Since the 90s, the city has played a major role in the economic development of northwest and central China. Today, it is recognized as an important industrial as well as cultural center in the country. It is one of the top emerging megacities of China. For tourists, Xi’an offers an exciting mix of culture, art, shopping, dining and modern comforts.

The history of Xi’an spans back to over 3,000 years. It enjoyed an important role in ancient China for more than 1,000 years. It was the capital of 13 dynasties and home to 73 emperors. Even in the past, Xi’an was recognized as one of the most culturally important cities and one of the largest in the world. Having served as the capital for Tang, Han, Qin and Zhou dynasties, Xi’an was the cultural pinnacle of China and an important center for arts.

The city’s position on the famed Silk Road also played an important role in its rise to fame. Caravans from foreign lands brought with them incredible wealth of culture, fashion and arts, leaving behind their mark that can still be found in Xi’an.

Top 5 Attractions in Xi’an

  1. Terracotta Army

    The incredible army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses is the most important attraction in not just Xi’an but also in China. Receiving more than 2 million visitors each year, the Terracotta Army is housed in three vaults covering an area of 20,000 sq m and showcasing a collection of 2,000 terracotta warriors, a large number of weapons and chariots that are symbolically arranged in battle formations, perpetually guarding Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an impressive sight and often thought to be the eighth wonder of the world.

  2. Xi'an City Wall

    Xi’an City Wall is the largest city wall in the world and is beautifully restored to its original splendor. This well-organized and complex defense system was originally built to guard the city by Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty. Today, it offers a good spot for a pleasant stroll and for biking. Surrounding the wall is a well-maintained park that provides a good view of the towers and the wall itself.

  3. Shaanxi History Museum

    The Shaanxi History Museum offers a glimpse into ancient China and the fortitude and spirit of the people that lived during those times. The museum is often regarded as one of the best China has to offer. It has an extensive collection of artifacts from the earliest Neolithic times of the province right up to the Qing Dynasty. The highlight of the museum is the bronze collection from the Shang Dynasty and beautiful pottery collection from the Neolithic Banpo Village.

  4. Big Goose Pagoda

    This simple but beautifully designed pagoda has many names like the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda but what makes it one of the best sights in Xi’an is the fact that it is an important Buddhist pagoda. It is recognized today as the symbol of Xi’an and has a very beautiful but simple architectural style. Built in 652 AD by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi, the pagoda is surrounded by beautiful parks and many eateries.

  5. Grand Mosque

    Xi’an has a very large, colorful and vibrant Muslim Quarter that has a number of excellent attractions to explore. However, the Grand Mosque is undoubtedly the highlight of this district. This is one of the oldest and the finest mosques in China. Built in 742, the mosque features a unique mix of Chinese and Islamic architectural styles. Surrounded by narrow alleys, numerous market stalls and chaotic streets, the Grand Mosque is a calm oasis. Although the mosque does not feature many traditional attributes associated with mosques like minarets and domed roofs, it does feature a Middle Eastern flair with its engravings, courtyards, ornate carvings and ancient stone tablets. At prayer times, hundreds of devotees gather at the mosque to pray.

Shopping in Xi’an

Although most visitors come to Xi’an to marvel at the Terracotta Warriors and to explore the many cultural attractions of the city, there are also several excellent shopping opportunities that Xi’an offers. Considering that Xi’an has always been an important center for culture and the arts, it isn’t surprising that there is a treasure trove of local arts and crafts and locally made products to purchase in the city.

Beautiful handicrafts, paintings, Chinese calligraphy and wine are just some of the options available in Xi’an. If you’re looking for unique souvenirs to take back home, consider miniature terracotta warriors, hand-carved dragons and Buddha statues, paper cuts, folk art and Tang Tricolored Pottery, considered to be some of the best arts and crafts to be found in Xi’an. There are a number of excellent antique and souvenir markets in Xi’an where you can find a good selection of local crafts like the Huajue Lane Antique Market, Wenbaozhai Shopping Center, Xian Antique Market and Shuyuan Gate.

Food & Drink in Xi’an

Just like the city, Shaanxi Cuisine is very unique and it represents the culinary achievements of northwestern China. It stands apart from other Chinese cuisines in many ways. The local cuisine adopts and combines the cooking styles and ingredients of southern as well as northern China. The local dishes are known for their extensive use of garlic, capsicum and vinegar to create the perfect balance of fragrance, spicy and sour flavor.

While there are a number of excellent local dishes to try in Xi’an, to really understand Shaanxi cuisine it is important to try Yang Rou Pao Mo, the unofficial signature dish of this city. The dish includes thick bread that is shredded and mixed in mutton soup. Restaurants throughout the city serve different versions of this dish, some featuring beef soup instead of mutton. Traditionally, the soup is served with many condiments like pickled chili and garlic.

Another popular local dish to try is Biang Biang Mian. The dish features spicy wide noodles served in a broth and with a number of toppings like beef and eggs. Xiao long bao-zi are dumplings steamed and served in baskets, excellent for snacks. Da bao-zi is another type of dumpling that is available only in the mornings.

The street food of Xi’an is very diverse and presents a unique mix of dishes from around China. In areas like the Muslim Quarter, dozens of food vendors can be found on the streets and in alleys serving dumplings, noodle soups and hot pot. Street food not only offers an excellent range of local dishes at affordable prices but also offers the opportunity to experience the vibrant and active street life of the city.

Xi’an Transportation

  1. Air

    The Xianyang Airport of Xi’an is one of the busiest and the best connected airports of China. Visitors can fly to and from every major city in China as well as from many international destinations. The airport operates more than 200 flights to destinations in China as well as abroad.

  2. Train

    There are currently two railway stations in Xi’an. The Xi’an Railway Station (N Ring Road (East Section), Xincheng, Xi’an) is the largest railway hub of Western China and an important station that offers regular trains to many cities like Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing. The North Railway Station (Weiyang, Xi’an) is where the bullet trains for Guangzhou, Wuhan, Luoyang, Zhengzhou and Beijing operate from.

  3. Long-distance Bus

    There are seven bus stations that offer long-distance buses to different parts of China. Xi’an Bus Station of Shaanxi (No. 354, Jiefang Road, Xi’an) is the largest and the most important transportation hub in the city with scheduled buses to Tibet, Gansu, Sichuan, Henan, Shandong and Shanghai among others.

  4. Subway

    The subway system of Xi’an consists of several different lines that cover the suburban as well as urban cities and areas like Huxian, Lintong and Xianyang. The subway offers a quick and efficient way to travel within the city as well as to the surrounding areas.

  5. City Bus

    Other than the subway, Xi’an also has an extensive network of city buses that can be used to explore the entire city. Other than the urban area, there are also several buses that operate in the suburbs like Lantian County, Lintong District, Baqiao District and Xianyang City, offering an excellent alternative for those who prefer to take the bus. Some of the most popular tourist attractions can be reached easily through these buses.

    610 is a popular bus for tourists since it connects the Big Goose Pagoda, Bell Tower, Shaanxi Historic Museum, Xi’an Museum and the railway station. 609 is another bus line connecting the Big Goose Pagoda, South Gate and the Bell Tower. The Xi’an bus station is located close to the Terracotta Warrior Museum and several buses leave from the station regularly to different destinations in the city.

Xi’an Photos

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