Xi’an is located 855 miles, North of Shanghai, and is a 2.6 hours flight from Hangzhou. After finishing the midterm exams, a couple of friends and I decided to unwind to see the famous Terracotta Warriors and to experience the infamous death plank in one of the five sacred mountains in China, Mount Hua.
“Everywhere you could see this red lanterns that will remind you;
You are China and not in your own place.
You are here to learn, to adapt.”
Booking the flight to Xi’an a week before the trip, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I’ve read a couple of guides and blog posts about it. Since I first came to China, I’ve always wanted to see The Great Wall in Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Prior to my moving to China, I didn’t even know about the Silk Road (I’ve heard of it but didn’t really absorb what it was all about.) and that Xi’an was the eastern starting point of the Silk Road. Well, I was not a big fan of history when I was in High School. Though, I am ashamed of that now cause everything about it fascinates me.
My friend and I woke up very early to catch our domestic flights to Xi’an. Arriving at the airport, we purchased bus tickets that will take us to Xi’an Airport Hotel. After that, we took a taxi to our hostel near the Muslim Quarter. Although we arrived on a very rainy Friday, it didn’t stop us from starting to explore the city after checking in at our hostel. And so, our journey through history begins.
Know Before You Go:
How To Get To Xi’an:
You can either ride the speed train from any train stations within Hangzhou or Shanghai. It will take you about 5 hours to go there. Or, you can go by plane for about 2 hours. Since the speed train tickets weren’t that cheaper compared to flight tickets, the choice for us was obvious.
As usual, we booked our hostel in Xi’an with Booking.com. You can also book it with Trip.com or Agoda. This time was my first time ever booking a hostel. It wasn’t cosy at all, at least not in the morning. Although there are a lot of hotels to choose from. If you are sick and hates the cold then make sure to book a comfortable room since from November to February, Northern China is really cold.
Things You Should Not Miss:
Food Trips At The Xi’an Muslim Quarter
Walks through the Muslim Quarter would’ve been very enjoyable if it wasn’t for the rain and my colds. It’s a long road filled with markets and restaurants- truly a foodie’s paradise lane. You can find all the barbecues flavoured with cumin, desserts from fruit candies to fresh pomegranate juices. Also, some Muslims wearing their traditional clothes alluring customers to their restaurants. I also tried their kind of unusual flavoured smelly tofu that wasn’t smelly. Here you can also have a taste of Shaanxi province’ delicacies such as the Biang Biang Noodles; Roujiamo; Dumpling Soup and many more.
Hike The Hua Mountains
A visit to the neighbouring city of Huayin is one of the best things to do in Xi’an. In less than an hour, you can arrive at the Huashan North Railway Station. There, the view of the mountains will welcome you. The Hua mountains is a magnificent rock formation that’s really beyond compare. Read more about it on my last blog post here.
Visit The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Wander around the Giant Wild Pagoda, an ancient pagoda known for its history of over 1300 years. It is a seven-storey building. Although the Pagoda was originally built during the Tang Dynasty, it was rebuilt during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian and its exterior brick facade renovated during the Ming Dynasty.
A Day Trip To See The Terracotta Warriors
About an hour by bus, you can take a trip to the famous Terracotta Warriors. This attraction alone is worth the visit to Xi’an and most of the travellers going there visit for the main reason of having to see these marvellous creations. What fascinates me the most about visiting here is that coming to realize I’m about to see something from history! It’s like having the Pyramids of Giza or the Petra Treasury ticked off of my bucket list.
It was fascinating to know the facts about these treasures. First was none of the Terracotta Warriors is alike. They are very unique from each other. Also, the fact that to keep the process of how these soldiers are made a secret, everyone who participated in creating them was killed after was frightening for me. Most importantly,
The mausoleum has three different pits arranged as to how they were found. The first pit was the most famous and is where you can see the most photos from social media. It is also the largest pit. You will find the soldiers, infantry and war chariots. The second pit includes more infantry and chariots. You can also see a crossbow team and weapons. Finally, the command post of the armed forces was in the third pit.
The mausoleum opens at 8 AM and closes at 6 PM and costs 150 Yuan.
Bike Around The Xi’an City Wall
Xi’an is not the historical capital of China for no reason. Honestly, biking around the Xi’an City Wall wasn’t exactly like a walk in the park for us. It was really cold and biking on that temperature just made me sicker. But, it was incredible to think and even fathom that after all this time, the wall is completely intact and with gates. It is the largest ancient military defensive systems in the whole world. How amazing is that?
There are four main gates around the city wall; East Gate (Changle Gate), West Gate (Anding Gate), South Gate (Yongning Gate), North Gate (Anyuan Gate). At every gate, you can rent a bike; single or tandem bikes. We tried the tandem bike and it was fun.
Take A Walk On The Ancient Street Of Shuyuanmen
Near the South Gate, you can wander the ancient street of Shuyuanmen where you can find trinkets, souvenirs, books, paintings, calligraphy, jade and such.
Definitely the highlight of the trip! Get the audio guide for extra money to absorb everything Terracotta ;).
The Xi’an City Wall
My favourite lamb barbecue in Muslim Quarter!
I bought one of these Xi’an hand-drawn illustrated maps for 20 Yuan and it’s the cutest thing!
View from one of the sides of the Giant Goose Pagoda.