Have you ever heard about the Qin Shi Huang, a powerful yet brutal ruler who dreamt of immortality in Chinese history? Have you been told of the mysterious collection of terracotta soldiers buried underground with the emperor’s body to guard his afterlife? If you have, you must not be strange with the cradle of Chinese civilization – Xian. Being one of the country’s oldest cities, Xian offers tourists a great introduction into the Chinese profound, immense culture and history through its proudly ancient heritages. Besides, home to marvelous natural landscapes and numerous exciting outdoor activities, the city is worth a highlighted destination in any China package tour. If you have the chance to set your foot into the city and wonder what to see and the best time to travel, take a glance at these recommendations.
Top Attractions of Ancient City Xian
1. Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is the most renowned attractions of the city and undoubtedly a nice start for your Xian exploration. Since being accidentally discovered by a local farmer, this collection of lifelike soldier and horse clay figures arranged in battle formation to guard China’s First Emperor in his afterlife is considered as the greatest archaeological excavation of the 20th century. Pay a visit to the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang with a local expert and reveal the mysteries hidden behind the existence of this incredible historical site.
Also, have a once-of-a-time experience learning about the traditional techniques used to make these terracotta soldiers 2000 years ago in a local cave-dwelling and try to create a mini warrior by yourself.
2. Mount Huashan
Located 120 km of the east of Xian, Mount Huashan offers tourists marvelous sceneries to admire. Not only the most beautiful mountain to visit in Xian, but it is also famous for the deadliest hiking trail in China, challenging many hikers to climb. For a more leisure experience, you can take a round- trip cable car ride to get up and down the mountain and enjoy the natural beauty from the height. Besides, tourists can have a closer look into the culture as Huashan is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains in China with a variety of temples and other religious structures nestling on its ridges and peaks.
3. Dumpling Banquet
The diverse and excellent cuisine is always the highlight of a China tour. Accordingly, as setting your foot in Xian, do not miss the flavorful dumpling banquet. Dumplings are one of the most famous dishes in the city, varied in both shapes and colors with different ingredients. Besides visiting the historical sites in Xian, have fresher experience learning to make dumplings with a local family. While encountering various types of dumplings, practice some basic skills of dumpling-making, you will also have the chance to communicate with the locals to better understand the habit of eating dumplings of the Chinese, its role in Chinese culture as well, ensuring both your stomach and mind full after the class.
4. Xian Ancient Wall
The huge impressive wall surrounding the ancient city Xian world is the largest and best-preserved of its kind throughout China. Being erected in the 14th century under the Ming Dynasty, the wall has witnessed the historical vicissitudes of Xian and is now considered as a landmark of the city. The best way to explore the ancient wall as well as take in the iconic view of the city is by taking a stroll or riding a bike along the wall. Gain insights into the wall construction and history while stretching your eyesight to the cluster of time-honored stores as well as busy bar streets.
5. Big Wild Goose Pagoda
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most well-known and important Buddhist pagodas in China. Master Xuanzang, the head of the temple, was a meritorious Buddhist monk who translated the Sanskrit scriptures and developed the theories of consciousness, karma, and rebirth adopted into later popular schools of Buddhism in China.
Built under the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the storied pagoda is a good example of Chinese traditional architecture featuring grand body with solemn appearance, simple style, and high structure. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a worth-visiting destination, offering tourists an insight into the Chinese culture as well as the serene atmosphere away from the bustle of the city.
6. Muslim Street
Lined up with various restaurants and food stalls specializing in cakes, dried fruits or bread, barbequed meats on skewers and more, the Muslim Street might be a heaven for food enthusiasts. Come with an empty stomach and feast on the delicious and mouthwatering food from the traditional dishes to the special snacks like Roujiamo- freshly baked bun filled with marinated lamb or beef, Yangrou Paomo – pita bread soaked in lamb soup, and cold noodles. Besides the food adventure, it is also fascinating to pay attention to little houses. stores in style of the Ming and the Qing dynasties along the street and discover the mixture of the culture.
7. Drum and Bell Towers
Not far from the delicious Muslim Street are the Drum and Bell towers. These two structures dating back to the 14th century under the Ming Dynasty are located in the center of Xian with the four gates connecting to the four sides respectively: north, west, east and south. Climb the top of the Bell Tower to catch a panoramic sight of the whole city while the Drum Tower offers such a great bird’s eye view of the vibrant Muslim street full of hawkers and vendors selling all kinds of things. The Drum Tower is also recognized as the largest of its kind throughout China, housing the fine decoration with 1996 studs and four bronze rings as well as the collection of 28 varied-in-size drums.
When the night falls, the colored lights begin to illuminates and the sceneries will become glorious and splendid.
8. Hanyang Tomb
Spreading across the area of about 20 square kilometers, Hanyang Tomb or also known as Yang mausoleum is the multi-burial cemetery of the Emperor Jing of Han and his queen dating back to the 153 BC century. Pay a visit to the underground exhibition at a slow pace and appreciate the collection of miniature statues of animals, servants, soldiers with mysterious smiles on the face placed in various positions to stimulating a little kingdom and learn the stories behind their construction.
9. Shaanxi History Museum
Endowed with the various historical sites and relics, Xian is the wonderful destination for tourists to explore the Chinese rich culture and one of the best places to visit in the city is the Shaanxi Provincial Museum where houses most of the relics scattered around the region. Ranking in the top 10 museums throughout the country, Shaanxi History Museum exhibits collections spreading across from the prehistoric times to 1840 AD.
10. Yuanjia Village
Located around 60 kilometers from Xian, the Yuanjia Village is known for its pristine sceneries and the distinctive folk culture, becoming one of the most beautiful villages to visit in China. Away from the hustle and bustle of the urban cities, tourists can travel back in time to the 1950s and 1960s and soak up in the tranquil atmosphere upon arriving. Besides admiring the Guanzhong style street and feeling the history of the region, do not hesitate to experience milling flour, weaving cloth, making vinegar or grinding soybean traditionally.
Best Time to Visit Xian
In general, Xian well known for its historical sites and relics is suitable for visit all-year-round, but spring and autumn are the most loved seasons for neither too hot nor too cold weather. In spring, it is warm and pleasant. Although there are occasionally sandstorms, you will feel just fine with a coat and trousers in most days. With gentle breeze and sunshine, from March to May is wonderful for outdoor activities like biking in the ancient city wall. The fall (September to November) is also a high season for people to visit Xian. During this season, leaves are changing their colors into red, creating stunning sceneries to witness especially the view of mountains and spectacular rock groups from the peak of Mount Huashan. However, you might want to skip over the October when China National Holiday occurs since there will be such a large number of visitors.
In summer, Xian’s weather is very hot with the highest temperature occurring in July (35- 40 Degree Celsius). Thus, tourists are recommended to avoid long-time outdoor activities. It is also the raining season so remember to take an umbrella with you. With the lush green sceneries, blooming flowers and vibrant atmosphere in night markets, summer is a good choice of traveling, too.
The foggy winter with snowfall sometimes is the low season of the year. Although some of the attractions will close, many indoor tourist destinations like Qin Terracotta Army, Shaanxi History Museum and the Great Mosque still welcome travelers. Besides, tourists can benefit from the reduction in travel price this time.