9 Must Visit Xian Attractions & Travel Guide

1. Terracotta Army of Qin Dynasty (兵马俑)

The Terracotta Army discovered by pleasant farmers in 1974 led to one of the most magnificent ancient tomb discovery in human history. Emperor Qin unified China after eliminating 6 other countries of Han, Zhao, Yan, Wei, Chu & Qi in 221 BC.

His grand mausoleum is a reminiscence of his life as an emperor with inner and out city is carved out and is guarded by 8,000 life-size Terracotta soldiers, along with numerous weapons, horses and chariots. The emperor’s tomb is as huge as a small hill is still unexcavated.

The great historian Sima Qian accounted that the tomb contains replicas of the area’s rivers and streams made with mercury flowing through hills and mountains of bronze. Pearls and precious gems decorated to represent the sun, moon and stars.

Tips : Engage an official guide on the spot for around CNY100. A private guided tour is recommended to fully understand the history. Worth the money. Usually it is packed in the morning with travel groups, so you can avoid the crowd by coming in the afternoon.

Opening Hours : Daily 8.30am to 5.30pm

Entrance Fees : CNY 150 – March to November / CNY120 – December to February

How to Get Here : Tourism Bus No.5 (306) from East Square of Xian Railway Station.

2. Huaqing Palace (华清宫)

Huaqing Palace was originally built during the Tang Dynasty as a hotspring escape for the royals during winter. The picturesque palace comprise of baths, gardens, gazebos and pavilions.  According to history record, the mineral rich hot spring at Huaqing has been a favourite for the royals of Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang Dynasty with their imperial abode constructed. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty, it was expanded in massive scale incorporating bathing pools, pavillions and defensive walls hence the name Huaqing Palace.

Huaqing Palace is also famous as it is the center stage of the romance of Emperor Xuanzong and his consort Yang GuiFei, one of the 4 beauties of ancient China. (Xi Shi, Tiao Chan, Wang ZhaoJun, Yang Guifei). One of the pavilion was built dedicated to their romance. Their love story didnt end well, consort Yang GuiFei was forced to commit suicide during the Anshi Rebellion.

Another major incident at Huaqing Palace was the Xián Incident in 1936 whereby the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Kuomintang (the party which established Taiwan), was put under house arrest after successful coup by Marshal Zhang Xueliang & Yang Hucheng to established a united confrontation with Chinese Community Party against the Japanese Occupation. Bullet holes from the Xián Incident are still visible at Huaqing Palace.

During our trip, we stayed at Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa Hotel Xián, a Tang dynasty inspired hotel integrated within Huaqing Palace. Read our 9 Reasons to Stay at Huaqing Palace or full review of Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa Hotel.

Opening Hours : March to November : 07:00 – 18:00 /December to February: 07:30 – 18:30

Entrance Fees :

  • CNY 110 – March to November / CNY 80 – December to February
  • Free for children below 3.9 feet (1.2 meters).

How to Get Here : Tourism Bus No.5 (306) from East Square of Xian Railway Station. . Get off at Huaqingchi Stop.

3. Bell Tower of Xián (西安钟楼)

The Bell Tower was built in 1384 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of Ming Dynasty. The wooden tower is the largest in China and act as a lookout against enemies during ancient time.

The tower was initially built near the Drum Tower of Xian on the central axis of the city, and continued to mark the center of the city since Tang Dynasty and the following the Five Dynasties and the Song and Yuan Dynasties. As the city grew, however, the geographical center changed. Therefore, in 1582, the tower was moved 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) east of the original site.

Opening Hours : April to Oct 0830 – 2100  / Nov to March 0830 – 1800

Entrance Fees : CNY 35 / Both Bell & Drum Tower – CNY50

Getting Here : Zhonglou Station – Metro Line 2.

4. Muslim Quarters (回民街)

Xián (西安)is the oldest of the 4 ancient capitals of China (Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang and Xian) and is the starting point of the Silk Road 1000 years ago during Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD).

During Western Han Dynasty, Xian was visited by muslim merchants & traders from the Arabic countries and Persia. Some of them settled down on the present Muslim Quarters and were known as Hui people by locals.

The area with several intersecting road is renown as a food street featuring Chinese muslim food such mouth-watering grill lamb skewer, stews, biang biang noodles, dumplings, sour plum and many more.

Opening Hours : Daily 9am to 11pm

Getting Here : Zhonglou Station – Metro Line 2. Exit B, walk 5 minutes.

5. Drum Tower of Xián (西安鼓楼)

The Drum Tower was built in 1380 during the Ming Dynasty where the drum was beat at sunset to indicate the end of the day. On first floor, many large drums are showcase in a hall, each decorated with intrinsic Chinese writing that symbolizes good fortune.

The Muslim Quarter which offers plenty Hui Chinese muslim food is located right beside drum tower.

Opening Hours : April to Oct 0830 – 2100  / Nov to March 0830 – 1800

Entrance Fees : CNY 35 / Both Bell & Drum Tower – CNY50

Drum Performance : 09:30, 10:15, 11:00, 11:45, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30, 16:20

Getting Here : Zhonglou Station – Metro Line 2. Exit B, walk 5 minutes.

6. Great Mosque of Xián (西安大清真寺)

The Great Mosque was built during Ming Dynasty, houses  five courtyards and covers 12,000 square meters. It is the largest and oldest mosque in China. Islam was introduced when merchants from Arab and Persia came to China for trade and some of them settled and married the local Hans.

What makes the mosque unique is the architecture that blends traditional Chinese architecture such as pagoda and calligraphic works with Islamic functionality. The biggest praying hall can accommodate up to 1000 worshippers at a time.

Opening Hours : Daily 0800 – 1900

Entrance Fees : CNY25 – March to Nov / CNY15 – Dec to Feb

Getting Here : Zhonglou Station – Metro Line 2. Exit B, walk 5 minutes.

7. Shaanxi History Museum

Shaanxi History Museum is one of the largest museum with modern facilities in China. The museum houses over 370,000 items including murals, paintings, pottery, coins, as well as bronze, gold, and silver objects dating from the simple stone that human used at the initial stage in ancient times down to all kinds implements in social life before 1840.

Tips : If the queue for free tickets is long, it is advisable to pay for the ticket as it is reasonably priced and save you much time.

Opening Hours : Tue to Sunday 9am to 530pm

Entrance Fees : Free 4000 Tickets Daily. CNY30

More Info : Shaanxi History Museum

8. Eternal Song of Sorrow

長恨歌 performance show is a must watch when in Xián. The show is only available from April to October. Despite the higher price, the show is always a sold out and long queues can be seen an hour before the show starts at night.

The 60 mins show portrays the romance between Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) and Yang Yuhuan, his favorite imperial concubine at Huaqing Hot Springs. The exquisite performances incorporates more than 300 professionals and is presented in front of Nine Dragons lake with Mount Lishan in the background.

Opening Hour : Only available from 1 April to 31 Oct

Friday, Saturday and statutory holidays: 20:10 – 21:20 & 21:30 – 22:40

Sunday to Thursday: 20:30 – 21:40

Ticket Price : Eastern and Western areas: CNY 218 / Central area: CNY 258 / VIP : CNY 988/888/588.

How to Get Here : Tourism Bus No.5 (306) from East Square of Xian Railway Station. . Get off at Huaqingchi Stop.

9. Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔)

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty & extensively renovated during Empress Wu Zetian reign and in Ming Dynasty.

The pagoda’s main function was to house the sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang from his 17 years journey to the west. His journey was the inspiration for the famous novel Journey to the West.

Xuanzang was later appointed by Emperor Gaozong to build the Da ci’en Temple with the pagoda inside the temple and invited monks to translate 1335 Sankrit sutras into Chinese.

Tips : Nothing special climbing the pagoda except for the high view. Can skip if you don’t feel like climbing.

Opening Hour : 8.00am to 5.00pm

Ticket Price : Entrance fees to temple CNY50 ; Entrance fees to pagoda CNY30

How to Get Here :

  1. Xian Metro – Da Yan Ta Station (Line 3)
  2. Bus – Tourist Bus Line 6, 8 & 9

Xián Hotels

1. Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa Hotel Xián

Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa is located in the historical Huaqing Palace and 10 mins away from Terracotta Army.

According to history record, the mineral rich hot spring at Huaqing has been a favourite for the royals of Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang Dynasty with their imperial abode constructed. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty, it was expanded in massive scale incorporating bathing pools, pavillions and defensive walls hence the name Huaqing Palace.

Huaqing Palace is also famous as it is the center stage of the romance of Emperor Xuanzong and his consort Yang GuiFei, one of the 4 beauties of ancient China. (Xi Shi, Tiao Chan, Wang ZhaoJun, Yang Guifei). One of the pavilion was built dedicated to their romance. Their love story didnt end well, consort Yang GuiFei was forced to commit suicide during the Anshi Rebellion.

Read Full Review : Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa

Book the Hotel : Agoda

About Tommy Ooi 327 Articles

Luxury Hotel Reviewer & Destination Blogger. Passionate for travel, exploring new culture & indulging divine food, Tommy has traveled to 42 countries & 140+ destinations.

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