Home > China Travel Special Report > Top Things to Do in Xian

Top Things to Do in Xian

To people outside China, Beijing exemplifies Chinese culture; Shanghai illustrates the new China and Xian stands for China's long history.

Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province in China, was once the political and commercial center of China. It was the starting point of Silk Road leading to the West. If you are a first time visitor to China or a Chinaphile, Xian has much to offer.

What to see in Xian?

Terracotta Warriors Museum

Terracotta Warriors Museum

The Terracotta Warriors Museum is built on the excavation of pits of the Terracotta Warriors, which has become the symbol of Xian but also represents China. The Terracotta Warriors were placed in the burial pit for Qin Shihuang, the first emperor in China and it is about 1.5 km away from the tomb of Qin Shihuang.

The pit 1 was opened to public in October, 1979, and immediatley attracted a huge amount of attention from the world. The pits contain many painstakingly made life-size figures made 2200 years ago. Bronze chariots and horses as well a the army of men in full battle dress not to be missed!

  • Add: 59 North Wenyi Road, Lintong District, Xian
  • Tel:029-81399001
  • Admission: 150 Yuan/person from Mar.1-Nov.30 and 120 Yuan/person for Dec.1-Feb.28
  • Opening Hours: 14: 8:30 am-5:30pm during Mar.16-Nov.14; 8:30am-5pm between Nov.15-Mar.15

Recommended Xian Terracotta Warriors Tours:

Xi'an City Wall

Xi'an City Wall

The Xi'an City Wall is located in the center of the City and has 4 gates. They are the Changle Gate (East Gate), An Ding Gate (West Gate), Yong Ning Gate (South Gate) and the An Yuan Gate(North Gate). Each Gate has a fortified watchtower. The wall was built in the Ming Dynasty from 1374-1378.

Walking on the City Wall is aa great way to see the contrast of modern Xian with ancient city. The view of the city is especially good at sunrise and sunset. Biking on the City Wall could be a highlight and a cool experience and is very popular with foreign travelers. The wall is 13.7 km long in total.

  • Add: City Center, Beilin District, Xian
  • Tel: 029-7234918
  • Admission: 55 Yuan
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-22:00 during spring and summer; 8:00-19:00 during autumn and winter

Recommended tours including Xian City Wall:

Shaanxi Historical Provincial Museum

Shaanxi Historical Provincial Museum

Many dynasties including the Zhou Dynasty, Qin Dynasty, the Han Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty has their capital in or around Xian and therefore Shaanxi History reflects Chinese history. Many historical and cultural relics are housed in Shaanxi Provincial History Museum and it is therefore an excellent place to see early Chinese history in a few hours.

The museum houses up to 370,000 relics, ranging from simple stoneware used in the ancient society to beautiful artworks and weapons. Delicate bronze ware from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, vivid pottery men from amny dynasties, gold and silver ware and tomb murals from the Tang Dynasty each tell their own piece of history. No wonder it is known as A Grand Hall of Chinese Civilization. 4 hours visit is recommended.

  • Add: NO 91, Xiaozhai Donglu, Yanta District, Xian
  • Tel: 029-85254727
  • Admission: Free
  • Opening Hours: 9:00-17:30(closed on Monday)
Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is in the Ci'en Temple, 4 kms from the city center. Built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty, it has witnessed much. The pagoda was built to house Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures which Buddhist scholar Xuan Zang brought back from India. The top of the pagoda provides a good view of the city. 2 hours would allow enough time for a good visit.

Behind the pagoda is a large musical fountain. It is especially spectacular at night with colorful lights enhancing the display. It has become one of top places for locals and travelers to spend a summer evening. The fountain performs at 12:30 pm and 8:30 pm on weekdays and every 2 hours from noon on weekends and public holidays.

  • Add: South end of Yanta Road, Outside the Heping Gate, Xian
  • Tel: 029-85527958
  • Admission: 50 Yuan
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-17:30 from Mar.16-Nov.14 and 8:00-17:00 during Nov.15-Mar.15
Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Hangyang Ling)

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Hangyang Ling)

Jingdi(BC188-BC141) was the 4th emperor of the West Han Dynasty who had ruled for 17 years. His tomb is located in Xian Yang City near Xian and was built for him and his empress. It took 28 years to build the tomb from BC153-BC126. In recent years 18,000 relics have been unearthed which are of course of great significance. Most are on display. Han figurines and the tomb for prisoners are especially worthwhile for a understanding of the period.

Divided into several parts, the tomb now has become a museum with surrounding park. It is now the biggest museum in China. A full day is recommended.

  • Add: Zhangjia Bay, Zhengyang Town, Weicheng District, Xianyang City
  • Tel: 029-86032883
  • Admission: 90 Yuan/person for March to November and 65 Yuan/person for other months.
  • Opening Hours: 8:30-18:30 between Dec.1-Feb.28 and 8:30-19:00 during Mar.1-Nov.30
Great Mosque in Muslim Quarter

Great Mosque in Muslim Quarter

The famous Muslim Quarter in Xian contains the Great Mosque. As the starting point of Silk road, there the descents of the Muslim businessmen have made Xian their home and this Mosque was built as their place of worship. Built in 724 in the Tang Dynasty and restored for several times, most buildings in the Great Mosque are the Ming-Qing style and in 4 courtyards. Stone steles and ancient trees are scattered over the different courtyards.

Worshipers to the Great Mosque 5 times a day and it can be crowded at peak times but provides a fascinating insight into the daily life of the people. A dress code applies.

  • Add: NO 30,Huajue Alley, Northwest of Drum Tower, Xian 西安鼓楼西北隅化觉寺巷30号
  • Tel: 029-87272541
  • Admission: 25 Yuan during peak season and 15 Yuan during low season.
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-19:00
Gao Courtyard

Gao Courtyard

There are 2 famous Gao Courtyards in Xian. One is at NO 42, Xinglong Alley and the other at NO 144, Beiyuanmen Street. Beiyuanmen is a food street for Muslim food and also where Gao Courtyard is located. Built in over 400 years ago, the courtyard is in the Ming Dynasty style with 86 rooms (56 rooms are opened to the public). It is a post and panel structure.

The Goa Courtyard was the private mansion of Gao Yuesong, a famous and important official during the Ming Dynasty. A plaque hung on the entrance gate was a gift from the emperor and say 榜眼及第 "the third most important place in China". Seven consecutive generations the Gao family were important officials during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The courtyard contains many traditional, special items and furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. A tea house in the courtyard provides tea and chance to rest. Shadow play puppets perform every day for about 10 minutes and is worth seeing.

  • Add: NO 144, Beiyuanmen Street, Xian
  • Tel: 029-87232897
  • Admission: 15 Yuan
  • Opening Hours: 8:30-22:30
Forest of Stone Steles Museum

Forest of Stone Steles Museum

Forest of Stone Steles is a huge collection of stone steles which have valuable calligraphy from many famous calligraphers from history. It was established by an official during the North Song Dynasty. This is a great place for those interested in Chinese calligraphy. It contains the earliest and most notable stone steles in China.

The museum also has a complete set of 12 Confucian classics from the Tang Dynasty. They were carved in 837. This set of Confucian classics was must-read for intellectuals in the Tang Dynasty.

  • Add: NO 15, Sanxue Street, inside the Wenchang Gate, Xian
  • Tel: 029-87210764
  • Admission: 50 Yuan during Dec.1-Feb.28 and 75 Yuan between Mar.1-Nov.30
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-18:45 for summer and 8:00-18:00 in winter

Tailor-make your trip there:

Bell & Drum Towers

Bell & Drum Towers

The Bell and Drum Towers are 2 towers in the city center of Xian. The Drum Tower is located west of the Bell Tower and was built 4 years earlier than Bell Tower. There was once a huge drum in the Drum Tower but this has disappeared over time.

The Drum Tower has drums performances at 9:00 am, 10:00 am,11:00 am, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30. The clock in the Bell Tower strikes 24 times at 9:00 am, 12:00 and 15:00. Every day at 18:00 is the special performance. This is a famous and traditional custom in Xian called Morning Clock and Evening Drum.

  • Add: South end of Beiyuanmen Street, Xida Street, Xian
  • Tel: 029-87274580
  • Admission: 35 Yuan for each.
  • Opening Hours: 8:30-21:00 for Apr.1-Oct.31 and 8:00-18:00 between Nov.1-Mar.31

Tailor-make your trip there:

Famen Temple

Famen Temple

Famen Temple is located in Famen Town which is 120 km away from Xian. It was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty over 1700 years ago. It is well-known as an Imperial Temple and famous for storing the a bone from Bhudda Sakyamuni's finger.

The temple consists of the old site of Famen Tempe, Treasure House and Museum of Heshi Buddhist Relics. The Treasure House has many valuable relics on display. Outside the Famen Temple there is a vegetarian restaurant.

The Buddhist Relics are open to the public from 10:00-16:00 on the 1st day and 15th day of the lunar month, the 8th day of the fourth lunar month and every weekend.

  • Add: Famen Tower, Fufeng County, Baoji City, Xian
  • Tel: 0917--5258888
  • Admission: 120 Yuan for Mar.1-Nov.30 and 90 Yuan for Dec.1-Feb. 28
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-17:30 for Mar.1-Oct.31 and 8:30-17:00 between Nov.1-Feb.28

What to do in Xian?

Tang Dynasty Show

Tang Dynasty Show

The tang Dynasty is a must-see for every foreign visitor to Xian so try not to miss it. The show features Tang Dynasty Music and Dance complete in authentic costumes. The show highlights the 8 most popular dances depicting life from the period - the imperial palace, folk, spring outing or in the battlefield. The spectacular showcases the music and many music instruments as well as dance. A dumplings banquet is also available.

  • Add: The Tang Dynasty, No.75 Chang An Road, Xi'an
  • Tel: 029-87822222
  • Admission: 220 Yuan for the show and 550 Yuan for the show plus the dinner.
  • Show time: 20:30-21:40 Dinner Time: 18:30
Vintage Sidecar Motorcycle

Vintage Sidecar Motorcycle

Vintage Sidecar Motorcycle is the most popular way to see Xian, especially the off-the-beaten parts which larger vehicles cannot reach. Most of the tours would include a local lunch.

  • Add: Room 020805, Tianjingyuan, Xi'an
  • Tel: 15021112451

We can arrange vintage sidecar service in Xian:

What and where to eat in Xian?

Liangpi (Cold Noodles)

Liangpi (Cold Noodles)

Liangpi is a special street food in Shaanxi Province. Local families make Liangpi in summer. It is flavored with sweet, hot and sour spices.

Recommended Restaurant:

  • Weijia Liangpi Yanping(Dongguanzheng Store)
    Add: West side, NO 39, Dongguanzheng Street, Xian
    Tel: 18700595190
    Price range: $2-$3
Biangbiang Noodles

Biangbiang Mian (Biangbiang Noodles)

Biangbiang Mian is a very special noodle which can be a meter long. The big noodle reflects the bold and forthright character of local Shaanxi people. One noodle mighte be enough for small eaters!

Recommended Restaurant

  • Biangbiang Mian (Dongyi Road Store)
    Add: Dongyi Road, Xian
    Tel: (029)87431987
    Price range: $3-$4
Paomo (Shredded Cakes in the Broth)

Paomo (Shredded Cakes in the Broth)

Paomo, is shredded cakes in the mutton or beef broth and is a staple. The broth is sticky and soft with a good smell. After having Paomo, a bowl of Gaotang (soup-stock), is considered an enjoyable thing for locals.

Recommended Restaurant

  • Laomi Jia Dayu Paomo
    Add: NO 127, Xiyang Market, Beilin District, Xian
    Price range: $4-$5
Muslim Quarter (Huajue Alely)

Local Food Street: Muslim Quarter (Huajue Alely)

Huajue Muslim quarter is the biggest in Xian and also very famous in China. It refers to Huajue Alley. It has many Muslim food stalls mostly run by Hui minority people. It also has many souvenirs, pick up and remember to bargain.

  • Add: Lianhu District, Xian(near the Bell&Drum Tower)

Where to Buy in Xian?

Beiyuanmen Street

Beiyuanmen Street

The street is very near Huajue Alley and specializes in crafts such as shadow puppets, paper cutting and cloth art etc.

  • Add: Behind the Drum Tower, South end of Beiyuanmen Street, Xida Street, Xian
Antique Market

Antique Market

This street is for relics and antique. Every shop has a theme -. Jade wares, porcelain, calligraphy and paintings, badges and old books are all have special stores.

  • Add: NO2, Zhuque Avenue, Xian
Shuyuanmen Street

Shuyuanmen Street

The street is long and has a mixture of craftworks and antiques - combination of Beiyuanmen Street and Antique Market. It is near Beiyuanmen Street.

  • Add: Behind the Drum Tower, South end of Beiyuanmen Street, Xida Street, Xian
Yanta West Road

Yanta West Road

Likes 798 Art District in Beijing and NO 50 Moganshan Road in Shanghai, Yanta West Road in Xian is a local art district. The road is 2.3 km long over 5 blocks.

  • Add: Yanta West Road, Xian

Tailor-make Your Trip to Xian:

If you want to visit these attractions above or any other palces that you are interested, China Travel can tailor-make a tour based on your needs and requirements, which can save your time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to tell us your tour ideas! >> Tailor a Tour Now!