Highlights of Xian in China
Xian is by far, my favourite city in China. With an interesting yet lively muslim quarter, the world famous Terracotta Warriors and city walls that are still standing from the Ming Dynasty, you cannot go wrong here.
After stupidly falling for some common tourist scams in both Beijing and Harbin, Xian totally made up for it. I even changed my travel plans to spend an extra couple of days here.
Except for the reception hotel staff and tourist markets, I found that English was rarely spoken here. I got around it by asking the hotel to write me a note for the ticket booth at the train station, and by communicating with taxi drivers on my behalf. For everything else, I basically just pointed and smiled to which I still received a warm welcome.
Below are the highlights of my travels in Xian. I really think this place will take off as a tourist hotspot in the future.
THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS
This is what most people visit Xi’An for……you won’t be disappointed! In fact, seeing this Terracotta Army was one of my highlights in China. The first emperor of China apparently ordered the army to be created to safeguard and serve him in the afterlife. It is said that he believed that the statues could be animated in the afterlife, and he would have the same power and status in the afterlife as he had during his time on earth. The Terracotta Army was discovered around 1974 and is still being excavated today. You can’t help but be terribly impressed at the work that has gone into each individual piece. I was not expecting to feel such awe and emotion when visiting this place.
XIAN CITY WALLS
These Ming Dynasty city walls still stand today! They are a fantastic way to spend a morning either walking or cycling them. Exploring at your own pace is a must! There are lots of interesting things to see such as old defenses and a morning market. The outside fringe of the walls has lovely green recreation areas with public exercise equipment. Its a fantastic opportunity to do some people watching as the residents go about their everyday lives on the greenery, playing ping pong and doing Tai Chi.
The Muslim Quarter is exactly what it sounds like, the hub of the Muslim community in Xian city. There are quite a few mosques, souvenir markets and Muslim food options to check out. It is a really interesting to explore at your own pace by foot here. I actually went back a second time because I found it so interesting. Coming from Australia, I loved seeing the different architecture and clothing/cultural style of the people in this section of the city.
I am not a big fan of high end shopping, but I love a good market. There are heaps of shopping/market choices here however I particularly enjoyed the Baihui Markets. This market is popular with tourists and young Chinese people. You can barter your price down and enjoy knock of designer clothes. There are lots of toys, food, clothes, household items and electronics here however I would personally be wary of the electronic items as you really do pay for what you get in China. In contradiction to that statement, the knock of brand name clothing that I purchased at this market were of pretty decent quality.
SELF WALKING TOUR
This is one of the main reasons I loved Xian. There is heaps to see on a walking tour! Grab your lonely planet book and follow some of the recommendations, or alternatively, there is actually a really cool app you can download for both Android and Itunes called ‘Xian Maps and Walks’.
BULLET TRAIN TO MT HUASHAN
So whilst this technically isn’t in the city of Xian, this truly must see destination of China is only a 45 minute bullet train ride away from the city of Xian. The bullet train ride alone is a novelty however Mt Huashan was the absolute highlight of my whole trip to China. Check out some of my other blog posts on China for more on Mt Huashan. The link is at the bottom of this post. You can take a cable car up to the North Peak, and hike to the different peaks from there.
There are some sections that are considered dangerous however you don’t have to attempt these sections if you don’t want to. For the most part, there are safety rails and secure footing underneath. I visited in off-peak season (January) when there was lots of snow on the mountain. This made the scenery truly spectacular however the more dangerous passes were closed due to the snow. If you don’t have the capacity to do the hiking, it is worth a visit just to take the cable car up to the North Peak still.
I hope that this information might inspire you to visit this wonderful city in China. I can’t wait to come back one day and share these experiences with our kids !
Want To Learn About More Awesome Places?
To see more of my blog posts, articles and photographs on my travels through China, check out this page: China
For more information on ALL of my travels, please check out this page: My travel destinations
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