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Backpacker Accommodation & Train Information for Xian

Travel at high speed or take it slow on an overnight sleeper train from Beijing

We actually got kind of stuck in Xi'an, after poor management of our bookings for onwards travel.  We got the overnight Sleeper Train from Beijing which took roughly 11/12 hours.  But there is also the high speed rail link that takes just under 5 hours.  What we should have done (and you should too) is booked our onwards travel to Chengdu in Beijing.

Chinese trains are a nightmare for bookings, as they go on sale 20 days in advance online (which you can't book as a westerner). Therefore to guarantee yourself a sleeper, you must book 18 days in advance at a railway ticket office.  We found that when it got to around 14 days in advance, all tickets were always sold out (bearing in mind this was not during a festival season!).

I recommend reading Seat61.com for train travel times and how to get from A to B.  Just don't listen to their advice on booking only 3-4 days in advance.  That information has not been updated for some time, and most of who use that website book through a ticket agent (That markup the tickets by double), or are travelling in a group.  In either case the travel tips listed apply to them but not for backpackers.

Below are best options available for sleeper trains to Xian from Beijing.  There are 2 other trains available (T41 & T231) but for sake of argument, you aren't going to use them, as they are earlier departures and mess with overnight transport.  We got top bunks on the train for ¥417 per person.  That is roughly £45 per person, one way.  If you want bottom bunks, good luck getting one in the first place and also the cost of these is more towards the £50 per person, one way.  Latest times of departure are available here.

Beijing to Xian by Sleeper Train

Train number: T43 Z19
Beijing West depart 20:29 20:47
Xian Main Station arrive 09:00 07:58

OR

Take the high speed rail link from Beijing West which will take under 5 hours and it connects with Xi'an North station (which is a little way out of the city).  The cost is ¥517 per person, one way.  That doesn't sound like much more than the sleeper train, but with the sleeper, it's saving you a nights accommodation costs.  The fast trains run throughout the day every hour or so.  If you want the fastest service, get G-type trains that have 2 digits after the ‘G', the ones with 3 digits are slightly slower.

Hotels & Hostels to stay in Xi'an:

Xi'an Capsule Hotel (Wanda Plaza)

SERVICE (Staff Helpfulness) stars rating
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Hotel Name Xi'an Capsule Hotel
Address Building 7, Wanda Plaza, Mingle Yuan Xincheng District, Xincheng, 710004 Xi'an or in Chinese 民乐园万达广场7号楼2层 (西安, 710004 (It's in the maze of new buildings at the back of the new Wanda Plaza shopping mall.  It's roughly a 20 minute walk from the station.  It's damn hard to find, basically if you come across a convenience store around District / Building area 7 (signs are on the corners of the buildings) then you are nearby to it.  Badly signposted!  Good thing is that you are 5 minute walk from the Railway ticket office and the new Metro is opening shortly here too!
Room Rate ¥59 for an Economy Capsule or ¥66 for a Deluxe Business Capsule. (Don't be a tight arse, go for the Deluxe)
Room Type This is the first capsule hotel in all of Mainland China.  The concept originally from Japan provides dorm style accommodation, but with your own personal space in the form of your capsule room.Each capsule has an LCD TV, fan, electricity points, a light and table.  Let's just say ‘it works' for a night or two, but I wouldn't recommend spending longer in one of these.  Especially given the fact if you aren't a fan of Chinese style bathrooms / toilets, your going to be running for the hills pretty quickly.  However, they do have laundry facility available.
Websites

Shaanxi Friendship Hotel

SERVICE (Staff Helpfulness) stars rating
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Hotel Name Shaanxi Friendship Hotel
Address No. 83 Xiwu Road, Xincheng District Xi'an, 710004 China or in Chinese 西安市新城区西五路83号 (西安, 710004) Again hard to find, along the Xiwu Road which is where the Railway ticket office is located.  Locals are always helpful and amazed a westerner is staying at this hotel (It's more like a Chinese business hotel).
Room Rate ¥135 for a double room – So works best if you are 2 people sharing, otherwise hostels available on Hostelworld or Hostelbookers are probably better.
Room Type It's a basic double room up to standard Chinese hotel quality.  The place definitely needs modernizing, but for the price we paid we got a decent size room with a good powerful shower (hot water yay!).  The receptionists don't speak great English so knowing some Chinese will help you out a lot!  No laundry available.
Websites

 

About Darryl Hall (85 Articles)
Darryl left the shorelines of England in 2013 to study and travel in China and South East Asia for a year. Darryl is a co-founder of escapingthedesk.com, a travel blog with the aim of sharing travel tips, country & city guides for other backpackers. Visit my Google+ page.

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