Xinnanmen is known as the "Tourists Distribution Center" while Traffic Inn is a popular backpacker hostel in Chengdu. For backpackers, these are a perfect match, a cheap place to stay with English speaking staff and close to the bus station with destinations to all the popular attractions such as Jiuzhaigou, Mount Emei, Leshan Giant Buddha, Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Mount Qingcheng, etc. These are all World Heritage Sites.
Before my trip to Chengdu, I had been searching for detail information about them. There was hardly any useful material on them in English. I had wanted to know their relative locations as I was wondering whether I need to take a taxi to travel between the two locations or they were located close to each other such that I could easily reach one from the other on foot.
I was also wondering whether they were in an isolated part of Chengdu that finding eateries would be a chore or they were located in a busy area with plenty of places to find my meals. These were unanswered questions before my trip to Chengdu.
This post is to help those who has booked into Traffic Inn know more about the surrounding area, including Xinnanmen Bus Station.
Traffic Inn is not Traffic Hotel
I read confusing articles concerning Traffic Inn and Traffic Hotel. There was an article saying that Traffic Hotel was its former name and has now been renamed as Traffic Inn. There were also articles saying that Traffic Hotel is distinct from Traffic Inn, giving the impression that they were at two differing locations. The implication of this is the taxi drivers might send their passengers to the wrong destinations because of the confusing names.
Traffic Inn and Traffic Hotel are in fact two separate building at the same location, linked together by a short staircase and walkway. Traffic Inn building lies behind Traffic Hotel but its reception office is visible as you walk to the main entrance of Traffic Hotel.
I stayed in private rooms without an adjoining bathroom. On the three occasions I booked into Traffic Inn, i.e. on arrival from Kuala Lumpur, after coming back from Jiuzhaigou and after coming back from Baoguo Village, I stayed in three different rooms. The rooms were all on the ground floor. Electric blanket was provided on the third occasion but the air conditioner was not working properly. There was no hot air. The shared bathrooms and toilets were outside the accommodation area. This was my first experience staying in rooms without a bathroom.
Traffic Inn phone number was +862885450470 and the email address was firstname.lastname@example.org. The website was http://www.trafficinnhostel.com.
The hostel provides free wifi.
Relative Location of Traffic Inn to Xinnanmen Bus Station
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Traffic Inn lies on Linjiang Zhong Lu (Zhong Lu = Middle Road). Its address was given as No. 6 Middle Linjiang Road ( 武侯区临江中路6号) in my hotel booking confirmation slip. The gps location was Latitude 30.64513, Longitude 104.07270 (N 030° 38.708, E 104° 4.362).
Xinnanmen Bus Station parking lot is next to Traffic Inn. There was only a brick wall to separate these two addresses. I did not know this at first. On the morning after my arrival, I went in search of Xinnanmen Bus Station. Just as I walked out to Linjiang Middle Road from Traffic Inn and upon turning right, I saw buses inside the compound of Fiesta Thai, a Thai Restaurant. At an adjacent lot, there were many buses there. I walked into the parking lot through the entrance (which was also an entrance to Fiesta Thai), thinking that was the entrance to Xinnanmen ticket office. After lingering around for a while looking for the ticketing office, I left when I could not find it.
To find the Xinnanmen ticket office, turn right at Linjiang Middle Road as you exit from Traffic Inn/ Hotel. As you walked past the bus parking lot, you would see the side of a big modern building without entrance on your right. Through the glass wall, you could see people inside. That's the Xinnanmen Station passenger waiting/ departure hall. Continue walking until you reach the road junction and there, right next to you on the right would be the entrance to Xinnanmen ticket office and the passenger waiting/ departure hall.
Xinnanmen bus station also has an Information Counter with an English speaking officer at the waiting/ departure hall. It has left luggage facilities too, though I did not use it. In the same building to the left of the entrance was the Chengdu Tourist Information Centre. From there, you can get a free tourist map with both Chinese and English written on it. The young officers manning the counter speak better English than most Chinese.
Xinnanmen Bus Station
It has long distant buses to all major tourist destinations. It was the reason why I chose to stay at a hostel close by, in this case Traffic Inn.
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I have read posting from bloggers saying that they needed help to buy the bus tickets when they queued up in the wrong line at Xinnanmen. Communicating with the ticketing clerks to explain the requests was next to impossible.
Queuing up in the wrong line was either a thing of the past or not true. You can queue up at any line (except the right-most line which was for "return ticket") to buy your tickets to any destinations because the whole ticketing system is computerised. In addition, you can buy the tickets in advance too. In my case, I bought my one-way Jiuzhaigou ticket three days in advance. If you just mention the destination to the ticketing clerk, she would assume that it is for the same day travel and for the next bus leaving the station. For destinations with frequent buses such as Luodai, the time stated is not the departure time of your bus but the departure time of the last bus. Using this ticket, you can take any bus any time up to the last departing bus. I learnt this lesson myself when I got confused with the departure time stated on the ticket to Luodai. Compare my tickets to Jiuzhaigou and Luodai.
If you need help reading the ticket, go to the waiting/ departure hall where an Information counter is located. Try to ask the less-than-friendly officer on duty to help. She might speak some English, just enough to help you understand.
The security procedure at Xinnanmen was not as strict as those at Chengdu North Railway Station. After getting your ticket, proceed to the passenger waiting/ departure hall to the left after coming out from the ticket office (directly in front of the main entrance). If you are carrying baggage, you will need to have it screened like at the airport. Then, proceed to the gate stated on your ticket and wait. When you see fellow passengers proceeding to the gate close to departure time, say 10 minutes, just follow them. If it is not your bus, the ticket inspectors manning the gate will stop you and ask you to wait. Just don't feel embarrass when you are stopped. I was embarrassed three times at the Leshan Bus Station while returning to Chengdu. Luckily, I have thick skin, toughened over the years. Once you are through the gate, follow others and go to your bus and take your seat. If no seat number is assigned, you can sit anywhere, just not the seat beside the driver. That seat is reserved for the conductor.
For public buses returning to Xinnanmen, the drivers would stop at a bus stop nearest to Xinnanmen Bus Station and not at the station itself.
On most of my trips, the buses stopped at the bus stop close to ABC Bank at Linjiang East Road. On the map, I marked it as S1. These happened with the buses arriving from Huanglongxi and Luodai. In the case of the bus arriving from Mei Shan, it stopped near Home Inn at the end of Shiqi Street. The only bus that stopped very near to Xinnanmen (or rather to Traffic Inn) was the bus arriving from Jiuzhaigou (or was it from Leshan? I could not remember!).
Vicinities of Traffic Inn and Xinnanmen Bus Station
During my stay at Traffic Inn, I would always walk to Shiqi Street to look for my breakfast and dinner. South F North N Restaurant, the steamed bun shop, the Muslim Lanzhou La Mian shop, Wonton King Dumpling King Restaurant and the street vendors were all located here. So was the pharmacy where I bought the Hong Jing Tian traditional medicine to prevent high altitude sickness. There were convenient shops, gift shops and hotels here too.
If you want to catch a taxi to Jinli Street, Kuanzhaixiangzi Alley, etc., you should wait at the side entrance to Xinnanmen Station, which I marked as X2 on the map. Taxis arriving at Xinnanmen Bus Station would drop and pick up passengers here. Flagging down a taxi on the main road would be an utterly wasteful effort. Taxis on the road would 95% of the time be carrying passengers.
If you intend to take the subway or MRT to Tianfu Square, North Railway stations or Wenshu Monastery or other destinations on the MRT Line 1 and Line 2, you should turn left after exiting to the main road (Linjiang Middle Road) from Traffic Inn. Walk until you reach the first bridge you see (on Renmin South Road). Then, turn right and walk straight along Renmin South Road until you see the Jinjiang Hotel C1 Entrance. It is barely 50 meters away past Minshan Hotel. There is another entrance designated as C2 Entrance a little further away. These entrances are on the Minshan Hotel side of Renmin South Road. On the Jinjiang Hotel side of the road, the entrance is designated as B Entrance. Just walk on the pavement. You wouldn't miss them because they are right on the pavement.
Buses numbered 303 are parked on the side street beside Minshan Hotel. 50 metres further away is the MRT C1 Entrance. On the other side of Minshan Hotel are a few tourist agencies housed in the CITS building.
Both Minshan Hotel and Jinjiang Hotel MRT Entrance C1 are about 10 - 15 minutes on foot from Traffic Inn.