Xi'an Travel Guide: Do's and Don'ts You Must Know

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Xi'an, ancient and shrouded in mystery, stands as one of the treasures of Chinese historical and cultural heritage, bearing witness to the vicissitudes of thousands of years. As one of China's four ancient capitals, Xi'an captivates countless visitors with its rich historical roots and unique cultural landscapes. In this ancient land, you will embrace the fusion of ancient and modern, savoring the profound cultural atmosphere. This guide will reveal the charm of Xi'an and provide an unforgettable travel experience.

Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang is the first batch of national key cultural relics protection units in China, the first batch of World Heritage Sites in China, and is acclaimed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and "One of the Top Ten Ancient Tombs and Precious Treasures in the World." It is a must-visit destination for your trip to Xi'an. Located in the eastern part of Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, the Terracotta Army pits are about 1.5 kilometers east of the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang. Three pits, numbered one, two, and three, were successively discovered. Pit one was found by local farmers digging a well, and pits two and three were later discovered through drilling. The discovery of the Terracotta Army pits took place from 1974 to 1976, and the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang was opened to the public in 1979.

  • Pit No.1
    The largest in scale, it features a main force formation of chariots and infantry, covering an area of 14,260 square meters. Over 1,000 pottery figures, eight chariots, 32 horses, nearly ten thousand bronze weapons, and an estimated total of over 6,000 terracotta figures have been unearthed.
  • Pit No.2
    Discovered in 1976, it represents the essence of the terracotta warriors and horses, and its discovery unveiled the mystery of ancient military formations, with an area of approximately 6,000 square meters.
  • Pit No.3
    Located northwest of Pit One, it is the smallest in scale, covering only about 3.6% of the area of Pit One and 6.7% of the area of Pit Two.

Travel Tips:

  1. Ticket Purchase: Please buy tickets from legitimate ticket outlets to avoid purchasing inexpensive but potentially forged tickets. It is advisable to check ticket prices in advance on the official website. Or you can purchase tickets at the attractions, the ticket prices are the same. The ticket is 120 yuan each, and it's free for those under 16 years old.
  2. Guide Selection: If choosing to hire a guide, ensure they are qualified. You can request to see their guide credentials and agree on guide fees in advance to prevent unnecessary disputes later. There are many tour guides at the entrance of the Terracotta Warriors, and it's free for children to listen to the guides' explanations. If you want a lower price, you can join a group with others.
  3. Artifact Protection: While touring, adhere to the visitation rules; refrain from touching, carving, or damaging artifacts. The protection of artifacts is the responsibility of every visitor.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the iconic structures in Xi'an, situated within the Great Ci'en Temple. Why is it called the Big Wild Goose Pagoda? The story goes that during Tripitaka Master Xuanzang's journey to the west, he went for several days without drinking water and was on the verge of fainting, his eyes seeing stars. At that critical moment, he saw a wild goose flying overhead. He followed the direction of the wild goose and eventually found a water source, allowing him to drink his fill. He believed that the wild goose was definitely a Bodhisattva's guidance, so he named the pagoda after the wild goose. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was first built in 652 AD and was overseen by the Tang monk Xuanzang, with the purpose of housing the Buddhist scriptures he brought back from India. The pagoda is 64.5 meters tall and has a square-shaped body, with each level containing four niches, enshrining various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The entire structure of the pagoda is majestic and magnificent, showcasing the grandeur and splendor of Tang Dynasty architectural style. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda has a South Square and a North Square. The North Square features the largest music fountain square in Asia and the world's largest Tang and Buddhist culture square, serving as the reception hall and city showcase of Xi'an. In the center of the South Square stands a bronze statue of Master Xuanzang, draped in a kasaya, holding a pilgrim’s staff, with a majestic demeanor, gazing into the distance, showcasing the style of a great master. 

Travel Tips:

  1. Transportation Advice: As the pagoda is located in the city center, it is recommended to use public transportation to avoid traffic congestion and parking challenges. There is a direct subway, which is especially convenient.
  2. Worship Sequence: When worshiping inside the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, follow the designated worship sequence, avoiding pushing others to maintain a well-ordered visitation experience.
  3. No Smoking Policy: The interior of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a no-smoking zone. Visitors are requested to smoke in designated areas to maintain environmental hygiene in public spaces.

Xi'an City Wall

The Xi'an City Wall is one of the largest and best-preserved ancient city walls in China, with its history dating back to the Ming Dynasty. This square-shaped wall stands approximately 12 meters tall and is around 15 meters wide, with a circumference of nearly 14 kilometers. The wall features 98 watchtowers connected to city gates, and each corner is adorned with a corner tower, adding charm to the city wall. Climbing up the wall, you can overlook the entire ancient capital.

Travel Tips: 

  1. When exploring the Xi'an City Wall, it is recommended to plan your visit in advance, preferably during the early morning or evening to avoid the midday heat if it is in summer. Additionally, there are various transportation options on the wall, such as walking or cycling.
  2. Opening Hours: 08:00-22:00
  3. Ticket Information: 45 yuan per person
  4. It is recommended to enter from Yongning Gate (South Gate). As one of the main gates of the Xi'an city wall, Yongning Gate has witnessed the historical changes and vicissitudes of this city. Walking east along the southern gate, you will pass by Hanguang Gate, which is the best-preserved section of the Xi'an city wall and a perfect shooting location for photography enthusiasts.
  5. The Hanguang Gate City Wall Museum is located nearby, showcasing the history and architectural techniques of the Xi'an city wall, providing a deeper understanding of the background and stories of this ancient city. If you are interested in ancient warfare and military facilities, this is definitely not to be missed!
  6. Near the east gate, you can admire the famous tourist landmarks of Xi'an, such as the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the Bell Tower, the Forest of Stone Steles, and Shuyuanmen, experiencing the perfect blend of ancient city style and modern urban charm.
  7. Descending the wall near Zhongshan Gate, you will come to Yongxingfang, where there are many distinctive snacks to satisfy your taste buds!
  8. It takes about three hours to walk around the city wall, allowing you to appreciate the magnificent scenery and rich historical culture of the Xi'an city wall from all angles. If you find walking a bit tiring, I strongly recommend cycling around the wall, which takes about an hour. Tandem bicycle rental: 90 yuan for 3 hours. Separate bicycle rental: 45 yuan for 3 hours

Datang Everbright City 

Datang Everbright City (Da Tang Bu Ye Cheng) is a large-scale tourist area that integrates performances, cultural exhibits, and commerce, inspired by the prosperous scenes of the Tang Dynasty. Here, you can experience a unique cultural feast of the Tang Dynasty, featuring numerous folk cultural performances, ancient handicrafts, and delicious local cuisine.

Travel Tips:

  1. The area of Datang Ever Bright City is quite large, requiring a considerable amount of walking. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes for a better experience while exploring the area.
  2. Here, you will encounter many young ladies dressed in Hanfu. This is considered one of the best places for taking photos in Hanfu, and you should not miss it. Wearing Hanfu will make you feel as if you have stepped into the flourishing era of the Tang Dynasty. There are many options for renting Hanfu, with prices starting from 150 yuan. The costumes are available in both regular and deluxe styles, and the makeup includes refined and elaborate options. It is recommended to wear a Hanfu in the red color palette for more remarkable photos.
  3. The architecture, sculptures, and performances at Datang Ever Bright City all hold high aesthetic value, providing great opportunities for taking commemorative photos.
  4. The performance activities at Datang Ever Bright City are generally held in the South Square of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, featuring shows such as "Returning to Changan," the Acrobat Performance at Datang Ever Bright City, and the Jumping Colored Notes.
  5. The variety of delicacies at Datang Ever Bright City is endless. Visitors can taste a wide range of specialty snacks such as roujiamo (Chinese hamburger), yangrou paomo (crumbled unleavened bread in lamb soup), and liangpi (cold noodles). Additionally, they can savor authentic Shaanxi cuisine at the restaurants within the scenic area.
  6. If feeling fatigued during the visit to Datang Ever Bright City, visitors can take a rest at the designated relaxation areas within the scenic area.

Two-Days Tour Recommended Route in Xi'an

Day1

  • Morning: Big Wild Goose Pagoda
    Embark on your day by admiring the ancient architecture and cultural heritage of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
    Ticket: The entrance fee for the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is approximately 50 Chinese Yuan and can be purchased at the site.
  • Late Morning: Bell Tower and Drum Tower
    Explore the Bell Tower and Drum Tower located in the city center, immersing yourself in the ancient atmosphere.
    Ticket: A combined ticket for the Bell Tower and Drum Tower costs around 35 Chinese Yuan.
  • Xi'an City Wall 
    Early morning or late afternoon is ideal to avoid the midday heat. Evening visits offer a unique experience as the wall is beautifully lit. Plan for 2-3 hours of exploration without feeling rushed.
    Ticket Prices:
    Adult Ticket: ¥120/person
    Student Ticket (with a valid student ID): ¥60/person
  • Evening: Daming Palace Ruins Park
    Tour the ruins of Daming Palace, appreciating the historical remnants and the beauty of decay.
    Ticket: The entrance fee for Daming Palace Ruins Park is approximately 35 Chinese Yuan.
  • Datang Everbright City 
    Late afternoon to evening is the prime time, especially when the lights and performances become more vibrant. Plan for 3-4 hours to fully enjoy the shows and savor local delicacies.

Day2

  • Terracotta Warriors
    Early morning and late afternoon are the optimal times to visit the Terracotta Warriors, avoiding the midday heat. Additionally, weekdays tend to have fewer visitors, providing a better opportunity to appreciate and capture the surroundings.

Key Sentences:

  1. Wow, it's my first time in Xi'an, and it feels really great!
    哇,这是我第一次来西安,感觉真的很棒!
    Wa, zhè shì wǒ dì yī cì lái Xī'ān, gǎnjué zhēn de hěn bàng!
  2. Yeah, me too. I heard there's a lot of ancient history and culture here.
    是啊,我也是第一次。听说这里有很多古老的历史和文化。
    Shì a, wǒ yě shì dì yī cì. Tīng shuō zhèlǐ yǒu hěn duō gǔlǎo de lìshǐ hé wénhuà.
  3. Where should we go for sightseeing?
    我们应该去哪里参观呢?
    Wǒmen yīnggāi qù nǎlǐ cānguān ne?
  4. I heard the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Terracotta Warriors are famous. We can start by visiting those places.
    我听说大雁塔和兵马俑都很有名, 可以先去那些地方看看。
    Wǒ tīngshuō Dàyàn tǎ hé Bīngmǎyǒng dōu hěn yǒumíng, kěyǐ xiān qù nàxiē dìfāng kànkan.

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