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Xi’an Airport, Xi’an Metro, and Xi’an Train Station — Xi’an Transportation Guide

Many cities in China have excellent public transportation options, allowing visitors (both domestic and foreign) to get from place to place easily.  This is great, because there are so many things for you to see and places for you to go!  Xi’An, one of the most popular tourist destinations, is no exception to this rule.  With the Xi’An Metro, Xi’An Airport, and Xi’An Train Station, along with taxis and buses, there’s no shortage of quality public Xi’An transportation options.

First, of course, you have to get to Xi’An from one of the other typical ports of entry.  Then, you’ll want to consider the tradeoffs between the different types of Xi’An transportation options depending on where you want to go and what you want to see (and spend to get there).  Some options provide faster service at a higher cost, while others are quite cheap, but maybe a slower, more leisurely pace.

Below, we’ll cover all of these topics, as well as provide some basic transit guides, charts, and information for visitors to Xi’An.  With our guide, you’ll be fully versed in all of the Xi’An transportation options, and what will best suit you on your trip to this amazing Chinese city.

Getting to and from Xi’An

Before you can explore the wonders of Xi’An – the amazing food in the Muslim Quarter, the impressive and enigmatic Terracotta Army, or the imposing Drum and Bell Tower – you have to get to the city.  Most foreign travelers get to China through major city ports, including Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.  These are, respectively, 885 miles (1,423 km), 553 miles (890 km), and 755 miles (1,216 km) as the crow flies from Xi’An.  Beijing to Xi’An is the shortest route in terms of distance and time, and is a popular point of ingress and egress for visitors.

There are high-speed rail options available from most major cities in China to get to Xi’An.  Beijing is fairly appealing given the time/distance.  Shanghai is a bit longer, and the Hong Kong route is longer still.  However, these Xi’An transportation options provide several benefits.  They are usually significantly cheaper than air travel, and can be connected directly at most major points of entry.  That means no additional transportation, taxis, or busses are needed.  And many go right into the Xi’An Train Station as their destination, right in the heart of your city tour.  High-speed rail is quite popular in China, and is a well-known specialty.  The trains are well-maintained and provide reasonable facilities for your travels.  It’s also a great way to see the landscape and countryside on your way to and from a major tourist hub like Xi’An.  Train trip times vary by route and cost, but can range from as little as 6 hours to nearly 18 hours.

If time is a bigger consideration, then a flight makes the most sense, especially on the long-haul from Hong Kong to Xi’An.  While flights are a more expensive option, even with waiting and security it can be 50 to 75% faster than train options in most cases.  Flights from all three of the major ports of entry to Xi’An Airport are between 2 and 3 hours in length.  Taxi, bus, and other services are not recommended for going from points of entry to Xi’An, simply due to the mix of time, cost, and better options being available for Xi’An transportation.

Transportation within Xi’An

Once you’ve arrived in Xi’An, the best ways to get around are on foot, by taxi, bus, or the Xi’An Metro.  Since most travelers usually want to see the major attractions like the Xi’An City Wall, enjoy the street food in the Muslim Quarter, and see other sights in the city center, walking is often advised.  Of course, you have to get to and from your hotel, and also will likely need transportation to the Terracotta Warriors, located outside of the downtown attraction area.  And you may need transportation to and from downtown each day, and to and from the Xi’An Airport or Xi’An Train Station later on in your trip.

So, what are the best options for Xi’An transportation, and the tradeoffs between them?  Taxis are convenient, but tend to cost more than the bus or metro.  The Xi’An Metro and various bus lines are more cost effective for most destinations, but can be a bit harder to navigate – especially bus lines – if you don’t speak or read the language.

There are several lines of the Xi’An Metro available that service many of the typical tourist attractions, and an ever-growing network of lines, including an under-construction link to the Xi’An Airport.  While it doesn’t extend to the Terracotta Warriors location, some 45 km northeast of downtown, all of the city center is covered.  Likewise, there are several bus lines available that run during most normal business hours of the day, and service most of the major destinations, including downtown, the Xi’An Airport, and the Terracotta Warriors, among others.  And taxis can pretty much take you anywhere you want to go around Xi’An.  We’ve summarized the important Xi’An Metro, bus, and taxi lines/services, approximate costs, and operating times in the charts in our final section for your convenience as a Xi’An transportation guide.

Transit Guides, Charts, and Information

Xi’An Metro

There are three main active lines of the Xi’An Metro as of this writing, with a dozen more under construction, each servicing different destinations and areas around the city, with interchanges available at several hubs.  We’ve outlined the main tourist destinations, and which line to take, in the chart below.  In general, Line 2 is the main north-south line, and Line 1 is the main east-west line.

Destination/City/Attraction Metro Line
North Railway Station Line 2
Northern Half of City Wall Area Line 1
Central Part of City Wall Area Line 2
Bell Tower Line 2
Big Wild Goose Pagoda Line 3
Muslim Quarter Line 1 or 2
Qinglong Templer Line 3
Daming Palace Line 2
Major Hotels and Exhibition Center Line 2 or 3

In terms of pricing, Xi’An Metro service costs from 2 to 5 Yuan RMB (less than $0.75 USD total at current exchange rates).  The price is dependent on the number of stops between your entry point and exit point on the line, but does not exceed 5 RMB.

Peak times for travel are usually the morning and evening commute rush (7 am to 9 am, 5 pm to 7 pm), with trains on most lines running every 4-5 minutes.

Xi’An City Bus

There are a number of bus lines available within the city, as well as dedicated local buses that travel to the Terracotta Warriors location.  These take the form of the City Bus (a regular city bus service in Xi’An), and tourist bus lines that travel between two fixed points directly.  There are literally dozens of bus lines within the City Bus system that are accessible to all the major downtown landmarks.  The challenge gets a bit more specific with the tourist lines.  We’ve summarized these bus routes and destinations specifically in the chart below.

Tourist Bus Line Name/Number Route
Line 1 Xi’An Railway Station – Xiyue Temple – Mt. Huashan
Line 2 Xi’An Railway Station – Famen Temple – Taibai Mountain
Line 3 Xi’An Railway Station – Qianlong Mausoleum
Line 4 Tang Paradise – Mausoleum of Emperor Liu Qi
Line 5 (Bus Route 306) Xi’An Railway Station – Terracotta Warriors
Line 6 Xi’An Railway Station – Provincial History Museum – Daxingshan Temple – Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – Forest of Stone Steles Museum – Qinglong Temple
Line 7 Xi’An Railway Station – Bell Tower – Xi Xin Zhuang
Line 8 (Bus Route 610) Xi’An Railway Station – Bell Tower – Drum Tower – Small Wild Goose Pagoda – Daxingshan Temple – Provincial History Museum – Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – Tang Paradise – Quijang Ocean World
Line 9 (Bus Route 320) Jinhua North Road/Changle Park – Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – Qinling Wildlife Park
Line 10 Xi’An Railway Station – Mausoleum of Emperor Liu Qi
Bus Route 307 Tangchengqiang Jiuqu Hub – Terracotta Warriors
Bus Routes 914/915 Xi’An Railway Station East Square – Terracotta Warriors
Huangshan Tourist Bus 1 Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – Qingling Wildlife Park – Taiping Forest Park – Lou Guan Tai
Huangshan Tourist Bus 2 Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – Cuihua Mountain – East Tangyu

Bus line costs vary, and different passes or packages are often available.  Typically the City Bus service is on par with the metro, or slightly higher than the metro in expense, but less than $1.00 USD equivalent.  The tourist bus routes may be more expensive, especially longer trips, though are still very affordable (it’s about 40 to 60 minutes to the Terracotta Warriors, for example, and cost around $1.00 USD each way).

Xi’An Taxis

Taxis are a popular and convenient way to get around, though more expensive than the Xi’An Metro or Xi’An City Bus/Tourist Bus services.  Most of the cabs in Xi’An are green in color, and are fairly easy to find, except during rush hours (7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 7 pm).

Rates, like most taxi rates around the world, are based on distance traveled.  The chart below summarizes the current rates, with their RMB and USD equivalent figures.

Distance RMB Cost USD Cost
First 3 km 8.5 1.23
Each additional km 2-2.4 0.29-0.35
Trips 8 km and longer, or 12 km and longer depending on car model/brand/etc. Add 50% Add 50%

Additional rates apply between 11 pm, and 6 am, typically a slight up-charge to the first 3 km/flag-down rate and each additional kilometer rate amounting to an extra $0.10-0.15 USD initially, and around $0.05-0.08 extra for each additional kilometer.

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