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

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 summary:

0840AM                Depart from Chengdu to Xi’an. Arrive at 0955AM.

1100AM                Check-IN Hostel [Xiangzimen Youth Hostel] for 3 night stay.

0100PM                Half day visit Xi’an Attractions:

  • Terracotta Warriors UNESCO site
  • The Beiyuan men Muslim Market & Muslim Quarter

1100PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

  • Flight fare from Chengdu to Xi’an : USD186
  • Meal Breakfast : Y26
  • Shuttle Bus from Xi’an Airport to Xi’an city : Y50
  • Hostel stay 3 nights : Y420
  • Inter-city Bus 603 to Xi’an railway station : Y8 (two-way)
  • Shuttle Bus 306 to Terracotta UNESCO site : Y28 (two-way)
  • Entrance Fee Terracotta UNESCO site : Y220
  • Buggy Service at Terracotta Museum : Y10
  • Snacks : Y5
  • Meal Dinner : Y23

Shopping Items:

  • Souvenir : Y60
  • Dates fruits : Y28
  • Walnut : Y28
  • Peanut : Y12

Day 2 – 28 December 2010

Woke up early morning at 8AM, grabbed breakfast at the street just in front of the hostel. First activity of the day was cycling around Ancient City Wall of Xian. Ascend from South Gate entrance, fees at Y40 per person. Bicycle rent at Y20/100 minutes.

I’ve no idea how many KM to circle the wall. then I find out from Wiki, it was 13.7KM in length. No wonder I’m so tired and always complaining “are we there yet?”…hahaha!. But the view was so nice and worth it!. Cycled for 2 ½ hours….hungry, search for food. Here, so easy to find Halal foods..superb! 😀

After lunch, we took 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 CNY68 per person but as at 31st March 2017 the fee was increased to CNY120. I’m sure the entrance fee will keep increasing in future. Open from 9AM to 9PM daily.

Tang Paradise

We spent the whole afternoon until they closed and we headed to Wild Big Goose Pagoda. 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. Since it was close because we were late, we just hang around at the water fountain area overlooking at the pagoda.

Wild Big Goose Pagoda
Wild Big Goose Pagoda

Day 2 summary:

08:00AM                Full Day Xi’an Attractions:

  • Xian City Wall
  • Cycling on the City Wall:
    Try biking on the City Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience. The bicycle deposit is CNY 200. The single bicycle costs CNY 20/100 minutes. The tandem bicycle costs CNY 40/100 minutes. The sightseeing bus costs CNY 65 for a tour around the city wall. Visitors can also tour the wall by sections which are charged differently by the distance.
  • Tang Paradise
  • Big Wild Goose PagodaEntrance fee: CNY 50 (Entrance Fee of the Da Ci’en Temple); CNY 30 (Ascending the Big Wild Goose Pagoda)
    Show time of the musical fountain


    Monday, Wednesday – Friday

    12:00, 20:30(Winter Time); 12:00, 21:00 (Summer Time)

10:00PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

  • Meal Breakfast : Y10
  • Entrance Fee Xian city wall : Y80
  • Bike rental : Y70
  • Meal Lunch : Y55
  • Snacks : Y8
  • Taxi to Tang Paradise & Wild Big Goose Pagoda : Y16
  • Entrance Fee Tang Paradise : Y136
  • Buggy Service in Tang Paradise : Y40
  • Taxi back to hostel : Y12
  • Meal Dinner : Y101

Day 3 – 29 December 2010

Today, we started our day a bit late. Had breakfast at the hostels, then walked to Bell Tower in the middle of this ancient city wall. We covered Bell Tower, Drum Tower and The Great Mosque in one day.

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. Now the ticket price was increased to CNY50. They do sell separate tickets at CNY35 each. Recommended time to visit is one hour.

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.

After the Drum Tower, we again strolled at Beiyuan Men market just behind the tower. Actually, we can’t get enough of the food. Can you imagine, halal foods are everywhere and you have no doubt to try it. 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 Moslems lead their religious life.

Entrance fee is CNY15, for 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

We ended our day by slowly strolled back to the hostel and stopped by nearby cafe for supper. About 10pm we already rest and pack up our stuff because need to get up early to catch flight to Beijing.

Egg Pizza
CNY40 for supper.

Day 3 Summary:

10:00AM                Full day Xi’an Attractions:

  • Bell Tower
  • Drum Tower
  • Great Mosque

10:00PM                Sleep.

Daily Cost for 2 person:

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

                  Shopping Items:

  • Souvenir : Y70
  • Boots : Y255
  • Clothes : Y49
  • Scarf : Y45
  • Coffee & water : Y16

That’s all for now. I will continue write about Beijing, the next destination on the new post. Thank you for reading.

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Published by Lina Sariff

Travel photographer

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