Xi'an is more than 3,000 years old and was known as Chang'an (长安) in ancient times. For 1,000 years, the city was the capital for 13 dynasties, and a total of 73 emperors ruled here. Xi'an is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties. With so much history within the ground the city lies upon, it is no wonder that there are so many historical ruins, museums and cultural relics to be found here. It was already influencing the world outside of the Great Wall of China as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road (丝绸之路). Here traders from far and wide brought goods and ideas for sale and took goods and ideas back with them to their native countries. In present day Xi'an not much of its former glory remains within the city confines, due to the constant warfare and political changes that swept China particularly throughout the 20th Century. Today the city has a pleasant cosmopolitan flair to it and it is worth visiting for the famed Terracotta Warriors alone. It has often been said that, "if you have not been to Xi'an, you have not been to China!"
Xi'an has most of its annual precipitation from August to late October in the form of rain. It is characterised by hot summers and cold, dry winters. Spring and autumn will be somewhat brief and dry.
- 1 Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY IATA) (is 40 km northwest of the city centre, in Xianyang). Flights are available to most major Chinese airports and International flights are available to many destinations including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo. As Xi'an is in the heartland of China, it takes no more than 2 hours to fly to most major Chinese cities.
Most people use taxis or the airport bus to reach town from the airport. A taxi will cost about ¥150 from the airport to the Bell Tower downtown. You will pay around ¥50-75 more if you take one of the climatized Japanese black taxis rather than the typical green taxis. At the airport, both types of taxis are waiting at the same spot to pick up passengers.
The airport bus leaves the airport from 08:00 until 01:00, a ticket costs ¥25 and takes about one hour; there are several lines but the most useful are Airport Bus No. 1 (no stop to the terminus in front of the Melody Hotel, at the beginning of West Street near the Bell Tower) and No. 2 (to the railway station). As long as there is an arriving flight, there will be a bus, so don't worry about arriving late at night or early morning. Buses will often depart as soon as they fill up. The airport bus route is the best way between city and the train station.
Getting to the terracotta warriors from the airport is complicated but can be done. Immediately when you walk out of the airport you can take bus #2 (¥27) to the Xi'an train station. From there, take bus 306 to the terracotta warriors (see more details below). Alternatively, a taxi will cost approximately ¥85 plus toll charges of ¥15.
Most visitors will arrive by high-speed train at 2 Xi'an North Railway Station (西安北站 Xī'ānběi Zhàn), 15 km north of city centre. The main services, on 200 km / hr "D-trains" or 250-km / hr "G-trains", are to Zhengzhou (2–3 hours); many trains continue from Zhengzhou north or south, serving all major cities along the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen corridor, to (Wuhan (5–8 hours), Guangzhou (8 hours), Shenzhen (9 hours), Changsha, Shijiazhuang, Beijing (6 hours)). An overnight train (D308/D305) also runs Shanghai (11 hrs), via Nanjing (8 hrs). To the west, there is high-speed service to Baoji (an hour west from Xi'an) and onwards to Lanzhou (3 hours; change here for the 12-hour train to Urumqi), and Xining (4 hours). To the south, there are high-speed trains to Chengdu (4 hours).
The North Railway Station is an enormous modern transport hub. To reach the city centre take Metro line two (red), whose terminus (北客站 Beikezhan) is at the station.
The old railway station, 3 Xi'an Railway Station (西安站 Xī'ān Zhàn), is at the north end of Jiefang Road (解放路, jiěfànglù, just outside the old city walls. This is served by "conventional" trains for regional journeys.
There is no reason to use Xi'an South Railway Station (西安南站 Xī'ān Nán Zhàn), a long way south-east of the centre, with limited services.
The main long-distance bus station (Shaanxi Province Long-distance Bus Station) is about 100 m south of Xi'an railway station, with the city wall between them (there is an underpass). Bus service is available to: Huashan (2–3 hours), Lanzhou (8–10 hours), Luoyang (5–7 hours), Taiyuan (12 hours), and Zhengzhou (9–12 hours).
See Driving in China.
The old city is surrounded by a rectangular city wall. The Bell Tower (钟楼, Zhōnglóu) is in the dead center of the rectangle, and is considered the center of Xi'an. From here, the four main streets radiate along the four points of the compass.
- North Street (北大街 Běidàjiē)
- East Street (东大街 Dōngdàjiē)
- South Street (南大街 Nándàjiē)
- West Street (西大街 Xīdàjiē)
Do not get confused by different names in tourist guides, addresses and bus stops: Nandajie, Nanda Street, South Street, and South Avenue are all the same street.
Locals often speak about Within the city walls and Outside the city walls when talking about locations. Outside the walls, the southern part is the most interesting - it offers shopping streets, bars and some nightlife.
As usual in China, subways are the easiest way to get around if they serve your destination. There are also plenty of buses traveling everywhere at short intervals (main lines run every 5–10 minutes). If you are not confident enough with orientation, or if you do not like packed buses, the cheap taxis are the best alternative, broadly available, except for during rush hours.
Xi'an has four Metro lines, with further lines planned or under construction. A single ride costs ¥5. Bags are x-rayed prior to entry, water bottles should be taken out of bags as they will be scanned by security staff separately.
- Line 1 runs east-west and does not cover any interesting tourist spots.
- Line 2 runs north-south, intersects with Line 1 at Beidajie to the North of the bell tower. It connects the North Railway Station, the City Library (your starting point for visiting the Hanyangling mausoleum), the Bell Tower, and Xiaozhai near the Shaanxi history museum.
- Line 3 runs southwest-northeast, intersecting with Line 1 at Tonghuamen, and Line 2 at Xiaozhai. It serves the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta station).
- Line 4 runs north-south, mostly to the east of Line 2.
Regular buses within the city cost ¥1 (¥2 for air-conditioned, marked with a snowflake) no matter how far you go. Since there are many buses in the city, it can be useful to go to the Tourism Office Center (which is situated near the Drum Tower) and ask for a free map (地图, Dìtú) of the city, with the bus lines on it.
A popular line for tourists is #610 (also labeled "游8" meaning "tourist #8") which connects the railway station, the Bell Tower, the Small Goose Pagoda and Xi'an Museum, the Shaanxi Historic Museum, and the Big Goose Pagoda. Unfortunately it is not one of the most frequent (sometimes you can wait for half an hour, though usually it comes in a few minutes). Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of West Street; take it westwards to then go south to the museums and pagodas, take it eastwards to then go north to the railway station. Near the railway station (there are many stops for different lines) you can catch it at the third block on the main street going straight south from the station.
Another useful line is #609 that connects the Bell Tower, the South Gate and the Big Goose Pagoda. Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of South Street.
Although the 609 and 610 can be infrequent, the 611 is very frequent (multiple departures every minute in the rush hour), and connects the train station and the Bell Tower, continuing to the west from the latter. Look for its stop across the road from the station (within the city walls). Its route is a loop at the railway station, so you can board the bus at the same stop for the city centre where you got off for the railway station. At the Bell Tower its stop towards the railway station is at the beginning of the East Street.
Bus 500 takes you from the Railway Station to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in 12 stops. This area has the Great Tang All Day Mall as well as the Tang Paradise and the South Lake.
There are many buses leaving regularly for the Terracotta Warrior museum in front of the Xi'an bus station (east to the train station, outside (in the north) the city walls).
- Bus 306 (also called Tourist Bus #5) leaves from the lot in front of the train station (on the east side, i.e. to your right when looking towards the station) and will take you to a parking lot right in front of the museum. Travel time is about an hour (up to 3 hours in case of traffic jams). A one-way ticket costs ¥7 (pay on the bus). It also stops at several other tourist attractions along the way, e.g. the hot springs. Make sure you don't make the mistake of going to the nearby bus station on the inside (south) of the city wall. That's where there are touts with signs saying bus 5 and bus 306, trying to hustle you onto their private bus. Although they do take you to the destinations, you are forced to go to visit attractions you might not want to go to. If in doubt about whether you have the right 306, stand back and observe. The official bus attendants will not hustle you to get on their rapidly filling bus. They will confirm it is the correct bus and nothing more. The official bus will also fill up very quickly with locals who know which one is the correct bus.
- Another local bus that goes to the Warriors is 307 (last stop again, normally ~60 minutes, possibly up to 3 hours in case of traffic). 307 also goes to the Great Wild Goose Pagoda.
- Small buses which are also used by the locals (mainly number 914). These buses will also take you to the Museum, but they use local roads (no highway express like bus 306) so they are a bit slower. 914 is however more frequent during the day than 306. One-way ticket price is ¥7 (pay on the bus). Not a bad trip if you want to see how locals travel.
- Most hostels and hotels run tours to the warriors with an English speaking guide. These aren't necessarily better, be prepared to spend a good portion of the day (as with any Chinese tour) visiting "terracotta factories," "museums", "Chinese medicine shops", and other tourist traps. But you will get to your destination without dealing with the bus (the warriors are quite far outside of town) and not all of the public buses that go there are legitimate.
Taxis are very limited. It can take a rather long time to find a vacant one and even then - given their choice of fares - they may decide to decline your destination for a more profitable one that is closer. Watch the taxi drivers in Xi'an as the industry is not regulated as it is in other larger cities. You may find yourself being taken on a long ride around town to get where you are going. It can also be difficult to convince them to take you anywhere (even to the railway station). If in doubt, get your hotel or hostel to write down the place you want to go in Chinese. Between 3PM-5PM the taxis change their shifts. This means the drivers are rushing to their handover points, so they won't pick you up even if they are empty.
Trips within the city walls are generally around ¥10. Longer trips to the attractions south of the city are ¥12-20. It is always good advice to insist on using the taxi meter, especially for longer rides like to/from the airport. However, taxis will often refuse to go the airport on meter, you will have to discuss a price in advance, usually between ¥100 and ¥120.
The rate for the normal (green) taxis is ¥9 for the first 3 kilometer and then ¥2 for every additional kilometer. Waiting times longer than 2 minutes will be charged ¥2 per minute. After 23:00 the starting price is ¥10. At the airport and around some of the big hotels you might also find black taxis. They charge ¥2.4 per kilometer, but are more spacious and comfortable.
Fortunately Xi'an's main sites (with the notable exception of the Terracotta Warriors) are bunched fairly close together. Be wary of the narrow streets and cars that squeeze you out of the way. Bike lanes are available on some streets, however, places to lock bikes, typically are not.
Inside/Near the city
- 1 [dead link] Xi'an City Wall (西安城墙; Xīānchéngqiáng). The world's largest city wall, it has been restored and is 12m high, 18m wide at the bottom, 15m wide on the top, and 13.7km long. Bikes (including two- or three-person models) can be rented for ¥40 per 120 minutes/bike (or ¥80 for a tandem) plus a ¥200 deposit. You can hire one at the top of the South or East gate; you may return it to other stations on the wall (there is one at each of the four main gates), but be sure to verify this before starting your ride, and know that only the south gate is open after 7pm. Bikes will not be rented if there is any chance of rain, because the top of the wall becomes slippery. Check the weather forecast before you buy a ticket to enter the wall. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes 4-5 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644) on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). The Xi'an City Wall International Marathon is held each year in November since 1993, with athletes from more than 50 countries running on top of the wall. Also, the Xi'an city wall Cycling Race is held on top of the wall since two years ago. There is a small museum inside the city wall at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the wall. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection. ¥50, ¥20 students (Feb 2014).
- 2 Shaanxi Historic Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn; also known as Shaanxi History Museum) (Xiaozhai subway stop (Lines 2&3), 800m northwest of Big Wild Goose Pagoda). 9-12, 13:00-16:30 (17:00 in summer). Closed on Mondays (Checked Feb 2015).. This museum houses a collection of local artefacts that span the province's history from the Neolithic period through the Qing dynasty. In particular, it contains fabulously well preserved pottery from the nearby Banpo neolithic village (also worth a visit) and many excellent Shang Dynasty bronzes. Although some guidebooks call it "one of the best museums in China", its old fashioned pots-and-arrowheads-behind-glass format may appeal mainly to enthusiasts. The most eye-catching articles are those from the Tang Dynasty, originally used by the royal family. There will be long queues for tickets, as they are available cheaply (a prior version indicated free if you brought your ID with you. But this is unconfirmed; if you look obviously foreign you won't be asked for ID or a local telephone number). For locals there is a ¥20 charge for a ticket. However there is an option to beat the queue. Go for the 'tour ticket'; the line will be considerably shorter and it'll cost you ¥200 (although the face value is ¥300). If there is a special exhibition on, you will get entry to that as well (and if you purchase an audio guide, it'll work there too). ¥20 (free also available).
- 3 Beilin (or Stele) Museum (碑林; Xīānbēilín), 15号 Sanxue St, ErHuan Lu YanXian ShangYe JingJiDai, Beilin Qu (Just inside the south city wall, near Wenchang Gate). Remarkable collection of 4000 inscribed stone tablets, covering scripture, poetry, classic Chinese texts, triumphs of rulers, family history, and practical affairs such as instructions to rebuild a school. The 7th C Nestorian Stele (Showroom 2, first exhibit on the left) depicts the coming of Nestorian Christianity to China. ¥75, combined ticket with City Walls ¥100.
- 4 Wolong Temple (卧龙寺). This active Buddhist temple dates back to 200BC. It has been restored, and is vibrant and busy. Free.
- 5 Big (Wild) Goose Pagoda (大雁塔; Dàyàntǎ) (Subway Line 3, Dayanta station). 10:00 - 18:00 (in winter). Built by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi（高宗李治) in 652AD. Emblem of the city of Xi'an. In the fountain in front of the pagoda there is a very nice water and music show sometimes during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby. ¥50. Beware, this is only to enter the temple complex, entering the pagoda is charged another ¥30 even though there's no warning in the ticket booth.
- Little (Wild) Goose Pagoda (小雁塔; Xiǎoyàntǎ) (At Jianfu Temple). Completed in 709 AD. You can claim a ticket for free to walk around the temple area. But you must pay ¥50 (student half-price) to enter the pagoda (note that the ticket still states the old price of ¥30, however ¥50 is charged). Closed every Tuesday for maintenance (Sep 2014).
- 6 Bell Tower (钟楼; Zhōnglóu) (On traffic island dead centre of city, intersection of East South West & North streets). The traffic island is almost ringed by a subway, enter from north side next to Metro entrance. Great tower with ancient bells to toll the time for the city. Short musical performances every hour or so. ¥30, or ¥50 including Drum Tower.
- 7 Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu) (200 m west of Bell Tower, in the Muslim Quarter). Great tower with drums to toll the time to the old city. Short musical performances every hour or so. ¥30, or ¥50 including Bell Tower.
- 8 Grand Mosque (大清真寺; Dàqīngzhēnsì) (Behind Drum Tower). Built in a perfect mixture of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles with seating for 1,000 worshipers and the Muslim Street district (回民街 Huímín Jiē) around it. It is famous as the very first mosque ever to be built in China. It can be quite difficult to find through the winding back streets but is very well known to locals. Only Muslims are permitted entry to the actual mosque and whilst there is a courtyard, there were in Feb 2015 repairs underway which means much of what you would see is not open. Ladies are asked to cover up with a scarf according to Muslim tradition. ¥25 (if not Muslim).
- Eight Immortals Temple (八仙庵; Bāxiān'ān). An active Daoist temple built for the famous Eight Immortals, including the Eight Immortals Bridge, lots of steles in the walls with text and illustrations, and multiple worship halls.
- 9 DaMing Palace and Park (大明宫国家遗址公园). This is, first of all, a huge park with both green spaces and an enormous open square with an equally-impressive ancient palace gate (the palace is Tang dynasty, built in 634 AD). There's a model of the palace next to the gate. The square sometimes hosts public performances. The park even has an IMAX theatre. The park, gate and square are accessible for free. If you pay for admission, you can actually go into the partially restored palace ruins and other sections of the park protected by a moat. Worth seeing for the sheer size of it - it's more than 4 times the size of the Forbidden City, and a very surreal effect compared to the crowding in the rest of Xian. It is just north of Xian railway station (a tunnel under the tracks begins just east of the station building). Also accessible via DaMingXi subway station (Line 2).
Outside the city
- 10 Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses (兵马俑; Bīngmăyŏng) (A short distance away from the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, it is the last stop of bus (5)306/307, which can be boarded at the main train station (to the right as you face the station). If there is a long queue, or on the way back, look for private bus companies who also service the route to Bingmayong for about the same price (¥7 or 8)). This mighty army of terracotta warriors and horses, found in three vaults, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of Shaanxi and one of the most popular in all of China. An in-site museum has been built over these pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and housing 8,000 lifelike terracotta warriors, 100 or so chariots, and 40,000 weapons. Not all of these are on display, and the site is still an active archeological dig. There are 3 pits (numbered and clearly signposted 1,2,3). Going from pit 3 to pit 2 to pit 1 means that each pit gets more impressive and ensures a grand finale. The assemblage has been billed by the tourist industry as the Eighth Wonder of the World and a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The ticket office is next to the parking lot, which is a 5/10 minute walk away from the entrance to the museum. Buy your tickets at the ticket office or you can also buy them from resellers at the entrance for a ¥5 fee. For ¥5, you can opt to take a small bus from the ticket counter to the entry to the site, which saves you about 10 minutes of walking. On the way back, however, you are forced to walk in order not to "miss" the countless opportunities to buy small terracotta warriors, other tourist articles and food. For those not interested in Chinese food you will pass a Starbucks, McDonalds and there is a KFC very near to the ticket counter. Student tickets can only be bought, with a chinese student card. When buying your ticket you are likely to be approached by a 'guide', especially if you look foreign. The normal starting price is ¥200 but you should be able to bargain them down to around ~¥75. ¥100 is reasonable for the 2 - 3 hours they will accompany you. When talking to them, take the time to evaluate how they speak, because if you can't understand them at the start it'll just get worse. Inside Pit 1, there is a 'photo spot' to the left of the entry when you can be escorted to one of the nicer places. However it costs ¥200 for ~15 mins (but includes a picture). You won't miss much but not doing it; but you will have 15 mins with no one jostling you on either side and an uninterrupted view of the warriors. ¥120, students ¥60.
- 11 Huaqing Palace (华清池; Huáqīngchí) (First stop of bus 306). 09:00-17:00. Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan in Lintong County so he could frolic with his favoured Imperial Lady Yang to his heart's content. It is possible to take hot baths inside. You may also take the nearby cable car (¥60 return) to catch a Birdseye view of the area. ¥150, ¥75 Student.
- 12 Qinshihuang's Mausoleum (秦始皇陵) (Third stop (second for the museum) of bus 306 before the Terracota Warriors). Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China. You can visit the surrounding gardens and mountains, but you can not get inside the mausoleum. There is a low quality museum with a reconstruction of the Mausoleum. Taking pictures in the dimly lit museum is forbidden, although staff will not control it too much. Mausoleum ¥40, museum ¥15.
- 13 Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Hanyangling 汉阳陵) (Near the airport). A Han dynasty tomb containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. There are human figures (think small and naked version of the terracotta warriors) as well as a whole army-like formation of life-like animals (pigs, dogs, etc). The "Underground Museum" at the excavation site has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations and is definitely worth a visit (especially easy to do if done as part of a journey to or from the airport). There's a very unique holographic movie experience as part of the exhibit (no 3D glasses required, English and some other language translation available, ¥10 though it is unclear if it's a legitimate fee). It's also worth getting a guide or following one around (note that English ones are more expensive than Chinese ones) because they will explain things in much more detail than the captions. Some people also climb up to the top of the burial mound (you can see a worn trail going up the side). If you cross the road you can see the Archaeological Exhibit Center (where some of the best figures are kept), a deer park (with actual live deer), and ruins of a "sacrifice temple" (not too impressive). The grounds around the mausoleum are nice to stroll in, with fragrant wild grasses and a rose garden next to the Archaeological Exhibit Center. It is possible to get to the site via tour or share a taxi (around ¥200 round-trip, not including waiting time). By public transit, the easiest way (as of early 2014) seems to be to take the subway to Shitushuguan (city library) and then take bus 游4 from outside the station. Departure times are irregular, but previously observed times were: 08:30/09:30/10:30/12:00/13:30/15:00/16:00/17:00. The bus starts at this station, so you don’t need to flag it down. Bus fare is ¥2. ¥80; half-price students.
- 14 Mao Ling Mausoleum （茂陵） (Tomb of Han Wu Di). Large pyramid tomb of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty (汉武帝), Emperor Wu is known for the pacification of the Xiongnu, greatly expanding the empire's borders to include what is today part of northern Korea and Vietnam, construction of 4 garrison towns in Gansu, and touring the entirety of China during his long 54 year reign. The first Silk Road was established under his reign. 1km to the east of the pyramid is the museum which houses many stone carvings.
- 15 Qianling Mausoleum （乾陵博物馆）. The shared tomb of China's first and only female emperor Wu Zetian (武则天) and her husband Emperor Gaozong of Tang Dynasty (唐高宗).
- Famen Temple (法门寺). This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67AD, contains a 13-storied brick pagoda as part of the monastery. This pagoda fell down in the rain in August 1981 and revealed a 1000 year old underground vault full with 2,400 treasures belonging to the Tang and previous dynasties given as offerings. These included gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones and textiles, as well as religious items. The biggest treasure is a finger bone of Buddha offered to the Emperor of China during the Tang dynasty.
- 16 Banpo Village Ruins （半坡遗址）. 6,000-year-old ruins of a village site including residential and pottery-making areas, ancient tools, and a burial ground. Take bus #42 from the train station or line 1 of the subway (Banpo Station). Visit also the Shaanxi Historic Museum to see the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo.
- [dead link] Taiping National Park (太平国家公园) (44 km SW of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain). Famous for its waterfall and the largest area of wild Zijing flower (the city flower of Hong Kong) in north China.
- Xiangyu Forest Park (祥峪森林公园) (37 km S of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain).
- 17 Tang Paradise (大唐芙蓉园). A large (67 hectares, 165 acres) theme park based on the royal gardens of the Tang Dynasty. It claims to be the first theme park for all five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell). It includes a large fragrance garden and the largest movie-on-water screen in the world,
- 1 Hui Muslim Quarter (Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē)) (North West of the Bell Tower). Walk through the Muslim quarter sampling food and buying souvenirs.
- Walk the City Walls. Walk along the city walls and see the South Gate (南门; Nánmén), which is illuminated at night. Unfortunately the buildings across from the South Gate seem to have stopped being illuminated (one of the hotels probably closed down and the others stopped caring about the light show) so the view is a little less impressive as it used to be.
- Bike the City Walls. Bicycling around the city walls will take about 2 hours leisurely and just over an hour if you only stop a little. Bicycles can be rented on each of the four main gates for 180 minutes, ¥45 per person (=¥90 for a tandem), and it may to be returned to any of the other stations (however, be sure to verify this before starting your ride or if they are still open as the other gates close at ~8pm). Remember to take your passport with you as a deposit for the bike that you rent, or ¥200. Make sure that you keep the deposit ticket, as the bike vendor will not give you the deposit back without it! Also - the bikes are generally relatively new and well maintained - however, check the tire pressure and whether the brakes work before choosing yours.
Xi'an souvenirs include small copies of terracotta warriors, wood-carved Buddhas and dragons, Tang Tricolored Pottery, hand made paper cut (by many regarded as the most important arts form in Xi'an), all other kind of folk art and also fake western products.
- Terracotta Warriors (秦始皇兵马俑). If you are visiting the Terracotta Warriors, be prepared to meet some of the most hardcore hawkers you are likely to meet anywhere. If you keep quiet, they will usually bargain themselves down in front of you in desperate pleas for your money. A box of 15cm high Terracotta warriors cost ¥5-10 (if you're lucky) or ¥15-25 (more likely) even if they offer it to you for ¥45. Wood-carved Buddhas and Dragons for about the same. They are fortunately kept at a distance from the actual site. Many travelers report enjoying this experience. It is definitely not a reason to avoid seeing the Terracotta Warriors. The exit from the pit areas to the parking lot leads through long avenues lined with souvenir stalls and shops. The barkers will try to get your business, but are not as aggressive as the touts at the entrance or immediate exits.
- Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē) (Muslim Quarter) (Behind the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter around the Great Mosque). The best place to buy souvenirs in the city center is the bazaar area. The seller usually offers you a very high price, and even if you bring them down by 50%, they will still make a big profit. This is also a good place to buy folk art, specifically folk style block prints in a single shop which go for about ¥50 if you can stand bargaining when the older gentleman artist himself is standing right there. This area is also full of fake name-brand products like watches, bags, clothes. Bargain hard. Shop owners will typically sell such fake branded products to expatriates at three times the price they offer to Chinese people. For instance, a Louis Vuitton wallet going at ¥80 will be touted to Westerners at ¥200 or more. If your haggling skills are exceptional, you can bring down the price to a mere ¥30.
- Calligraphy Street （书院门步行街） (Near South Gate inside the city wall towards the east, walking down South Street on the left side, continue to where the road splits in front of South Gate and turn left to find the entrance gate next to a small pagoda, midway do a slight dog leg to the right, at the far end is the Forest of Steles). This is another souvenir shopping area. Less hectic than the Muslim Quarter.
- Tang Tricolored Pottery Factory (唐朝三色陶器厂). Tang Tricolored Pottery is a style that was lost and has now been recreated from pieces of pottery found in tombs. It is graphic in image and eye-pleasing in color. The factory recreating the style offers over 100 varieties of items, like statues, animals and utensils.
Xi'an is a great place to buy clothes.
- East Street (Dong Dajie) (The eastern of the four big streets descending from the central Bell Tower). Has regular fashion shops. On the right side of the street there is an underground mall (called LuoMaShi) where one can find cheap socks, knockoff goods, and local brands
- South Street (Nan Dajie). Has finer clothes and shoes, and is home to boutiques like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Marc Jacobs.
- Baihui Market (百汇市场) (In Xiaozhai (小寨), ¥10 by taxi from the city center). Local youngsters shop here. It is one of those fake-brand markets. Sport shoes should be less than ¥150, pullovers and nice jeans sometimes less than ¥100, lots of cheap fashion accessories. This is also a great place for DVDs and CDs but understand these are mostly pirated copies.
- Kangfu Road (Outside the east city wall, straight through the Northeast Gate). A great place for a bargain. Nothing is (bargained for) over ¥50 and most clothes can be bargained down to about ¥20 if you are really aggressive. But this place is full of poor quality stuff.
- Shida Lu. A trendy place to shop in a largely student populated area in the south of the city. Shida Lu has lots of hair salons, and clothing botiques.
- Century Ginwa. This luxury shopping mall has three locations in Xi'an. One downtown by the Drum Tower, one in Gaoxing on Keji Lu, and one just outside of the South Gate.
- Foreign Language Bookstore (外文书店), 349 Dong Dajie, Xincheng District; 西安市新城区东大街349号, ☏ . The best place to hunt down an English language novel or book. Almost every major city in China has one these days, but don't expect to be overwhelmed by the fabulous selection of English books – whether in Xi'an or in any city in China. Expect to find a handful of popular novels and classic prose. You'll also find bucket loads of English language text books and dictionaries for studying purposes.
- Jiahui Hantang Book City (嘉汇汉唐书城), 111 Chang’an Zhonglu, Yanta District; 西安市雁塔区长安中路111号, ☏ . 09:00-21:00. The largest bookstore in Xi'an, Book City has a fairly decent selection of imported English books. You'll find a wide range of books here, from educational ones, to classic novels, and modern literature to children's books. The place gets swamped with people at the weekends, so for a more pleasant browsing experience, come during a weekday.
- Xi'an Book Building (西安图书大厦), 214 Jiefang Lu; 西安市新城区解放路236, ☏ . 09:00-21:00. Four floors of books as far as the eye can see. Though the vast majority of books are in the Chinese language, you will find a small selection of English books on the second floor. The building also houses a small audio and video section, as well as a café.
- Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore (钟楼新华书店), 377 Dong Dajie; 西安市东大街377号, ☏ . 09:00-20:00. Another very small English language book selection can be found at the Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore. Unless you're nearby, your best bet for English books is still the Foreign Language Bookstore or even the Book City. However, if you're also looking for stationary, cards, wrapping paper etc. then it may be worth checking out and to trying to kill two birds with the one stone. Otherwise don't expect an English-language book Mecca here.
Xi'an specialties include:
- Yángròu Pàomó (羊肉泡馍) is one of the signature dishes of the area, it consists of a piece of thick, chewy bread and a kettle of lamb soup. The diner shreds the bread with his hands and places the shreds in a bowl, the soup is then poured over the shreds (along with meat, maybe some noodles or scallion, etc.) The trick is to shred the bread into pieces that are "as small as possible", like the size of your pinky fingernail. Most first-timers will shred their bread in pieces that are too large. In some restaurants, they have already shredded the bread for you. It is normally also served with pickled garlic and chili. If you don't like lamb, some restaurants also offer a beef version.
- Biáng biáng miàn (面) is a local provincial specialty noodle dish that is extremely good. The wide noodles are spiced, have a broth, and include toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, beef, etc. The character for "biang" is very complex (58 strokes) and distinctive.
- Ròu jiā mó (肉夹馍) is the closest thing to a hamburger. This is a local tradition and should be very easy to locate. Sandwich-like, with pork, beef or lamb, this is a must-try item for anyone who is in this area.
- Xiǎo lóng bāozi (小笼包子) are basket-steamed dumplings (one basket ¥3), common as a midnight snack. Look for its big brother "Da baozi" only available first thing in the mornings, like a steamed Cornish pastie, but very nice.
- Guàn tāng bāozi (灌汤包子) are steamed buns served with sauces inside.
- Shìzi bǐng (柿子饼) are buns made from persimmons, stuffed with something (e.g. black sesame paste), and deep-fried, so they're quite sticky-sweet. You can find many sellers in the Muslim Quarter, and they are only ¥1 each or less!
- Lǜdòu gāo (绿豆糕) are literally green bean cakes (come in small cubes), but they're more moist than you may find elsewhere and also come with a variety of mixings (e.g. sesame). Half a Jin should be about six cubes and cost about ¥5 at a cart in the Muslim Quarter.
Some good places to look for restaurants are:
- The Muslim Quarter close to the Drum Tower is a vibrant area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. If you're looking for snacks, this area is also full of people selling dried fruit (especially dates) and nuts/seeds (sunflower, melon, pumpkin, etc.) Prices are per Jin (500 g) and are pretty much standardized throughout the area, so you can't really bargain unless you're buying a lot (but who wants 1 kg of peanuts anyway?) Watch out for the pits in the dates!
- Street food (mostly sold after sunset, or some near night clubs/bars after 23:00) presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on by tens of little food vendors on street side, each with a red lamp. There are a few roads running perpendicular to the Muslim Quarter road that have a larger variety of streetside food (at cheaper prices because these roads are harder to access). As streetside stores are nearly a model of perfect competition, look out for food sold at significantly higher prices, yet maintain a long queue as these are likely to be tastier. For instance, some vendors may unscrupulously sell beef mixed with lamb and pass the meat off as pure lamb meat to cut their cost, however those who sell real lamb meat usually charge a higher price.
- If Muslim food isn’t your thing, you can find a few more typically Chinese restaurants on Dongmutou Shi (东木头市) southeast of the bell tower.
A good way if you do not want the expensive hotel food or just want to try real Chinese cuisine, is to simply go into a small restaurant and point to a dish somebody else is having and you will get a meal for less than ¥10 (seldom ¥20) per person.
A good street for eating is Xiyang Shi running east-west near the mosque in the Muslim quarter.
- 1 Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan (温馨饺子馆), 123 Xushimiao Street (Next to the Good World Hotel, off of Lian Hu Lu). A good cheap place for jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). There is no menu, but endless supplies of fresh jiaozi of many flavors. From ¥4-5 a bowl.
- 2 Lao Sun Jia (老孙家), 364 Dong Dajie. Has fantastic yangrou paomo which is very cheap but flavoursome. No English spoken but easy to communicate with sign language! Franchises all across town.
McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC or its Chinese brother, Dicos, are widely available within city walls for a change from the daily Chinese cuisine. There are also three Starbucks within a 5-minute walk of the Bell Tower.
- 3 [formerly dead link] Caprice Restaurant + Bar (卡佩斯西餐厅), 11B Diamond Peninsula, Corner of Yan Nan 3rd Road and Furong West Road, Qujiang District (曲江新区雁南三路钻石半岛11B, 雁南三路芙蓉西路十字路口西南角) (Take the 500 bus, get off 1 stop past the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔）at the Starbucks and walk east 500m), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-22:00. An upbeat restaurant designed like a Chicago-style steakhouse that has pretty authentic Italian and British pub food. For those only wanting drinks there is an Los Angeles-style lounge where they specialize in cocktails. Good portion size and popular with the local expats. If you go during lunch or in the early evenings you can chat with the Canadian owners for traveling tips. $8-16.
- Highfly Pizza (高飞) (Down the right hand street after coming out of South Gate (南门)). Real pizza and other western food.
- Green Molly Restaurant & Pub (绿茉莉) (200m north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road (西安市高新区高科大厦副楼一层 (世纪金花商场后门向北200米路东))), ☏ . 10:00-23:00. A restaurant where you can indulge in the tastes of home, whether that be in the U.S., Europe or even Mexico. The restaurant owns only the second authentic pizza oven in Xi'an. Downstairs, the first and only real pub in Xi'an has a wide selection of beverages ranging from imported beers to wine and delicious cocktails.
- Small World Cafe (Jiànguómén 建国门), Huancheng Nanlu Dongduan 90# (Outside Jian Guo Gate （建国门外）). 11:00-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. From the windows, one could see busy Huancheng Nanlu (环城南路)，while it is really quiet inside.
- Small World Cafe (Dayanta 大雁塔), Ynataxilu 雁塔西路 (Southeast to Big Goose Pagoda （大雁塔东南角）). 10:30-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. Out of the north windows, one could see Big Goose Pagoda.
- Delhi Darbar (新德里餐厅), Dayanta West Road (雁塔区大唐通易坊东头路北) (Directly west of the Big Goose Pagoda on a street full of upscale bars and restaurants). Authentic North Indian food run by a wonderful Indian manager. Service is good, food is devinely delicious, and prices are very affordable. Mango Lassi for only ¥10 is a must have. Average meal price is about ¥40 per person.
- Village Cafe. A nice urban cafe on Shi Da Lu that offers burgers, steaks, and all sorts of drinks and desserts. From ¥30-60 per person.
- La Seine, Nandajie (南大街) (Near Bell Tower). French style restaurant.
- Tang Paradise Hotel (Near the Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang Resort of Xi'an). Dinner Show in a large 165 acres theme park. The charm lies in that all the buildings in the park are built in the luxurious style of the Tang Dynasty. The best time to visit is at night when most of the shows, including fireworks and dances, are performed.
- Koi, Sofitel on Ren Min square. Japanese cuisine.
- Village Cafe (32 Shi Da Lu, opposite of Bank of China). If you miss your burger, this is the place to go.
Night clubs in Xi'an are not abundant. All clubs play the same music, a mix of Chinese disco and some pop music. Most people go out between 22:00 and 01:00, but clubs are generally open until 04:00.
Be mentally prepared to be aggressively approached by club operators desperate for patrons.
In summer time, the area around South Gate (南门) is beautiful. East of it are three nice bars with terraces and gardens.
Along the short Nandajie (南大街) are the most clubs (you can also eat on the street as there are restaurants open past midnight).
- MIX (Big light ad). Rather nice places to sit and drink.
- Palando. Rather nice place to sit and drink.
- Night Cat. Dance floor, some foreigners and OK-DJs.
- Kulala. Dance floor.
Other options include:
- 1+1 (一加一; pronounced), Dongdajie (东大街) (In the middle of the street). Remains one of the most popular clubs and definitely the most popular among foreigners. The club has 2 dance floors: first floor is mostly J-pop music, second floor is mostly hip-hop. There is a relaxed open air bar on the 5th floor which has live music every night.
- De Fu Lou Cafe & Bar (De Fu Lou Paulaner Bar), De Fu Xiang Street. In Bar Street (De Fu Xiang), one of the first bars ever to open in Xi'an and a favourite hangout for locals. Live football on the big screen and live music every night.
- Salsa (莎莎; Shasha), 7F, Parkson building, No.107 West Street. Is probably the most popular club. This club is your best bet on Fridays and Saturdays however yi-jia-yi is more consistent during the week. The dance floor, while smaller than yi-jia-yi's, is usually less crowded, so you have a bit more room to dance. Be careful if your group is mainly non-chinese as they sometimes decide to limit the number of foreigners allowed in.
- Off-road Tea Bar, Jiefang Road (800 m S direct to Xi'an Railway Station). Has been checked by Google Business. Here, one could enjoy the fresh green tea in Southern Shaanxi and could meet local cycling and trekking lover.
- Havana Bar, Renmin Square (In Sofitel Hotel). Has a Colombian band and makes good cocktails. It's not your average Buena Vista Social Club, though: they play loud music inbetween band performances and the band plays a wide array of pop and salsa. This location is more of a club than an actual latin bar.
- The Belgian Bar, 69 Shun Cheng Nan Lu Dong Duan (150m east inside the South Gate), ☏ . The first and only Belgian bar in Xi'an. Friendly pub atmosphere and huge range of beers. Popular with expats and locals. Awesome location facing onto the city wall.
- Vice Versa, Wen Chang Men (Wen Chang Gate) (Beilin History Museum (Beilin Bo wu guan)), ☏ . 15:00-05:00. Vice Versa is a cultural mix of east and west, found in one of the older districts of Xi'an. With a relaxed cafe/restaurant open during the day, a lively bar serving a mix of western and asian beers/cocktails at night, and a crowd of expats and Xi'an locals. Has a skate shop on the third floor, run by Converse pro-skater Xiao Jian. It is next to the front gate of the Forest of Steles History Museum, next to the city wall at Wen Chang Gate; you can call Mike at 151 092 72480 if you get lost.
- Park Qin (basement Qin bar), A-2 Shuncheng West Alley (inside the South City Gate), Beilin District, Xi'an (Go to South Gate. Walk along inside wall about 20 meters. Go into hostel and down stairs into basement.). An underground basement bar (underneath Xi'an Shuyuan International Youth [Party] Hostel [see listing below]). Always packed, with live entertainment and a lot of laowai. Go early to get a table. Entrance not marked. Press blue-lit buzzer beside door to get in. Can be a really wild party.
As with most Chinese cities, several cheap run down hotels can be found near the train station. There are a few decent ones inside the city walls, on a road called Jie Fang Lu, going directly south from the train station. Bargaining is possible, especially if you are staying for more than one night. Expect to pay under ¥100 for a single room as getting a room for as low as ¥30 is possible.
There are at least six international youth hostels right in the center of the city, easy to find.
Booking on the Internet will usually save you money, prices start around ¥15.
- 3e Hotels International, 54 Nandajie (between the South Gate and the Bell Tower, right next door to a KFC on the W side of the street). Single room with free broadband internet is ¥154. Right outside the door is a coffee shop.
- Bob's Guesthouse, 85 Huan Cheng Bei Lu Rd (just outside the city walls, a short walk from the train station). Doubles with en-suite bathroom for ¥100; dorms from ¥25 (summer 2006).
- Ludao Binguan, 80 Xi Ba Lu （西八路）, ☏ , fax: . A nicer-than-average hotel and hostel. Dorm rooms are between ¥25-50, depending on the season. Reasonably nice hotel room for around ¥75. The manager Jim Beam is friendly.
- [dead link] Hq Guesthouse in Xi'an, Hong Cheng Guoji Gong Yu, Xihuamen Shizi, 西安市, 陕西省, 710003, ☏ . Small but cozy setup in a brand new apartment complex by the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an. Free pickup, free internet. 1 bedroom apartments from ¥300..
- Xi'an Shuyuan International Youth Hostel, Xi Nanmen, ☏ , fax: . Excellent location just next to the South Gate. 8 people dorm from ¥35/night. There is an excellent pub under the hostel, and a very nice coffee house. Perfect place to hang out, surf internet, just 10 minute walk from Drum Tower and the moslim snack street! Updated: 09.02.2012
- Han Tang Inn Youth Hostel, 7 South Long Alley, ☏ , . The hostel is in a 4 floor building down a alley near the Bell Tower. Rates range from ¥30-160; doubles with ensuite bathroom costs ¥120/night (as of June 2010; booked on hostelworld.com). The hostel includes a bar on the 4th floor with TV, pool table, movies and 3 guitars. Free computer use for internet in the lobby. wifi in the rest of the building is iffy but you can ask for an Ethernet cable. The staff run lots of events (e.g. a dumpling party) each wee. Have a partner, Shuyuan Hostel, near the South Gate.
- [dead link] duolamaer gallery international youth hostel, 7 Shuncheng Avenue, Zhuque Gate (10 m from South Gate), ☏ . Duolamaer is a painting-themed hostel providing a vibrant accommodation for independent travellers who require basic but clean living facilities. It is run by a bunch of arts enthusiasts, who give that place a creative and aesthetic atmosphere.
- Warriors International Youth Hostel, No.98 Bei Ma Dao Xiang (Across the street from the West Wall, North from the main West Gate and South of the Lama Temple). Great budget option, in a quiet spot along the inside of the West City Wall. Opened April 2012 - facilities are clean, spacious, and comfortable. Staff are young, friendly, have a good grip on English. Free train station pickup, A/C, Wifi, computer use, and one beer/coffee ticket. Train 103 within easy walking distance to/from train station. Dorms posted as ¥50, book online through a 3rd party for ¥20/night.
- [dead link] Ancient City Youth Hostel (古城青年旅舍), 4 Lianhu Rd, Xi'an (Take the subway to Beidajie and take exit B. Turn around and pass the police station to find the entrance in a backyard behind another hotel. From the main train station, take bus 9 or 103 to Beidajie, or ask them to pick you up.), ☏ . A cozy and modern place, clean and in very good shape. Well-heated rooms and comfortable beds. Staff speak good English and know all of the important bus routes. There is a very nice bar (Tsingtao ¥12), although your experience with the food may vary. The breakfast sets (¥20 upwards) are recommended, however. A pool table and a ping pong table are available, as is a fitness room. On the downside, rooms close to the bar tend to be noisy and draw smoke. ¥40 upwards.
- 1 Citadines Xingqing Palace Xi'an, 159 Xingqing Rd, Beilin District, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Offers 139 studio, one and two bedroom apartments. Amenities such as fully-equipped kitchen, gymnasium, business center are available.
- Xian Central Serviced Apartments, Xihuamen Shizi, ☏ . Xian central serviced apartments are more than 100 sq m. Spacious, newly furnished, clean and about 1 min walk to the Muslim Quarter. Free PC and internet in every apartment. Provide free use of mobile phone for guests to use while out exploring the city
- Qindao Business Hotel (西安秦道商务酒店), 100 Nan Guang Ji Jie (It is along Xi Dajie across from the Parkson Shopping Center and entrance to the Muslim Quarter), ☏ . Free internet and cable TV in the rooms. Travel office and public computer available in the lobby. Complimentary breakfast at 4th floor restaurant of mediocre quality, but their regular menu items are quite good and the view from the balcony is great. Laundry service: 2 day turnaround ¥10/item. Beware of the massage place on the 7th floor. It is nasty. ¥286 for a double room (2 people) and up.
- Grand Mercure on Renmin Square (西安豪华美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A heritage hotel of 202 rooms, 21 suites, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture.
- Mercure on Renmin Square Xi'an (西安美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A heritage hotel of 113 rooms, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture. From ¥ 594.
- 2 Nanlin International Hotel, No. 8 Nanxin Street, Xincheng District, 西安市 SA, ☏ . Nanlin International Hotel is a four-star hotel in Xincheng District. It is 3 km from Xi'an Railway Station and 40 km from Xianyang International Airport. Air-con room equipped with cable TV and free high-speed Internet access. Best rates on official website start at ¥287+.
- [dead link] Warriors apartments, Building B, Hongcity International apartment, No.15 Xihuamen St., Xi'an, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Family run, boutique apartment hotel. Qin-styled accommodations with 40 life-size warriors in the three apartments. Each apartment has terracotta warriors and has 1 or 2 bedrooms, bathroom, dining area, color TV, bed quilts, oven, full kitchen facilities and broadband internet access.
- Ibis Hotel, 59, Heping Road, Xian, ☏ . Part of Accor Group. Very basic facilities. Free broadband internet access. Price per night starts from ¥199..
- Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel (金花豪生國際大酒店), 18 West Section, Huancheng S Rd (200 m outside south gate of walled city). 5-star in two modern towers with 324 rooms. From US$ 60 ppn.
- Golden Flower Hotel, JiaoDa ShangYe JieQu, Xincheng Qu (5 km east of walled city, take metro 1 to Tonghua Men B). 5 star hotel, large rooms with views. Swimming pool, spa, 3 restaurants, lobby bar and shops. Double from US$50.
- Sheraton Xi'an Hotel, 262 Feng Hao E Rd (2 km west of centre, take Metro blue line or bus 611), ☏ . Standard 4-star Sheraton offering. This quarter of town is being demolished so it's a bit forlorn.
- Garden Hotel (唐华宾馆), Ci'en Rd, Yanta District, ☏ . Four-star hotel with a stunning imperial-inspired façade and 292 beautifully appointed rooms. Facilities include conference and banquet venues, three restaurants, and an indoor swimming pool.
- 3 Jin Jiang International Hotel (西安锦江国际酒店 , formerly Kempinski), 6 West Section, Euro-Asia Avenue, Chanba Ecological District (At river confluence 10 km northeast of walled city), ☏ . 5-star luxury hotel with river view and extensive conference facilities. On opposite bank is Euro-Asia Economic Forum. from 80 US$ ppn.
- 4 Xi'an Xindicheng, Somerset Serviced Apartments (西安盛捷新地城服务公寓), No.64 West Section of South 2nd Ring Road, Yanta District, Xi’an (400 m west of Metro red line), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Serviced apartments for short and long stays. Self contained rooms with kitchen, washing machine, shower. Spa on the top floor with gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Close to a university, which has a number of very tasty street food stalls in the morning, and after 11pm. From US$ 80 ppn.
Xi'an is, like other Chinese cities, generally quite safe. Just watch out for pickpockets (usually children) in crowds, on the bus, and during national holidays.
Look at the Beijing#Cope notes as they apply to Xi'an, too. Most importantly, take paper tissue with you to toilets.
Generally, Western style accommodation will have western toilets, whereas the very inexpensive guest house (zhao dai suo) will usually have squat toilets. If you need to use western toilets, learn to plan your day accordingly. Major tourist attractions will have western toilets. There seems to be an unwritten agreement that Foreigners can use the toilets in most hotels as necessary.
If you arrive in Xi'an by train, try not to be overwhelmed when you exit Xi'an's train station. There are usually aggressive hotel touts looking for customers. Just insist that you already have a place to stay and tell them no, with a serious faced, 不要！ / Bú yào！
Be aware that the taxi drivers at the railway station and near to the airport bus drop off points like to work off-meter and will charge up to ten times the normal fare if they can. Do take this into the context of your country's exchange rate; what may be 10x the local fare may only realistically be an insignificant monetary cost in your home currency. Also remember that although it may be more expensive than what the locals pay, it may be a small cost for the only available option to get you where you need to go.
It is a good idea to leave your bags at the left luggage office and then go into town to look for accommodation. This way you will not be overwhelmed by the burden of carrying your heavy bags or luggage around.
- Chen Lu Pottery. 2.5-3 hours' drive north of Xi'an, this community of potters has been producing pottery since the Tang dynasty and is well worth the look if pottery is your thing, private transportation recommended. Winter is not a good time to visit here due to its location in the deep maintain, if there's a snow fall the icy snow covered road makes trouble. The Yaozhouyao Kiln Museum locates on the way from Xi'an to Chenlu Town, about 90 km north of Xi'an, on the western side of the older road, not the high way. Articles here in 9 exhibition halls depicts the development of the Yaozhou procelain, which reaches its highest level during the Song Dynasty(960A.D.-1279), ranked first in Northern China for its beautiful celadon porcelain. The excavation sites of the original kiln lies 500m north of the museum, you could walk there, which is also well preserved.
- Hu Kou Waterfall (壶口瀑布 Húkǒu Pùbù). 150 km north of Xi'an, private transportation recommended; can be combined with a day trip to Huang Di Mausoleum. If arriving by public transportation, take note that as of 2008 there was only one bus returning to Xi'an from the waterfall. It departs around 10:00 and must be flagged down as it does not stop.
- Huashan National Park (华山). 120km east of Xi'an. 35 minutes by high-speed train, 1.5 hours by conventional train or bus. Huashan is a 2160 metre mountain with spectacular views. It is possible to take the 4-6 hour (6 km) hike up or take the 10 minute cable car for ¥70. Though the cable car often has lines lasting 2 hours. It is best to go for sun rise on the East peak. Take plenty of warm clothing for when the sun goes down. Basic accommodation is available, but can be quite pricey. Guesthouses with dormitory style lodging are available on the mountain.
The Daqin Pagoda (Mandarin Chinese: 大秦塔 Pinyin: Dàqíntă "Roman tower" 大秦寺 Pinyin: Dàqínsì "Roman temple"), the oldest known church building in China, is approximately 62 km west-southwest from Xi'an city centre. It's in Zhouzhi county (周至县 zhouzhi xian) and close to Tayu village (塔峪村 tayucun), approximately 1.5 km West of Louguantai Daoist temple (楼观台寺）. The coordinates are approximately 34 03'32.92" N 108 18'26.19" E. It was built in 635 AD by Nestorian (Assyrian Church of the East) Christian missionaries who had come from Persia through Central Asia, Xinjiang and Gansu provinces via the silk road to Chang'an (modern day Xi'an) during the Tang dynasty. The site includes a replica of the Nestorian Stele, the original of which has been moved to the Beilin Museum's Forest of Steles in Xi'an, and the site also includes a small exhibition room with information about the pagoda's Christian history and some information about Nestorian Christianity in China. The pagoda fell out of use as a Christian building after several centuries, as Nestorian Christianity lost adherents in China, and after some time was taken over by Buddhists. Today it is used by Buddhist monks as a monastery and a Buddhist shrine / temple. Half of the premises around the pagoda are used by the Buddhist monks and the other half consists of historical monuments to Nestorian Christianity. Unless you make special arrangements before going there, you may only be able to see the bottom floor of the pagoda, which is now filled with an array of Buddhist statues. There are several floors in the pagoda which could only be reached with ladders or other climbing equipment. These floors contain paintings and sculptures depicting various Christian scenes. The exhibition room may also be locked unless you check beforehand.
To get there, go to Xi'an City Bus Station (西安汽车站）, also known as the Xi'an Long-distance bus station （市长途汽车站） or Shuisi bus station（水司汽车站） just outside the city wall on the southwest edge of city. It is close to the corner of Fengqing road (丰庆路） and the Western Ring road （城西路）. The entrance is in a smaller side street called Jiejiacun road (解家村路）, which is about 300 metres west from the Fengqing lu / Western ring road intersection.
At this bus station take the bus which is going to Louguan （楼观）. Buses are quite frequent and the last buses for the day are around 17:30-18:00 to and from Louguan.
Some buses take 1–2 hours and some take 2–3 hours. The quicker buses go down the expressways while the slower ones drive through the countryside through many small villages, stopping frequently to let passengers on and off before finally arriving at the carpark of Louguantai (楼观台）, which is a famous Daoist temple complex. You can confirm with the driver that you are going to the Louguantai carpark; if you can't speak Chinese, show him the Chinese characters. When you arrive at the carpark you should be at the corner of 108 Provincial road (S108 or 108 Sheng Dao) and 220 County road (220 Xian Dao). At this corner there will likely be some taxis waiting nearby some people selling snacks and refreshments. You should also see a small police station opposite this corner, next to a small supermarket. Ask one of the local taxi drivers to show you the way. You may have to negotiate a price without using the meter. The pagoda is approximately 2 km south west of this corner. The taxi driver should drive about 1 kilometre westwards on the S108, then turn left into Tayucun road (塔峪村路). He should drive up the hill, and pass 2 or 3 bunches of small houses, before driving up a dirt (or mud) road before stopping. From here you will have to hike up the hill, which takes about 10 mins through some muddy footpaths past some corn fields and up onto the side of the hill where you will find the pagoda.
|Routes through Xi'an|
|Lanzhou ← Xianyang ←||W E||→ Sanmenxia → Zhengzhou|