I had the pleasure of exploring the city of Xi’An last summer so I wanted to write a mini Xi’An travel guide to help with your travel planning.  Most people who visit Xi’An only spend 2 or 3 days in the city, specifically coming to see the infamous Terracotta Warriors and then move on. But there is much more to Xi’an than the obvious.

Xi’An is located in central China and is the capital of the Shaanxi Provance.  Xi’An is on the eastern end of the ‘Silk Road’ and is one of China’s oldest cities.  Not only is it one of the oldest cities but it is also the most populous city in Northwestern China.

xi’an travel guide

Before you Go

When to Go to Xi’an

Spring time is a great time to climb Hua Shan and explore the city.
Summer time brings rain.
Fall is a great time to visit.  The rains have stopped and its not too cold.
If you want to avoid the crowds visit in the winter.

Daily Budget

  • Dorm Bed
  • Eating Street Food
  • Free Museums
  • Subways and Bike Shares
  • Double Room in a Mid Range Hotel
  • Meals in a sit down restaurant
  • Drinks and a few nights out
  • Taxis
  • High End Hotel
  • Fine Dining
  • Personal Driver
  • How to Get There:
  • Arriving by train

How to Get to Xi’an

Arriving by train, right in the city and you can easily jump on a bus or the metro to get to your hotel.
The airport is about 45 mins away so you’d have to take a taxi or again use that DiDi app for a cheaper price. There are also buses that run from here to city center.  Look up times here.

How to Get Around xi’an

  • Metro is efficient
  • Within the city walls you can walk and even rent a bike and bike the city walls.
  • DiDi, I’d youve read any of my other blog posts about China you’de know it’s a life savor.

WHERE TO STAY in xi’an

Stay inside city walls if you want to be close to delicious food and all the action.  Metro stations are conveniently located.  
Xi'an Hantang House
Great location just outside the city walls.  Metro is easily accessible.  Fun lively bar and excursions.  Dorm and private rooms available.
Xi'an See Tang Hostel
Located walking distance to the South Gate entrance on the city walls and to the subway.  Cute hostel featuring a rooftop terrace.
Bell Tower Hotel Xi'an
Located downtown close to the Drum Tower.  Some rooms have views of the Bell Tower and the bus stop for the airport is within walking distance.   Xi’An travel guide.
Jinmao Hotel Xi’an Drum Tower
Located close to the drum tower and Muslim Market.  New and modern decorations with a swanky bar.

things to do and see

Terracotta Warriors

Xi’An, China is most famously known for being the city closest to the Terracotta Warriors.  Located about an hour outside of Xi’An is the Terracotta Warriors site/grounds.  The Warriors are displayed in 3 different pits and can you believe that the Terracotta Warriors weren’t discovered til 1974 by local farmers?!?!  You can read more about how to get to the site and what to expect here.

Bike the City Walls

Xi’An is one of the few Chinese cities that has its original city walls still standing.  Most of the wall has been restored and it is possible to walk on the wall all the way around it.  A common activity to do is rent a bike on top of the wall and take in the views from on top of the wall while peddling around.

*Download a bike share app so you can rent a bike with ease.

Big Goose Pagoda

The Big Goose Pagoda is Xi’An’s most famous landmark and can easily be reached by the metro.  Every night the Big Goose Pagoda is lit up and there is a light show which is great to check out.

* Prepare for major crowds especially during the evening as everyone is there to see the light show.  The grounds surrounding the Pagoda are well kept and there are concrete “benches” that line the grass where you can sit.

 Come early if you want a seat and don’t walk where its roped off.  There is security that won’t be hesitate to blow their whistles if you step out of line!

Muslim Quarter

The Muslim Quarter is an area of Xi’An that is a great place to wander.  The narrow streets and alleys are crammed with butcher shops, lamp and trinket stores, mosques, street food and much more.

I personally thought this area was dirty and some of the smells that came from this area were unbearable.  It’s worth a visit but I would save my appetite for something more local and less touristy.  This leads to my next topic.

Go on a Food Tour

When we were staying at Xi’an Hantang House we went on a food tour that our hostel organized.  It was walking distance and took us to local markets filled with traditional, authentic and did I mention delicious food!  Not only was the tasty, there was also a big variety.  I mean Xi’An is known to have more than 128 different types of noodles.  This is a great way to meet people especially if you’re a solo traveler.

Bell & Drum Tower

These towers are located in the heart of the city, close to the Muslim Quarter.   There are performances every half hour from 8-11 and from 2 on.  At night the towers light up and its a beautiful sight to see.

day trips from xi’an

Hua Shan

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of a hike that is on the side of a mountain in China.  Well this is the one.  The main reason that I wanted to come to Xi’An was to experience this hike.  Unfortunately for us we had bad weather the whole time we were in Xi’An and did not want to risk it.  Next time Xi’An, next time!

xi’an travel guide survival tips

Basic Chinese Phrases to know for your Trip:
Nǐ hǎo (Nee how) – Hello
Xiè Xie (sshyeah-sshyeah) – Thank you!
Bù kèqì (Boo kuh-chi) – You’re welcome
Bù shì (Bu-sheh) – No…I used this a lot when you’re being haggled
Jiù mìng – Help!
Duō shǎo? (Dwuh shauw?) – How much?
Măi dān (My dahn) – Check, please.
Cèsuǒ (tser-swor) – Restroom
Hào chī (How chir) – Delicious
Zài nǎlǐ? (… dzeye naa-lee?) – Where is…?
Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) – How are you?
Ganbei (gon bay) – Cheers
Pijiu (pee-joo) – Beer

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