Xi’an has a history of over 5,000 years and is regarded as the most representative ancient city in China. It’s not only famous for its long and glorious history but is also popular for its well-known underground treasure: the Terracotta Army. Xi’an is an interesting city and has a strong cultural atmosphere. Slow your pace and discover the most local and special highlights. Here are 10 things you should list in your trip itinerary.
1. Visit the Terracotta Army by Yourself
- What’s exceptional: the most significant archaeological finding of the 20th century, the eighth wonder of the ancient world, and it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987
- Style: historic, cultural, the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC)
- Where: Lintong District. It’s 1.5 kilometers east of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.
Buried in the ground for thousands of years, the Terracotta Army was a major surprise to the world of archaeology. It has a magnificent scale and advanced artistic skills have made every sculpture vivid and different. Accompanying Emperor Qin Shi Huang for over 2,000 years, the powerful army has witnessed the history of Xi’an. Visit the Terracotta Army to get close to the history and culture of Xi’an.
2. It’s Exciting to Ride on Xi’an City Wall
- What’s exceptional: one of the earliest city walls and the most complete section of all the ancient walls, one of the most ancient military defensive projects, and it has a panoramic view of Xi’an
- Style: architectural, historic, and a military defensive project
- Where: 2 South Street, Beilin District
Standing in the city center, Xi’an City Wall seems like a loyal soldier who has protected this city for hundreds of years since the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). As a great military defensive project, you can feel a solemn atmosphere when you get close to it. Different from the Great Wall, Xi’an City Wall is flat and safe because it wasn’t built on a mountain ridge. Riding on this long and historic wall is a must-do experience that you shouldn’t miss.
3. Listen to the Historic Stories about Big Wild Goose Pagoda
- What’s exceptional: the most remarkable highlight of Xi’an, the largest and earliest example of a Tang-style pagoda, and it has the largest musical fountain show
- Style: Buddhist, cultural, architectural, the Tang Dynasty (618–907)
- Where: Yanta West Road, Yanta District
Just like Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the most symbolic landmark in Xi’an. It was built for collecting classic Buddhist scriptures by Xuanzang, a famous master who devoted his life to developing Buddhist theory in China. Standing outside Big Wild Goose Pagoda and showing your respect to this great scholar in China is a meaningful experience. Listen to his stories and you will learn how much he did for the Chinese Buddhist culture.
4. Discover Another Underground Highlight at the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi
- What’s exceptional: a unique underground museum, miniature pottery figures compared with the Terracotta Army
- Style: an underground museum, an imperial tomb, the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD)
- Where: Zhangjiawan Village, Weicheng District, Xianyang (it’s 17 kilometers away from Xi’an Xianyang International Airport)
The Terracotta Army is famous throughout the world but not many people know about another underground highlight in Xi’an — the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi. Ancient emperors in China paid a lot of attention to their tombs because death was regarded as being just as important as being alive. The Tomb of Emperor Jingdi reflects the culture and history of the Han Dynasty, which was a glorious era in Chinese history. When you arrive there, you will feel pity that most visitors miss such a splendid attraction.
5. Challenge Yourself on the Perilous but Grand Mount Huashan
- What’s exceptional: one of the five greatest mountains in China, it has a long history of religious significance, and it has a variety of temples
- Style: natural, grand mountain, and Taoist temples
- Where: Huayin, Weinan City, Shaanxi Province
Do you feel overwhelmed with the long and complex history of Xi’an? Then go to Mount Huashan and enjoy a different and exciting experience hiking outdoors. No matter whether you’re admiring the beautiful landscape or at a perilous section of Mount Huashan, you should try your best to challenge yourself. Climbing the steep steps and crossing the hair-raising Chang Kong Plank Road are a must for unforgettable memories.
6. Eat Snacks and Buy Souvenirs in the Muslim Quarter
- What’s exceptional: There are about ten mosques in the Muslim Quarter and all of the owners are Muslims.
- Style: Muslim food, souvenirs, and a minority cultural
- Where: 100 meters northwest of the Drum Tower
Generally speaking, buying souvenirs at attractions, such as the Terracotta Army, is expensive and most of the goods are more expensive than those sold in other places. The Muslim Quarter is an exceptional place to find wonderful souvenirs. You can not only find various handicrafts, decorations, and folk artworks but you can also taste various local snacks, such as roujiamo, ma jiang la pi, and biangbiang noodles. The collection of goods will make your eyes water and, more importantly, the prices are more reasonable.
7. Discover the Glorious Chinese History at Shaanxi History Museum
- What’s exceptional: There are 1,717,950 cultural relics in the museum and it’s like a microscopic map of Chinese civilization.
- Style: historic and cultural
- Where: 91 Xiaozhai East Road, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province
If you are interested in Chinese history, Shaanxi History Museum is a must-see site, which contains highlights from many dynasties, especially the Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties. There are 1,717,950 cultural relics in Shaanxi History Museum, dating from ancient times to 1840. You will have a new concept about Chinese history after visiting this great museum.
8. Experience Traditional Chinese Painting and Calligraphy at Tangbo Art Museum
- What’s exceptional: an ancient Chinese art museum where you can experience Chinese painting and calligraphy
- Style: cultural and folk art
- Where: 26 Gongyuan South Road, Yanta District
Visiting museums is the best way to understand Xi’an, as they hold a number of collections from the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Different from Shaanxi History Museum, Tangbo Art Museum is a heavenly place for art lovers as it displays representative local folk arts and ancient Chinese paintings. You can not only discover Chinese art history but you can also have a cultural lesson about drawing a traditional Chinese painting or writing in Chinese calligraphy.
9. Admire the Colorful Nighttime Views at the Drum and Bell Towers
- What’s exceptional: landmarks, the largest and best-preserved wooden towers in China, and they offer colorful nighttime views
- Style: architectural and historic
- Where: Lianhu District
Located in the heart of Xi’an, the Drum and Bell towers are the most representative buildings in Xi’an. Echoes of each other, these two architectural structures were built in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and local people called them the “sister buildings”. After visiting attractions during the day, having a nighttime stroll, and tasting the local food, admiring the beautiful nighttime views at the Drum and Bell towers will add a different flavor to your trip.
10. Show Your Respect to Ancient Chinese Celebrities at the Forest of Stone Steles Museum
- What’s exceptional: a collection of more than 1,000 inscribed stones
- Style: artistic, historic, and calligraphy
- Where: 15 Sanxue Street, Beilin District
The Forest of Stone Steles Museum is like a vivid historic book displaying stories, facts, and examples of lifestyles from ancient times. Different from other museums, there are 1,000 inscribed stones standing in front of you, which show you the history of that time. You can experience the historic atmosphere even though you can’t understand any Chinese.
Join Trippest Popular Xi’an Tours to Discover the Hidden Gems in Xi’an
Join our Two-Day Panoramic Tour, including the Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an City Wall, Muslim Quarter, the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, Shaanxi History Museum, Tangbo Art Museum, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda