But there’s a restroom onboard too, right? Not like the aisles look that easy to walk down.
Usually the rest stop is for snacks and junk.
Yeah I’ve taken night trains and - buses before and universally arrived completely broken. The temperature is always wrong, since I usually sleep on my side I can’t get comfortable in a reclining seat, and they’re never made to accommodate all 1.97 meters of me. Getting no more than an hour’s sleep to save a buck was fine when I was a student, but these days I’ll happily pay a premium to not feel like a geriatric on arrival.
Seems like I am the only one here that likes sleeper trains (I have no experience with sleeper busses)!
It helps that I am not tall and that I can sleep anywhere, I guess, but I absolutely love the concept of traveling overnight. It’s like teleportation. There’s a debate in Germany right now why so many other European train lines have night trains running through Germany but German rail decided to get rid of theirs. It really is a great (and sustainable) alternative to flying on a continent scale.
I’d really like to take the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland once. It’s just so much more civilised than an airplane.
That said: would I take a sleeper bus? I already don’t trust bus drivers not to be overworked and tired on long distance journeys during the day. At night, though? I’ll follow the same rule I have during the day, I suppose: only if there’s no rail alternative.
I have ridden sleepers from Budapest to Chisinau, and even the old Soviet trains have great sleeper beds.
I’ll be glad to turn this thread around into an appreciation thread. I took a sleeper from Berlin to Gdansk once. In combination with normal trains it was a great way to reach Poland from southern Germany with a group and a lot of equipment. No way that would have worked on a plane.
There’s a great sleeper between Oslo and Bergen, a route I would travel from time to time if it wasn’t for Covid. The problem is that it is one of the most stunning train journeys in the world, so I can’t bring myself to take the night train (or the plane, for that matter).
I have never been able to sleep on an overnight bus in Japan, but I might just have to give this one a try sometime.
It is worth noting that, if you book well in advance, between Tokyo and Osaka, flying is almost always cheaper than the bullet train. The great thing about the bullet train is that you can travel on a whim (I have bought tickets three minutes before boarding a train), but it’s pricey… and booking in advance doesn’t really make it any cheaper.
I have to say, on the day before New Year’s Eve in 2005 I was on the train from Bucharest’s Gara du Nord to Chisinau. There was a big snowfall that year, and we crossed along the mountains next to what I think was the Danube (?). A very full moon that night, too. That view was gorgeous, looking down into the snow-covered valley.
Indeed. For future dreaming of a world where it is easier to enter Japan, here’s the page of actual routes (scroll down to the bottom under reservations). Edit: It’s in English on their site, as well, just a bit buried.
Machine translation generally should be fine for city names, but it’s always a good idea to memorize where you’re going. Tokyo is 東京 (East Capital), Kyoto is 京都 (Capital City).
Have taken the train between London and Edinburgh during the day several times and there is some attractive countryside in between, but have always wanted to try the Caledonian Sleeper, as well. It’s a beauty!
I’ve enjoyed traveling on sleeper trains. The only drawback is at first, I’m too excited to sleep.
Those are some great photos. I’d love to try that train.
It often is cheaper to fly a short route than it is to take a train, but someone typically has to spend more money to get to/from the airport in both cities, too. Trains, by contrast, tend to have centrally located stations so there isn’t a lot of additional cost leading up to departure or arrival. Trains generally save a lot of time, also, because you don’t have to spend so long going to/from the airports or spend so long sitting around waiting for the flight, either. Traveling on a whim is indeed great!
Have always just taken the Hikari between Tokyo and Osaka — the Kodama is a cheaper option for those on a budget who don’t mind a slower journey — but presumably, you would suggest trying a flight between Haneda (HND) and Itami (ITM)? Different people have different considerations in terms of time versus money, but Narita (NRT) to Osaka (KIX) and then back into each city proper on their respective trains seems like a lot of trouble compared to the Shinkansen, no?
Narita (NRT) and Kansai (KIX) are almost exclusively for international flights, and the few domestic flights that they have are for people transferring from or to international flights. (You can still buy solely domestic tickets to and from these airports, and it is sometimes cheaper to do so, especially with routes like Kansai to Okinawa.) Between Tokyo and Osaka, you can get plane tickets for around 8,000 if you buy early enough, or often around 11,000 right before.
Haneda (HND) is just 15 minutes away from Shinagawa (Fare: 300) and there are fairly frequent buses that will get you from Itami (ITM) to Osaka or Nanba (Fare: 650 for either) in about half an hour.
The main time drain is simply having to show up early and go through security, but I have JAL status (this is also why I am biased toward flying…they have really great mileage programs here!), so I can drink free beer in the lounge while I wait.
My main reason for not taking the shinkansen between Osaka and Tokyo, though, is that so much of the journey is spent going through tunnels that there’s not much to see.
Sounds reasonable and a good tip. Haneda is indeed convenient to the south side of Tokyo, and with JAL status, it sounds like a solid option for someone who doesn’t mind taking the time and flying in general (and who lives in Japan, in particular). For visitors — hopefully visitors will be a thing again at some point! — the JR Pass is affordable, and if time is at a premium already, personally would suggest the Shinkansen. Even without tunnels, it is indeed hard to focus on much scenery at that speed, though!
If I’m not mistaken, Peach and Jetstar do still offer super cheap direct flights between NRT and KIX for general purchase, but can’t imagine those would be worth the hassle, added transit cost, and extra time, even if you get lucky and Peach actually departs when scheduled. Anyone on that tight of a budget probably would be best served with a bus between cities, overnight or otherwise.
The shinkansen is still the best way to travel to a lot of places, especially if you want to travel around Kyushu or Tohoku (plus these areas offer more of a view). The airports in minor cities will often only have a few flights a day, with infrequent and expensive airport buses to the city center, which is often a good 40 minutes away.
My advice for a traveler looking to get around in Japan would be to look to get the best bang for their buck by flying from one major airport (Haneda, Itami, Chubu, Sendai, Hiroshima, Shin-Chitose, Fukuoka) to another and then taking trains or buses from there. The airports with heavier service have a lot of competition to keep prices down and better infrastructure connecting them to their host cities.
Not sure if its still going now, but I used a similar service often in Buenos Aires, Argentina to go visit family in Cordoba. It was an 8 hour bus trip to the city of Rio Cuarto. From the bus station in Retiro they had these overnight buses with wide and deep seats that would recline quite low.
These buses would seat about 20 people instead of the usual 40 or so.
It would leave about 23:00 (11:00 pm) and they would serve you a glass of brandy and a biscuit to help you fall asleep. By around 7:00 they would wake you up with a coffee and some “medialunas” (similar to a croissant). Half an hour later I would arrive at the destination all refreshed and awake.
The train takes about 2 hours, and a bus takes at least 7. (Maybe longer for this overnight bus.) These days I’d gladly pay a $50 premium to avoid sharing the air with fellow travelers in a confined space for an additional 5 hours.
Plus the bullet train is very comfortable and bento boxes sold onboard are distinct thing. Each route has unique offerings and they play up how they are made with local ingredients.
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