After our visit this month, Xi’an quickly became one of my favourite cities in China. So, here are my picks for 7 things to do in Xi’an.
There is so much culture and history here coupled with a bustling atmosphere, amazing neighbours along with authentic and interesting alleyways that offer hidden gems serving steaming hot lamb stews and massive bowls of BiangBiang Noodles.
Best things to do in Xi’an China
The main attraction for many who visit Xi’an, the Terracotta Warriors stand in their hundreds in a complex just an hour away from the city centre. Explore the 3 pits and read the brief information and history of the warriors. You can choose to pay for a tour guide on arrival or opt for a group tour.
Private and group tours are available from most hostels, hotels and guesthouses. There is also a tourist bus (306) on bus line 5 that runs from Xian Railway Station to the museum within an hour; this costs 7 RMB per person.
ANCIENT CITY WALL
The city wall surrounds the city centre and makes a great day cycle or evening stroll. Head to either the South, East, West or North gate and explore the city from above.
The entrance costs 54 RMB and the South Gate entrance is open from 8am to 8pm throughout the year. You can pay extra to rent a bike and cycle around or those who struggle with the walk can jump on a buggy.
BELL AND DRUM TOWER
A stone’s throw away from each, the Bell and Drum Tower sit in the city centre and are popular spots for visiting tourists. Many chain hotels and decent hostels surround the Bell Tower along with major shops, restaurants and fast food/coffee chains.
The Drum Tower also sits at the bottom of Muslim Street and both towers are accessible and home to a small museum on Chinese history.
GIANT WILD GOOSE PAGODA
Open 8.00 – 16.00 and costing 50 RMB, the pagoda is a touristy site just 10 minutes outside the city walls. You can catch the subway line 2 to Xiaozhai Station exit c and walk eastward for 10 minutes or you can catch a taxi or Didi for around 20-25 RMB.
Built during the Tang Dynasty (around 1300 years ago!), the Pagoda is an incredibly popular choice for tour groups and visitors – so get here early to enjoy a quieter visit!
One of my biggest requests on our first visit to China 4 years ago, was not trying enough amazing local food – I had just stopped being a vegetarian and was afraid of everything making me ill.
Needless to say, I no longer have that fear and LOVED trying everything at Muslim Street. Head into one of the restaurants for a cheap sit-down meal (70 RMB for two dishes and two drinks) or wander along the road, trying the various snacks along the way (ranging from 2 – 20 RMB).
THE GREAT MOSQUE
Hidden in the alleyways of Muslim Street, the Great Mosque is China’s biggest mosque; built in the 13th century. For 25 RMB you can walk around the mosque grounds but only locals may enter the mosque itself.
We had never heard of this temple on our first visit but I am so glad we heard about it before our recent trip. This is a gorgeous and picturesque Tibetan Buddhist temple that is simply stunning. We visited midday on a Sunday and it was fairly quiet too – we were the only tourists visiting among the locals who were praying.