Beijing, Xian and Shanghai are the most visited cities in China. With so many historical ruins, cultural relics and new landmarks, these cities best represents of past and modern China. Though well connected by flights, train travel to these cities are still a big draw for most of tourists with only few hours onboard, easy access to the train stations, and comfortable onboard facilities and standardized services.
Running between Beijing and Xian, are high-speed G trains and regular K, T train. All trains depart from Beijing west (北京西站) and arrive Xian North Station(G trains) and Xian Station (K, T trains) respectively.
G trains travels from 4 hours 40 minute to 6 hours 30 minutes depending on the stops each train has. Ticket rate are the same of all the G trains: second Class Seat is $79, first Class Seat is $126 and Business Class Seat is $249 (further explanation of seat class). The fastest train is G87 (14:00 Beijing West 18:25 Xian North). You can finish half day city trip in Beijing then take this train.
K, T trains travels 12 -14 hours. The most suitable ones for travelers are Z19 (20), Z43 (44). Those are overnight trains offering Luxury Soft Sleeper ($128), Soft Sleeper ($70 ), Hard Sleeper ($44), Hard Seat ($24). We recommend you soft sleeper or hard sleeper (further explanation of seat class) for a comfortable train journey and save a night accommodation in Xian. These overnight night trains are the best ones over China among the K, T trains.
Travel from Xian and Shanghai, there are over 14 trains a day, all arriving Shanghai Station (上海站) and departing from Xian station (西安站) (K, T trains) and Xian North Station (西安北站) (D trains) respectively.
The overnight D train (D308) is the best option up to now. It only takes 11 hours and belongs to the newly used high-speed train family. It offers Second Class Seat ($52), Soft Sleeper ($128) and Luxury Soft Sleeper ($257). Consider the soft sleeper if affordable, which is more comfortable than a sitting seat (second class seat). Luxury soft sleeper is the best with only two berth in the same cabin equipped with private restrooms.
For the rest of the trains, Z94 (16:46 Xian 07:53 +1) is also very nice with only 3 other stops on the route, one in the evening, the other two is around 6am. You will not be disturbed by the announcement for the whole night.
Beijing, often described as one of the most historic and cultural cities in China, Beijing's position as the capital city make it very appealing. Beijing has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and it has a lot to offer for tourists.
Attractive sights includes Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, Great Wall of China, Hutong, Summer Palace, National Museum of China, Panjianyuan Market, Tian'anmen Square, Lama Temple, Olympic Green, 798 Art District etc.
3 full day visit is recommended and if time permit, you can extent to 4-5 days to have deep insight visit. Suggested routes:
Day 1: Arrival Beijing
Day 2: The Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square, Jingshan Par, and Hutong Tour
Day 3: Great Wall and Temple of Heaven
Day 4: Summer Palace, Lama Temple. Then board train to Xian in the afternoon.
Xian had been the capital of 13 dynasties and kingdoms in China's history. The ancient city encircled by the City Wall still well preserved and maintains a lot of its old charms.
The most-visited sights in Xian are Terracotta Army, Ancient City Wall, Mount Huashan, Banpo Museum, Gao Family Courtyard, big and small Wild Goose Pagoda. Plan at least 1 – 1.5 days in Xian to enjoy the essentials.
Day 1: Arrival in the evening by G train from Beijing.
Day 2: Terracotta Army, Ancient City Wall, Wild Goose Pagoda. Then take evening train to Shanghai.
Shanghai's diversity begins with its architectures. The city features an abundance of historic buildings left over centuries, but at the same time keeps up with the latest trends in modern structures. It is also a large international and cultural center.
Shanghai's essential includes Oriental Pearl TV Tower, The Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Museum, Jin Mao Tower, Shikumen, The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Zhujiajiao, M50, Xintiandi, The Old Street etc.
Classic Shanghai Tour:
Day 1: Arrival by overnight D train from Xian. Take a full day sightseeing including Oriental Pearl TV Tower, The Bund, Yuyuan Garden. Evening leisure walk at Nanjing Road.
Day 2: Full day suburb visit to Zhujiajiao Water Town and M50 or Qibao Ancient Town.
Day 3. Depart from Shanghai.
1. Due to the frequent train operating between these cities, tickets are easier to book than other long distance trips. But you are still suggested to avoid the big festivals including National Day Holiday (Sep 31st to Oct 6th), and Spring Festival Eve (lunar calendar).
Beijing Travel Guide