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 (西安咸阳国际机场, XIY IATA), Dizhang Town, Weicheng District, Xianyang (咸阳市渭城区底张镇) (is 40 km northwest of the city centre, in Xianyang), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 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 Intercity Connector runs from the airport to Xi'an North station (more specifically, the metro station named "Beikezhan (Beiguangchang)"), where there are connections to lines 2 and 4 as well as to the long-distance rail network.
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 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 300 km / hr "G-trains", are to Zhengzhou (2–3 hours), Chengdu (4 hours), Wuhan (4–8 hours), Guangzhou (8 hours), Shenzhen (9 hours), Changsha, Shijiazhuang, Beijing (4-6 hours), Shanghai (7 hours) and Lanzhou (3 hours) - change at Lanzhou for the 12-hour train to Urumqi.
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 15:00 and 17:00 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 kmand 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.
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 Beilin (or Stele) Museum (西安碑林博物馆; Xīān Bēilín Bówùguǎn), 15 Sanxue St, Beilin District (碑林区三学街15号) (just inside the south city wall, near Wenchang Gate; about 800 meters northeast of Yongningmen Metro Station on Line 2), ☏ . 08:00-18:30 (March-November), 08:00-18:00 (December-Feburary), no entry in last 45 minutes. 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 century Nestorian Stele (Showroom 2, first exhibit on the left) depicts the coming of Nestorian Christianity to China. ¥60 (March-November), ¥50 (December-February), or ¥100 (if combined with City Walls).
- 2 Sanqin Museum of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (三秦抗战纪念馆), 68 Changming Road, Dengjiapo Subdistrict, Yanta District (雁塔区等驾坡街道长鸣路68号) (near Matengkong Metro Station on Line 5). 09:00-17:00. A museum about the Second World War in Shaanxi (Sanqin is an old name for Shaanxi). Free.
- 3 Shaanxi Art Museum (陕西美术馆), 587 East Avenue, Xincheng District (新城区东大街587号) (Zhonglou Metro Station (Line 2); about 400 meters east of the Bell Tower), ☏ (Development Department), (Exhibitions Department), (Curator's Office), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:30-17:00, closed on Mondays. Not to be confused with the Shaanxi Province Art Museum (listed below). The Shaanxi Art Museum is the smaller of the two museums and mainly displays paintings and calligraphy. Free.
- 4 Shaanxi History Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn), 91 Xiaozhai East Road, Yanta District (雁塔区小寨东路91号) (Xiaozhai subway stop (Lines 2 & 3); 800 meters northwest of Big Wild Goose Pagoda), ☏ . 09:00-17:30 (Nov 15 to Mar 14), 08:30-18:00 (Mar 15 to Nov 14), no tickets issued in last 90 minutes, :closed on Mondays. 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. Since 2020, all visitors have been required to make a booking on the museum's official WeChat account before visiting (see website for QR code). Upon arrival at the museum, you will need to pick up your pre-booked tickets from the counters on the east side of the South Entrance. The specific counter you will need to go to will depend on what kind of tickets you have booked. Go to Counters 1 or 2 for tickets to the 'Treasures of the Great Tang Dynasty', Counter 3 for tickets to the 'Mural Paintings of the Tang Dynasty' or Counter 4 for tickets to the main exhibition halls. You will also see automatic ticketing machines but these can only be used by visitors with Chinese ID cards. Entry to the main exhibition halls is free. Tickets for the 'Treasures of the Great Tang Dynasty' cost ¥30 and tickets for the 'Mural Paintings of the Tang Dynasty' cost ¥270. The fees for English language tour guides are ¥300 for the main exhibition halls, ¥100 for the 'Treasures of the Great Tang Dynasty' and ¥100 for the 'Mural Paintings of the Tang Dynasty'.
- 5 Shaanxi Nature Museum (陕西自然博物馆), 88 Chang'an South Road, Yanta District (雁塔区长安南路88号) (Exit B, Huizhan Zhongxin Metro Station, Line 2), ☏ , . 09:00-17:00, no tickets sold after 16:00, no entry after 16:30. The museum has exhibitions on nature, science and technology. There is also an exhibition hall devoted to the coal industry, as well as a dome cinema and a 5D cinema. ¥30 (nature exhibition plus coal exhibition), ¥20 (science & technology exhibitions), ¥40 (science and technology exhibitions plus dome cinema), ¥30 (dome cinema only).
- 6 Shaanxi Science & Technology Museum (陕西科学技术馆, 陕西科技馆), 252 Dongxin Street, Xincheng District (新城区东新街252号) (near the Xincheng Square (新城广场) bus stop, which is served by bus nos. 16, 32, 46, 102, 182, 251, 286, 309, 601, 603, 702 and Tourist Bus 7; about 805 meters northwest of Dachashi Metro Station on Line 4 and about 876 meters east of Zhonglou Metro Station on Line 2), ☏ . 09:00-17:00, no entry after 15:00, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The museum has four floors. The first floor focuses on the history of human technological development. The second floor is devoted to electromagnetics. The third floor is concerned with optics, mechanics and mathematics. The fourth and uppermost floor has multimedia and electronics exhibitions. Tickets are free but there are strict limitations on visitor numbers. From Wednesday to Friday, there are no more than 600 tickets available per day, and on the weekend, there are no more than 1000 tickets available per day. Visitors cannot visit the museum more than once on a single day.
- 7 Shaanxi Province Art Museum (陕西美术博物馆), 14 Chang'an North Road, Beilin District (碑林区长安北路14号) (Tiyuchang Metro Station, Line 2), ☏ . 09:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. One of the largest art museums in western China. Not be confused with the Shaanxi Art Museum (listed above). Free.
- 8 Xi'an Art Museum (西安美术馆), Zhenguan Culture Square, Great Tang All Day Mall, Qujiang New District (曲江新区大唐不夜城贞观文化广场) (about 840 meters northwest of Datang Furongyuan Metro Station on Line 4), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10:00-22:00, closed on Mondays. Displays a wide range of artworks from both Chinese and foreign artists. Free.
- 9 Xi'an Jiaotong University Museum (西安交通大学博物馆), 28 Xianing West Road, Beilin District (碑林区咸宁西路28号) (about 500 meters east of Taiyi Metro Station on Line 5; in the soutwest corner of the campus), ☏ . 09:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00, closed on Sundays. Maintains a collection of around 5000 historical and cultural artefacts. Free.
- 10 Xi'an Museum (西安博物院), 72 Youyi West Road, Beilin District (碑林区友谊西路72号) (Nanshaomen Metro Station, Lines 2 & 3; in the same area as the Little Wild Goose Pagoda;), ☏ . 09:00-18:00 (March 15th to October 31st), 09:00-17:30 (November 1st to March 14th), no entry in last 60 minutes, closed on Tuesdays. The Xi'an Museum isn't as large or as famous as the Shaanxi History Museum, but has a decent collection of over 110,000 artefacts, of which around 2000 are normally on display. Visitors are required to make a booking on WeChat or another app before entering the museum. Free.
- 11 Bell Tower (钟楼; Zhōnglóu), Intersection of East Avenue and South Avenue, Lianhu District (莲湖区东大街和南大街交汇处) (on traffic island in dead center of the city; take a metro train to Zhonglou Station on Line 2), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In high season (April 1st to October 10th), opening hours are 08:30-21:30, the last combo tickets are sold at 19:00, and the last standard tickets are sold at 21:00. In low season (October 11th to March 31st), opening hours are 08:30-18:00, the last combo tickets are sold at 16:30, and the last standard tickets are sold at 17:30. 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.
- 12 Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu), 1 West Avenue, Lianhu District (莲湖区西大街1号) (200 meters west of the Bell Tower, in the Muslim Quarter), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. In high season (April 1st to October 10th), opening hours are 08:30-21:30, the last combo tickets are sold at 19:00, and the last standard tickets are sold at 21:00. In low season (October 11th to March 31st), opening hours are 08:30-18:00, the last combo tickets are sold at 16:30, and the last standard tickets are sold at 17:30. 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.
- 13 Daming Palace National Heritage Park (大明宫国家遗址公园), 585 Ziqiang East Road, Xincheng District (新城区自强东路585号) (just north of Xian railway station (a tunnel under the tracks begins just east of the station building; also accessible via DaMingXi Subway Station on Line 2), ☏ . In spring and summer (April 15th to October 15th), opening hours are 08:30-19:00, the last tickets are sold at 17:30 and the last entry is at 18:30. In autumn and winter (October 16th to March 14th), opening hours are 08:30-18:00, the last tickets are sold at 17:00, and the last entry time is 17:30. 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. The standard ticket price is ¥60. Children aged 7 to 18 pay half-price. Children aged 6 or under and adults aged 65 or over are granted free entry.
- 14 Eighth Route Army Xi'an Office Museum (八路军西安办事处纪念馆), No. 1 Qixianzhuang, Beixin Street, Xincheng District (新城区北新街七贤庄1号) (770 meters from Beidajie Metro Station (Lines 1 and 2) and about 800 meters from Wulukou Metro Station (Lines 1 and 4); bus nos. 511 and 703 stop nearby), ☏ . 09:00-17:00, closed on most Mondays, except Mondays that fall on a public holiday. The Eighth Route Army was a Communist-controlled group army that was created from the Red Army in 1937 when the Communists and the Nationalists formed the Second United Front against Japan. From 1937 to 1946, this site served as the army's official liason office for coordinating communications with the Nationalist authorities in Xi'an. Visitors to the site are required to make a booking on WeChat before visiting (see website for QR code). Free.
- 15 Gao Family Compound (高家大院, Gao's Grand Courtyard), 144 Beiyuanmen, Lianhu District (莲湖区北院门144号) (Zhonglou Metro Station (Line 2); near the Great Mosque), ☏ . 10:00-19:00. Built over 400 years ago during the late Ming Dynasty, this 86-room courtyard mansion is the former residence of a famous scholar-official by the name of Gao Yuesong (高岳崧). The mansion has been fully restored and turned into a museum. It also functions as a venue for puppet shows. The Gao Family Compound should not be confused with Gao Peizhi's former residence on Xinglong Lane, another traditional residence which is sometimes also referred to as 'the Gao Family Compound'. ¥15 (entry ticket only), ¥30 (entry ticket + puppet show).
- 16 General Yang Hucheng's Zhiyuan Villa (杨虎城将军止园别墅), 117 Qingnian Road, Lianhu District (莲湖区青年路117号) (about 700 meters east of Sajinqiao Metro Station on Line 1 and about 800 meters west of Beidajie Metro Station on Lines 1 and 2), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. One of two heritage properties administered by the Xi'an Incident Museum (西安事变纪念馆). the other being General Zhang Xueliang's Official Residence (listed below). Generals Yang Hucheng and Zhang Xueliang were the leading conspirators behind the Xi'an Incident. Free.
- 17 General Zhang Xueliang's Official Residence (张学良将军公馆), 69 Jianguo Road, Beilin District (碑林区建国路69号) (about 600 meters from Dachashi Metro Station on Line 4), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:30-17:00, closed on Mondays. The Xi'an Incident Museum's main exhibition halls are at this site. Free.
- 18 Tang West Market Museum (大唐西市博物馆), 118 Laodong South Road, Lianhu District (莲湖区劳动南路118号) (725 meters east of Fengqing Gongyuan Metro Station (Line 5) and 757 meters north of Xibei Gongye Daxue Metro Station (Lines 5 and 6); the nearest bus stop is the Great Tang West Market (大唐西市) bus stop, which is served by bus routes 24, 28, 43, 106, 107, 156, 184, 201, 322, 503, and 734), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:30 (summer), 09:00-17:00 (winter), no entry in last 60 minutes, closed on Mondays and the eve of Chinese New Year. Said to be China's first ever privately run on-site archaeological museum. The museum is located at the site of the excavated ruins of the West Market, probably the most important market in China during the Tang Dynasty. Thousands of artefacts have been unearthed at the site, including not only Tang Dynasty artefacts, but also artefacts from earlier and later dynasties. General admission is free. Tickets for the special exhibitions are ¥60. Tickets for the epitaph collection are ¥150..
- 19 Xi'an City Wall (西安城墙; Xīānchéngqiáng), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:00-23:00. The world's largest city wall, it has been restored and is 12 m high, 18 m wide at the bottom, 15m wide on the top, and 13.7 km 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 remember that most gates close at 18:00 or 19:00 and the Zhongshan Gate shuts at 21:00. Only the south gate is open till 23:00. 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. ¥54 (standard entry ticket), ¥27 (students), ¥100 (combined with Beilin Museum).
- 20 Big (Wild) Goose Pagoda (大雁塔; Dàyàntǎ), Great Ci'en Temple, Yanta South Road, Yanta District (雁塔区雁塔南路大慈恩寺院内) (Subway Line 3, Dayanta Station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-18:00 (November-February), 08:00-18:30 (rest of the year). Built by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi (高宗李治) in 652 AD. 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. The entry fee is ¥50. Beware, this is only to enter the temple complex. Entering the pagoda costs another ¥30 even though there's no warning in the ticket booth.
- 21 City God Temple of Xi'an (西安城隍庙, 西安都城隍庙), 129 West Avenue, Lianhu District (莲湖区西大街129号) (about 900 meters west of the Drum Tower), ☏ . 08:30-17:30. A Taoist temple dedicated to the city god of Xi'an, the protector god of the city whose earthly incarnation was the Han Dynasty general Ji Xin. The temple was originally established in 1387 at a site near the city's east gate. It was moved to the present location in 1432 and rebuilt in 1723 after being destroyed in a fire. It is one of the largest city god temples in China. Free.
- 22 Daxingshan Temple (大兴善寺), 55 Xingshansi West Street, Yanta District (雁塔区兴善寺西街55号) (about 600 meters northwest of Xiaozhai Metro Station on Lines 2 and 3), ☏ . 08:00-17:00. Established in 266 AD during the Jin Dynasty, the Daxingshan Temple was one of the most influential temples in China during the Tang Dynasty, being the place where the eminent monks Śubhakarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra translated sacred Buddhist texts from India and disseminated Chinese Esoteric Buddhism. In the 9th century, Emperor Wuzong ordered the temple to be destroyed as part of his campaign against Buddhism. It was rebuilt during the 15th century. Free.
- 23 Eight Immortals Temple (万寿八仙宫; Wànshòu Bāxiān Gōng, 八仙庵 Bāxiān Ān), 12 Beihuo Alley, Changle Lane, Beilin District (碑林区长乐坊北火巷12号) (about 1 km southwest of Kangfu Lu Metro Station on Line 1), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:00-18:00. 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. ¥3.
- 24 Great Mosque (大清真寺; Dàqīngzhēnsì), 30 Huajue Alley, Lianhu District (莲湖区化觉巷30号) (behind the Drum Tower), ☏ . 08:00-20:30. Charming mixture of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles with room for 1000 worshipers, this was the first mosque 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. Ladies are asked to cover up with a scarf according to Muslim tradition. ¥25 (if not Muslim).
- 25 Guangren Temple (广仁寺), 152 Xibei First Road, Lianhu District (莲湖区西北一路152号) (in the northwest corner of the city wall; about 1 km northeast of Yuxiangmen Metro Station on Line 1), ☏ . 08:00-18:00. Established by the Kangxi Emperor in 1705. The temple is noteworthy for being the only Tibetan Buddhist temple in Shaanxi Province. Free.
- 26 Little (Wild) Goose Pagoda (小雁塔; Xiǎoyàntǎ), 72 Youyi West Road, Beilin District (碑林区友谊西路72号) (at Jianfu Temple, near Xi'an Museum), ☏ . 09:00-18:00 (March 15th to October 31st), 09:00-17:30 (November 1st to March 14th), no entry in last 60 minutes, closed on Tuesdays. Completed in 709 AD. Now administered by the Xi'an Museum. 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).
- 27 Qinglong Temple (Green Dragon Temple, 青龙寺), No. 1 Tielumiao Village North, Xiying Road, Yanta District (雁塔区西影路铁炉庙村北1号) (about 300 meters northwest of Qinglongsi Metro Station on Lines 3 and 5), ☏ . 08:30-16:30. Originally established in the 6th century AD, the Qinglong Temple rose to prominence during the Tang Dynasty when the eminent Vajrayana master Huiguo served as the temple's abbot. Huiguo's most famous disciple was the Japanese monk Kūkai who upon his return to Japan founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. After being destroyed during the 11th century, the temple was largely forgotten about until the 20th century when it was finally rebuilt with funding from local governments in both China and Japan. During the rebuilding, hundreds of cherry blossum trees were planted in the surrounding garden, and these days many people come here just to see the cherry blossums (which usually bloom in March and April). Free.
- 28 Wolong Temple (卧龙寺), 66 Kaitong Lane, Beilin District (碑林区开通巷66号) (near the Beilin Museum), ☏ . 08:30-17:00. This active Buddhist temple dates back to 200 BC. It has been restored, and is vibrant and busy. Free.
Outside the city
- 29 Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses (兵马俑; Bīngmǎyǒng) (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 m² and housing 8,000 lifelike terracotta warriors, 100 or so chariots, and 40,000 weapons, allegedly crafted to replace actual human sacrifices that had been commonplace in previous dynasties. 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, McDonald's 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 min (but includes a picture). You won't miss much but not doing it; but you will have 15 min with no one jostling you on either side and an uninterrupted view of the warriors. ¥120, students ¥60.
- 30 Banpo Village Ruins (半坡遗址, 半坡博物馆 Banpo Museum), 155 Banpo Road, Baqiao District (灞桥区半坡路155号) (take bus #42 or #105 from Xi'an Railway Station or Line 1 of the subway to Banpo Station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-17:30 (March to November), 08:00-17:00 (December to Feburary). 6,000-year-old ruins of a village site including residential and pottery-making areas, ancient tools, and a burial ground. You should also visit the Shaanxi History Museum to see some of the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo. Tickets are normally ¥65. Children aged 6 to 18 pay half price. Children under 6 and adults over 65 get in for free.
- 31 Famen Temple (法门寺), Fufeng County, Baoji (宝鸡市扶风县) (direct buses to the temple depart from Xi'an Chengxi (City West) Bus Station at 08:30 daily; the return bus leaves the temple at 15:30), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:30-17:30. This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67 AD, contains a 13-story 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. ¥100 (entry fee only), ¥158 (including return bus fare).
- 32 Huaqing Palace (华清宫; Huáqīnggōng 华清池; Huáqīngchí; Huaqing Pool), 38 Huaqing Road, Lintong District (临潼区华清路38号) (Huaqingchi Metro Station (Line 9); sixth stop of bus 306; other buses that stop here include bus nos. 307, 914, 915, Lintong 601, Lintong 602 and Lintong 826), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 07:00-19:00 (March to November); 07:30-18:00 (December to February). Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan (Mount Li) 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 (¥35 return) to catch a Birdseye view of the area. Most of today's structures date not from the Tang Dynasty, but from later dynasties. The exception is the ruins of the Tang Dynasty baths, which have been excavated and are open to public viewing. Also of interest is a residential compound dating from the late Qing Dynasty that was briefly home to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. This was the site of the Xi'an Incident in 1936 and the bullet holes from the incident can still be seen. Standard adult tickets are ¥120, Students, children and persons over 65 pay half price.
- 33 Maoling Mausoleum (汉武帝茂陵 Hàn Wǔdì Màolíng), Nanwei Town, Xingping City, Xianyang (咸阳市兴平市南位镇) (get a long-distance bus to Xingping (兴平) from the Xi'an Chengxi (City West) Bus Station, then transfer to a no. 11 bus; there are bus stops at both the tomb and the museum), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 08:00-18:00 (March to November), 08:00-17:30 (December to February). Large pyramid tomb of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (汉武帝), and largest of the Han imperial tombs. 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 54-year-long reign; a record that would not be broken until the reign of the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty more than 1,800 years later. The first Silk Road was established under his reign. 1 km to the east of the pyramid is the museum which houses many stone carvings. ¥75 (March to November), ¥55 (December to February).
- 34 Qianling Mausoleum (唐乾陵 Táng Qiánlíng). 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). The best preserved of the Tang imperial tombs. The main burial chamber has not been excavated, though the burial chambers of the tombs of five attendants, one court official, one military officer, two princes and one princess have been excavated, and the latter three are open to the public.
- 35 Qin Shihuang'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 the massive burial chamber itself has not been excavated. 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.
- 36 Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (汉阳陵 Hàn Yánglíng) (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 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, and 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.
- 37 Zhaoling Mausoleum (唐昭陵 Táng Zhāolíng). Tomb of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty (唐太宗), widely regarded to be one of the most capable emperors to ever rule over China. Prior to becoming emperor, he was a brilliant military commander who participated in the rebellion against the preceding Sui Dynasty, and subsequently helped to consolidate his father's rule over the former Sui territories. Despite having gained the throne by murdering his elder brother and forcing his father to abdicate, he turned out to be a benevolent and just ruler, and was open to criticism from his court officials. He is known for having pacified the empire's enemies in the north and west, including the Eastern Turks and Western Turks, and recovering most of the territories previously held by the Han Dynasty. The Silk Road, which had fallen into disuse in the years after fall of the Han Dynasty, was re-opened during his reign. The mausoleum complex is known for the Six Steeds, which are stone relief carvings of six war horses that the emperor had ridden into battle, though the ones seen on-site are now replicas; four of the originals are in the Beilin Museum, while the other two were stolen and smuggled to the United States, where they can be seen today at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. This is the largest of the Tang imperial tombs, and also the largest royal mausoleum complex in the world by land area.
Parks and nature
- 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.
- 38 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.
- Xiangyu Forest Park (祥峪森林公园) (37 km S of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain).
- Stroll round the Drum and Bell Tower area after dark, when they're brilliantly illuminated.
- 1 Hui Muslim Quarter (Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē)) (northwest 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 ~20:00). 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, but 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 15-cm-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 boutiques.
- 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! As its name suggests, this is a good place to look for halal food.
- 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 flavorful. 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 [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 500 m), ☏ , ✉ 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. US$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) (200 m 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 divinely 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 favorite 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. It 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 in between 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 (150 m 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 in the center of the city, and they are 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, 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 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, a 10-minute walk from Drum Tower and the Muslim 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 en suite 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. The Wi-fi 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.
- [formerly 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, Wi-fi, 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 m². 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 (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, 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 US$80 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 (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 23:00. From US$80 ppn.
- Grand Park Xian, 12 Xi Duan, Huan Cheng South Road, 710068, Xian, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Starting from US$54.
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 10 times 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: 3 hours' drive north of Xi'an, this community of artisans has been producing pottery since the Tang dynasty. You need private transport, and the road is hazardous in winter. Take in the Yaozhouyao Kiln Museum, 90 km north of Xi'an on the old road to Chenlu Town. There's fine Yaozhou porcelain from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), and the site of the original kiln.
- Hu Kou Waterfall (壶口瀑布 Húkǒu Pùbù), 150 km north of Xi'an, can be combined with a trip to Huang Di Mausoleum. You need your own transport as the only bus of the day back to Xi'an departs around 10:00.
- Huashan National Park (华山) 120 km east of Xi'an, takes only 35 min by high-speed train, or 90 min by conventional train or bus. Huashan is a 2160-m mountain with spectacular views; either hike up the 6 km trail (4-6 hours) or take the 10 minute cable car for ¥70 (though the cable car often has lines lasting 2 hours.) Try to catch sunrise on the East peak, but it's cold up there. Accommodation is available but pricey.
- Louguan (楼观), 60 km southwest of Xi'an and two hours by bus, is the base for seeing Louguantai National Park, a Daoist temple complex. A further 2 km west is Daqin Pagoda (大秦塔), a seven-story octagonal tower, probably Buddhist and from the 11th century. But "Daqin" means Roman or Middle Eastern in early Chinese, and some claim the tower was built in 640 AD by Nestorians: Assyrian Christians who reached China via Persia and the Silk Road. It's far-fetched but has done wonders for the tourist trade.
|Routes through Xi'an|
|Lanzhou ← Xianyang ←||W E||→ Sanmenxia → Zhengzhou|