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Vietnam forum

Hard Sleeper

Posted by dnev101 on 5/1/2013 at 06:19

Hi all,

I have booked a hard sleeper tain from hanoi to hue in feb. on the SE3 train
what are the differences between hard and soft sleeper apart from having 6 people in each cabin?

as far as i can see on seat61 site the photos show no other differences, i kind of assumed that the hard sleeper would have no matreses but it shows them on the photos on this site.

can anybody advise me?

Thanks :)

#1 dnev101 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by caseyprich on 5/1/2013 at 07:53

Hard sleepers don't have a door, so when you are sleeping make sure that your most valuable possessions are up by your head, or wrapped around you in a security pouch. Some hard sleepers also don't have air-con, but if you are traveling in February that shouldn't really be a problem.

If you like train travel and are continuing southward from Hue I highly recommend you take the Hue to Danang train during the day, as the views are wonderful.

#2 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by sayadian on 5/1/2013 at 12:16

Hard sleepers also have three-tiers if I remember correctly.
It would be impossible for a Westerner to get in the top bunk never mind sleep in it. I think I was told they don't allocate them to tall people (i.e. from the West.) It might be worth checking.
If there was one thing I hated in Vietnam it was sitting on the plastic child-size seats.This is the sleeping equivalent.

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Posted by captainbkk on 6/1/2013 at 07:12

you are asking the wrong question-and most answers do not recognise this. WHY? the SE are the very best of trains and thus have the latest/newest cars and of course airco etc.The diffferences are MUCH vaster betweent the old cars and the new cars. Hard sleep in a new car is ways better as soft sleep in an old. Seat61 is sooooo pro-rail that it simply never ever mentions-even minor- negatives of train travel. Newer cars are much like in China-older more like in de old CCCP=now Russia.
Actually sayad above here is also wrong-partly. In the upper bunk you also have the luggage room=above the aisle, to stretch oversized long legs into.

#4 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by caseyprich on 6/1/2013 at 16:53

Depends on what line you are on in China - going through the Gobi the trains are still pretty ratty. Most of the trains in the eastern provinces are nice so long as you book high-speed or express - most travelers would not want to travel K and T class.

I was bumped up to the Livitran (Hanoi-Hue) last year in February but wasn't much impressed - they have a nice classic train look about them, but the setup had nothing on the modern Chinese rails. Perhaps the whole train was made up of old cars though.

Main question - hard sleeper does not mean no mattress. I've traveled hard-sleeper a lot in China and the only time I advice against it is if you're on a trip that breaks the 10 hour mark, at which point I enjoy having a little more privacy that is offered by the 4 berth cabin (soft sleepers).

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Posted by travellingsarah on 6/1/2013 at 22:57 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I agree that comfort depends on the train you're on, but to summarise, hard sleeper has a slightly thinner mattress and 6 beds (rather than the 4 in soft sleeper). I agree with caseyprich in that hard sleepers are fine, up to a point, but the main disadvantage for me is the lack of head space, which makes it tricky if you want to sit-up. I'd always opt for a soft sleeper if possible but would have no qualms about travelling hard sleeper if necessary.

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Posted by tumbleweed on 7/1/2013 at 04:25

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi dnev101,

The difference between hard sleeper and soft sleeper is the hard sleeper has no matress whereas the soft sleeper has a matress. So the hard sleeper is like sleeping on a wooden plank. I did the Nha Trang to Da Nang trip last night on the hard sleeper. After about half an hour, I did get a really goodnight sleep but I am used to roughing it.
The other difference is that there are 6 bunks verses 4 in the soft sleeper. The topbunk is accessable but you will need to be a good climber, but not impossible.
I am 180cm tall and fit quite comfortably, but any taller and you may need to bend a little in the middle.
Enjoy the ride.


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Posted by caseyprich on 7/1/2013 at 06:38

No mattress? I think someone must have stolen yours and doubled up.

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Posted by enday on 23/1/2013 at 06:44

I travelled in a hard sleeper last week, there was no mattress, repeat: no mattress! Unless you think a 2 milimeter thick woven bamboo mat is a mattress (its not, seriously) A thin doona and pillow were provided. I found it alright, actually. I rolled myself in the doona like a cocoon and the Vietnamese lady 35cm's across from me on the other stack of three sleeping shelves reached over and tucked me in... it was cold! Six people in a confined space made the temperature okay after a while. But if you have even a hint of a back or neck problem, don't do it. My cabin did have a door, however it was frequently opened by staff. Seems that there are quite a few different versions of the hard sleeper!

#9 enday has been a member since 12/9/2012. Posts: 30

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