Located in Northwest China, Xian is the oldest of the four great ancient capitals, known for its educational, industrial and cultural values. It contains key research facilities, such as China’s space program and national security outposts. With a massive population of 8,705,600, there’s no wonder there’s such a demand for English teachers. Needless to say there has never been a better time to travel to this city, after the Economist recently named it as “one of the 13 emerging megacities in China.” If you’re considering a city to learn Mandarin in, Xian is perfect, with 99.1% of the population being Han Chinese. Also a city rich in culture, Xian is a distinct textile region with a large opera and cinema industry, and host to the famous Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, earning the city a worldwide reputation.
Things to do
Xian can boast of 3,000 years of history, including over 1,100 years as the capital city of ancient dynasties. As a result, Xian has been endowed with an amazing historical heritage, with plenty of quality attractions besides the most famous Terracotta Warriors, take a look at our selection.
Hanyang Mausoleum – The figurines here demonstrate the imperial and folk life of the Han Dynasty. What makes it unique is its underground exhibition hall, where visitors can stand on and see through the glass flour to watch workers do their job.
Biking/Strolling along the City Wall – This massive city wall is the landmark of Xian, standing over 700 years guarding the inner city. Walking or biking on the city wall for a nice view of the city.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda – The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China, built to store precious Buddhist scriptures. If your wondering what a Pagoda is, its a tiered tower with multiple eaves, common across South Asia. The temple at the Xian Pagoda’s foot is also worth exploring.
Shaanxi History Museum – The Shaanxi Provincial Museum and China’s Capital Museum in Beijing are the two largest historical museums in China. Shaanxi’s museum is dedicated to historical items unearthed from the region, and a must see if your at all interested in Chinese history.
Transportation will not be a problem in this major city, with many of the areas being easily accessible on foot, as a result of the underpasses and overpasses being built, solely for the use of pedestrians. In addition, as a modern city, there are a range of electric bikes available, a popular form of transportation in this city. Of course cabs are always available at your disposal, but the extensive public transport networks, such as the 280 bus routes and a modern metro line would make this service obsolete.
In regards to shopping in Xi’an, your certainly won’t find yourself short of opportunity. If you have souvenirs in mind, replicas of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, paper-cuts and folk paintings are the most popular buys in Xi’an, the city is rich in cultural relics, antiques and artworks. These items and many more are sold in antique shops at street markets around the city. if your looking for a more luxurious shopping experience, then you should look in the areas centered mainly along Dong Dajie (East Main Street), Nan Dajie (South Main Street) and Jiefang Lu (Liberation Road). Department stores usually open at about 9am and close at 10pm.
The Muslim Quarter is also a fantastic place to wander for food and more souvenirs. All shops and restaurants in the street are operated by Muslims. The stalls lines in the narrow alleys sell almost everything you can expect.
Nightlife in Xian is varied and colourful, and is vibrant enough to satisfy a whole range of taste and tempos, catering for both young and old. Places such as night clubs, karaoke, discos, bars and cafes are all good places for you spend your evenings. The city is also host to several shows which are definitely worth seeing.
The Fountain and Music show covers about 110,000 square meters, and the music fountain in the North Square of the Big Wild Goo Pagoda is the biggest in Asia. The show has the most benches, the longest light-belt, and the largest-scale acoustic complex, in the world.
Location: North Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Time: Every 12:00 and 20:00 from Monday to Saturday; 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 21:00 in weekends
The Tang Dynasty Show offers you the chance to experience a traditional Chinese evening. The Tang Dynasty is regarded as the most progressive and prosperous era in the days of Imperial China and its music and dance are symbolic of the beauty of Chinese culture. There are over 100 artists for a performance with a colourful spectacle of traditional music and dance routines.
Location: Tang Dynasty Palace, 75 Chang’an Road, Xian
Time: 18:50-20:10 (Dumpling dinner); 20:30-21:40 (Show)
For when it just gets a bit too much…
For times when Xian gets a bit too much, there is a major airport, just 25 miles NW of the city centre where you can get numerous flights to other major Asian cities, such as Bangkok, Singapore, perfect for people seeking adventure.