From Beijing, it's possible to make the 661-mile (1065 km) journey to Xi'an via a two-hour flight, five-hour bullet train, or a slower overnight train that takes 12-16 hours.
While most travelers add Xi'an to their China itinerary to see the 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors, there is much to see and do in Xi'an. 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 (plus transport to/from airports)
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 on the 661-mile (1,065 k) journey to Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province.
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 and more flights are expected to be an option 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—which is 30 miles (50 km) south of Tian'anmen Square.
Duration: 4.5 - 15.5 hours
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 and local trains 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 12-14 hours, 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 13-16 hours, and, depending on the train, offer standing tickets, soft and hard seats along with hard and soft bed options.
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. The carts have similar items that can be found at convenience stores in and around the train stations: instant noodles, potato chips, crackers, cookies, bottled soft drinks, beer, and water.
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.