While East Coast mega-cities like Beijing and Shanghai are certainly worthwhile, one must not overlook the charm and authenticity of Xi’an. The ancient capitol of China is most famous for housing the Terracotta Warriors, but it’s also home to a bevy of rich historical and cultural attractions. It’s a must-see for any traveler. Here’s a list of the top 10 must-have experiences in Xi’an :
1) Visit the Army of Terracotta Warriors
This goes without saying, the world famous Terracotta Warriors will leave any visitor in awe. The ancient statues are estimated to be over 2,000 years old, yet remain remarkably well preserved. Each figure is entirely unique—down to uniform, facial features, and even hairstyle. It took an astonishing 700 000 workers to build the entire mausoleum, made to help ease the passing into the after life of the first emperor of China. The exhibit itself gives visitors a surprisingly close-up view of the statues.
Located about an hour from the city center, the warriors are easily accessible by bus. Read up on the history or invest in a tour guide to get the full scope of the display.
2) Bike the City Wall
One of the oldest city walls in China hosts stunning views of the city and makes for an unforgettable bike ride or walk. Bicycles can be rented at one of several stations around the wall. Riding at a leisurely pace takes around 90 minutes. Tour vehicles can also be arranged.
3) Stroll through Muslim Quarter
Famously part of the Silk Road the neighborhood is now a huge tourist attraction. Although often crowded, it’s worth visiting for the historical context and glimpse into China’s Muslim culture. Make sure to try some street food and barter for some inexpensive souvenirs.
4) Wander through The Shaanxi History Museum
This massive collection of ancient artifacts is any history enthusiast’s dream. One could potentially spend hours exploring its contents. Including the Tiger tally pictured here. Half of this bronze Tiger would be kept by a general and the other half by the emperor. The general could only attack if he had both halves therefore, only under imperial order. It’s also worth noting it houses a small collection of Terracotta Warriors. Most of the descriptions are in Chinese, but English language audiotapes are available for a small fee.
5) Visit the Great Mosque
One of the oldest mosques in China it is unique in its traditional Chinese-style architecture. Located in the Muslim Quarter, albeit a little hidden, the Great Mosque of Xi’an is truly a gem. Non-Muslims are not permitted inside, but can still marvel at the outside structure.