Tour guide in Xian?

Jul 3rd, 2004, 04:40 PM
  #1  
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Tour guide in Xian?

I understand it is pretty cheap to negotiate a day rate with a taxi driver, to get around to the Terracotta Warriors, etc. However, there's a tour guide mentioned favorably by a few people on this site several years ago, and it sounds like hiring a private tour guide for a family of 4 may still run about half the cost of various "Eastern route" tours of Xian. Any advice or recent relevant experience (including recent pricing) would be welcome. We're leaning toward doing it ourselves with a taxi, but once the exorbitant admission fees are included, the relatively low net cost of the private guide is somewhat appealing. Thanks.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 11:10 PM
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Topping, to give it another try now that the weekend is over. Have already searched all the old entries on Xian, and am looking for recent experience, if possible. Also, wondering if there's any significant disadvantage staying at the Sheraton rather than the Hyatt (i.e. outside the wall rather than within). Thank you.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 6th, 2004, 09:05 AM
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Hi, Ed:

IMHO, it is not necessary to negotiate with a taxi driver and take chances on the quality of the driver, which can vary wildly.

At the Bell Tower Hotel, SECOND FLOOR, is the Golden Bridge Travel Service. They charge 300 yuan per person. Last month when I was there, they had only 3 people on the one tour - as compared to about 30 for the CITS tour group. The guide was very knowledgeable and spoke good English.

The Bell Tower Hotel is right at the center of the old town, facing the Bell Tower Square.

Golden Bridge Travel Service
fax: 029/781-1521
email: gbtour#pub.xaonline.com

Hope this helps!
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 8th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Thank you for your advice, Easytraveler. If we don't go with a private guide in Xian, we may use the agency you mention. If anyone else has had recent experience with private guides in Xian, or with staying outside the Walls at the Sheraton (versus inside at the Hyatt), I would still greatly appreciate further information.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 9th, 2004, 11:25 AM
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Ed-
This is what we did we took a taxi to the X'ian bus station(in front of the train station) and got on large bus #306,it drops you off in the parking lot.When your done with the vendors harassing you,just get back on a #306 bus back to the train station.
The bus takes the expressway, taxi's take surface streets to avoid the tolls.
The bus cost 5RMB each way.
Hope this helps.
brendon is offline  
Jul 9th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for the bus advice, Brandon. We'll be there in August -- so do you know if bus #306 is air-conditioned? If so, it sounds like a simple and cheap way to do things. Also, roughly how frequent is it, and how long does it take by bus to get out to the site?
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 9th, 2004, 09:38 PM
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Ed-
Don't know if the bus in air conditioned.
My Frommer's book that I used doesn't say how frequent it runs but when we were there in March there was a bus waiting each time we showed up.
As for how long it takes I would have to say maybe an hour-maybe someone else can chime in and answer that!
Brendon
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Jul 10th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Just back from Xian and stayed at the Hyatt. It is somewhat old and dated, probably closer to 2 or 3 stars than 4. Not your typical Hyatt quality. Heard great things about the Sheraton but did not stay there. You can take a taxi from Sheraton to tourist sites, cost is very reasonable. We took a taxi from the airport to Terracotta Warriors Museum. Driver took us to the wrong museum, it had poor plastic replicas of the contents of the tombs, we did not realize that it was the wrong museum until after we paid the admission and finished the short tour. Driver finally brought us the correct museum after we spoke with some people in the museum. He waited for us to finish the museum and then drove us to the Hyatt. I don't remember the exact price of the taxi, about $40-$50 US. Would not recommend the English guided tour at the museum, guide was not very knowledgeable and limited English skills. You can do museum on your own. Don't miss the interesting movie.
ilenemak is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 08:44 AM
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Thank you, ilenemak, for the information on your recent experience with the Hyatt. And, Brendon, I found the 306 bus in Frommer's -- and it says it's a big air-con vehicle. It sounds like the Xian Hyatt is a disappointment from a luxury standpoint, and I have plenty of Starwood points to use for rooms at the Sheraton, instead. Am still wondering if the distance of the Sheraton outside the walls makes for a real disadvantage, though we're leaning in the direction of staying there our 3 nights. I read in an old posting on this forum, that staying at the Sheraton added a huge amount of time to any excursions, like going out to the Terracotta Warriors -- yet I see on the map it's only about a mile outside the walls. I understand that Xian is congested, but could it take more than 5 or 10 minutes to get into town, even in the worst traffic, from the Sheraton?

Also, if anyone reading this has any specific private tour guide experience, would still appreciate your info, although based on the information so far we're leaning toward exploring the Xian area ourselves by taxi.

ilenemak, did you notice any decent restaurants within walking distance of the Terracotta site? I've read warnings about at least one restaurant out there, I believe. Or, does anyone have a recommendation for a restaurant en route back to town -- so we won't wind up at a tourist trap at the recommendation of a taxi driver!
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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Sheraton is near highway enroute to Terracotta Soldiers. Very few restaurants near Terracotta Soldiers. Xian's cuisine is not as extensive as Beijing or Shanghai. You may want to brown bag. We went to a great restaurant in town recommended by Frommers (don't remember the name) that had the best oxtail. The steamed buns sold by the locals were also great. The center of town near the bell and drum towers have many reasonably priced restaurants.

Please post something about the Sheraton after you return. We are thinking about going to China again next spring and want to spend a few days in Xian.
ilenemak is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 02:44 PM
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Actually, I think that the Sheraton is on the opposite side of the city from the Terracotta Warriors -- a mile out on the west, while aren't the Warriors to the east? As I've mentioned, I've read in these forums that someone a while back suggested that staying at the Sheraton actually added up to an hour extra time getting out to the Warriors -- but I can't imagine the traffic could be quite that bad... And I think I've read here that there are a couple of restaurants in some kind of proximity to the site, but that they are tourist ripoffs.
EdEdwards is offline  
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