Traveling in an Overnight Train? What You Need to Know

Indian trains run at an average speed of 40-45 km per hour and there are plans to increase that speed up by 25 km per hour before 2022 by Indian Railways. Even with this speed, not all distance can be achieved in a single day. Not just in India, throughout the world, overnight trip and even multiple-day trips are common in train routes. Most of the trains run for more than a day. Most of the travelers prefer overnight trains to avoid losing time in train. Also, 12 hour journey would look short if you are taking a night train as you will be spending 8 hours sleeping rather than spending the entire 12 hours gazing through the barred windows.

May it be India or any country around the world, taking an overnight train is like taking a peep into their culture.

Here are the top things you should know about overnight train travel.


If you want a decent overnight travel, it is better to choose 2nd class AC train with soft berth. This would be a better experience for you as the train will have a decent berth system, curtains and reading lights to give your privacy. The bedsheet and pillows will be provided in a plastic sheet and you can get train attendants to help you with any problems. The bathroom is not something to brag about and at the same time, it will be decent enough.

Thailand Train Travel

The train can get very chilly at night. So, bring a sweater with you. The old Thailand trains have an on-board kitchen. These kitchens have simple menus but, the food will be prepared fresh. The new trains have a dining cart, where the options are numerous. However, all the food items are pre-prepared and re-heated. If you are settling for snacks, you can find small carts selling water and snacks, running up and down the train.

Thailand Train Travel

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If you are looking for a decent travel while traveling in a group, it is recommended to choose the 4-person shared cabin. They have two bunk beds inside a closed coop. The cabin might be decorated with flower vases in certain trains. Starting from power outlets to reading lights, you can find many amenities here. The sliding door can be locked from inside and thus, you can feel safe.

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Vietnam Train Travel

Each carriage has two types of bathrooms, the squat type and the western one. Hygiene factor is questionable here. It would be better if you bring your hand-sanitizer and toilet papers. Food is another questioning part here. Locals recommend bringing food from home. The food from the cart in the train would not be up to any basic standards. There will be many shops in the station selling snacks. Train cart also sells soft drinks, water and beer.

Vietnam Train

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Face-to-face seats, bunk beds and vendors selling merchandise every five minutes is a common scenario in any class lower to second class AC. Privacy cannot be expected even with curtains. If you really want privacy, buy coop tickets in First AC. Clean sheets and pillows will be provided to you.

Overnight Train Travel in India

There is no dining car in most of the Indian trains. You can find IRCTC catering men taking orders. Do not expect a hotel styled food. You can buy food from hotels closer to the railway station and have them in the train. Water bottles and other snacks are sold frequently in the trains.

Train Travel in India

Each compartment has two sets of Indian toilet and western style toilets. It is always better to pack wet wipes, tissues and toilet papers. If you are really into luxury train travel, it is best to choose luxury trains of the country like Palace on Wheels, Maharajas Express and Deccan Odyssey.

Train Travel in India

Read more: How Many Luxury Trains Are There in India?

Complete Information of Palace on Wheels:

Siberian Railways

If you are choosing the cabins, only four members are allowed per cabin and it will be less crowded. Clean sheets and pillows will be provided. Power outlets, reading lights and other basic facilities will be provided.

Trans-Siberian Railway

Make sure whether the power outlets are broken or not, before using them. Even with AC facility, the temperature can get a little high. Thus, wear lightly. Bathrooms are fairly clean and you can find suction toilets like the ones in planes. The bathrooms get locked when trains get closer to station and do not open until it starts moving away from the station. The trains make unnecessary stops every now and then. The passengers use this time to get out of the train and stretch their legs. Most of the trains have on-board dining car. There will not be much of a choice in the dining car. You can find local meals, snacks and sandwiches.

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Packing Tips for Overnight Train

  • Pack enough sanitary items and medicines. You cannot expect hygiene in a place which is used by millions of people.
  • Privacy is a questionable element unless you get coop tickets and the coop is filled with people you know. Thus, bring your eye-mask, books and get used to the fact that there will be no privacy.
  • Bedspreads and pillows will be provided. If you want, you can carry one for your needs.
  • Always wear shoes inside the train. Thus, pack something that is comfortable to take off and put on.
  • Train food can be great and sometimes it can be horrible too. Try to bring your own food or, pack as much snacks as possible.
  • Water is of importance even during the middle of the winter. Bring a couple of bottles and if you run out of it, you can buy more.

Read more: Five Exceptional Tips For a Luxury Vacation in India

Tips for Overnight Stay in Train

  • Have an empty bag for storing things you buy in the carts in the train or in the stores in the station.
  • Have currency changes (minimum denominations) to buy things. Most of the vendors would end up making you buy more to get to a round up number.
  • Are you someone who wears contact lens? It is better to ditch the lens and wear glass. It is harder to change lens when the train is moving and it becomes extra work to carry around solutions for the lens.
  • You might have the best internet package for your mobile, but when the train is moving in high speed, the connectivity can be questionable. Thus, download movies and other entertainments at home for you to watch in train. Bring your headphones with you.
  • Yes, most of the long distance trains have showers. But, soaps, towels and other toiletries would not be provided unless you are travelling in luxury train. Thus, bring everything you need.
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Compromise in as many things as possible. It is not your home and you should learn to take advantage of things you have and leave rest as a train experience. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ever-changing scenery.

Which Cabin is Best for Overnight Train Travel?

You would be obviously assigned the sleeper class. If you are ready to cut some amenities for a smaller bill, third class sleeper coach would be better. AC coaches are better than non-air conditioned one, even when you are travelling in winter. AC coaches have closed up strong glass windows and closed compartment doors providing a minimum amount of privacy and security.

If you are into tight privacy, the first class AC or the coop would be a better option. The first class option has larger and longer bed with easy to climb ladders. If you are a senior citizen or travelling with an infant or, someone who does not want to climb up and down in a thin metal rod for a ladder, it is better to choose lower berth. If you are someone who wants to sleep without anyone disturbing you just because it is time for them to be awake, choose the upper berth.

Last but not least, try to pre-book your tickets as early as possible to get better seats. There are options to pre-book food too. If so, it would be better to do so. Plan for the worst so that you can enjoy what is presented to you. After all, every train journey is a story by itself.

Two Types of Cabins are:

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