Beijing to Xian Train

Jan 20th, 2007, 11:07 PM
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Beijing to Xian Train

Am planning to catch the overnight train to Xian from Beijing (and back) in April with my 4 children , Wondering if anyone has any useful suggestions
when best to buy tickets (on day /1 week out etc)
quality of the sleepers (is deluxe worth going with
is it a comfortable trip

any help appreciated


afisher63 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 01:49 AM
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We did this a couple of years back and I have written about the experience in my trip report . Maybe you can find some useful info there

Gard - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 04:59 AM
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I've only done this trip in seat claas and it was almost 10 years ago.

It was like extracting a tooth trying to buy a ticket. I guess things have changed and suspect that the more lux your trip the less lead time is necessary.

But on the day - NO - I don't think so.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 05:57 AM
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4days advanced,you only can get the tickets inside 4days,you can get help from you hotel,they can book for you but add extra 30RMB per ticket
tourday is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 05:59 AM
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The best site for train info is, which includes pictures of the inside.

I've done this trip in both hard and soft sleeper. Hard sleeper is a bit hard and a bit crowded, soft sleeper is quite luxurious. With 4 of you I'd be inclined to go for soft sleeper, you should get a compartment to yourselves. Also, both classes come with thermos flasks of hot water, filled by the attendants, so you can take tea, coffee, noodles, dry soup etc to fix.

I would arrange the ticket ahead of time through a local travel agency like CITS. You can only buy tickets in the town where you're boarding the train, and this is a popular route. Wish I was going!
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 06:04 AM
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tourday - didn't see your post until mine went up. Not sure you're info is correct, this is what seat61 says:

"Reservations for the best Z-category express trains open 20 days before departure, reservations for most other trains open up to 10 days before departure, assuming the train you want starts its journey at that station. If the train you want starts its journey somewhere else and calls at your boarding station already well into its journey, tickets may only be available 2 days before departure. The rules vary by city..! You can generally only book a train journey at the station where your journey starts... Berths are best booked at least 2-3 days in advance, apart from peak periods (the Spring Festival, May Day 1st May, National Day 1st October) when they should be booked as soon as reservations open."
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 08:48 AM
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Regular soft-sleeper is 4 in a cabin, with two upper berths and two lower. Deluxe is 2 in a cabin, lower berths only.

If the train has deluxe, they will be on separate cars from the regular soft sleepers.

I get there there will be like 5 or 6 of you going together, not just 4. You have a decision to make.

Don't attempt to buy the tickets by yourself. Pay someone to do it for you. Very well worth it.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 06:47 PM
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If not travelling in high season, it is not difficult to buy the soft sleeper ticket from beijing to xian.

There are several trains from beijing to xian, the best choice is Z19, a direct train without stopover. You can check the train timetable through

Good luck
asprilalee is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 03:00 AM
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thanks for the tips . All are much appreciated (there will be 6 of us travelling)
afisher63 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 01:17 AM
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As already stated 4 days (I thought it was 3) before is the soonest and usually on the Beijing to Xian route the tickets for the sleepers are gone before lunch - We went to the station at 7am and brought our tickets no problem and then had them pickpocketed! - forgot to transfer them into our [email protected] duh! - anyway we then found that the hotels and agents block out all these seats as its the main tourist route and many people in the hotels in Beijing go down overnight see the warriers and return to their hotel in Beijing.
so... just letting you know that you can easily buy them yourself if you catch a taxi down to the station early on the day they are released (check with hotel 3 or 4 days before) or as suggested above, pay the surcharge and get an agent or hotel to get them for you.
Main thing to remember if you go to buy them yourself and they say sold out - just do the rounds of all the 4 and 5 star hotel tour desks and youll find them somewhere.
Cosmo is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 08:35 PM
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topping with thanks
aussiedreamer is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 06:08 AM
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Would this information also apply to the Beijing-Shanghai sleeper? I plan to take that in early April.

Also, since I am a single traveler, I wonder if the sleepers are segregated by gender, ie..will they put me in a car with another woman?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 06:23 AM
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ek - no, the compartments are not segregated - not anywhere in Asia. I didn't find this to be a problem - I travel with the top half of a shalwar kameez, and change into it in the toilet. Then I take my trousers off after I get into bed - I usually travel with a silk sleep sack. But generally the guys in a soft sleeper will leave the compartment if you indicate you need to change.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 08:35 PM
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Thanks thursdaysd, I have had a look at and its just the sort of info I was after. This sounds like a much better alternative to air travel, all that 'wasted' time in airport lounges. And after I did the exchange into Aussie dollars it seems quite reasonable to go the Deluxe soft seater (Z19) are the ammenities as nice as they look?

I also gleam from my readings on this site that I should book that before we go with someone like Cits?

One more question, if we go to Xian on one night and back the next, does that allow for suffient time in Xian?

aussiedreamer is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 08:59 PM
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ek - I think I was just in regular soft sleeper, but it was plenty comfortable. I bought that ticket through CITS, because I was traveling not long after National Day.

I really like Xi'an - I've been there three times, although the last time it was more concrete and glass than before - so I would say one day is definitely not enough. Going to see the warriors took me most of a day last time, although I did do it by public transport that time. I also recommend the Muslim quarter - make sure you walk far enough in - the Great Mosque, the Big Goose Pagoda, the Temple of the Eight Great Immortals, the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, and just general wandering around. I think it was Xi'an where I found a nice park on my last trip.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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I am not sure that all "Z" trains get those new rolling stock you see in the picture with private bathrooms and LCD screens. Seat61 shows pictures that the Xian one does, but I don't think there's guarantee.

But even the older Soft Sleepers and Deluxe Soft Sleepers are very nice, and is more than okay for an overnight trip. The toilets are on either end of each carriage and are relatively clean; one of them has a sit-toilet, not just a hole.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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I think Z trains are the fastest with fewer stops and "should" have good quality sleepers. I'm not positive, but I think the two-to-a-cabin carriages are only on the BJ-HK or possibly BJ-SH routes.

I've ridden both hard and soft sleeper frequently, and I'd say for the average foreigner, soft sleeper is better. However, hard sleeper will give you a much more adventurous peek at "real" Chinese!

I've usually traveled alone and my 4-person cabin was invariably filled with three men. Without exception they were more than courteous, forced food on me, went outside to smoke and once ran into the compartment to drag me out into the passageway to see the Yellow River as we were crossing it. In one case, a group of an obvious boss and two underlings kept after me about eating with them in the restaurant car that it became easier to just go than to keep refusing. But that's another story!

By the way, I dress in sweat pants, drawstring or elastic waisted pants or the like and don't bother trying to change into anything else. I sleep on whatever I keep my passport and money in and take it when going to the bathroom. Also, I find it's not all that restful, as trains do stop along the way and sometimes, I don't know the term, hook up with other cars which will definitely wake you up! But you do save on an overnight hotel and the soft sleepers are still a bit cheaper than planes.

kudzu is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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Hong Kong - Shanghai/Beijing, Shanghai-Beijing, and Beijing-Xi'an (Z19) should all have the Deluxe. also says the same. By definition, a "Z" train is non-stop. Z = Zhida = Direct (meaning non-stop).
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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I took the Z19 Beijing - Xi'an train last summer and it is the best way to go. It was comfortable, clean, not very loud, and no frequent stops like the train I took from Xi'an to Shanghai. It also was full of westerners and very few native Chinese. Finally, may I suggest brining some noodle buckets that you can find in several grocery type store, the train has hot water available and they make a decent and cheap dinner.
bgoph is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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Woh, this is all so very very helpful. Thank you to rkkwan for your 'toilet' comment. I have to say as silly as it sound, this is the one thing making me very nervous about China. I don't know about the rest of you, but I good, clean sit down toilet for me is a necessity.

If we go all out and get the 'best' ticket on the Z (thanks for the definition rrkwan) will we get a good sit down toilet? Sorry to be blunt.

We will make do with what we have to when we out for the day 'exploring' but we have made a pact that our accommodation will be the best we can all manage. Hope that doesn't sound too snooty????

aussiedreamer is offline  

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