Xián is the capital city of the Shaanxi province located in Northwest China. It was the 2nd city on my China Trip in April. We arrived from Beijing via a 12 hours sleeper train and got to visit these amazing places in the 3 days we were there.
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Terracotta Museum)
Xián is known to many as the location of the largest terracotta army museum in China. These terracotta sculptures were made as part of the First Qin Emperor’s mausoleum. It’s located outside of the city so there’s a special tour bus you can ride to go there. Look for Bus no 5 (306) at the Xián Railway Station East Square. The journey will cost you CNY7 and takes a little over an hour to reach. Entrance to the museum is CNY150. At the time we went, it was a public holiday so you can imagine the crowd!
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
We spent our first night visiting the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which sits just outside the main city. Every night, at about 8pm, the huge fountain in front of the pagoda will light up and spout water to the tune of traditional music playing. It was indeed a spectacle to watch. You can get there via the new metro at the Dayanta stop of line 3.
Our 2nd day starts with a hike up the famous Huashan mountain. This is the mountain that you see with all those steep steps and dangerous paths all over the internet. You can the option of either hike for 5.5 hours up or take the cable car to reach the North Peak. Of course we took the latter option. From there, you can continue hiking to the other peaks. We only had time to hike to the centre peak which took another 1.5 hours to reach. There’s also cable car going up to the West Peak. Huashan can be reached via High Speed Train from Xián North station.
After a day of hiking, we spent the rest of the day discovering the main city of Xián. The Bell Tower sits in the middle of the city and is a significant symbol to the city. You can opt to enter the tower or just admire the grandeur of this historical landmark. It looks even more amazing at night illuminated and with the lights highlighting the colors overlaying the structure.
The Drum Tower is another symbol of the city of Xián. It’s located near to the Bell Tower and named after the drums located within the building. Together with the Drum Tower, you can enter for CNY50. It’s also the the first building you see that brings you to the Muslim Quarters.
Xián has a large Muslim community and the Muslim Quarters is one of the area you can witness the Islamic influence among the Chinese. The main street here itself serves like a street market where you can try a variety of food and snacks from the community. Most of it is halal making it a favourite among Muslim tourists. Get your souvenir fix here as well among the stores in the inner alley ways in the quarters.
The old city of Xián is surrounded by a 14km rectangle City Wall. Our 3rd day was spent discovering the whole stretch of this wall via bicycle. Entrance is CNY45 and a 2 hour rental of bicycle cost you CNY54. 14km is quite a long journey so be prepared but the experience is so unique so you might not want to miss it. There are also performances scheduled throughout the day at the south entrance so check schedules to not miss it.
Step into ancient times as you pass by this street near the south City Wall. The traditional buildings distinguishes itself from the rest of the modern buildings of Xián. If you’re looking for art souvenirs like paintings and caligraphy tools, here’s where you can get them at good prices.
Xián Great Mosque
Our last stop is the Xián Great Mosque near the Muslim Quarters. As you walk among the alleyways in the Muslim Quarters, you’ll reach a large compound at the end that you’d think it houses more of a garden than a mosque at first glance. It consists of small building with a beautiful garden at the center. At the end of the compound is the main Prayer Hall. For non-muslims it will cost CNY25 to enter.
My initial expectation of Xián was just a small town compared to the bigger cities but I was totally wrong. Xián is already a modern city but it still preserved its historical elements which makes it a worthwhile visit. Have you been here?