Two Days in Xi'an, China

21 February 2013

Another intern and myself in front of the Bell Tower

While working in China, I actually got very little time off. I never had more than 2 days in a row of no work and, since China is so big, that really didn't give me enough time to go anywhere. Finally I talked to one of my superiors and he graciously rearranged my schedule to give me enough time to travel to the city of Xi'an, China.

Upon first researching this city I was afraid there would be nothing to do but I was absolutely wrong! Xi'an ended up being one of the most beautiful and interesting cities that I would visit in my time in China.

This city has a long and rich history. It's one of the oldest cities in China and was once an ancient capital of the country. Xi'an beautifully blends together ancient and modern elements to create a city that is incredibly welcoming to foreigners but also maintains authentic Chinese culture. I would definitely recommend this city as a starting point for anyone looking to travel China.

The Muslim Quarter

Lucky Crickets
With the way this country is often presented in the media, it's easy to forget just how culturally diverse the people of China are. Especially once you start heading west, you will find a large Muslim population. The Muslim quarter of Xi'an was one of the most beautiful streets I had seen in my whole time in China. There were plenty of shops to buy traditional Chinese crafts and clothing as well as amazing food. And the street ended in a magnificent Chinese style mosque.

The Bell and Drum Towers

For a couple yuan you can buy a ticket that allows access to both of these ancient towers. Not only are they beautiful on their own right but they also offer things to do inside; the bell tower houses artifacts, art and traditional furnishings while the drum tower has performances throughout the day.

The City Wall

I think what I enjoyed most about this site was imagining the immense history of the city. It was fun to walk this wall as the sun set and look at how Xi'an had grown from an ancient, walled city to a modern metropolis. My friends and I dedicated a good hour to just walked from the south gate the west gate of the city. For those who would like to experience the wall a little quicker, there are bikes for rent.

The Terracotta Warriors

Of course, this is the main attraction that draws people to Xi'an; the terracotta warriors! From the train station, take a bus to a small town just out side of the city and enter the "museum". I use this word in quotations because this place was seriously such a confusing clusterfuck. When we first got off the bus we thought we had gotten off at the wrong place since we were surrounded by nothing but chintzy shopping stalls. Walk past all that for a couple minutes and you find the box office. After that you can walk to the actual mausoleum which is still quite far away as the entrance to it is nothing but a huge park. For a couple extra yuan you can take a trolley to the site. We opted for this since it was sickeningly hot that day. The actual site itself, truly, isn't all that stunning. It's amazing to learn the history of these statues and view them in person but after an hour of staring at them you'll be bored. But hey, they're a UNESCO site! Can't pass that up!

In the end, we absolutely loved our time in Xi'an. It was such a refreshing change from Wuhan and I'd go back in a heartbeat! One tip though, beware of scammers in this city. This is a highly touristic city so people know they can jack up prices. Never stay in a taxi if the driver doesn't turn the meter on!

Have you ever been to Xi'an? What would you want to do/see there?

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  1. No I have never been to Xi'an. I would certainly like to go after reading your post.

    1. It's really lovely! I highly recommend it!

  2. I have never been to China, but my brother is trying to get me to come see hime Japan! I love your photo. I wish I could have it made larger into a poster!

    1. Japan is a travel dream of mine! You should definitely go!

  3. I was in Xi'an in summer 2010. We came by train from Suzhou and it was raining when we arrived. It was quite a shock after a long journey...crowded, a lot of people offering you something, everything gray (because of the rain)...After that, the stay couldn't have been better. I loved EVERYTHING about Xi'an. The city wall was amazing, unfortunately we couldn't go by bike, it was raining all the time. I loved how the traditional and modern is fused together (f.e. modern building with pagoda roof). A big surprise was the Muslim Quarter. Since I'm used to going around muslim countries, I enjoyed everything to the fullest, even though it was soooo different. The outdoors market was great, one doesn't know where to look first. And the food... tender grilled meat with spicy bread and Tsing tao make a perfect dinner. While strolling around the streets of the market, we accidently came to a street with a mosque. Funny thing was, that it was a traditional pagoda:) we even met a Chinese, who spoke a little bit Polish (I am Slovakian, and our languages are very similar)! Anyways, which language don't the Chinese speak?(I really appreciate their communication skills:) And Terracotta army? Breathtaking. I could swear the soldiers were all moving a little!!!:D Finally, Xi'an is a lovely city, I hope I will get there again some time. (I'd like to study chinese at the uni after I finish high school. Your blog is REALLY good, nice to read, the photos are great. I'll definitely keep updated for new information since I'm also a keen traveller AND a China lover. Xie xie:)

    1. Glad you enjoy reading my blog! And yes, Xi'an was amazingg! My friend just did a semester at the university in Xi'an and he really liked it!

  4. The Provincial Museum in Xian is one of the best in China.

    1. I wish I could have gone! I love museums but I only had two days :[