To get to the Terracotta Warriors from Beijing, travelers must first travel 661 miles (1,065 km) to Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, and then travel another 45 minutes or so to the Terracotta Warriors via private transfer or bus. Once in Xi'an, it's best to book a day tour or hire a driver and guide so you can go at your own pace.
Expect a full-day adventure, from early morning to late afternoon/early evening, but it is possible to visit the Terracotta Warriors in half a day if you are pressed for time. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the walk from the parking lot is just over half a mile (1 km) from the entrance. There is a tram from the parking lot to the entrance, but often there is a long queue.
Most multi-city tours of China include a stop in Xi'an in northwest China like the 8-Day China Golden Triangle Tour, 11-Day China's Highlights Tour, 12-Day Highlights from Shanghai to Beijing Tour, and 13-Day Best of China Tour.
Duration: 2 hours and 10 minutes (flight) + 55 minutes to transfer by car to the Terracotta Warriors
Flying affords the quickest travel time between Beijing and Xi'an, but by the time you factor in security screening and travel time to and from each airport and potential flight delays, it's easier and more reliable to take the train.
Travelers can take a two-hour and 10-minute nonstop flight from Beijing to Xi'an and then take a private transfer. There are more than a dozen nonstop flights from Beijing Capital International Airport, which is 18 miles (30 km) northeast of Tian'anmen Square, to Xi'an Xianyang International Airport. More flights are expected from the new starfish-shaped Beijing Daxing International Airport—set to be the world's largest airport when it officially opens at the end of September 2019—which is 30 miles (50 km) south of Tian'anmen Square.
From Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, a private driver can drive you in just under an hour to the Terracotta Warriors, which are 42 miles (68 km) from the airport.
Duration: 4.5 hours to 15.5 hours (train) + 47 minutes to transfer by car to the Terracotta Warriors
The high-speed train is the most efficient option between Beijing and Xi'an even though the travel time is twice or three times as long. More than RMB220 billion was spent to build China's high-speed rail system (gāotiě)—the largest in the world—that crisscrosses four provinces.
More than a dozen high-speed and a half dozen regular trains whisk travelers daily at speeds up to 236 mph (380 kph) between the current Chinese capital of Beijing and the former capital of Xi'an. Second-class, first-class, and Business Class seats are options on all bullet trains. High-speed (non-bullet train) overnight trains offer standing tickets, soft and hard seats along with hard and soft bed options.
High-speed depart daily from Beijing West Railway Station to Xi'an North Railway Station. The journey on a high-speed train takes four-and-a-half to six hours. If you're looking to travel on the fastest high-speed trains, book the "G" category trains. A half-dozen long-haul overnight trains make the journey from Beijing West Railway Station to Xi'an North Railway Station. While the overnight trips take 11 hours and 42 minutes to 13 hours and 43 minutes, passengers can efficiently save one-night's accommodation and a day of travel by opting to slumber in a sleeper train.
There are a handful of overnight trains from Beijing West Railway Station to Xi'an Railway Station, which range from 12 hours and 53 minutes to 15 hours and 41 minutes, and, depending on the train, offer standing tickets, soft and hard seats along with hard and soft bed options. There is one 15-hour and 9-minute overnight train from Beijing West Railway Station to Xi'an South Railway Station that offers hard and soft beds and hard seats.
Most trains have a food counter with simple fare like xīhóngshì chǎo jīdàn (scrambled eggs with tomatoes) and there are hot water dispensers to use for making instant noodles, coffee, and tea. Most of the local trains have snack carts that are pushed through each train car.
Once in Xi'an, there is a free shuttle bus for high-speed train passengers to the Terracotta Warriors, but you must show your train ticket and buy an entrance ticket to the Terracotta Warriors for the same day as your train travel (you can buy tickets at the Tourist Service Center inside the train station) before boarding the free shuttle bus.
If you don't want to worry about being led astray or wait for the shuttle bus, which leaves every hour, you can hire a taxi or a private driver, who can drive you in under an hour to the Terracotta Warriors, which are 27 miles (45 km) from the train station.
If you decide to take the night train and book a hard bed option, don't be surprised if you wander off to the restroom or dining car and return to your door-less cabin to find other passengers sitting on the foot of your bed or even curled up in your lower berth bed Booking a soft sleeper (there are four beds in each cabin) is more comfortable and secure as there is a door that locks. In the morning, music is played to wake travelers up and welcome them to Xi'an.
By Private Transfer from Xi'an
Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
It is possible to take tourist buses from the East Square of Xi’an Railway Station or from Tang Paradise West Gate and Giant Wild Goose Pagoda to the Terracotta Warriors, which are 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Xi'an, but for a stress-free and quicker route that doesn't include testing your Chinese skills, hire a private driver for the day to take you to the Terracotta Warriors.