Once the capital of China and the eastern end of the Silk Road, Xi’an is brimming with history and significance. It was home to 13 imperial dynasties and most substantially, the spot where China’s first emperor united China.
Like most momentous ancient cities, a giant fortified wall surrounds the original city center. The wall encircles many of the main attractions, making it highly accessible, especially since Xi’an doesn’t have a metro system like Beijing or Shanghai.
Here are my top three must-sees when visiting the city.
The biggest attraction to Xi’an is the Terracotta Warriors. Located about an hour away from the ancient city, the terra cottas can be reached by public transportation, as well as arranged tours. Every hostel or hotel will offer a variety of tours and packages to visit the sites.
It’s also worth it to get a tour with a guide to explain the history of the collection. While many of the terra cottas seemed to have been moved elsewhere, it didn’t diminish the extraordinary accomplishment.
Cycling the City Walls
Cycling on the top of the ancient city wall is an inexpensive and fun way to get a great look at the ancient city. For just 20 yuan, you can rent a bike for 100 mins. There’s also a bicycle deposit of 200 yuan.
The surface can get a little bumpy, but the ride is easy. Make sure to bring plenty of water!.
Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque of Xi’an
You can’t visit Xi’an without making a stop at the bustling and rambunctious streets of the Muslim Quarter. Filled with souvenir and food shops, this is a great place to try traditional and local food.
When you need a break from the lively atmosphere, the Great Mosque of Xi’an is a great spot to rejuvenate. The small path to the largest mosque in China is a defiantly well-hidden labyrinth. From the main street, there’s a small sign above the stalls that will lead you through a series of tiny alleyways. It may seem like you’re walking for a long time, but power through and you’ll be rewarded by a surprising blend of Arabic and Chinese architecture.