City walls of Xian

City walls of Xian

© alyciagail

Xi'an (西安) is an industrial city of 8 million people and the present day capital of Shaanxi province. Xi'an was the capital of China from the Zhou dynasty (11th century BCE) to the famous Tang dynasty (7th century CE) and has the sights to prove it including the marvelous city walls, which still encapsulate the city centre.

After losing its title as the capital it remained important for its strategic location and became a rich city on the Silk Road. Today Xi'an has become a center of commerce for the north west of China and of the coal industry. Although the city is primarily known for the famous Terracotta Army there are plenty of other excellent – and some claim more interesting – sights, including the ancient city wall which is wide enough to walk or cycle across.




The urban and suburban areas of Xi'an are divided into seven districts although most tourists never leave the area within the city walls other then to see the provincial museum:

  • Beilin
  • Yanta
  • Weiyang
  • Baqiao
  • Xincheng
  • Lianhu
  • Chang'an



Sights and Activities

  • Terracotta Army is one of the most famous sights in the world and only found in 1974 by farmers. They stumbled upon around 8,000 clay soldiers, horses and chariots that were built at the request of the then fourteen year old King Zheng for his future royal tomb.
  • City Walls (城墙) have been completely restored and are wide enough to take a nice walk or bike ride. The south gate is the best starting point and your cycling is ppossible from 8:00am to 10:00pm. There are several cafés located at the various towers.
  • The Bell Tower(钟楼)is at the centre of town and was used to in ancient times to tell people in the city what time it was.
  • The Drum Tower(鼓楼)arriving around 5:00pm and climb to the top, where you’ll have a beautiful view of the city.
  • Big Goose Pagoda(大雁塔)is the main pagoda in Xi'an, a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists.
  • Little Goose Pagoda(小雁塔)
  • Great Mosque(大清真寺)is an amazing mosque that is set up like a Taoist temple and one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in [China]], located northwest of the Drum Tower (Gu Lou) on Huajue Lane.
  • Muslim Quarter is the area around the great mosque.



Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.




Xi'an has a temperate climate, with sharp distinctions between seasons. Summers tend to be hot (30 degrees Celsius or sometimes more) and a little wet, and winters tend to be cold and dry with frost and little snow.



Getting There

By Plane

Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY) is located about 45 minutes outside of the city centre. International connections to XIY include Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. Domestic flights, one the other hand, are mostly operated by China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

The airport is 47 kilometres from Xi'an city centre and 13 kilometres from the town of Xianyang. Buses and taxis are available between the airport and Xi'an city centre. There is a shuttle from the front of the Melody Hotel from 6:00am to 6:00pm located at 86 Xi Dajie (西大街86号).

By Train

The Xi'an train station is a major hub for transport between western and eastern China and located a the outer north east corner of the city walls. The train station serves every major and most minor cities in China, and is especially well connected to Beijing in the north and Chengdu further south. There are also several trains a day to Lhasa, depending on the time of the year. Be careful of pickpockets at this train station.



Getting Around

Most of what tourists want to see in Xi'an and where tourists stay is within the city walls. The streets are set up in a rough grid system, with the bell tower at the center of town. Traffic can be horrible within the walls so it is better to walk.

By Foot

Xi'an is an easy city to walk around. Grab a map and go off exploring on foot!




The Bell Tower International Youth Hostel is located at No 1 North Street near the post office building. (西安市北大街1号). It does pretty good food and has cheap beer to enjoy in a relaxed setting with other travellers.





  • Grand Park Kunming 20 Hong Hua Qiao As one of the top business and leisure hotels in Kunming, this 5 star hotel offers luxury accommodations, close proximity to golf and Green Lake Park, a fitness center and 3 gourmet dining options.
  • Hyatt Regency Xian 158 Dong Da Jie (东大街158号) is a decent luxury hotel located within the city walls of Xi'an. This hotel offers an unbeatable location and rooms at Western prices. There is a nice restaurant that serves Western and Asian cuisine.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)





Keep Connected


Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.


China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 27.9833333
  • Longitude: 120.4

Accommodation in Xi'an

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Xi'an searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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