Getting Around Using Public Transportation in Xian
The city of Xi’an is the capital city of the Chinese province of Shaanxi and is one of the oldest cities in China with over 3,100 years of history. There are a number of public transportation methods to navigate your way around the city including its latest one the metro.
Xi’an became famous throughout the western world after a farmer made a discovery while digging a well in the 1970’s, this discovery led to archaeologists from all over the world descending on the area and now tourists can visit this site that has become known as the Terracotta Warriors. The city was formerly known as Chang’an and it is one of the four ancient capitals of China. It is also famous for being the eastern end of the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road.
Much of the city is easily accessible on foot and pedestrians are able to cross the busy roads easily by the use of bridges and underpasses at the major road junctions. The city is one of the most prosperous in China and this has led to many privately owned vehicles, electric bikes are also a popular choice for the large student population and permanent residents.
The city’s first metro line was opened to the public on the 16th of September 2011, this runs in a north south direction through the centre of the city. Work to complete further lines is currently underway with the first six lines to be completed by 2016. When completed the metro system in Xi’an will cover more than 250 km’s or 157 miles of track both underground and on the surface.
Most taxi drivers in China speak no English at all and if taking one it is always best to be prepared in advance and have your destination written in Chinese and show this to the driver. During busy rush hour periods taxi drivers will be selective as to who they will take with the most lucrative destination being their choice. Taxis are always available 24 hours a day but during the period of shift changes that seem to coincide with rush hours many taxis will not take fares unless it is in the direction of their destination.
Taxi stands are located across the city and are marked by yellow and green signs (written in English), it is possible to hail a taxi away from these points but many will only stop at the dedicated taxi stands. In Chinese cities you pay a set fee for the first two or three kilometres and then pay for each additional kilometre. Ensure the driver sets the meter at the start of the journey to avoid your being overcharged. In Xi’an there are two types of taxi the better or newer taxis charge a slightly higher fee. Expect to pay more between the hours of 11pm and 6am.
You can get a free map of bus routes from the bus station next to the main railway station. Buses will cost you 1RMB whatever distance you travel within the city. Some buses are air conditioned and these will cost you double the fare. The bus number 610 runs from the train station to the city centre and passes the main tourist sights within the centre of the city. Another bus (306) runs from the train station to the entrance to the Terracotta Warriors Museum. It costs 7RMB and is considerably cheaper than the tours on offer from most hotels and hostels. Beware of touts trying to direct you towards their private bus close to the railway station. Another useful bus service is the airport bus that travels from the city centre.
Many of the hotels and hostels will rent bicycles to their guests during the period of their visit to the city. While some of the roads are extremely busy other roads make this a good alternative way to navigate your way around.