As a newbie to Xi'An and China I am trying to post some little solutions to typical problems a foreigner will see when he or she cannot manage the Chinese language.
I hope this will be useful for foreigners ...
I faced some little problems when I have tried to use a bus in Xi'An.
First: All the routes of busses and even schedules are in Chinese only.
After some time I figured out that Google Maps can be a big help.
Just go to maps.google.com and locate the place you are currently staying in Xi'An.
Then press "route planner" and give a destination.
After your route is calculated you find four different buttons at the upper left corner of your browser windows.
You see a sign for a car, a pedestrian, a bycicle and .... A BUS !
Just press the BUS button and you will see the route of busses in your map.
That includes the number of the bus and stops with names in English and Chinese.
And ... if you left-click with your mouse on a specific stop then you see the schedule of one or more bus lines at this bus station!
I was amazed and now I use this 'tool' very often.
For a bus ride one have to pay 1 Yuan for each bus you take.
If there is a "K" in front of the bus number - that means that bus has an air-condition - it is 2 Yuan per ticket.
You can save money if you get a metro card for public transport in Xi'An.
This card is called 'Chang'An Card' and is available at some service offices (bus lines) and at the 'Bank of Xi'An'.
Maybe there are more places to get this card ... at the moment I do know just these.
I went to a Bank of Xi'An branch and I had to pay 50 Yuan for such a card.
18 Yuan is somehow a deposit for the card itself, the other 32 Yuan you can use for bus tickets.
The advantages are: You get a discount of 50% on each fare (you pay 1 Yuan instead of 2 Yuan and 0,5 Yuan instead of 1 Yuan) and you dont have to have a lot single Yuans in your pocket.
As far as I know this card is fundable ... so you can put more money on it if necessary but I am not sure about this as I have heard there are two types of these cards and I dont know yet which one I have now. I will report on this.
A very useful thing is a map of Xi'An with English/Chinese street names, with bus routes and station names and some more usefull information for foreigners.
You can get such a map for free at the Tourist Office close to the bell tower (West Street).