Xi’an is one of China’s most exciting tourism attractions, from its massive walls, ancient pagodas to the outlying world wonder of the Terra cotta warriors. This destination is part of any great overland journey connected by rail. Many tourists make their way here by flights which are often bound up with pre-arranged tours. However if you like do it yourself trips or are thinking of an overland adventure in China, take it from us that it is possible.
First off if you have some experience or intuition with how Chinese trains work this can be a recommended way to get to Xi’an. This can be part of a first time to China journey, but it will be better if you have already taken some intercity trains on the trip first. To understand more about the ticket purchasing process, please refer to our article on buying train tickets inside China.
Logistics to consider:
The location is far out in the center of China, so it is always going to be an overnight sleeper journey or at least an 8 hour bullet train from major cities like Shanghai or Beijing. What is the advantage you might ask, why not just fly? Flights within the country are never near as affordable as trains are and railway journeys are a great way to see the countryside and get immersed in the culture.
Since you are headed inland and West it makes sense that you depart from a coastal big city such as Shanghai. These larger cities also have various train options, speeds and prices that smaller or mid level sized cities would not offer. If coming from Beijing one can continue out from Xi’an Southwards or Eastwards towards larger cities. If coming from the East it makes sense to continue on a train North or South.
Xi’an is certainly not a place where one has to worry about getting stranded. Trains come from major and mid level cities all the hours of day and night. A sleeper train is a good option because it can save a night in a hotel, and depending on how much you want to spend you can get private sleeping quarters. Depending on how much time you have it is a great idea to stop and break up the trip along the way too. You can stop in Shijiazhuang half way between Beijing and Xi’an or Wuhan between Shanghai and Xi’an.