After you have finished visiting the pandas in Chengdu, consider traveling is Xi’an, home to the world famous Terra Cotta Warriors. Xi’an is also a pretty cool town in its own right with a fabulous street food market known as Muslim Street.
Flying between Chengdu & Xi’an
Flying between Chengdu and Xi’an is the quickest way to travel, however, we did not find any affordable and direct routes on our travel dates. This may not always be the case. Skyscanner is the most convenient way to see if there are flights on your dates. Baggage rules on domestic flights in China can be confusing so make sure to click through to the booking page to calculate the baggage fees to determine if flying is cost-effective.
How to travel by train between Chengdu & Xi’an
If you would like to travel between Chengdu & Xi’an by train follow these steps:
Step 1 – Get to Chengdu Dong East Railway Station from your hotel
From our hotel in Chengdu (located in Chengdu City Centre) it took around 40 minutes to reach Chengdu Dong East Railway Station. We caught a Didi (China’s version of Uber) and it cost us 27 Yuan. By taxi, it costs around 35 – 40 Yuan during the day.
Step 2: Catch a train from Chengdu Dong East Railway Station to Xi’an, or if full, change trains at Da Zhou Station
The fastest train from Chengdu Dong East Railway Station to Xi’an takes around 11 hours and costs 128 Yuan ($19 USD) for a hard seat or 369 Yuan for a soft sleeper ($55 USD). If you want to take the fastest train from Chengdu to Xi’an, you need to book a few days in advance as it is a popular option and the tickets book out fast.
If you are too slow on this option, the second option is to catch a train from Chengdu Dong East Railway Station to Da Zhou and then onwards to Xi’an. This journey including the transfer and wait time takes very similar time (not including any wait time in Da Zhou). The first leg of this option costs 65 Yuan ($10 USD) for a hard seat or 194 Yuan for a soft sleeper ($29 USD) and takes approximately 4 hours. As we didn’t book the first option long enough in advance, we took this option.
We would recommend catching the direct train if it was available. While the change of trains in Da Zhou didn’t appear to add more time on our journey, we faced delays on boarding the train in Da Zhou and had to wait 2 hours to board our train to Xi’an. The only positive was that there was good working wifi at the train station at Da Zhou and plugs to charge our laptops. On a 11 hour straight journey, our laptops would have died half way through the journey with nowhere to charge them (Not Fun!)
Despite online sources to the contrary, as a foreigner, you can buy tickets for this train at any train station in Chengdu. However, there can be long lines and wait times of over an hour to get a ticket. After you purchase your ticket, you are required to proceed through airport style security (passport required) so make sure you have enough time before your train departs.
Tip: The slow trains are configured three seats across, then two seats across. If you are traveling as a couple and want to sit in a two seater, two seaters end in the numbers 3 & 4 and 8 & 9 and three seats end in 0,1, 2 and 5, 6, 7. For instance, ask for seat 53 & 54 to get seats alone not seats 50 & 51.
Step 3: (If direct train is full) Catch a train from Da Zhou to Xi’an
The train from Da Zhou to Xi’an takes 6 hours and costs 72 Yuan ($10 USD) for a hard seat. The train also offers the possibility of sleepers beds for around $10 USD more. However, as we were traveling during the day and did not intend to sleep we opted for a regular seat on the train. It was okay but the seats are a little uncomfortable. In hindsight, knowing how full the train would be, I would have opted for a sleeper for more stretch space. An attendant brings around trolleys of food & drink every so often, if you have forgotten to bring snacks along with you.
Tip: Make sure you give yourself enough time between the connecting trains (2 hours to be safe). If the first train is delayed (happens option in China) you still have enough time to make your connecting train.
Step 4: From Xi’an South train Station to Downtown Xi’an
Our biggest problem happened when we arrived in Xi’an. We thought we booked the train straight to Downtown Xi’an however, it went to Xian South station, about an hour away. A taxi from this station will cost you at least 100 Yuan ($15 USD). We checked later & some trains do go to the Downtown Xi’an station so check carefully before purchasing your ticket.
Where to Stay in Chengdu & Xi’an
We usually start and end our searches with Booking.com as we find it easy to use and we trust their review scores.
- Click here to search for your dates in Chengdu on Booking.com
- Click here to search for your dates in Xi’an on Booking.com
In Chengdu, we stayed at the Lazybones Hostel Templeside Poshpacker. Despite it being called a hostel, it was more like a hotel as it was very clean and comfortable with modern furnishings. We also loved the beautifully decorated café area with lots of seating and two gorgeous cats. The hostel was also very affordable as we only paid $25 USD a night. It is truly deserving of its 9.2 review score on booking.com. The best bit was that it provided a great base for visiting the Chengdu Panda Research Centre. You can get a taxi for around 50 CNY from the hostel however, it is very simple to get the public bus, which costs only 4 CNY per person. Check out our youtube video of the hotel room below. Click here for directions to the Chengdu Panda Research Centre.
In Xi’an, we stayed at Travelling With Hostel. Unlike many places in the world where hostels are mainly aimed at young, single travelers looking to meet people, hostels are a great option for couples in China as many of them are clean & comfortable with a private bathroom. They are on the same standard as a modern 3 or 4 star hotel elsewhere in the world. To get a good hotel at bargain basement prices, pay special attention to the review score.
We hope this guide helpful in planning your journey between Chengdu and Xi’an! We would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below!
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