How do I get from Beijing to xian? Is it safe for two girls to travel on this from Beijing to xian alone?
There are three ways to get from Beijing to Xi'an (not including driving yourself): fly, take a train, or take a bus.
The drive from Beijing to Xi'an is about 12 hours, depending on traffic, so the bus ride will take at least this long. Long distances buses in China usually do not have bathrooms, but will stop periodically for bathroom breaks and to buy food on the side of the road. Some long distance buses will have beds rather than seats.
The train ride from Beijing to Xi'an will take anywhere from 5 and a half hours to almost 19 hours, depending on the train one takes. The fastest trains, denoted with the prefix "G," take about 5 and a half hours and cost about 515.5 RMB (83.25 USD; note 1 USD = 6.19 as of April 14, 2013) for a second class ticket. These trains have 2 or sometimes 3 classes (second class, first class, and sometimes "special" or "VIP" class) Z and T trains take between 11 and 13 hours for the trip. These trains have hard seats, hard beds, and soft beds (sometimes soft seats as well). The hard beds are actually relatively comfortable, and not "hard" as the name suggests (they are actually called "hard beds" in Chinese). Hard beds cost about 260 RMB and soft beds cost about 410 RMB. Avoid seats, even the soft ones, on a route of this length. K trains are the slowest kind of train on the Beiing-Xi'an route (other routes have even slower trains with no letter designation of any kind), and have the same classes of accomodations as do T and Z trains.
The flight from Beijing to Xi'an takes about 2 hours exactly. I would recommend purchasing tickets from the following sites: qunar.com, elong.net, and english.ctrip.com. American flight websites often have much higher prices than the sites I have listed, and all of the sites I have listed are reputable. about 6 years ago
Qunar.com is only available in Chinese, but often offers the cheapest prices. Elong.net is slightly better than english.ctrip.com in my opinion because Ctrip sometimes requires one to submit credit cards, passports, or other things by fax, which poses a problem if one is without access to a fax machine. Prices frequently fluctuate, so it is not very helpful to quote a flight price now, but for reference, in the next month and a half, the cheapest ticket prices from Beijing to Xi'an on qunar.com range from 292 RMB to 845 RMB, depending on the day.
I personally would avoid the bus, and either take the train or plane. Look at your own budget and time requirements, and comfort preferences in making your decision.
In terms of safety, China is generally a very safe place, even for women traveling alone. One just needs to use common sense. DO NOT take illegal cabs, as that can be very unsafe for women. Official cabs are clearly marked in China; look up the markings online. When waiting for a cab at a bus station, airport, etc., ALWAYS wait in the official cab lines. DO NOT follow anyone who comes up saying "taxi" in broken English, as these cab drivers are unlicensed/illegal. Other than that, just use common sense and general caution, and there should be no problems. about 6 years ago
Also, a translation of Nathan Yang´s post: "China's public security is quite good; as long as you choose a reputable hotel and official mode of transportation (i.e. a public bus, licensed taxi, etc., rather than a private bus run by a questionable operator or an unlicensed taxi), you won´t run into problems or get ripped off." about 6 years ago