Tripologist: Two cities, Three Gorges

Inspired by Steve McKenna's article Long-Haul Revolution in an upcoming trip to China we're looking at travelling by train from Xi'an to Guangzhou. We have two weeks in which to complete the journey between the cities. Apart from Guilin, which we have visited previously but will visit again, could you suggest some other cities/sights on the train route/s that we could add to our itinerary.

- J. Broadhurst , Figtree, NSW.

The Xi'an to Guangzhou train trip is every bit as inspiring as my fellow traveller Steve McKenna suggests, but I'm going to make the case for a slightly different and more westerly route between the two cities. From Xi'an, take a train south-west to the city of Chengdu, where the main attraction is the nearby Wolong Nature Reserve, home to China's best known giant panda sanctuary.

If you're feeling adventurous, you might take a tour into the heights of the sensational Hailuogou National Glacier Forest Park, 320 kilometres from Chengdu on the border of Tibet. From Chengdu, take an express train for the half-day trip to Chongqing, where you could take a four-day cruise downstream along the Yangtze with Victoria Cruises (, passing through the amazing Three Gorges with several stops along the way, including the engineering marvel of the Three Gorges Dam.

The cruise ends at Yichang, from where you can take a train to Wuhan, then another train south to reacquaint yourself with the liquid glories of Guilin, and finally on to Guangzhou.