Friday, October 09, 2009

Hostel Review: Xian and Chengdu

I have stayed in three hostels in Xian:  Han Tan, Shuyuan, and 7 Sages Youth Hostel and one hostel in Chengdu:  Holly's Hostel.

Han Tan

Dorm bed price: 40-50 RMB

Location:  West of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, near the Subway restaurant, near Parkson shopping mall, near the Muslim quarter, near the airport shuttle.  I had a hard time finding this hostel the first time.  When you are near the Parkson shopping mall, look west and up.  You should be able to see a small sign that says U-tels.  It is the red door right next door to Subway.

Pluses:  The location is great and the western cafe is a nice place to chill.  Plus you get a free coffee and a free beer.  The free glass of beer is at the bar under the Shuyuan hostel, so you  have to walk about 15 minutes to get it.  Another benefit of this hostel is you don't have to walk outside to go the bathroom or use the showers.  Free internet.

Minuses:  The bathrooms and rooms are so so.  This hostel feels like a cheap hotel.  Also, I don't like bathrooms where you get the toilet all wet by showering.  If you are afraid of dogs or allergic to them, this hostel has a dog.

Shuyuan Hostel 

Dorm bed price:  30-40 RMB

Location:  Near South Gate, walk west along the wall.  It is easy to find.  Close to beer street and a street full of yummy cheap food like BBQ, two wings for 6 RMB. 

To find the food street, walk along bar street toward the north of the city.  At the end of bar street, near the bakery, turn left.  Then at the next street take another left.  That is cheap food street. 

Also if you are looking for a place to sit for a while to get out of the heat and to taste a drink buffet with all you can eat ice cream and fresh fruit, try Bee Cafe (don't remember the exact name).  It is 30 RMB per person.  Walk out of Shuyuan hostel's front doors, turn left.  At the end of the street, turn left into the parking lot (your back is facing the South gate).  Walk straight.  Cross the little street and keep walking straight and the first floor cafe is on your left.  It is kind of hidden, hard to see from the street.

Pluses:  Free coffee and beer.  Good cafe and a bar downstairs.  Good location near international food and tourist sites.  Near beer street.  Has a quaint Chinese atmosphere.  Cheapest beds I have found so far.  Free internet.

Minuses:  During the winter, because of the open courtyard, it can be rainy and cold taking a shower and walking to the toilets.  Also, the cheapest basement beds have a basement feel, claustrophobic, muggy smell, and no windows to the outdoors.  These rooms do have fans.  This hostel also has a dog if you are allergic.

7 Sages Youth Hostel       

Dorm bed price:  40-? RMB

Location:  About a 10 minute walk to the north train station.  About a 30 minute walk to the tourist, shopping and international food area of Xian.  Right around the corner from a local free park.  Close to a lot of cheap local food. 

I arrived at 6 am and it is located in a gated courtyard in the way back of the street.  There is a doorbell though and then look towards the back of the car filled courtyard and you will see hostel flags.

The best nearby restaurant is a dumpling chain.  It is on the south side of Xi Wu Road.  From the hostel, once you reach Xi Wu Road, turn right (west), cross the street using the overpass walking bridge, and keep walking west.  It has an English name and is right beside an outdoor bbq yard that has solid wooden benches.  The menu is in Chinese; however, be patient.  Even if you are hungry, just wait and see what they bring out for other people.  Then choose and point.

Pluses:  Unique ancient Chinese courtyard atmosphere.  Great movie room.  Nice outdoor and indoor cafe with excellent music.  A good way to meet Chinese travelers.  Close to the train station.  Best showers I have felt in Xian so far.   

Minuses:  It is a hike to the Bell Tower.  You have to walk outdoors to the very clean bathrooms and showers. This can be cold and rainy in the winter. No free internet.  One dog and two cats if you are allergic.  

Holly's Hostel in Chengdu

Dorm bed price:  25-? RMB

Location:  A very quaint neighborhood, near Wu Hou Ci Temple, snack street, a university with tons of cheap street food, and Tibetan stores and restaurants.  About a 30 minute hike to Tianfu Square. 

Take bus 57 from the train station.  It runs by the temple which is very close to the hostel.  Bus 27 does not run by the temple, but runs on 1st ring road.  You need a map if you want to try to find the hostel using bus 27.  Lucky for me I had a map.

Pluses:  Great neighborhood, big industrial fan, can walk to many local sites in Chengdu.  Has a rooftop restaurant with cheap Chinese food.

Minuses:  Dingy.  Free internet for 30 minutes.

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