Located in Shaaxi, Xian is one of the oldest and most historic city in China. It’s also known as ‘the place you can take a photos terracotta warriors’. Despite spending several days here last year, I didn’t actually manage to see the city’s main attraction (in a similar vein to my visit to Beijing, which somehow resulted in me not actually seeing the wall!). I’d like to think this is because I don’t need to live my life by lonely planet’s recommendations but what actually happened is 1) I got lazy (The warriors are located some distance from the city centre) 2) I was so busy doing all the other cool stuff the city had to offer, I was too reluctant to spend a whole day on what many fellow travellers had told me was overrated.
So, if you’re looking for a review of the infamous warriors, I’m afraid you might have to go elsewhere. If you’re hoping to read about all the other amazing things the city has to offer then stay with me!
1. Pagoda’s Galore
Now if you’ve been living in China like me, then you might be slightly Pagoda-d out! However, what’s great about Xian’s pagoda’s (The Drum Tower and Bell Tower). Located in the centre of the city they’re really easy to reach via the subway network (Stops: Guolou for the Drum Tower and Zhonglou for the Bell Tower) rickshaw or bus. The area is bustling and allows for panoramic views of city life down below. There’s something quite relaxing about a few moments away from all the traffic and noise of city life. To enter both, purchase a combined ticket for 40 yuan (around $6 or 4 pounds)
While the Bell Tower is again nothing special by day, at night it is lit up- making for some stunning photos.
2. Muslim Quarter
Located near the Drum tower, the Muslim quarter is a great part of town to wander around. At night, fairly lights hang from the trees while day there’s barely a space to push between people and the many many rickshaws that are abundant in Shanghai. There’s lots of great Muslim food on offer and shops selling everything from food, clothes and traditional Chinese ornaments.
3. The city walls
Fun fact I found while researching this blog post: Xian’s city walls are the largest in the WORLD. Wow, that’s pretty crazy! Although I do remember it feeling like an awfully long walk at the time!
At around 40 yuan ($6 or 4 pounds) to enter, these walls are a cheap tourist attraction that could last the day if you have the stamina! There are multiple options for scaling the wall: good old fashioned walk, cycling or for the lazy a motorized trolley. We chose the walk. As there are multiple entrances/exits, it’s easy to break the journey down into several sections or to just tackle part of them. Unlike many tourist attractions, the walls were quite quiet when we arrived. I imagine this is because the Chinese are not a huge fan of walking around (they seem to much prefer to take a photo from the motorised vehicle instead!)
4. Get a bargain at the city’s Subway stations.
As a bit of a poundland fanatic when living in the UK (Everything’s a pound…that’s almost free!) I was so excited to discover the abundance of 10 yuan stores (approximately 1 pound) that line the underground walkways of the city’s subway system. Most it is of course, full of Chinese tat but for 10 yuan it hardly matters! There’s everything from alarm clocks, jewellery, food and the usual things that falls apart as soon as you take it home!
Overall, Xian is a great city to explore, warriors or no warriors. It’s efficient metro system, cheap taxi system (fares start at 6 yuan, more than half the price of Shanghai) and reasonable entrance prices to it’s key attractions make it a great place to explore China on a budget.
Have you ever visited Xian? Have you ever managed to avoid every famous tourist attraction while traveling (as I appear to be doing?)