Xi’an, CHINA

Xi’an is most famous with the Terra-cotta warriors, which have become an international symbol of China’s history. If you don’t visit the Terra-cotta Army while in Xi’an, your visit to the ancient Chinese city doesn’t count.

This is our second city visited during china trip in 2010. The trip was started from Chengdu I mentioned in previous pages. After staying in Chengdu for 2 nights, we took a domestic flight China Southern Airlines (CZ6402) from Chengdu to Xi’an. The fare wasn’t too expensive, it was about RM580 (US$186) one-way for 2 person.

China Southern Airlines Co., Ltd., a proud member of SkyTeam, is directly affiliated with China Southern Air Holding Company, specializing in air transportation services. China Southern Airlines operates the largest fleet, most developed route network and largest passenger capacity of any airline in The People’s Republic of China. Overall experience it was good, there’s light meal served onboard and allowance 15 kg luggage was given in the fare.

Xi'an City Wall
South Gate at night.

Once landed in Xi’an International Airport, we took an airport shuttle bus to Xi’an city wall. Fare per person was CNY25 one-way and travel time was about 1 hour. Our stay in Xi’an was Xiangzimen Youth Hostel which is very near to the south gate. The south gate Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Our 3 nights stay cost us CNY420.00 (about MYR198). We booked in advance via Booking.com prior to arrival.

Xiangzimen Youth Hostel offers Oriental-style dormitory and private rooms, as well as free WiFi in all areas. It is only walking distance from Xi’an City Wall and Antique Street. Muslim Street is about 10 minutes’ walk away. I didn’t manage to get some photos of the surrounding hotel because of renovation work in progress during my stay. I should say this is very nice hostel with a friendly host. They are not only offer dormitory room, they also has private room with cheapest rate.

Thing To See & Do in Xi’an

Most people come to Xi’an only to see the Terracotta Army, but they are not aware of everything to see in this 3,000 years-old city. There’s so much more to see and do in this old city of Xi’an. Here, I would share the best of what to see and do in Xi’an so you can plan your days in Xi’an and don’t make the same mistake like other travelers make – skipping out early thinking there is only one thing to see.

Terra-cotta Warriors

Without wasting our time, after we leave our stuff in the hotel, we headed to the East Square of the main railway station by inter-city bus no 603. Advisable to purchase return tickets of 4 yuan on the bus if you’re not planning to walk back after the visit. Once arrive at the railway station, catch tourism bus no5 (306) to Terracotta Warrior UNESCO Site. Other than this bus, you can take bus no914 and 915. These buses run to the museum from the main railway station just outside the North Gate. These are frequent routes with the route labeled in English on the side of the bus. It takes one hour and the fare is 7 yuan per person one-way. It’s advisable to buy 2-ways ticket to avoid hassle later. Taxis cost is about 120 yuan ($19) for a one-way trip from Xi’an city.

Entrance ticket per person was 110 yuan, including the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum,  the Museum of Terracotta Acrobatics, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials and the Museum of Stone Armor.

Xi'an City Wall
From left: Main Railway Station, me in front of the museum, Terracotta Hall.

Terra-cotta Army constructed more than 2,200 years ago, the army of warrior statues has since guarded the tomb of the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first ruler to unify China, from 221-207 BC.Thousands of years later, the soldiers are still there, witnessing the rapidly changing world in solemn silence. It was discovered by chance in 1974 by local farmers when they digging a well, the Terra-cotta Army is now described by some as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

We spent half day here and very excited to see the Pit no 1. The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China’s National Day – Oct. 1st, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.

It’s an amazing experienced to see the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. The Terracotta Army is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for visitors. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages. Checked!.

Terracotta Army

Muslim Quarter

Done visiting Terracotta Army Museum, we took last bus back to Xi’an City and continue walking to Muslim Quarter for food hunting. The Muslim Quarter is the hub of the Muslim community in Xian City, Shaanxi Province. Located to the north of the West Street in the city center, the quarter covers several blocks inhabitated by over 20,000 Muslims.  The Beiyuanmen Muslim Market located just to the north of the Drum Tower is a great choice after the sightseeing in the city center. Here, you can find any local food, Halal local food!.

Xi'an City

Walking along the narrow street which is aligned with stores on both sides, you can see that Muslim men with Kopiah (white hats) sit inside the stores and talk leisurely with each other. The main goods of these stores are authentic hand-making Muslim food which tastes very good. You will get your stomach full and still wants to try more. You won’t feel regretted for the snacks of Xian. It’s always tasty and authentic. Checked!.

Day 1 expenses for 2 person:

Flight fare from Chengdu to Xi’an : US$186

Meal Breakfast : Y26

Shuttle Bus from Xi’an Airport to Xi’an city : Y50

Hostel stay 3 nights : Y420

Intercity Bus 603 to Xi’an rail station : Y8 (rtn)

Shuttle Bus 306 to Terracotta site : Y28 (rtn)

Entrance Fee Terracotta UNESCO site : Y220

Buggy Service at Terracotta Museum : Y10

Snacks : Y5

Meal Dinner : Y23

Ancient City Wall of Xian

Second day in the morning, we wake up early and grab quick bite for breakfast at the street in front of our hostel. First activity of the day was cycling around Ancient City Wall of Xian. Ascending from South Gate entrance, the fees was Y40 per person. We rent a Bicycle for Y20 for 100 minutes (its about 1 hour 40 min). Must pay a deposit of Y200. Try biking on the City Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience.

You can also rent a tandem bicycle which costs Y40 for 100 minutes. Or hop on to sightseeing bus for Y65 for a tour around the city wall. You can also tour the wall by sections which are charged differently by the distance.

I’ve no idea how many kilometer to circle the wall. Then I found out from Wikipedia, it was 13.7KM in length. It’s not surprise that we were so tired and always complaining “are we there yet?”…hahaha!. But the view was so amazing and worth it!. We cycling about 2 ½ hour then we went down for lunch. As i mentioned earlier, it so easy to find Halal foods around the Wall city.

Tang Paradise

We grab a taxi to Tang Paradise, located in the Qujiang Resort, southeast of the Xian City, Shaanxi Province. The site covers a total area of 1000 mu (about 165 acres) and of which 300 mu (about 49 acres) is water. We paid entrance fee of Y68 per person. Open from 9AM to 9PM daily.

Update: As at 31st March 2017 the fee was increased to CNY120.

Tang Paradise

This attraction not only claims to be the biggest cultural theme park in the northwest region of China but also the first “royal-garden-like park” to give a full display of the Tang Dynasty’s (618-907) culture. Altogether, twelve scenic regions are distributed here to provide visitors with the enjoyment of twelve cultural themes and a perfect exhibition of the grandness, prosperity and brilliance of the culture of the Tang Dynasty.

Wild Big Goose Pagoda

Another nearby attraction you can visit is Wild Big Goose Pagoda. Located just next to Tang Paradise Park. As the symbol of the old-line Xian, Big Wild Goose Pagoda (also called Giant Wild Goose Pagoda) is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. We didn’t had the chance to enter this place. We just hang around at the water fountain area overlooking at the pagoda.

Wild Big Goose Pagoda
Wild Big Goose Pagoda

Day 2 expenses for 2 ppl:

Meal Breakfast : Y10

Entrance Fee Xian city wall : Y80

Bike rental : Y70

Meal Lunch : Y55

Snacks : Y8

Taxi to Tang Paradise : Y16

Entrance Fee Tang Paradise : Y136

Buggy Service in Tang Paradise : Y40

Taxi back to hostel : Y12

Meal Dinner : Y101

Bell Tower

On the 3rd day, we had a chance to visit several attraction inside the city wall area again. First, we walked to Bell Tower in the afternoon. Located in the middle of this ancient city wall.

The Bell Tower, is a stately traditional building, that marks the geographical center of the ancient capital. From this important landmark extend East, South, West and North Streets, connecting the tower to the East, South, West and North Gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty. We paid entrance fee CNY 40 for the joint ticket of Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Recommended time to visit is one hour.

Update: The ticket price was increased to CNY50. They do sell separate tickets at CNY30 each.

Drum Tower

The Drum Tower is located northwest of the Bell Tower of Xian, across the Bell and Drum Tower Square. Both of them are called the ‘sister buildings’ or ‘morning bell and dark drum’. In ancient China, especially from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the drums were used to signal the running of time and on occasion were used as an alarm in emergency situations.

Walking distance from Bell tower is about 400 meter. It is the largest one existing in China. The foundation of the tower is 52.6m in length, 38m in width and 7.7m in height with one gate. Upon arrival you will see that there is an arched doorway in the centre of the south and north walls, doorway being 6 meters (about 20 feet) in both height and width. The north entrance leads to Beiyuanmen Muslim Street and south to the West Avenue.

Apart from enjoying the view from the second floor of the tower, you will enjoy musical performances inside it. These performances will enlighten one on the power of ancient Chinese culture.

The Great Mosque

After the Drum Tower, we again strolled walk at Beiyuanmen Muslim Street just behind the tower. Can you imagine, halal foods are everywhere and you have no doubt to try it. I call it food heaven in China. From the narrow street called it Huajue Lane, it will lead you to The Great Mosque.

Great Mosque

The Great Mosque in Xian is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. In Xian, it is really well worth a trip to see the Great Mosque. The Mosque, is a blend of traditional-Chinese and Islamic architecture, its construction started in 742 the first year of Tian-bao period of the Tang dynasty and additions were made during the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties to make it an ancient architectural complex. Covering 13,000 square metres, its floor space is about 6,000 square metres. The Mosque is the key national historical site under special protection, and a place where Muslim lead their religious life.

Entrance fee is CNY15, but Muslim visitor is free. This Great Mosque is the only one open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Non-Muslims, however, are not admitted to the main prayer hall or during times of prayer.

Great Mosque

Finally, we end our day in Xian at late night. We had our last supper at nearby cafe before heading back to our hostel. Overall experience, its a tremendous moment throughout 3 days here. Great weather, nice people and awesome architectures.

Egg Pizza
CNY40 for supper.

Day 3 expenses for 2 ppl:

  • Meal Breakfast : Y37
  • Bell & Drum Tower Ent : Y80
  • Great Mosque Entrance : Y15
  • Meal Dinner : Y22
  • Meal Supper : Y40

Done Xian. Next destination is Beijing. Continue reading by clicking the links below. Thank you for reading.


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