You may not know Xi’an but you must have known the Terracotta Warriors a long time ago. Yes, Xi’an is home to the world-famous underground army: the Terracotta Warriors. Many travelers fly to Xi’an just to check out the mysterious underground army which has existed for thousands of years. But what else should you visit? The answer is plenty, and here are a few must-dos if you ever visit Xi’an.
Terracotta Warriors Museum
It is the Terracotta Army that brings Xi’an to the international stage and thus grants it with the fame next to Beijing and Shanghai of China. Well, it is actually a giant group of clay warriors, horses and chariots. What makes a difference is that all the warriors are different from each other and each one shows its own characteristics. These human-size figures are said to be models of Qin Dynasty’s real-life army. Besides, they were built 2000 years ago. It is said that the army group is constructed to guard the tomb of Chinese first emperor, Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty.
The museum consists of 3 pits. Pit one is the largest with over 6,000 soldiers. It was accidentally unearthed in 1974 by some local farmers while digging a well. The other two pits, located at the left and right side of pit one accordingly, were excavated during the archaeological process and are relatively smaller, which makes pit one is the most-visited. When standing in front of the solemn battle formation of warriors, you will be feeling like stepping onto a real battlefield, which takes you back in time and makes you ponder at the past glory of Qin.
Terracotta Warriors Museum (Name in Chinese:秦始皇兵马俑博物馆), address: East of Lintong City, Lintong District, Xi’an/西安市临潼区近郊临潼城东; admission: 120RMB (low season) or 150RMB (high season); website: www.bmy.com.cn; getting there: Take Tourism Bus NOs 5/306 or Bus NOs 915/914 from the Railway Station and get off at Terracotta Army Station at 7 RMB/person; It takes about 1-1.5 hours. Normally three hours will make a good visit here.
Tips here: If you visit the museum on your own, don’t take the unauthorized taxis. Get on the tourism buses in front of the train station instead. Check with the station staff before getting on the bus for there are fake buses charging for more money.
Ancient City Wall
Xi’an Ancient City Wall was built 600 years ago and is now the best preserved city wall in China. It is a closed rectangle with a height of 12 meters and a total length of 13.74 kilometers. Located in the center of the city, the wall separates the old city and the new one.
If you take a bike ride on the wall, you can view the city from a unique angle. The area inside the wall is traditional while the outside erect many skyscrapers. Nearby the city wall, many local people sing and dance. The City Wall has four main gates, one at each direction accordingly. The southern gate is the most popular one. The wall looks best at sunset or sunrise with different beauty. 2 hours will be enough here.
Xi’an City Wall Southern Gate (Name in Chinese:西安城墙南门); address: No. 2 Dan Da Jie, Beilin District, Xi’an/陕西省西安市碑林区南大街2号; admission:54RMB (Additional cost is required if you would like to ride a bike).
The Muslim Quarter refers to several streets beside the Bell Tower in the city center, where many Muslim Hui people live. These streets are flocked with stalls and restaurants offering all kinds of tasty cuisines and snacks.
You must not miss the Pao Mo (泡馍) here. It is crumbled pancakes stewed in mutton sauce or beef sauce. For a authentic experience, split the pancakes on your own for the cook to make the Pao Mo for you. Keep wandering along, you will find many other yummy dishes, such as the hand-cut wheat noodles dao xiao mian (刀削面), Chinese-style hamburger rou jia mo (肉夹馍), spice jellynoodles ma jiang liang pi (麻酱凉皮) etc.
The best time to visit the Muslim Quarter is at night when all the stalls are set up. Local souvenirs like the miniature clay warriors, paper cuts, and shadow puppet figures can easily be found here. You must try bargaining here. It can as much fun as the purchase.
Muslim Quarter (Name in Chinese:回民街); address: northwest of the Bell Tower; no admission fee.
Mount Hua, one of the Five Famous Mountains in China, is best known for its steepness. It is reputed as “the most precipitous Mountain under Heaven”. Besides, it offers extraordinary natural scenery with its magnificence. Travelers who are adventurous or enthusiastic about nature or photography should definitely pay a visit here.
It has five main peaks. Most travelers can’t climb them all at a time, so many of them conquer all the five peaks by several times. The sunrise on the top of the mountain is quite a scene which attracts lots of tourists every year. Thrill-seekers should venture onto Chang Kong Plank Road (长空栈道), a wooden trail built alongside a vertical cliff more than 1,000 meters above the ground. The 50-meter-long plank walk is only 50 centimeters wide. The best visit time of Mount Hua is from April to October. Normally 2 days should be spent for a good visit here.
Mount Hua (Name in Chinese:华山); getting there: Take the Tourism Bus at the East Square of Xi’an Railway Station to Hua Shan. It takes about 2 hours.
Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show
As is known, Xi’an was the capital for 13 ancient dynasties of China, while the most glorious time was Tang Dynasty. This show is elaborately composed with stunning costumes, on-site music and dance, which vividly presents you the heydays of Tang Dynasty.
Enjoying this show can be a genuine experience of the Chinese ancient palace life and also the essential Chinese culture. Imperial banquet or dumpling dinner can also be enjoyed at the theater if you’d like to try. The night with a grand show and a traditional Chinese dinner can totally make a true cultural experience.
Several theaters in Xi’an offer this show at night, while two of them are more recommended, that is, the Tang Dynasty Palace (Tang Yue Gong/唐乐宫) and Shaanxi Song & Dance Theater (Shaanxi Ge Wu Ju Yuan/陕西歌舞剧院).