China has a lot to offer for travelers traveling to this country. The untouched nature, the bustling cities and even historic areas and buildings. No wonder that so many people find China an attractive country to travel in, and some even live in it. For those who see China only as a travel country, and not a country to emigrate to, the ancient city of Xi’An is often looked over. Probably with the thought that Xi’An only has to offer the terracotta army. Think again! Xi’An has so much more to offer and perhaps this city has one of the oldest history in the country. The China Guide and I have partnered a collaboration through which I received a first introduction from China. With Xi’An as the second city on a tour. What you should definitely do and see in this ancient capital of China, I will tell you today.
A visit to Xi’An is incomplete when you skip the Terracotta army. This is the biggest attraction of this city. It is within an hour’s drive to the area, but no matter how many times to deny it, Xi’An is the best base for the army. Aria, a local guide of The China Guide, led us through the entire museum (3 gates). Whatever they tell you: it is bigger than big and has a history that goes deeper than the Qin Shi Huangdi’s dynasty.
A fact told by the guide: the army was excavated in the 70s by a local farmer, who afterwards got a lot of hatred by the other farmers. The army was so big that many farmers lost their land. The farmer who discovered the army never really got the credit until the president of America (Clinton) met him in person. A story with a happy ending!
In the past, every city in China had a city wall. Most of them have been broken down in the past, but fortunately those of Xi’An are not. This city is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and one of the four previous capitals of China. The wall is about 13 kilometers in length and there is a moat next to this wall. On the wall you can of course walk, but also rent a bike to cycle around the wall. If you are not able to cycle, or walk a part of the old city wall, you can still opt for a small car, which gives you a ride from point A to B.
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a sacred place for the Buddhists. It is not only this building that is sacred, but also the gardens and squares around it. It is simply beautiful to see. Everything is very neat, it is also very quiet (what it is supposed to be) and there is a Buddha statue where you can take a picture. Because as everyone knows, you can not photograph Buddha’s in some places. This also applies in China, but you can take photos of the famous “Happy Buddha”. Nice little fact for who travels to China!
The Muslim street is one of the nicest streets of Xi’An. It may not be your cup of tea if you do not like crowds, but it is definitely a must-do when you are in Xi’An. There are food stalls on both sides of the street where you can taste local food from the local population. Everything is prepared in front of your eyes, so no worry there if you should be reluctant to street food, since it is all fresh.
The Mosque of Xi’An
Close to the Muslim street there is the Great Mosque. A very quiet place, in the middle of the busiest district of the city. When you walk into this place, you walk into an oasis of peace. In the building in the north of this place, you will find the Mosque. We were not allowed to enter here, as my travel buddy and I are not Muslims. But just walking around the Mosque was also enough, according to my opinion.
Shaanxi Historical Museum
Near the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is the Shaanxi historical museum, the first modern national museum. This museum literally goes back a million years and tells the history of this area: the different dynasties, how people ate, the distinction between rich and poor, etc. It all appears in this museum. The only downside of this visit was the overwhelming crowds that were there, even though it was morning. Sometimes it was really pushing and pulling to see something, and in the museum it was also very dark that you had to watch out that you did not stumble over a young child.
Han Yangling Museum
Many of us do not realize that there is another museum in the area and if they do realize it, they skip this museum. Too bad, because it is really interesting and if I had to choose between the Shaanxi Historical Museum and the Han Yangling Museum, I would go for the Han Yangling Museum. The Han Yangling Museum tells the history of the Han Dynasty. And even though it is described as a “museum”, it is indeed a Mausoleum. It is the tomb of the emperor Liu Qi, and next to this museum lies the empress’ grave.
This mausoleum is located about 20 kilometers from the city of Xi’An. That is why many people skip this place. Do not do this, absolutely do not skip this place. It is a beautiful grave that also deserves some credit. In addition, you can easily do this museum on your way to the airport of Xi’An, since it is close by.
Tang Dynasty Show
What I really, but really and highly recommended is the Tang Dynasty Show that you can do in the evening. You will be escorted to your table (if you have a ticket for it) and then part of the evening will be full of good food, more specifically with dumplings. These dumplings were the best I have eaten in China, and there were an incredible amount of dumplings. After dinner, or during dinner when you are a slow eater, you can enjoy the Tang Dynasty show. A great show with dancers showing the whole story of this dynasty.
Have you already visited Xi’An? If so, what did you think about this city?
*Disclaimer: I have been invited by The China Guide to review the tour. Yet, as always, all opinions are fair and mine.