Train service to Three Gorges

I am staying at X'ian and would like to travel to Three Groges by train. Can you advice me how long it takes and should I stay in Yichang? A visitor asked us the question above.

There is a train that goes from Xi'an to Yichang. The Three Gorges is about 45 km west of Yichang. The train departs at 8:35 am from Xi'an Railway Station and arrives at Yichang Railway Station about 13 hours later (9:49 pm). This is not one of those fast trains. A hard seat ticket costs a little over ¥100; a hard sleeping-berth ticket costs ¥200, and a soft sleeping-berth, ¥300 or so.

Are you traveling to Three Gorges for sightseeing? There are two ways to do a Three Gorges cruise. The traditional way to do it is boarding a cruise ship in Chongqing (or Wanzhou, which is a little further down the river) and curise down the river to Yichang. The other way is to leave from Yichang, go upstream through the gorges; one can return to Yichang or continue to Chongqing. If you're mainly sightseeing, you should probably go to Chongqing, since that gives you the opportunity to see another large city (even though Chongqing is not one of those leading tour destinations, it is one of the largest cities in China). The cruise, up or down the river, takes 3-4 days, with stops on the way. If you start from Yichang, you can also do shorter tours, but it seems one might as well spent a couple of days if one takes the trouble to go to the Three Gorges. There are many tour agencies that arrange Three Gorges cruises and you want to look into their offerings. Train rides between Xi'an and Chongqing last 9 to 11 hours. There are several trains going between the two cities everyday.

If all you want to do is take a look at the Three Gorges Dam, it won't take long. You go by coach from Yichang, tour the Dam, and return to Yichang - this can be done within half a day. 

Our visitor followed up with the following questions:

thank you for your prompt reply. very informative about my visit. can you advice me whether I should fly from Xian yo Yichang since the train journey take so long . likewise you you suggest I take speed train to Wuhan and from Wuhan I take another speed train to Yichang. yes we just want to visit the three gorges and your advice on coach is good to us .We do not have time for cruise since we are spending some time in Xian. can you advise train to Wuhan and then to Yichang on its cost. also can we book online from our country? .Please also advice where we can go in or around Yichang other than Three gorges. appreciate your advice for our planning ad our air ticket to Xian have been booked.

It seems Tianjin Airline operate flights between Xi'an Xianyang Airport and Yichang Sanxia Airport. Flight from Xi'an to Yichang is 8:40-9:50 AM and from Yihang to Xi'an flight is 21:40-22:50.

If you want to travel by way of Wuhan, it is doable. There are G trains (faster) and D trains (fast) between Xi'an and Wuhan and then between Wuhan and Yichang. Train ride times between Xi'an and Wuhan is 4-5 hours whereas train rides from Wuhan to Yichang is 2-3 hours. Of course you're doing a connection. That would be the thing to do if you plan to take a look at Wuhan too. Wuhan is not a top travel destination in China but it is a large city. Otherwise, flight would be easier. In terms of costs, fast train tickets probably cost more than plane tickets. One-way fast train ticket from Xi'an to Wuhan costs ¥500-700 (2nd-1st class). One-way train ticket from Wuhan to Yichang goes for about ¥100. In comparison, one-way flight from Xi'an to Yichang costs ¥500-800 (rought estimates of course).

Three Gorges is the main attraction close to Yichang. There do not seem to be other notable attractions in the city. Some people also say that actually there isn't a whole lot to see if one just goes to the Three Gorges Dam. It may be possible to arrange a short and a quick curise into the Three Gorges and return to Yichang quickly. You may want to look into this possbilities with some agencies.

You can book online from your own country. Of course you want to do this with web sites you're sure about.