Xi’an owes its fame to the Terracotta Army of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang. The incredible collection of sculptures represents one of the world’s great wonders, but it’s not the only reason to visit this ancient yet upbeat city.
1/tab.galleryImage.size}Xi’an is an enchanting city full of ancient architectural marvels, including its 700-year-old city wall
2/tab.galleryImage.size}Xi’an is home to the world-famous Terracotta Army, 7,000 clay soldiers, horses and chariots which have been guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 B.C.
3/tab.galleryImage.size}Explore Xi’an by setting off from the Bell Tower, the city’s central landmark and the spot where four main commercial streets meet
4/tab.galleryImage.size}Discover Xi’an’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda, originally built in 652 during the reign of the Tang Dynasty Emperor Gaozong and containing Buddhist relics taken from India
5/tab.galleryImage.size}Enjoy fresh air and stunning mountain scenery at Huashan, a 2,155-metre peak known for its steep slopes and hair-raising walkways
6/tab.galleryImage.size}Indulge in some rest and relaxation at the Huaqing Hot Spring near Xi’an, a popular recreational spot for more than 6,000 years
Xi’an is an enchanting city full of ancient architectural marvels, including its 700-year-old city wall
Xi’an is home to the world-famous Terracotta Army, 7,000 clay soldiers, horses and chariots which have been guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 B.C.
Explore Xi’an by setting off from the Bell Tower, the city’s central landmark and the spot where four main commercial streets meet
Discover Xi’an’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda, originally built in 652 during the reign of the Tang Dynasty Emperor Gaozong and containing Buddhist relics taken from India
Enjoy fresh air and stunning mountain scenery at Huashan, a 2,155-metre peak known for its steep slopes and hair-raising walkways
Indulge in some rest and relaxation at the Huaqing Hot Spring near Xi’an, a popular recreational spot for more than 6,000 years
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Xi'an Beilin Museum
The Xi'an Beilin Museum was expanded from the Xi’an Forest of Stone Tablets, established in 1087 during the Northern Song Dynasty. It collects stone steles, stone sculptures and calligraphy, and has some 3,000 stone steles in its collection. Among its treasures are the works of legendary calligrapher Wang Xizhi, painter Wu Daozi and artist and scholar Huang Tingjian. The museum has traditionally been a hotspot for scholars and history buffs, who come to marvel at the phenomenal works.
Located at the northern foot of Mount Li, one of the three major peaks of the Qin Mountains, the Huaqing Hot Springs mark the site where imperial palace resorts used to stand during the earlier dynasties. The hot springs themselves were built by Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang Dynasty as part of the Huaqing Palace. Legend has it that the pools were the romantic escape of the emperor and his consort Yang Guifei, as described in Bai Juyi's poem Song of Everlasting Regret. The hot springs were rebuilt in 1959 using information from historical records. Although these represent only a small portion of the former Huaqing Palace, the area is nonetheless huge and undoubtedly one of China's key scenic spots.
Xi Yu Design is a little shop selling mainly hand-painted and handmade toys, postcards and many creative accessories and products, full of local flavour that make great souvenirs.
Xiyangshi, Huimin Jie, Beilin District
Cui Hua Shan
The 2,604-metre Cui Hua Shan, also known as Jade Flower Mountain, is covered with vast old-growth forests and karst rock formations and was once an imperial hunting preserve and pleasure garden. Historically, it is the starting point for one of three natural trails that travel the entire north-south length of the range. In 780 BC a massive earthquake caused a landslide, forming the Tianchi Area of the park, with a deep natural lake that attracts boaters and swimmers during the hot summers. The Yifangyuan ecological area has trails and paths through less-travelled forests, including unique caverns where the wind never stops.
20 kilomtres away from Xi'an, north of Qinliang mountains in Chang'an county
Longer expeditions start with Niubeiliang, rising more than 2,800 metres above sea level. Niubeiliang National Nature Reserve is home to protected populations of leopard, golden snub-nosed monkey and golden takin. The reserve is separated into three sections: the first trail follows the path of a rushing mountain stream, continuing to an old glacial trail through windswept trees and the mountain’s midlands. The final peak section is characterised by monolithic stone outcroppings, with slopes barely covered by hardy tufts of grass. Hiking the entire length requires camping for the night.
Zhashui county, Shangluo, Shaanxi; about 40 kilometers away from Xi'an
Tong Sheng Xiang is a name synonymous with Xi’an. Established in 1920, this famous local restaurant is best known for niuyangroupaomo, an authentic Xi'an specialty consisting of flat bread that is broken up and added to beef or mutton soup.
About 120 kilometres west of Xi’an is Tai Bai Shan, at 3,767 metres the highest peak in the Qinling range. The mountain, like so many others in the range, was a site of pilgrimage and imperial patronage. Many of the great Tang-era poets and painters immortalised the views and the power of the mountain. The journey to the top, whether hiking or by the cable car, offers views of the changing terrain, with lush forests and waterfalls. Although camping is not allowed on the mountain, there is a hotel mid-way up for hikers making the trek to the top.
120 kilometres away from Xi'an
Hua Shan (Flower Mountain) is one of Taoism's Five Sacred Mountains in China. Named after its five peaks that resemble a lotus flower, its sheer cliff faces, rough-hewn ledges and scented spruce groves make the trek or cable-car ride up the mountain a photographer's delight. Hua Shan offers dramatic vistas of lonely nooks and forgotten canyons. See gold-tinged panoramas of sunrise and sunset on the east and west peaks, or the narrow Dragon's Back land bridge on the north peak. The fabled hanging path on the south peak includes a rickety wooden section perched more than 1,000 metres up. Middle peak houses one of China's first Taoist temples.
The Xi'an City Wall offers an ideal place for a stroll and to take in sights of the city. The 14-kilometre-long structure surrounding the city was initially built during the Tang Dynasty, but the existing wall structure was started during the Ming. Measuring 12 meters tall and 15 meters wide on top, the city wall has four gates built into it, each with three magnificent gate towers.
Located around the perimeter of Xi'an city
Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum
Xi'an owes its fame to the Terracotta Army of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in as much as Beijing is famous for the Great Wall. The Terracotta Army, discovered in 1974, and the mausoleum that opened in 1979, together represent one of the world's great wonders. Although the emperor's tomb remains sealed, the sheer scale of the Terracotta Army is enough to leave one dumbfounded.
Once home to more than 40 temples and monasteries gracing its red, sandy terraces, paths over this mountain are lined with poplars and overgrown ruins. One of the few remaining temples is Shengshou Temple. Legend tells of a harmful dragon that cast a magic spell to subdue the people of the mountain. One day a man unaffected by the spell appeared. He subdued the dragon and blood rained from the sky. To commemorate this heroic act a pagoda was erected by imperial edict in about the 7th century, featuring square-shaped sections, two holes on different sides of each storey and a ladder and bell installed inside.