be checked before you can get on the train, and if you are carrying certain banned objects or items, you may find yourself in the station security offices and missing your train.

Where can we put our luggage in soft sleeper cabin?

Storing luggage on the trains in the Soft Sleeper Cabins is limited to certain places only, and you will need to remember that you are likely to be sharing the cabin with three other people, unless you have booked all four bunks for privacy.

 Soft sleeper cabin with mesh bags on the wall for each berth
 Soft sleeper cabin with mesh bags on the wall for each berth

The soft sleeper cabins  have space for larger suitcases or hard suitcases under the lower bunks in the cabin. While the space beneath is the length of the beds themselves, this is only 200 centimeters long and 85 centimeters wide, with a maximum height of just 30 centimeters. This means that you have just 0.51 cubic meters of storage space under each bunk.

Above the door, there is another area for storage of luggage, although this is also limited in size. In China, this size of a storage area is already considered large, despite being just 51 centimeters (20in) in width and just 41 centimeters (16in) in height. This is probably enough storage space for a couple of medium sized hold-alls or one average sized backpack.

Tips:
1.) In every soft sleeper compartment, there is a hook and mesh bag on the wall for each berth, where you put some small items. But don't forget to bring all your luggage with you when getting off the train.

2.) It is very difficult to access and even difficult to open them up if it is stashed under the bed. So it is suggested to pack all your toiletries, food and gadgets into a utility backpack and keep that on your bed for easy access.

3.) The soft sleeper cabins are the first-class option on the trains to Tibet, and are the most private and secure option on the trains as well. The cabins are large enough for four average-sized westerners, and the bunks are big enough for most people, with good headroom above each (enough to sit straight under).

While you will be sharing the cabin with three other people, the lockable door is a major feature for travelers when it comes to privacy, and if you really want to have the cabin to yourself, you simply need to pay for all four bunks, though not in the peak season for a Tibet tour .

4.) Although you have comparatively large space for storing your luggage in soft sleeper cabin, the space is still limited. If you are hauling a lot of cases and bags around, you may need to rethink your travel style, or rethink your packing list. And in China, there is a limit on the weight of the luggage that you can carry with you for free.

For adults, the limit is 20kg (44lbs), while for children below 16 and below 1.6 meters in height; the limit is 10kg (22lbs). For overweight luggage, the charge is usually CNY 1.6 /kg or part thereof. However, while this is not a huge amount to pay, the limited storage space on the Tibet Trains may mean you cannot get your entire luggage stored securely.

Where can we put our luggage in hard sleeper cabin?

Hard sleeper cabins are even more limited for space than the soft sleepers, and you need to remember that there are six bunks in each cabin space, not just four. With no luggage space above a door, there is a very limited amount of space, which has to be shared with five other people, further reducing the available space for your luggage.

 Above the window in hard sleeper cabin, you can find selves for luggage storing 
 Above the window in hard sleeper cabin, you can find selves for luggage storing

The space under the lower berths is just 30 centimeters high, and is 60 centimeters wide and 180 centimeters long, which is decidedly smaller than in the soft sleeper cabins. You also have the option to store luggage in the overhead shelf that sits above the corridor outside the cabin, though there is also limited room in this space. While the rack over the corridor is deeper, it is actually for six people to use, and it is hard to get large heavy suitcases up there.

Tips:
1.) Besides the limited luggage space, you may also face the limited space between the bunks. The hard sleeper berths have six bunks over three levels, and while the lower bunk has good headroom (90cm), the middle and upper berths have only 65cm of headroom each.

2.) Privacy is an issue in the hard sleeper cabins, and while they are meant to have curtains at the end of the bunks to separate them from the aisle, many of the trains do not have these, and are open to the train corridor.

3.) As an additional storage option, you can keep some things with you on the bunk itself, especially if you are on the middle or upper levels. The bunks may not be big, but there is enough room for small bags along the wall side of the beds, so you can keep some small items there with you while you sleep. Also, it is a good idea to keep your toiletries and personal items with you in the bunk, as you may not be able to get to the things you need to wash and clean up easily from stored luggage under berths and on high racks. And it is best to keep things like cameras and devices on your person.

Where can we put our luggage in hard seat cabin?

If you are planning on traveling using the hard seat cabins, then you will have a very limited amount of space for luggage. The hard seat cabins are similar in form and seating to the standard carriages in western trains, with seats in two blocks either side of the aisle.

 In hard seats cabin, luggage are limited to the racks above the window on either side of the train or under the seats 
 In hard seats cabin, luggage are limited to the racks above the window on either side of the train or under the seats

Luggage storage in the hard seat carriages is limited to the luggage racks above the windows on either side of the carriages. The luggage racks are around 50cm wide, and there is around 60-70cm height, though it is hard to stack luggage up. The other option is to put your larger luggage under the seat, though this is also limited in space as the oxygen outlets are located under the seats as well. For personal items, it is best to keep them in a small bag on your person.

Tips:
1.) With two seats on one side of the carriage and three on the other side, these carriages are comfortable enough for normal travel, but can be uncomfortable for long distances, such as the trains to Tibet.

2.) Hard seats are not actually hard, and the seats are all well-padded for comfort. Some of the seats are facing each other, while other carriages will have seats all facing the same way, and all seats have a small table under the window.

3.) Privacy is non-existent in the hard seat carriages, and sleeping can also be hard if you are not used to traveling in train seats. None of the seats recline, so if comfort is a major concern, then choose the sleeper cabins instead.

Conclusion

With three choices of ticket classes to choose from, luggage storage should really be a major concern in which to choose from. The soft sleeper cabins have the most storage space for luggage, and you are only sharing with three others, while the hard sleeper cabins have somewhat limited storage that is shared between six people. The hard seats have the least luggage space, and if you are traveling with lots of luggage to Tibet, not only will you be uncomfortable on the long journey; you will have very little space to store your bags and cases.

Choosing the class of ticket on the Tibet Trains should also take into consideration your needs for the entire journey. If you are not bothered about comfort and privacy, then the hard seats can be a very cost-efficient option, though few international travelers ever choose these because of the long travel time and the risk of cramps and other leg issues.

Most people choose the soft and hard sleeper cabins for the comfort they provide on the long journey to Tibet. While the cabin may be called a “hard” sleeper, the beds are as soft as those in the soft sleeper cabins, and bedding is provided. The main issue here would be the privacy, which is non-existent in the hard sleeper carriages.

Soft sleepers are the best choice for comfort and privacy, and with the lockable door, increased space, and local TV (for those that understand Chinese or like looking at pictures), this is usually the preferred option for many western travelers to Tibet. While they may be more expensive, they are definitely worth the additional cost.

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