Xian from Beijing

Discussion in 'Asia' started by tw116, Feb 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i am planning a trip to beijing and would like to make a day trip to xian. any suggestions? is a day trip doable? are the flights reliable?
     
  2. Xi'an is not a particularly easy day trip from Beijing and there's more to see then just the Terra Cotta Warriors. The museum and the general down town area with the Drum and Bell Tower and City Wall are certainly worth a look. Both the Beijing airport and the Xi'an airport are quite out of the way and unfortunately for Chinese domestic flights, check-in and security can be an absolute pain due to crowding. I usually leave more time for domestic than international check-in in China! Although some airlines have online check-in, foreigners often cannot use them or run into problems. Flights can be as low as 350 RMB, although the standard price is somewhere around 1200 RMB if no discount is available. In general, flights from Beijing to Xi'an (and other provincial capitals) are cheaper than the the return flights back to Beijing. Ctrip and Elong are two good booking engines for Chinese domestic flights with English language support and customer service.

    If your time is really limited, taking overnight trains may be a more realistic option since the train station is right in the center of Xi'an. Here is information on train schedules, although booking far in advance and from outside of China can be somewhat of a pain.
     
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  3. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    Sarah is absolutely correct. I would add that domestic flights in China also seem to have a high cancellation rate. You could find yourself automatically rescheduled to a flight late in the day or even the next day, sometimes without any possibility of refund as an alternative. Flexibility is an absolute must with travel in China and a one day schedule does not give you much in the way of wiggle room.
     
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  4. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i was considering using a guide. i thought it may help to maximize my time there. if i have a guide pick me up at the airport and stay with me throughout the day and take me back to the airport, do you think it will help? my problem is i am short on time there but hate to miss out on Xi'an. thanks for your input.
     
  5. ThatJohn
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    A guide is a great idea, but I would caution against a day trip unless you're up madly early and to bed madly late. Don't miss the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an: it's indescribably unusual.
     
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  6. Although ThatJohn is right that a guide could certainly be useful, it still doesn't remove the fundamental logistical challenges of traveling in China, particularly risk of delayed/canceled flights, traffic jams (everywhere!) and time needed for security at the airport. If you have some flexibility and could stay in Xi'an overnight, then a 36 hour trip would be doable and enjoyable. What are your specific time parameters?
     
  7. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i was planning day one great wall and summer palace, day 2 forbidden city and temple of haven, day 3 zi'an, day 4, spending a day with a friend for local sights and shopping.





     
  8. Although it depends on your style, I think your schedule is not terribly realistic if you want to be able to see any of these sights. From downtown Beijing to the Summer Palace can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on traffic and combining that with the Great Wall is going to be very hard. The Forbidden City and Tiananmen square are worth a day alone, although the geography of combining that with the Temple of Heaven a least works. I'd recommend saving Xi'an for another visit given your time constraints.
     
  9. RichardInSF
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    I have to admit that I am incredibly uncultured, because I was bored with the Forbidden City long before coming close to spending even half a day. I'd think you can easily do TienAnMen, Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven in a day. Summer Palace area is easier now that the subway goes all the way. Not planning to go to the Wall? Many might regard that as a mistake.

    Still I wonder if with that amount of time you shouldn't skip Xi'an entirely. I totally agree with the others that there are sights worth visiting that go beyond the warriors. In addition to those mentioned above, I found the walk on the city walls to be quite nice.
     
  10. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i am going to the great wall the first day. you may be right about skipping xi'an, i just have heard so much about it and think it would be great to see.
     
  11. ThatJohn
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    The walk from Qianmen north through Tiananmen Square, across Changan jie, through the Forbidden City, up Jingshan Hill, through the Children's Palace, down the hutongs to the west of Dianmennei dajie, to Beihai Park and then up to Houhai is my idea of the perfect day in Beijing.

    I agree with the advice to do the Summer Palace and Great Wall in separate days. It is possible to do two sections of Wall in one day with a car and driver: I suggest Mutianyu and Simatai, but strongly un-suggest (that's a word, honest) Badaling, which is ghastly and touristy.

    Try not to pack too much in. China will still be there when you come back.
     
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  12. daedalus
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    daedalus Silver Member

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    Is the high cancellation rate across all airlines, or are there some airlines better than others?
     
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  13. HiIslands
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    This is definitely a two-edged sword situation. While Chinese airlines have often been accused of cancelling flights on a whim, a Henan Airlines flight crashed in dense nighttime fog last year at Yichun Airport, killing 42 people. China Southern (a reasonably reputable carrier) had previously expressed concerns about the airport's weather, terrain and runway lights and decided to limit themselves to only daylight landings there. So you may want to defer to the airlines with more conservative safety practices but higher cancellation rates.
     
  14. brinkers
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    brinkers Gold Member

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    As someone in the planning stages of a China trip later this year, this has been an interesting discussion. Fortunately, I was planning on overnighting in Xian.
     
  15. taiwaned
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    Xian in one day??

    As previous posters mentioned about the possible transportation issues. You are also forgetting that the major sights are HUGE in actual scale. You would literally have to jog or run to see things you should see while in Xian.
    If you go when it is hot, it would be physically impossible due to the extreme heat.

    Personally, I would skip Xian if time is that tight. Go back and enjoy the sights when you have time.
     
  16. Mangy
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    Mangy Gold Member

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    I think that MP member savydog did a day trip from Beijin to Xian just over a year ago. Perhaps he can post his experiences
     
  17. savydog
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    I used Air China for a morning flight and arranged a great English speaking guide with vehicle. As my time on the ground was limited he helped me plan my day. When I cleared customs he was waiting for me, we headed straight to the Terracotta Warriors, where about half of my time was spent. From there he took me to a local Restaurant where he helped me choose a suitable meal before giving me time and space to enjoy it. After lunch we drove to the city wall, unfortunately it was raining heavily, as I would have liked to have gone up and wandered around up there for a bit. We then went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the rain stopped thankfully. Back to the airport and made my return flight.

    This was the first time I had used a guide and I did find the experience enjoyable. He had a great knowledge of the Terracotta Warriors and I have a real interest in the history of that place. My guide + car and driver was AUD$70 from memory, you can do it yourself for cheaper with buses and interchanges but I needed easier not cheaper. My guide told me that the day trippers are known as pandas because of the dark rings under our eyes.
     
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  18. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    thanks for all the input and suggestions!
     

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