The scenery along the Xi'an-Chengdu high-speed railway
On top of that, it is also a fascinating travel route that links two popular tourist destinations within a greatly shortened travel time. The whole journey from Xi'an to Chengdu used to take up to 16 hours and now takes only three, enabling people to take a round trip in a day.
The second-class seats cost 263 RMB. Below, I will introduce some of the must-see attractions along the route.
Xi'an City Wall
Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is an ancient city with plenty of history. The city centre is surrounded by a wall, an ancient military defensive system that has preserved in China.
The city is full of classic Chinese architecture. There are a total of 18 city gates and the South Gate, or Yongning Gate is the most time-honoured and magnificent one.
You can enjoy a leisurely walk or bike on the city wall. The city also houses two museums that showcase its history. Admission costs 30 RMB/Person, with children and students paying half-price. After exploring the city wall, you can pay a visit to the nearby Bell Tower.
Another must-visit scenery is, undoubtedly, the renowned Terracotta Army, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 3rd century B.C. The life-size warrior figures, chariots and horses were buried together with China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, to protect him in the afterlife. The grand tomb was later accidentally discovered by local farmers in 1974, turning it into one of the best-known attractions in China.
The best time to visit Xi'an is from March to May and September to November. If you're interested in a lingering longer, read this post: How to perfect your 72-hour visa-free stay in Xi'an
In the middle of the train route, we make another important stop at Hanzhong. The most popular tourist site here is the Shimen Plank Road Scenic Area, another historic site that was built along the face of a cliff at the Shimen Reservoir.
The scenic resort boasts beautiful natural landscapes and traditional Chinese architecture. The three spots you must visit are Shimen Plank Road, Shimen Tunnel and Shimen Dam.
The mountain is also great for hiking with a nice view along the way. Tickets cost 80 yuan.
There is no need to worry about hunger either. Snack and souvenir shops are lined along the street. You can try the local specialities - Mianpi (a noodle-like Chinese snack made from wheat or rice flour), and Veggie Tofu.
Chengdu, Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Continue our journey, the final station will goes to the land of abundance - Chengdu. One thing you mustn't miss when you come to Chengdu is to stop by the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and say hello to the cute creatures.
With a natural and healthy environment for pandas, the base offers you an opportunity to get close to the rare animals. You can even feed giant pandas and their cubs under the guidance of the base experts.
The base opens from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. all year round with the ticket price of 58 yuan per person.
A morning tour is recommended because giant pandas usually nap in the afternoon. Keep in mind that no flash is allowed when taking pictures and there is no feeding unless given specific instructions.
Dujiangyan and Jinli Ancient Street:
Set on the edge of Guan County is Dujiangyan (the irrigation system on the outskirts of the city) and Jinli Ancient Street.
The construction of the irrigation system dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.). Standing on the Minjiang River, it is the longest tributary of the Yangtze River, hence dubbed the "Treasure of Sichuan."
It plays a significant role in draining floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities in the province.
Jinli Ancient Street, located to the east of the Wuhou Temple of Chengdu, is one of the most-visited relic museums of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280) in China. Here you will see the combination of its ancient culture together with the folk customs of Sichuan.
Wide and Narrow Alley ( Kuan Zhai Xiangzi )
Wide and Narrow Alley ( Kuan Zhai Xiangzi ), is a good place to wander around, especially in the evening. As one of the historical and cultural reserves in Chengdu, Wide and Narrow Alley consists of three parallel ancient alleys, named Wide Alley (Kuan Xiangzi), Narrow Alley (Zhai Xiangzi) and Well Alley (Jing Xiangzi).
The Wide Alley and Narrow Alley demonstrate the typical Chengdu folk culture and lifestyles where you can learn about the Sichuan embroidery and Chinese shadow play. The Well Alley, on the other hand, features the modern and diverse life in Chengdu, filled with bustling pubs and nightclubs.
Wide and Narrow Alley is just 6 metro stations away from the railway station. A night spent here will keep you occupied and entertained.