Xian and Great Wall

Oct 22nd, 2002, 10:52 AM
  #1  
Eileen
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Xian and Great Wall

We will be in Bejing Nov 5th. Would like to visit Xian. Any info on booking flights, overnight trains?, hotels. Should we use a travel agency or go directly to airline, we will be planning this in Beijing... thanks

Also, Peter N-H wrote a respone to visiting the Great Wall at Badaling that the rate for a taxi should be appx Y250. Would this be roundtrip? and has anyone else paid this? What seems to be the rate? I have talked to a few people and they all tell me they've paid around Y500...
Thanks for any info...Eileen
 
Oct 22nd, 2002, 12:37 PM
  #2  
Peter N-H
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There have been quite a few postings on Xi'an trains and train ticket booking in recent weeks. You might want to do a search of this site. Here are extracts from one post of a few days ago:

There are three expresses leaving Beijing West late afternoon and arriving at Xi'an early the following morning, the T41, T231, and T55.

From Xi'an to Shanghai there are several trains, some taking 24 hours. The best choice would be the faster T140 which leaves in the early evening and arrives mid-morning the next day.
From Shanghai to Beijing there are also three early evening departures arriving around 8am the next morning, the T14, T22, and T104.
I'd allow roughly five, three, and three days in that order, with a couple of days left to spare for hitches, hiccups, and last minute changes of mind.
Tickets are generally on sale four days in advance including day of travel, so your first activity on arrival in these cities is to book your way out. All three stations have special sleeper ticket offices away from the main melee. The one at Beijing West, signposted in English one flight up from the main concourse, is open practically 24 hours a day, so you could go there yourself. You can manage at the other stations, too, but this might be a case in which you just need to save time by asking an agent to get the ticket for you. If you are in major hotels (including those popular with backpackers) front desks like wildly to overcharge you for organising the tickets. If you find one of the railway's own ticket offices (marked on Chinese-language maps with the railway symbol), the commission is Y5 and the ticket will be handed to you immediately. Y20 is a suitable commission for agents who actually have to go to the station, including ticket delivery to your room. All you need to supply is: train no. (give them as much choice as possible), date of travel, number of tickets required, and class of berth (hard 'ying wo', or soft 'ruan wo').
With only a few days in each city, just remember not to save the best sights to last, but to do them first, or increase the chances of disappointment.
Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Author: China? ([email protected])
Date: 10/19/2002, 07:55 am

Message: Let's be real. You forgot to mention that softsleepers are overpriced, hardsleepers are kept from travellers without a bribe, softseats dont exist (practically) and hardseats are like being transported as cattle... actually worse!
If you only want to visit those 3 cities, you may be ok but anything else and you will have to bribe someone in China.
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Author: Peter N-H ([email protected])
Date: 10/19/2002, 12:20 pm

Message: Both question and answer were, indeed, quite specific to three cities. But while the description above was fair a few years ago, and there are still some local difficulties and problems at certain times of year, the situation is now largely different throughout China.
To take the points made in order:
Taking the T41 Beijing to Xi'an as an example, the T41, one of the more expensive trains in China because of its relatively rapid speed and airconditioning, costs Y417 a 1200km run in a soft sleeper bed. Thats just over US$50 or US$0.04 per km. Expensive for some, no doubt, but not for most readers of this forum, I imagine. There are also slower, cheaper trains.
But the hard sleeper option is also available, and where (or when) there are still difficulties with ticket access its across the board, not just with hard sleeper tickets. Incidentally on the T41 Beiing to Xi'an the hard sleeper cost is Y274, or about US$30; about 2.7 cents per km.
 
Oct 22nd, 2002, 12:54 PM
  #3  
Peter N-H
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Apologies. The previous post was sent accidentally while I was still editing. Rather different version below:

There have been quite a few postings on Xi'an trains and train ticket booking in recent weeks. You might want to do a search of this site. Here are extracts from one post of a few days ago:

There are three expresses leaving Beijing West late afternoon and arriving at Xi'an early the following morning, the T41, T231, and T55.

Tickets are generally on sale four days in advance including day of travel, so your first activity on arrival in these cities is to book your way out. All three stations have special sleeper ticket offices away from the main melee. The one at Beijing West, signposted in English one flight up from the main concourse, is open practically 24 hours a day, so you could go there yourself. You can manage at the other stations, too, but this might be a case in which you just need to save time by asking an agent to get the ticket for you. If you are in major hotels (including those popular with backpackers) front desks like wildly to overcharge you for organising the tickets. If you find one of the railway's own ticket offices (marked on Chinese-language maps with the railway symbol), the commission is Y5 and the ticket will be handed to you immediately. Y20 is a suitable commission for agents who actually have to go to the station, including ticket delivery to your room. All you need to supply is: train no. (give them as much choice as possible), date of travel, number of tickets required, and class of berth (hard 'ying wo', or soft 'ruan wo').

Taking the T41 Beijing to Xi'an as an example, the T41, one of the more expensive trains in China because of its relatively rapid speed and airconditioning, costs Y417 a 1200km run in a soft sleeper bed. Thats just over US$50 or US$0.04 per km.

Incidentally on the T41 Beijing to Xi'an the hard sleeper cost is Y274, or about US$30; about 2.7 cents per km.

End of quoted text.

Book air tickets from any agent which doesn't attempt to charge you a commission--those with computers on the system get their commissions from the airlines. Always ask for a discount from the first quoted price. You'll do much better if you do NOT buy from an agent in the lobby of your hotel.

On the taxi to Badaling question, the fact that many pay Y500 doesn't stop the trip being available for the lower price, as explained. Some people even pay Y1000, but that isn't right either. Of course, pay what you like, but if you want to pay Y250 or less, you can. And that's round trip, half-day, including waiting time. You'll get a better response from the drivers if you don't plan to keep them waiting over lunch time. The best way to go, however, is to take a <Y20 cab to Desheng Men (and old city gate on the northwest 2nd ring road) and jump on the frequently departing 919 aircon express bus directly to Badaling, leaving from opposite the east side of the gate. This is Y10 one way, zooms up the expressway non-stop, takes about 1.25 hours, and leaves you right at the entrance more or less opposite the Kentucky Fried Chicken. You can then take exactly as much or as little time as you like at the Wall before jumping on the same bus back. Pop into the Desheng Men and have a look at the ancient coin museum and the coin market at the base while you're there. Beware: there is no way for you to tell what coins are fakes, and many are. So admire, rather than shop.

Peter N-H
http://member.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 
Oct 27th, 2002, 04:36 AM
  #4  
Myszk
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Having had friends that lived in Beijing for many years, I took their advice. They had said there is no reason to stay more than one day in Xian no matter what you hear.
This is what we did and it worked wonderfull. We took the early flight from BEijing to Xian and came back in time to get the later afternoon flight from Xian to Beijing. The airlines was Air China and it worked wonderfully for us. It gave us more than enough time to see the Terra Cotta soldiers etc. Quite an amazing sight. Myszka
 
Oct 27th, 2002, 09:16 PM
  #5  
fran
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I agree with Myxzk. Went to Xian twice so far. The first time, I stayed two nights (3 days). The second time, one night (2 days). My conclusion--just go there for one day. There REALLY isn't that much else to see. Took air both time. Was about $250 on China Air for the roundtrip. For me, the saving wasn't worth the hassle. Had a Chinese travel agency in US buy tickets..but found the price on www.itn.com to be the same. For me, the few dollar I might save by bartering is not worth the hassle.
 

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