Xian (西安 Xī'ān, pron. SEE-ahn), is a historic city in Shaanxi Province in China.
Xi'an is more than 3,000 years old and was known as Chang'an in ancient times. For 1,000 years, the city was the capital for 13 dynasties, and a total of 73 emperors ruled here. Xi'an is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties. With so much history within the ground the city lies upon, it is no wonder that there are so many historical ruins, museums and cultural relics to be found here. It was already influencing the world outside of the Great Wall of China as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road（丝绸之路). Here traders from far and wide brought goods and ideas for sale and took goods and ideas back with them to their native countries. In present day Xi'an not much of its former glory remains within the city confines, due to the constant warfare and political changes that swept China particularly throughout the 20th Century. Today the city has a pleasant cosmopolitan flair to it and it is worth visiting for the famed Terracotta Warriors alone. It has often been said that, "if you have not been to Xi'an, you have not been to China!"
Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA: XIY) is located 40 km northwest of the city centre, in Xianyang. Flights are available to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dunhuang, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Harbin, Hangzhou, Hohhot, Kunming, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Urumqi, Wuhan and Xining within China, International flights are available to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul as well as Nagoya, Fukuoka, Niigata, Tokyo and Hiroshima in Japan, and Singapore via Kunming. As Xi'an is located in the heartland of China, it takes no more than 2 hours to fly to most major Chinese cities.
Most people use taxis or the airport bus to reach town from the airport, however taking a taxi is not recommended, as most taxi drivers will raise the price for non-local tourists. A taxi will cost about ¥100 from the airport to the Bell Tower downtown. The airport bus leaves every half-hour from 6AM to 6PM, a ticket costs ¥25 and takes about one hour; there are several lines but the most useful are Airport Bus No. 1 (no stop to the terminus in front of the Melody Hotel, at the beginning of West Street near the Bell Tower) and No. 2 (to the railway station). As long as there is an arriving flight, there will be a bus, so don't worry about arriving late at night or early morning; officially, on line 1 there is a bus every 20 minutes but buses will often depart as soon as they fill up. The airport bus route is the best way between city and the train station.
Getting to the terracotta warriors from the airport is complicated but can be done. Immediately when you walk out of the airport you can take bus #2 (¥27) to the train station. The train station is extremely crowded and most people do not speak English. When looking towards the train station, go to the parking lot on the right (in the east of train station square, Approx.100m away) and catch bus 306, also called Tourist Bus #5 (¥7). There are many fake public buses, so make sure you only take #306! The last stop is the terracotta warriors. To get back to the airport simply take the same exact route in reverse. Alternatively, taking taxi will costs you approx ¥85 plus toll charges of ¥15.
There are plenty of trains transporting passengers to and from most of the major cities inside China. Keep in mind train tickets may only be available if booked far in advance (most ticket sales open 10-21 days in advance; an agent can help book but will probably charge significant commission fees). Traveling in a seat (hard or soft-class) means you will share the car space with lots of locals. You will most likely encounter smokers, loud noise, and constant activity in the aisle while you try to sleep. *Do not* travel hard class if you are uncomfortable with these settings. Sleeper cabins are limited to 6 people each (4 for deluxe soft sleepers, which are only on a few trains from Beijing); bottom bunks cost a bit more because they're a couple cm wider and could be sit on. If traveling alone, be especially careful of your luggage! Also note that bathrooms and washrooms may be closed (and locked!) 30-60 minutes before getting to the train station.
Trains run to several domestic cities including: Beijing (11-13 hours), Chengdu (13-18 hours), Chongqing (14 hours), Guangzhou (24 hours), Kunming (36-53 hours), Lanzhou (8-10 hours), Lhasa (36 hours), Shanghai (16-20 hours), Urumqi (31-56 hours), Wuhan (14-18 hours), and Zhengzhou (2 hours).
Xi'an Station is at the north end of Jiefang Road (解放路; pinyin: jiěfànglù）,just outside the northeast city wall. As you exit, there will probably be lots of people offering cheap hotel rooms; just ignore them if you already have a room booked. Even if you don't, you probably don't want to get one from them anyway. Also, don't fall for the people who offer to exchange a Xi'an map for your used train ticket - they reuse them for some shady purposes, e.g. re-selling them to people who just want to get into the station or try to sneak on a train.
In Xi'an, it is very easy to get to the railway station by city bus from anywhere in the city. There are several stops within 200 m of the station (look for train station East or North on a bus route (火车站东/北). Many hostels also offer free pick-up if you arrive between 6 and 9 AM.
The main long-distance bus station - Shaanxi Province Long-distance Bus Station is located Approx.100m south to the exit or entry to Xi'an railway station, city wall in the middle of them, while both west and east there is a gate.
Bus service is available to: Huashan (2-3 hours), Lanzhou (8-10 hours), Luoyang (5-7 hours), Taiyuan (12 hours), and Zhengzhou (9-12 hours).
Traffic is heavy, right of way is unheard of, and the rule of thumb is "keep going no matter what" (although drivers do note red lights).
The city is surrounded by a city wall, in its middle the Bell Tower (Chinese:钟楼; pinyin: Zhōnglóu). From this one, the four main streets descend into the four points of the compass.
- North-Street (北大街 Běidàjiē).
- East-Street (东大街 Dōngdàjiē).
- South-Street (南大街 Nándàjiē).
- West-Street (西大街 Xīdàjiē).
Do not get confused by different names in tourist guides, addresses and bus stops: Nandajie, Nanda-Street, South-Street, South-Avenue are all the same.
Locals often speak about Within city walls and Outside city walls when talking about locations. Outside the walls, the southern part is the most interesting, it offers shopping streets, bars and some nightlife.
There are plenty of buses departing everywhere in short-intervals (main lines every 5-10 minutes). If you are not confident enough with orientation, or if you do not like packed buses, the cheap taxis are the best alternative, broadly available, except for during rush hours.
The first subway line, running north/south, although still partially under construction at the southern most end, opened September 2011. You can connect to and from the Xi'an North Train Station (Chinese: 西安北站; pinyin: Xī'ān-běi Zhàn) for the high speed rail network. Since the subway is now only partly completed, the stops are limited, and it is, therefore, of limited use to tourists.
Bus 306 To Terracotta Warrior Museum
Regular buses within the city cost ¥1 (¥2 for air-conditioned, marked with a snow-flake) no matter how far you go. Since there are many buses in the city, it can be useful to go to the Tourism Office Center (which is situated near the Bell Tower) and ask for a free map of the city, with the buses' lines on it.
A popular line for tourists is #610 (also labeled "游8" in Chinese, which means "tourist #8") which connects the railway station, the Bell Tower, the Small Goose Pagoda and Xi'an Museum, the Shaanxi Historic Museum and the Big Goose Pagoda. Unfortunately it is not one of the most frequent (sometimes you can wait for half an hour, though usually it comes in a few minutes). Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of West Street; take it westwards to then go south to the museums and pagodas, take it eastwards to then go north to the railway station. Near the railway station (there are many stops for different lines) you can catch it at the third block on the main street going straight south from the station.
Another useful line is #609 that connects the Bell Tower, the South Gate and the Big Goose Pagoda. Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of South Street.
Although the 609 and 610 can be infrequent, the 611 is very regular, and connects the train station and the Bell Tower. Look for it over the road from the station.
There are many buses leaving regularly for the Terracotta Warrior museum in front of the Xi'an bus station (east to the train station, outside (in the north) the city walls).
- Bus 306 (Chinese bus green 5) leaves from the lot in front of the train station and will take you to a parking lot right in front of the museum site in about an hour (it can take up to 90 minutes in case of traffic jams). A one-way ticket costs ¥7 (pay on the bus). It also stops at several other tourist attractions along the way, e.g. the hot springs. Make sure you don't make the mistake of going to the bus station on the inside of the wall near the train station. That's were there are touts with signs saying bus 5 and bus 306, trying to hustle you onto their private bus. Although they do take you to the destinations, you are forced to go to visit attractions you might not want to go to.
- Small buses which are used by the locals (e.g. number 914). These buses will also take you to the Museum however they go through local small roads (no highway express like bus 306) therefore it will take longer to arrive. Not a bad trip if you want to see the local bumpy rural roads.
- Most hostels and hotels run tours to the warriors with an English speaking guide. These aren't necessarily better, be prepared to spend a good portion of the day (as with any Chinese tour) visiting "terracotta factories," "museums", "Chinese medicine shops", and other tourist traps. But, you will get to your destination without dealing with the bus (the warriors are quite far outside of town) and not all of the public buses that go there are legitimate.
Taxis are *very* limited. It can take a rather long time to find a vacant one and even then - given their choice of fares - they may decide to decline your destination for a more profitable one that is closer. Watch the taxi drivers in Xi'an as the industry is not regulated as it is in other larger cities. You may find yourself being taken on a long ride around town to get where you are going. It can also be difficult to convince them to take you anywhere (even to the railway station). If in doubt get your hotel or hostel to write down the place you want to go in Chinese. Between 3 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon the taxis change their shifts. This means the drivers are rushing to their handover points, so they won't pick you up even they are empty.
Trips within the city walls are generally around ¥10, longer trips to the attractions south of the city are ¥12-20. Especially when you take a longer ride, like to or from the airport, it is always good advice to insist on using the taxi meter.
The rate for the normal (green) taxis is ¥6 for the first 2 kilometer and then ¥1.5 for every additional kilometer. Waiting times longer than 2 minutes will be charged ¥1.5 per minute. As of 2012, there is a fuel-surcharge on every ride of ¥1, so the price you have to pay is ¥1 higher than the meter shows (there is a sign on the taxi's dashboard showing this "rule"). After 11:00 PM the starting price is ¥7. At the airport and around some of the big hotels you might also find black taxis. They charge ¥2.4 per kilometer, but are more spacious and comfortable. There is a road fee of ¥10 for the Airport Expressway. This is not included in the price the taxi meter shows. So going to or coming from the airport is usually ¥10 more than what the meter shows.
Fortunately Xi'an's main sites (with the notable exception of the Terracotta Warriors) are bunched fairly close together. Be wary of the narrow streets and cars that squeeze you out of the way. Bike lanes are available on some streets, however, places to lock bikes, typically are not.
Shop in the Muslim Street
Kites Flying at XiAn street
Inside/Near the city
- City Wall of Xi'an (西安城墙; Xīānchéngqiáng), . As the world's largest city wall, the Xi'an city wall has been restored and is 12m high, 18m wide is its bottom, 15m wide on the top, 13.7km long, and bikes(also bikes for two or three persons) are provided for renting, now it's ￥40 per hour/bike. You can hire one at the top of the South or East gate; you must return it where you got it, but beware bikes will not be rented if there is any chance of rain, because the top of the wall becomes slippery. Check the weather forecast before you buy a ticket to enter the wall. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes 4-5 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty(A.D.1368-A.D.1644) on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty(A.D.618-A.D.907). The Xi'an City Wall International Marathon is held each year in Nov. since 1993, running on top of the wall, athletes from amore than 50 countries and regions have participated in the competition during the last 16 sessions. Also, the Xi'an city wall Cycling Race are held on top of the wall since two years ago.
The entrance to Xi'an City Wall Museum,Xi'an,China
There is a small museum inside the city walls at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the city wall itself. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection. ¥40, ¥20 students (Sept 2010).
An inside view of Xi'an City Wall museum,Xi'an,China
- Shaanxi Historic Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn; also known as Shaanxi History Museum), xiaozhai, Xian,China (500m northwest to the Big wild goose pogoda), . This museum houses a collection of local artefacts that span the entirety of the province's history from the Neolithic through the Qing dynasty. In particular it contains fabulously well preserved pottery from nearby Banpo neolithic village (also worth a visit) and many excellent Shang Dynasty bronzes. Although some guidebooks call it "one of the best museums in China", its old fashioned pots-and-arrowheads-behind-glass format may appeal mainly to enthusiasts, though they also feature some well-made but glorifying high-definition movies in the exhibition halls. The most eye-catching articles are those from the Tang Dynasty, originally used by the royal family. Arrive early to avoid crowds and to get one of 1000 free tickets each day (bring your passport).
the Nestorian Stele tablet
- Forest of Steles (碑林; Xīānbēilín), (Just inside the southern city wall, near the Wenchang Gate), . This collection of 2,300 stone tablets (many written to provide an "official text" of the Chinese classics) and epitaphs is the largest and oldest of its kind in China. This includes the famous Nestorian Stele, dating back to the 7th century. It depicts the coming of Nestorian Christianity to China. The Nestorian Stele is in Showroom Number 2 and is the first stele on the left. ¥50/¥25 Beilin Museum, foreign student cards not accepted (January 2012).
- Wolong Temple (卧龙寺), (One block North and East of the Forest of Steles museum). This active Buddhist temple dates back to 200BC. Recently restored, the temple is vibrant and busy.
- Big (Wild) Goose Pagoda (大雁塔; Dàyàntǎ), (At Ci'en Temple, take bus 41 or 610 from the main train station). Built by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi（高宗李治) in 652AD. Emblem of the city of Xi'an. In the fountain in front of the pagoda there is a very nice water and music show sometimes during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby. ¥50 to enter the temple complex, another ¥40 to enter the pagoda.
- Little (Wild) Goose Pagoda (小雁塔; Xiǎoyàntǎ), (At Jianfu Temple). Completed in 709AD. To enter you will have to buy a joint ticket with the adjoining Xi'an Museum ¥30, Jul 11 (Note that the ticket still states the old price of ¥50, however ¥30 is charged)..
- Bell Towers (钟楼; Zhōnglóu), (In the exact center of the city). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Drum Tower).
- Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu), (Just to the northwest within the Muslim Quarter). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Bell Tower).
- Grand Mosque (大清真寺; Qīngzhēnsì), (Behind Drum Tower). Built in a perfect mixture of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles with seating for 1,000 worshipers and the Muslim Street district (回民街 Huímín Jiē) around it. It is famous as the very first mosque ever to be built in China. It can be quite difficult to find through the winding back streets but is very well known to locals. Only Muslims are permitted entry to the actual mosque but there is plenty to see in the many accompanying courtyards. Ladies are asked to cover up with a scarf according to Muslim tradition. ¥25.
- Eight Immortals Temple (八仙庵; Bāxiān'ān). An active Daoist temple built for the famous Eight Immortals, including the Eight Immortals Bridge, lots of steles in the walls with text and illustrations, and multiple worship halls.
Outside the city
- Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses (兵马俑; Bīngmăyŏng), (A short distance away from the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, it is the last stop of bus 306).
This mighty army of terracotta warriors and horses, found in three vaults, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of Shaanxi and one of the most popular in all of China. An in-site museum has been built over these pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and displaying 8,000 life-like terracotta warriors, 100 or so chariots, and 30,000 weapons.
the No. bronze chariot earthed from the terracotta warriors and horses excavation site.
The assemblage has been billed by the tourist industry as the Eighth Wonder of the World and a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The ticket office is next to the parking lot, which is a 5/10 minute walk away from the entrance to the museum. Buy your tickets at the ticket office or you can also buy them from resellers at the entrance for a 5 Yuan fee. ¥150, students ¥75.
terracotta warriors have their personal hairstyles.
- Banpo Village Ruins （半坡遗址）. 6,000 year old ruins of a village site including the residential and pottery-making areas, ancient tools, as well as a burial ground. Take bus #42 from the train station. Visit also the Shaanxi Historic Museum to see the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo.
- Famen Temple (法门寺). This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67AD, contains a 13-storied brick pagoda as part of the monastery. This pagoda fell down in the rain in August 1981 and revealed a 1000 year old underground vault full with 2,400 treasures belonging to the Tang and previous dynasties given as offerings. These included gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones and textiles, as well as religious items. The biggest treasure is a finger bone of Buddha offered to the Emperor of China during the Tang dynasty.
- Huaqing Palace (华清池; Huáqīngchí), (First stop of bus 306). Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan in Lintong County so he could frolic with his favoured Imperial Lady Yang to his heart's content. It is possible to take hot baths inside. ¥70, hot bath ¥30.
- Mao Ling Mausoleum （茂陵博物馆）. The tomb of the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty, includes many stone carvings.
- Qinshihuang's Mausoleum (秦始皇陵), (Third stop (second for the museum) of bus 306 before the Terracota Warriors). Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China. You can visit the surrounding gardens and mountains, but you can not get inside the mausoleum. There is a low quality museum with a reconstruction of the Mausoleum. Taking pictures in the dimly lit museum is forbidden, although staff will not control it too much. Mausoleum ¥40, museum ¥15.
- Qian Ling Mausoleum （乾陵博物馆）. The only shared tomb of the first empress of China Wu Zetian, and her husband Emperor Gaozong of Tang Dynasty.
- Taiping National Park (太平国家公园), (44 km SW of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain). Famous for its waterfall and the largest area of wild Zijing flower (the city flower of Hong Kong) in north China.
- Xiangyu Forest Park (祥峪森林公园), (37 km S of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain).
- Huashan Mountain （华山）, (About 2.5 hr outside of Xi'an, or 40 minutes by high-speed train. High-speed rail station is about 30minutes away from the bell tower by cab. Cab ride is about 35rmb. Once arriving at the Huashan high-speed train station it is a quick taxi ride (20rmb) to the mountain trailhead.). This is one of China's sacred mountains. Very beautiful misty mountain where you can climb steep stairs while holding on to chain railings for support. If you take the cable car up, you can climb around the four peaks in about 3-4 hours. Cable car is 80rmb/150rmb round trip and is located at the east gate and goes directly to the north peak. If you want to walk up you have to go to another entrance, the Yu Quan Yuan （玉泉院） entrance.There are many tours that drive to the Mountain, just be aware that half of the time you will be stoping for jewelry, Chinese medicine, etc. Worthwhile if you get a nice coach.
- Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, (Near the airport). Han dynasty tomb containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. The "Underground Museum" at the excavation site has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations and is definitely worth a visit (although is best done as part of a journey to or from the airport). It's also worth getting a guide or following one around (note that English ones are more expensive than Chinese ones) because they will explain things in much more detail than the captions. Some people also climb up to the top of the burial mound (you can see a worn trail going up the side). The best way to get here is via tour or share a taxi (around ¥200 round-trip, not including waiting time). 80; half-price students.
- Hui Muslim Quarter, Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē). Walk through the Muslim quarter sampling food and buying souvenirs.
- Walk the City Walls. Walk along the city walls and see the South Gate (南门; Nánmén), which is illuminated at night.
- Bike the City Walls. Bicycling around the city walls will take about 2 hours. Bicycles can be rented on the East and South Gates for 100 minutes, ¥20 per person, and it has to be returned to the same deposit where it was taken. Remember to take your passport with you as a deposit for the bike that you rent, or ¥200. Make sure that you keep the deposit ticket, as the bike vendor will not give you the deposit back without it! Also - the bikes are generally low quality, and with poor maintenance - so check that the brakes work before choosing yours.
Native and non-native English speakers can easily find jobs teaching English.
Xi'an souvenirs include small copies of terracotta warriors, wood-carved Buddhas and dragons, Tang Tricolored Pottery, hand made paper cut (by many regarded as the most important arts form in Xi'an), all other kind of folk art and also fake western products.
- Terracotta Warriors. If you are visiting the Terracotta Warriors, be prepared to meet some of the most hardcore hawkers you are likely to meet anywhere. If you keep quiet, they will usually bargain themselves down in front of you in desperate pleas for your money. A box of 15cm high Terracotta warriors cost ¥5-10 (if you're lucky) or ¥15-25 (more likely) even if they offer it to you for ¥45. Wood-carved Buddhas and Dragons for about the same. They are fortunately kept at a distance from the actual site. Many travelers report enjoying this experience. It is definitely not a reason to avoid seeing the Terracotta Warriors. The exit from the pit areas to the parking lot leads through long avenues lined with souvenir stalls and shops. The barkers will try to get your business, but are not as aggressive as the touts at the entrance or immediate exits.
- Bazaar Area, (Behind the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter around the Great Mosque). The best place to buy souvenirs in the city center is the bazaar area. The seller usually offers you a very high price, and even if you bring them down by 50%, they will still make a big profit. This is also a good place to buy folk art, specifically folk style block prints in a single shop which go for about ¥50 if you can stand bargaining when the older gentleman artist himself is standing right there. This area is also full of fake name-brand products like watches, bags, clothes. Bargain hard.
- Calligraphy Street （书院门步行街）, (Near South Gate inside the city wall towards the east, walking down South Street on the left side, continue to where the road splits in front of South Gate and turn left to find the entrance gate next to a small pagoda, midway do a slight dog leg to the right, at the far end is the Forest of Steles). This is another souvenir shopping area. Less hectic than the Muslim Quarter.
- Tang Tricolored Pottery Factory. Tang Tricolored Pottery is a style that was lost and has now been recreated from pieces of pottery found in tombs. It is graphic in image and eye-pleasing in color. The factory recreating the style offers over 100 varieties of items, like statues, animals and utensils.
Xi'an is a great place to buy clothes.
- East Street (Dong Dajie), (The eastern of the four big streets descending from the central Bell Tower). Has regular fashion shops.
- South Street (Nan Dajie). Has finer clothes and shoes, and is home to boutiques like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Marc Jacobs.
- Baihui Market (百汇市场), (In Xiaozhai (小寨), ¥10 by taxi from the city center). Local youngsters shop here. It is one of those fake-brand markets. Sport shoes should be less than ¥150, pullovers and nice jeans sometimes less than ¥100, lots of cheap fashion accessories. This is also a great place for DVDs and CDs but understand these are mostly pirated copies.
- Kangfu Road, (Outside the east city wall, straight through the Northeast Gate). A great place for a bargain. Nothing is (bargained for) over ¥50 and most clothes can be bargained down to about ¥20 if you are really aggressive. But this place is full of poor quality stuff.
- Shida Lu. A trendy place to shop in a largely student populated area in the south of the city. Shida Lu has lots of hair salons, and clothing botiques.
- Century Ginwa. This luxury shopping mall has two locations in Xi'an. One downtown by the Drum Tower, the other in Gaoxing on Keji Lu.
Foreign Language Bookstore 外文书店
The best place to hunt down an English language novel or book is the Foreign Language Bookstore. Almost every major city in China has one these days, but don't expect to be overwhelmed by the fabulous selection of English books – whether in Xi'an or in any city in China. Expect to find a handful of popular novels and classic prose. You'll also find bucket loads of English language text books and dictionaries for studying purposes.
Add: 349 Dong Dajie, Xincheng District, Xi'an
Tel: 029 8721 9872?
Jiahui Hantang Book City 嘉汇汉唐书城
The largest bookstore in Xi'an, Book City has a fairly decent selection of imported English books. You'll find a wide range of books here, from educational ones, to classic novels, and modern literature to children's books. The place gets swamped with people at the weekends, so for a more pleasant browsing experience, come during a weekday.
Add: 111 Chang’an Zhonglu, Yanta District, Xi’an
Tel: 029 85219888
Opening times: 09:00-21:00
Xi'an Book Building 西安图书大厦
Another place worth checking out is the Xi'an Book Building, four floors of books as far as the eye can see. Though the vast majority of books are in the Chinese language, you will find a small selection of English books on the second floor. The building also houses a small audio and video section, as well as a café.
Add: 214 Jiefang Lu, Xi’an
Tel: 029 87416666
Opening hours: 09:00-21:00
Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore 钟楼新华书店
Another very small English language book selection can be found at the Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore. Unless you're nearby, your best bet for English books is still the Foreign Language Bookstore or even the Book City. However, if you're also looking for stationary, cards, wrapping paper etc. then it may be worth checking out and to trying to kill two birds with the one stone. Otherwise don't expect an English-language book Mecca here.
Add: 377 Dong Dajie, Xi'an
Tel: 029 8724 0844
Opening hours: 09:00-20:00
Xi'an specialties include:
- Yang Rou Pao Muo （羊肉泡馍） is one of the signature dishes of the area, it consists of a piece of thick, chewy bread and a kettle of lamb soup. The diner shreds the bread with his hands and places the shreds in a bowl, the soup is then poured over the shreds (along with meat, maybe some noodles or scallion, etc.) The trick is to shred the bread into pieces that are "as small as possible", like the size of your pinky fingernail. Most first-timers will shred their bread in pieces that are too large. In some restaurants, they have already shredded the bread for you. It is normally also served with pickled garlic and chili. If you don't like lamb, some restaurants also offer a beef version. Tong Sheng Xiang Restaurant is recommended.
- Biang Biang Mian is a local provincial specialty noodle dish that is extremely good. The wide noodles are spiced, have a broth, and include toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, beef, etc. The character for "biang" isn't yet possible to type into a computer, but look for a complex character with about 57 strokes repeated twice before "面". A popular chain has a red sign with white characters, and includes the face of the "Noodle King".
- Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍 is the closest thing to a beefburger. This is a local tradition and should be very easy to locate. Sandwich-like, with pork, beef or lamb, this is a must-try item for anyone who is in this area.
- Xiao long bao-zi 小笼包子 are basket-steamed dumplings (one basket ¥3), common as a midnight snack. Look for its big brother "Da bao-zi" only available first thing in the mornings, like a steamed cornish pastie, but very nice.
- Guan Tang bao-zi 灌汤包子 are steamed buns served with sauces inside.
- Shi Zi Bing 柿子饼 are buns made from persimmons, stuffed with something (e.g. black sesame paste), and deep-fried, so they're quite sticky-sweet. You can find many sellers in the Muslim Quarter, and they are only ¥1 each!
- Lu dou gao 绿豆糕 are literally green bean cakes (come in small cubes), but they're more moist than you may find elsewhere and also come with a variety of mixings (e.g. sesame). Half a Jin should be about six cubes and cost about ¥5 at a cart in the Muslim Quarter.
Some good places to look for restaurants are:
- The Muslim Quarter close to the Drum Tower is a vibrant area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. If you're looking for snacks, this area is also full of people selling dried fruit (especially dates) and nuts/seeds (sunflower, melon, pumpkin, etc.) Prices are per Jin (500 g) and are pretty much standardized throughout the area, so you can't really bargain unless you're buying a lot (but who wants 1 kg of peanuts anyway?) Watch out for the pits in the dates!
- Street food (mostly sold after sunset, or some near night clubs/bars after 11:00 PM) presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on by tens of little food vendors on street side, each with a red lamp.
A good way if you do not want the expensive hotel food or just want to try real Chinese cuisine, is to simply go into a small restaurant and point to a dish somebody else is having and you will get a meal for less than ¥10 (seldom ¥20) per person.
A good street for eating is Xiyang Shi running east-west near the mosque in the Muslim quarter.
- Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan (温馨饺子馆), 123 Xushimiao Street (Next to the Good World Hotel, off of Lian Hu Lu). A good cheap place for jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). There is no menu, but endless supplies of fresh jiaozi of many flavors. From ¥4-5 a bowl.
- Lao Sun Jia, G/F Dong Dajie. Has fantastic yangrou paomo which is very cheap but flavoursome. No English spoken but easy to communicate with sign language!
McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC or its Chinese brother, Dicos, are widely available within city walls for a change from the daily Chinese cuisine. There are also three Starbucks within a 5-minute walk of the Bell Tower.
- Highfly Pizza (高飞), (Down the right hand street after coming out of South Gate (南门)). Real pizza and other western food.
- Green Molly Restaurant & Pub (绿茉莉), (200m north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road (西安市高新区高科大厦副楼一层 (世纪金花商场后门向北200米路东))), ☎ +86 29 81883339. 10AM-11PM. A restaurant where you can indulge in the tastes of home, whether that be in the U.S., Europe or even Mexico. The restaurant owns only the second authentic pizza oven in Xi'an. Downstairs, the first and only real pub in Xi'an has a wide selection of beverages ranging from imported beers to wine and delicious cocktails.
- Small World Cafe (Jianguomen 建国门), Huancheng Nanlu Dongduan 90# (Outside Jian Guo Gate （建国门外）). 11:00AM-10:30PM. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. From the windows, one could see busy Huancheng Nanlu (环城南路)，while it is really quiet inside.
- Small World Cafe (Dayanta 大雁塔), Ynataxilu 雁塔西路 (Southeast to Big Goose Pagoda （大雁塔东南角）). 10:30AM-10:30PM. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. Out of the north windows, one could see Big Goose Pagoda.
- Delhi Darbar (新德里餐厅), Dayanta West Road (雁塔区大唐通易坊东头路北) (Directly west of the Big Goose Pagoda on a street full of upscale bars and restaurants). Authentic North Indian food run by a wonderful Indian manager. Service is good, food is devinely delicious, and prices are very affordable. Mango Lassi for only ¥10 is a must have. Average meal price is about ¥40 per person. Highly Recommended.
- Village Cafe. A nice urban cafe on Shi Da Lu that offers burgers, steaks, and all sorts of drinks and desserts. From ¥30-60 per person.
- La Seine, Nandajie (南大街) (Near Bell Tower). French style restaurant.
- Tang Paradise Hotel, (Near the Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang Resort of Xi'an). Dinner Show in a large 165 acres theme park. The charm lies in that all the buildings in the park are built in the luxurious style of the Tang Dynasty. The best time to visit is at night when most of the shows, including fireworks and dances, are performed.
- Koi, Sofitel on Ren Min square. Japanese cuisine. * Village Cafe (32 Shi Da Lu, opposite of Bank of China). If you miss your burger, this is the place to go.
Night clubs in Xi'an are not abundant. All clubs play the same music, a mix of Chinese disco and some pop music. Most people go out between 10PM and 1AM, but clubs are generally open until 4AM.
In summer time, the area around South Gate (南门) is beautiful. East of it are three nice bars with terraces and gardens.
Along the short Nandajie (南大街) are the most clubs (you can also eat on the street as there are restaurants open past midnight).
- MIX, (Big light ad). Rather nice places to sit and drink.
- Palando. Rather nice place to sit and drink.
- Night Cat. Dance floor, some foreigners and OK-DJs.
Other options include:
- 1+1, Dongdajie (东大街) (In the middle of the street). Remains one of the most popular clubs and definitely the most popular amongst foreigners. The club has 2 dance floors: first floor is mostly J-pop music, second floor is mostly hip-hop. There is a relaxed open air bar on the 5th floor which has live music every night.
- De Fu Lou Cafe & Bar (De Fu Lou Paulaner Bar), De Fu Xiang Street. In Bar Street (De Fu Xiang), one of the first bars ever to open in Xi'an and a favourite hangout for locals. Live football on the big screen and live music every night.
- Salsa (莎莎; Shasha), 7F, Parkson building, No.107 West Street. Is probably the most popular club. This club is your best bet on Fridays and Saturdays however yi-jia-yi is more consistent during the week. The dance floor, while smaller than yi-jia-yi's, is usually less crowded, so you have a bit more room to dance. Be careful if your group is mainly non-chinese as they sometimes decide to limit the number of foreigners allowed in.
- Off-road Tea Bar, Jiefang Road (800 m S direct to Xi'an Railway Station). Has been checked by Google Business. Here, one could enjoy the fresh green tea in Southern Shaanxi and could meet local cycling and trekking lover.
- Havana Bar, Renmin Square (In Sofitel Hotel). Has a Colombian band and makes good cocktails. It's not your average Buena Vista Social Club, though: they play loud music inbetween band performances and the band plays a wide array of pop and salsa. This location is more of a club than an actual latin bar.
- The Belgian Bar, 69 Shun Cheng Nan Lu Dong Duan (150m east inside the South Gate), ☎ 13201672369, . The first and only Belgian bar in Xi'an. Friendly pub atmosphere and huge range of beers. Popular with expats and locals. Awesome location facing onto the city wall.
- Vice Versa, Wen Chang Men (Wen Chang Gate) (Beilin History Museum (Beilin Bo wu guan)), ☎ 151 092 72480, . 3PM-5AM. Vice Versa is a cultural mix of east and west, found in one of the older districts of Xi'an. With a relaxed cafe/restaurant open during the day, a lively bar serving a mix of western and asian beers/cocktails at night, and a crowd of expats and Xi'an locals. Has a skate shop on the third floor, run by Converse pro-skater Xiao Jian. Located next to the front gate of the Forest of Steles History Museum, next to the city wall at Wen Chang Gate, you can call Mike at 151 092 72480 if you get lost.
As with most Chinese cities several cheap run down hotels can be found near the train station. There are a few decent ones inside the city walls on a road called Jie Fang Lu going directly south from train station. Bargaining is possible especially if you are staying for more than one night. Expect to pay under ¥100 for a single room as getting a room for as low as ¥30 is possible.
There are at least six international youth hostels right in the center of the city, easy to find.
Booking on the Internet will usually save you money, prices start around ¥15.
- 3e Hotels International, 54 Nandajie (located between the South Gate and the Bell Tower, right next door to a KFC on the W side of the street). Single room with free broadband internet is ¥154. Right outside the door is a coffee shop.
- Bob's Guesthouse, 85 Huan Cheng Bei Lu Rd (just outside the city walls, a short walk from the train station), . Doubles with en-suite bathroom for ¥100; dorms from ¥25 (summer 2006).
- Ludao Binguan, 80 Xi Ba Lu （西八路）, ☎ +86 29 87420308 (fax: +86 29 82101222). A nicer-than-average hotel and hostel. Dorm rooms are between ¥25-50, depending on the season. Reasonably nice hotel room for around ¥75. The manager Jim Beam is friendly.
- Hq Guesthouse in Xi'an, Hong Cheng Guoji Gong Yu, Xihuamen Shizi, 西安市, 陕西省, 710003, ☎ +86 13149250037, . Small but cozy setup in a brand new apartment complex located by the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an. Free pickup, free internet. 1 bedroom apartments from ¥300..
- Xi'an Shuyuan International Youth Hostel, Xi Nanmen, ☎ +86 29 87287720 (fax: +86 29 87287721). Excellent location just next to the South Gate. 8 people dorm from 35 RMB/night. There is an excellent pub under the hostel, and a very nice coffee house. Perfect place to hang out, surf internet, just 10 minute walk from Drum Tower and the magical moslim snack street! Updated: 09.02.2012
- Han Tang Inn Youth Hostel, 7 South Long Alley, ☎ +86 29 87231126, +86 29 87287772, . The hostel is in a 4 floor building down a alley near the Bell Tower. Rates range from ¥30-160; doubles with ensuite bathroom costs ¥120/night (as of June 2010; booked on hostelworld.com). The hostel includes a bar on the 4th floor with TV, pool table, movies and 3 guitars. Free computer use for internet in the lobby. wifi in the rest of the building is iffy but you can ask for an Ethernet cable. The staff run lots of events (e.g. a dumpling party) each wee. Have a partner, Shuyuan Hostel, near the South Gate.
- duolamaer gallery international youth hostel, 7 Shuncheng Avenue, Zhuque Gate (10 m from South Gate), ☎ +86 15129032007, . Duolamaer is a painting-themed hostel providing a vibrant accommodation for independent travellers who require basic but clean living facilities. It is run by a bunch of arts enthusiasts, who give that place a creative and aesthetic atmosphere.
- Jiefang Fandian, 321 Jiefang Lu, ☎ +86 029 87698881 (fax: +86 029 87698882).
- Lijing Jiudian, 20 Xi Dajie, ☎ +86 29 87288731.
- Xian Central Serviced Apartments, Xihuamen Shizi, ☎ +86 15829031947. Xian central serviced apartments are more than 100 sq m. Spacious, newly furnished, clean and about 1 min walk to the Muslim Quarter. Free PC and internet in every apartment. Provide free use of mobile phone for guests to use while out exploring the city
- Qingnianhui Binguan, 339 Dong Dajie, ☎ +86 29 87673002.
- Qindao Business Hotel, 100 Nan Guang Ji Jie (It is along Xi Dajie across from the Parkson Shopping Center and entrance to the Muslim Quarter), ☎ +86 29 87615888. Free internet and cable TV in the rooms. Travel office and public computer available in the lobby. Complimentary breakfast at 4th floor restaurant of mediocre quality, but their regular menu items are quite good and the view from the balcony is great. Laundry service: 2 day turnaround ¥10/item. Beware of the massage place on the 7th floor. It is nasty. ¥286 for a double room (2 people) and up.
- Grand Mercure on Renmin Square (西安豪华美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☎ +86 29 87928888 (email@example.com), . A heritage hotel of 202 rooms, 21 suites, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture.
- Mercure on Renmin Square Xi'an (西安美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☎ +86 29 87928888 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A heritage hotel of 113 rooms, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture. From ¥ 594.
- Nanlin International Hotel, ☎ +86 29 87216000, . Nanlin International Hotel is a four star hotel located in Xincheng District. It is just 3 km from Xi'an Railway Station and 40 km from Xianyang International Airport. Air-con room equipped with cable TV and free high-speed Internet access. Best rates on official website start at ¥287+.
- Warriors apartments, Building B, Hongcity International apartment, No.15 Xihuamen St., Xi'an, ☎ +86 13519197819 (email@example.com), . Family run, boutique apartment hotel. Qin-styled accommodations with 40 life-size warriors in the three apartments. Each apartment has terracotta warriors and has 1 or 2 bedrooms, bathroom, dining area, color TV, bed quilts, oven, full kitchen facilities and broadband internet access.
- Ibis Hotel, 59, Heping Road, Xian, ☎ +86 2987275555. Part of Accor Group. Very basic facilities. Free broadband internet access. Price per night starts from ¥ 199..
- Xi'an Bell Tower Hotel (Zhonglou fandian), 110 Nan Dajie (Facing the Bell Tower and the new Bell Drum Square.), ☎ +86 29 87600000 (fax: +86 29 87218767).
- Grand Mecure at Renmin Square, (A few blocks north-east of the Bell and Drum Towers).
- Sofitel at Renmin Square, (A few blocks north-east of the Bell and Drum Towers).
- Hyatt Regency Xi'an (西安凱悅酒店), 158, Dong Dajie (At the corner of Dong Dajie and Heping Lu (和平路), 10 minutes walk from the Bell Tower), ☎ +86 29 87691234 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 5 star hotel within the the historic City Wall, in the heart of shopping and entertainment area of Xi'an.
- Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel (金花豪生國際大酒店), 18 West Section, Huancheng S Rd (60 minutes from Xi'an International Airport and 15 minutes from Railway station). 2 tall modern architectural buildings are separated by a spacious and bright lobby. Opened in 2003 with 324 rooms.
- Xi'an Golden Flower Hotel. Very popular 5 star hotel, 5 min taxi ride from the Bell tower. Luxury, large rooms with views. Swimming pool, spa, 3 restaurants, lobby bar and shops. Dble US$160.
- Sheraton Xi'an Hotel, 262 Feng Hao E Rd, ☎ +86 29 84261888. The location of this hotel is not a good choice for tourists, because it is far from the scenic spot of the city. However, it is near the freeway and the airport.
- Xi'an Garden Hotel, 40 Yanyin Rd, Yanta District, ☎ +86 21 61226688, ext 7800, . Four-star hotel with a stunning imperial-inspired facade and 292 beautifully appointed rooms. Facilities include conference and banquet venues, three restaurants, and an indoor swimming pool.
- Kempinski Hotel Xi'an(西安中新凯宾斯基酒店), 6 West Section, Euro-Asia Avenue, Chanba Ecological District (30 min from Xi'an Int'l Airport), . The official site of the Euro-Asia Economic Forum. A leading luxury hotel in town with fascinating river view and extensive conference facilities.
- Notes From Xi'an  - a long-standing and useful website with articles about Xi'an's development, as well as a comprehensive page of Xi'an's Coffee Shops.
- Xian Ease  - is an expat magazine and website covering the happenings and goings on in town.
- Wiki Guide Xi'an  - some deeper report about Xi'an.
- Xi'an International Business Forum 
Xi'an is, like other Chinese cities, generally quite safe. Just watch out for pickpockets (usually children) in crowds.
Pickpockets are more common during holidays. Pickpocketing is more likely to happen on the bus, in the East Street (the most properous commercial street in Xi'an), and some of the more crowded resorts like the North Square of the wild goose pagoda where there is a fountain show every night.
Keep an eye on your camera.
There are also alot of people asking for your money and beggars.
Look at the Beijing#Cope notes as they apply to Xi'an, too. Most importantly, take paper tissue with you to toilets.
Generally, Western style accommodation will have western toilets, whereas the very inexpensive guest house (zhao dai suo) will usually have squat toilets. If you need to use western toilets, learn to plan your day accordingly. Major tourist attractions will have western toilets.
If you arrive in Xi'an by train, try not to be overwhelmed when you exit Xi'an's train station. There are usually aggressive hotel touts looking for customers. Just insist that you already have a place to stay and tell them no, with a serious faced, 不要！ / Bú yào！
It is a good idea to leave your bags at the left luggage office and then go into town to look for accommodation. This way you will not be overwhelmed by the burden of carrying your heavy bags or luggage around.
- Chen Lu Pottery. 2.5-3hours drive north of Xi'an, this community of potters has been producing pottery since the Tang dynasty and is well worth the look if pottery is your thing, private transportation recommended. Winter is not a good time to visit here due to its location in the deep maintain, if there's a snow fall the icy snow covered road makes trouble. The Yaozhouyao Kiln Museum locates on the way from Xi'an to Chenlu Town, about 90km north of Xi'an, on the western side of the older road, not the high way. Articles here in 9 exhibition halls depicts the development of the Yaozhou procelain, which reaches its highest level during the Song Dynasty(960A.D.-1279), ranked first in Northern China for its beautiful celadon porcelain. The excavation sites of the original kiln lies 500m north of the museum, you could walk there, which is also well preserved. Car rent: hermit, ☎ 0086-13319222246 (email@example.com), .
- Hu Kou Waterfall (壶口瀑布 Húkǒu Pùbù). Located 150 km north of Xi'an, private transportation recommended; can be combined with a day trip to Huang Di Mausoleum. If arriving by public transportation, take note that as of 2008 there was only one bus returning to Xi'an from the waterfall. It departs around 10AM and must be flagged down as it does not stop.
- Huashan National Park. Approximately 2 hours by train or bus east of Xi'an. Huashan is a 2000 metre mountain with spectacular views. It is possible to take the 2-3 hour (6 km) walk up or take the 10 minute cable car for ¥70. Though the cable car often has lines lasting 2 hours. It is best to go for sun rise on the East peak. Take plenty of warm clothing for when the sun goes down. Basic accommodation is available, but can be quite pricey. Guesthouses with dormitory style lodging are available on the mountain.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!