Beijing - Xi'an Train vs. Plane

The land distance from Beijing to Xi'an is about 1,200 km (746 mi). The door-to-door travel time takes totally 6.5-8.5 hours by high speed train and 6-6.5 hours by flight. If you want a faster transfer, choose the flight; if you want to enjoy the land scenery and high speed, then choose the high speed trains.

Top Differences on Beijing - Xi'an Train & Plane Travel

High Speed Trains Plane
Journey time is 4.5 - 6.5 hours. About 2 hours onboard.
CNY 824.5 for first class seat;
CNY 515.5 for second class seat
CNY 1,850 for full fare economy class;
but usually 20%-60% discount are available
Punctual Possible delays
Mobile devices are allowed to use Mobile devices switched to flight mode
Beautiful land scenery Blue sky and bird's eye view of two cities
About 17 departures per day. Over 40 departures per day

No big difference is involved in door-to-door travel time.

It is true that a flight is shorter than rail travel, but you need to arrive at the airport 2 hours in advance to board the flight; also, airports in both cities are a little bit far away from the downtown area. If travel to the airport and boarding time are added, rail travel time is not really longer than flight travel time.
 See detailed Beijing - Xi'an High Speed Train, Beijing - Xi'an Flights

Beijing-Xi'an Train Vs. Plane
 Note: Time consumed by traffic jam and flight delay excluded.

One-night accommodation fee and daytime will be saved when traveling overnight.

Aside from high speed trains, some normal trains traveling overnight are also good choices. Traveling overnight saves day time and one-night accommodation fee. The sleepers onboard can ensure you a good rest.
 See detailed Beijing - Xi'an Overnight Sleeper Train

Train ticket usually costs less than flight ticket.

A second class seat on Xi'an to Beijing high speed train costs CNY515.5, while the full price of an economy class seat on flight costs CNY1,850, which is even more than a high speed rail trip in business class. Of course, you may get good discounts when buying air tickets in low seasons; in such a case, an economy class flight ticket may cost CNY300 or so and therefore will be more competitive.

Flight delay is possible.

This is owing to air traffic control backup, smog and weather changes. In 2016, the delay rate at Capital Airport was 39.3% and 17.7 % for Xianyang Airport. In contrast, trains are well scheduled, and usually adhere to their timetable.

It is more comfortable and joyful to travel by train.

You can enjoy the window view and more legroom when making a rail trip and move around freely; and you can also surf online with your mobile devices. On the other hand, mobile phones need to be switched to the flight mode on airplanes and cellular data is forbidden. Bigger PEDs like Kindle and iPad are not allowed to use during takeoff and landing.
Beijing-Shanghai Train
Mobile devices can be used onboard.
Beijing-Shanghai Flight
Mobile devices need to be set to flight mode.

More flights are provided.

About 40 pairs of flights are in service per day; but only 23 pairs of trains are available for your convenience each day, among them, 17 pairs are high speed trains and the other 6 pairs are overnight sleepers ones.

More beautiful scenery can be seen when making rail trips.

Traveling along Beijing to Xi'an high speed railway, passengers will be able to appreciate the scenery between the North China Plain and the Central Shaanxi Plain; the famous capital city with traditional and modern elements, the agricultural areas, the undulating terrain, the rivers, and the vast plains will all make your trip more attractive and wonderful. In contrast, the flight trip will only award you a bird’s eye view of the two cities and the blue sky, white cloud and bright sun.

Further Reading: How to Travel from Beijing to Xi’an
- Last updated on May. 24, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Beijing - Xi'an Train vs. Plane
Asked by Robert from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 21, 2020 05:29Reply
Xi'an to Beijing - early evening train

If we travel on train around 18:00 is it still light enough to see a view of the scenery?
Answers (1)
Answered by Liz from SINGAPORE | Jan. 21, 2020 18:42

It will be dark soon at that time.
Asked by Laurie Kaiser from CANADA | Mar. 22, 2018 23:39Reply
How far ahead must I buy a ticket to get a high-speed train from Beijing to Xi'an in late August?
Answers (1)
Answered by Clair from UK | Mar. 23, 2018 04:03

As I know, the tickets can be booked 30 days earlier.
Asked by syed from PAKISTAN | Dec. 27, 2017 02:53Reply
What is the best air-fare expected during March 2018 from beijing to xian and back ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Olivia from AUSTRALIA | Dec. 27, 2017 19:32

Well, the fare can change a lot for many factors. Now, as I know, the whole fare is around CNY2,000. But you need to keep your eyes on those flights, not sure how much it will change.
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