Xi'an

Travel Guide Asia China Shaanxi Xi'an

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Introduction

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.

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Neighbourhoods

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

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Sights and Activities

Terracotta Army (兵马俑; Bīngmăyŏng) (A short distance away from the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, it is the last stop of bus (5)306/307, which can be boarded at the main train station (to the right as you face the station). If there is a long queue, or on the way back, look for private bus companies who also service the route to Bingmayong for about the same price (¥7 or 8)). This mighty army of terracotta warriors and horses, found in three vaults, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of Shaanxi and one of the most popular in all of China. An in-site museum has been built over these pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and housing 8,000 lifelike terracotta warriors, 100 or so chariots, and 40,000 weapons. Not all of these are on display, and the site is still an active archeological dig. There are 3 pits (numbered and clearly signposted 1,2,3). Going from pit 3 to pit 2 to pit 1 means that each pit gets more impressive and ensures a grand finale. The assemblage has been billed by the tourist industry as the Eighth Wonder of the World and a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The ticket office is next to the parking lot, which is a 5/10 minute walk away from the entrance to the museum. Buy your tickets at the ticket office or you can also buy them from resellers at the entrance for a ¥5 fee. For ¥5, you can opt to take a small bus from the ticket counter to the entry to the site, which saves you about 10 minutes of walking. On the way back, however, you are forced to walk in order not to "miss" the countless opportunities to buy small terracotta warriors, other tourist articles and food. For those not interested in Chinese food you will pass a Starbucks, McDonalds and there is a KFC very near to the ticket counter. Student tickets can only be bought, with a chinese student card. When buying your ticket you are likely to be approached by a 'guide', especially if you look foreign. The normal starting price is ¥200 but you should be able to bargain them down to around ~¥75. ¥100 is reasonable for the 2 - 3 hours they will accompany you. When talking to them, take the time to evaluate how they speak, because if you can't understand them at the start it'll just get worse. Inside Pit 1, there is a 'photo spot' to the left of the entry when you can be escorted to one of the nicer places. However it costs ¥200 for ~15 mins (but includes a picture). You won't miss much but not doing it; but you will have 15 mins with no one jostling you on either side and an uninterrupted view of the warriors.
Xi'an City Wall (西安城墙; Xīānchéngqiáng). The world's largest city wall, it has been restored and is 12m high, 18m wide at the bottom, 15m wide on the top, and 13.7km long. Bikes (including two- or three-person models) can be rented for ¥40 per 120 minutes/bike (or ¥80 for a tandem) plus a ¥200 deposit. You can hire one at the top of the South or East gate; you may return it to other stations on the wall (there is one at each of the four main gates), but be sure to verify this before starting your ride, and know that only the south gate is open after 7pm. Bikes will not be rented if there is any chance of rain, because the top of the wall becomes slippery. Check the weather forecast before you buy a ticket to enter the wall. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes 4-5 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644) on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). The Xi'an City Wall International Marathon is held each year in November since 1993, with athletes from more than 50 countries running on top of the wall. Also, the Xi'an city wall Cycling Race is held on top of the wall since two years ago. There is a small museum inside the city wall at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the wall. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection.
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.
Shaanxi Historic Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn; also known as Shaanxi History Museum) (Xiaozhai subway stop (Lines 2&3), 800m northwest of Big Wild Goose Pagoda). 9-12, 13:00-16:30 (17:00 in summer). Closed on Mondays (Checked Feb 2015).. This museum houses a collection of local artefacts that span the province's history from the Neolithic period through the Qing dynasty. In particular, it contains fabulously well preserved pottery from the nearby Banpo neolithic village (also worth a visit) and many excellent Shang Dynasty bronzes. Although some guidebooks call it "one of the best museums in China", its old fashioned pots-and-arrowheads-behind-glass format may appeal mainly to enthusiasts. The most eye-catching articles are those from the Tang Dynasty, originally used by the royal family. There will be long queues for tickets, as they are available cheaply (a prior version indicated free if you brought your ID with you. But this is unconfirmed; if you look obviously foreign you won't be asked for ID or a local telephone number). For locals there is a ¥20 charge for a ticket. However there is an option to beat the queue. Go for the 'tour ticket'; the line will be considerably shorter and it'll cost you ¥200 (although the face value is ¥300). If there is a special exhibition on, you will get entry to that as well (and if you purchase an audio guide, it'll work there too). ¥20 (free also available).
Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Hanyangling 汉阳陵) (Near the airport). A Han dynasty tomb containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. There are human figures (think small and naked version of the terracotta warriors) as well as a whole army-like formation of life-like animals (pigs, dogs, etc). The "Underground Museum" at the excavation site has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations and is definitely worth a visit (especially easy to do if done as part of a journey to or from the airport). There's a very unique holographic movie experience as part of the exhibit (no 3D glasses required, English and some other language translation available, ¥10 though it is unclear if it's a legitimate fee). It's also worth getting a guide or following one around (note that English ones are more expensive than Chinese ones) because they will explain things in much more detail than the captions. Some people also climb up to the top of the burial mound (you can see a worn trail going up the side). If you cross the road you can see the Archaeological Exhibit Center (where some of the best figures are kept), a deer park (with actual live deer), and ruins of a "sacrifice temple" (not too impressive). The grounds around the mausoleum are nice to stroll in, with fragrant wild grasses and a rose garden next to the Archaeological Exhibit Center. It is possible to get to the site via tour or share a taxi (around ¥200 round-trip, not including waiting time). By public transit, the easiest way (as of early 2014) seems to be to take the subway to Shitushuguan (city library) and then take bus 游4 from outside the station. Departure times are irregular, but previously observed times were: 08:30/09:30/10:30/12:00/13:30/15:00/16:00/17:00. The bus starts at this station, so you don’t need to flag it down. Bus fare is ¥2. ¥80; half-price students.

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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.

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Weather

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.

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Getting There

By Plane

Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY) is 40 km northwest of the city centre, in Xianyang). Flights are available to most major Chinese airports and International flights are available to many destinations including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo. As Xi'an is in the heartland of China, it takes no more than 2 hours to fly to most major Chinese cities.

Most people use taxis or the airport bus to reach town from the airport. A taxi will cost about ¥150 from the airport to the Bell Tower downtown. You will pay around ¥50-75 more if you take one of the climatized Japanese black taxis rather than the typical green taxis. At the airport, both types of taxis are waiting at the same spot to pick up passengers.

The Airport Intercity Connector runs from the airport to Xi'an North station (more specifically, the metro station named "Beikezhan (Beiguangchang)"), where there are connections to lines 2 and 4 as well as to the long-distance rail network.

The airport bus leaves the airport from 08:00 until 01:00, a ticket costs ¥25 and takes about one hour; there are several lines but the most useful are Airport Bus No. 1 (no stop to the terminus in front of the Melody Hotel, at the beginning of West Street near the Bell Tower) and No. 2 (to the railway station). As long as there is an arriving flight, there will be a bus, so don't worry about arriving late at night or early morning. Buses will often depart as soon as they fill up. The airport bus route is the best way between city and the train station.

Getting to the terracotta warriors from the airport is complicated but can be done. Immediately when you walk out of the airport you can take bus #2 (¥27) to the Xi'an train station. From there, take bus 306 to the terracotta warriors (see more details below). Alternatively, a taxi will cost approximately ¥85 plus toll charges of ¥15.

By Train

Most visitors will arrive by high-speed train at Xi'an North Railway Station (西安北站 Xī'ānběi Zhàn), 15 km north of city centre. The main services, on 200 km / hr "D-trains" or 250-km / hr "G-trains", are to Zhengzhou (2–3 hours); many trains continue from Zhengzhou north or south, serving all major cities along the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen corridor, to (Wuhan (5–8 hours), Guangzhou (8 hours), Shenzhen (9 hours), Changsha, Shijiazhuang, Beijing (6 hours)). An overnight train (D308/D305) also runs Shanghai (11 hrs), via Nanjing (8 hrs). To the west, there is high-speed service to Baoji (an hour west from Xi'an) and onwards to Lanzhou (3 hours; change here for the 12-hour train to Urumqi), and Xining (4 hours). To the south, there are high-speed trains to Chengdu (4 hours).

The North Railway Station is an enormous modern transport hub. To reach the city centre take Metro line two (red), whose terminus (北客站 Beikezhan) is at the station.

The old railway station, Xi'an Railway Station (西安站 Xī'ān Zhàn), is at the north end of Jiefang Road (解放路, jiěfànglù, just outside the old city walls. This is served by "conventional" trains for regional journeys.

There is no reason to use Xi'an South Railway Station (西安南站 Xī'ān Nán Zhàn), a long way south-east of the centre, with limited services.

By Bus

The main long-distance bus station (Shaanxi Province Long-distance Bus Station) is about 100 m south of Xi'an railway station, with the city wall between them (there is an underpass). Bus service is available to: Huashan (2–3 hours), Lanzhou (8–10 hours), Luoyang (5–7 hours), Taiyuan (12 hours), and Zhengzhou (9–12 hours).

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Getting Around

The old city is surrounded by a rectangular city wall. The Bell Tower (钟楼, Zhōnglóu) is in the dead center of the rectangle, and is considered the center of Xi'an. From here, the four main streets radiate along the four points of the compass.

North Street (北大街 Běidàjiē)
East Street (东大街 Dōngdàjiē)
South Street (南大街 Nándàjiē)
West Street (西大街 Xīdàjiē)

Do not get confused by different names in tourist guides, addresses and bus stops: Nandajie, Nanda Street, South Street, and South Avenue are all the same street.

Locals often speak about Within the city walls and Outside the city walls when talking about locations. Outside the walls, the southern part is the most interesting - it offers shopping streets, bars and some nightlife.

As usual in China, subways are the easiest way to get around if they serve your destination. There are also plenty of buses traveling everywhere at short intervals (main lines run every 5–10 minutes). If you are not confident enough with orientation, or if you do not like packed buses, the cheap taxis are the best alternative, broadly available, except for during rush hours.

By Taxi

Taxis are very limited. It can take a rather long time to find a vacant one and even then - given their choice of fares - they may decide to decline your destination for a more profitable one that is closer. Watch the taxi drivers in Xi'an as the industry is not regulated as it is in other larger cities. You may find yourself being taken on a long ride around town to get where you are going. It can also be difficult to convince them to take you anywhere (even to the railway station). If in doubt, get your hotel or hostel to write down the place you want to go in Chinese. Between 3PM-5PM the taxis change their shifts. This means the drivers are rushing to their handover points, so they won't pick you up even if they are empty.

Trips within the city walls are generally around ¥10. Longer trips to the attractions south of the city are ¥12-20. It is always good advice to insist on using the taxi meter, especially for longer rides like to/from the airport. However, taxis will often refuse to go the airport on meter, you will have to discuss a price in advance, usually between ¥100 and ¥120.

The rate for the normal (green) taxis is ¥9 for the first 3 kilometer and then ¥2 for every additional kilometer. Waiting times longer than 2 minutes will be charged ¥2 per minute. After 23:00 the starting price is ¥10. At the airport and around some of the big hotels you might also find black taxis. They charge ¥2.4 per kilometer, but are more spacious and comfortable.

By Public Transport

Metro
Xi'an has four Metro lines, with further lines planned or under construction. A single ride costs ¥5. Bags are x-rayed prior to entry, water bottles should be taken out of bags as they will be scanned by security staff separately.

Line 1 runs east-west and does not cover any interesting tourist spots.
Line 2 runs north-south, intersects with Line 1 at Beidajie to the North of the bell tower. It connects the North Railway Station, the City Library (your starting point for visiting the Hanyangling mausoleum), the Bell Tower, and Xiaozhai near the Shaanxi history museum.
Line 3 runs southwest-northeast, intersecting with Line 1 at Tonghuamen, and Line 2 at Xiaozhai. It serves the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta station).
Line 4 runs north-south, mostly to the east of Line 2.

Bus
Regular buses within the city cost ¥1 (¥2 for air-conditioned, marked with a snowflake) no matter how far you go. Since there are many buses in the city, it can be useful to go to the Tourism Office Center (which is situated near the Drum Tower) and ask for a free map (地图, Dìtú) of the city, with the bus lines on it.

A popular line for tourists is #610 (also labeled "游8" meaning "tourist #8") which connects the railway station, the Bell Tower, the Small Goose Pagoda and Xi'an Museum, the Shaanxi Historic Museum, and the Big Goose Pagoda. Unfortunately it is not one of the most frequent (sometimes you can wait for half an hour, though usually it comes in a few minutes). Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of West Street; take it westwards to then go south to the museums and pagodas, take it eastwards to then go north to the railway station. Near the railway station (there are many stops for different lines) you can catch it at the third block on the main street going straight south from the station.

Another useful line is #609 that connects the Bell Tower, the South Gate and the Big Goose Pagoda. Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of South Street.

Although the 609 and 610 can be infrequent, the 611 is very frequent (multiple departures every minute in the rush hour), and connects the train station and the Bell Tower, continuing to the west from the latter. Look for its stop across the road from the station (within the city walls). Its route is a loop at the railway station, so you can board the bus at the same stop for the city centre where you got off for the railway station. At the Bell Tower its stop towards the railway station is at the beginning of the East Street.

Bus 500 takes you from the Railway Station to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in 12 stops. This area has the Great Tang All Day Mall as well as the Tang Paradise and the South Lake.

There are many buses leaving regularly for the Terracotta Warrior museum in front of the Xi'an bus station (east to the train station, outside (in the north) the city walls).
Bus 306 (also called Tourist Bus #5) leaves from the lot in front of the train station (on the east side, i.e. to your right when looking towards the station) and will take you to a parking lot right in front of the museum. Travel time is about an hour (up to 3 hours in case of traffic jams). A one-way ticket costs ¥7 (pay on the bus). It also stops at several other tourist attractions along the way, e.g. the hot springs. Make sure you don't make the mistake of going to the nearby bus station on the inside (south) of the city wall. That's where there are touts with signs saying bus 5 and bus 306, trying to hustle you onto their private bus. Although they do take you to the destinations, you are forced to go to visit attractions you might not want to go to. If in doubt about whether you have the right 306, stand back and observe. The official bus attendants will not hustle you to get on their rapidly filling bus. They will confirm it is the correct bus and nothing more. The official bus will also fill up very quickly with locals who know which one is the correct bus.
Another local bus that goes to the Warriors is 307 (last stop again, normally ~60 minutes, possibly up to 3 hours in case of traffic). 307 also goes to the Great Wild Goose Pagoda.
Small buses which are also used by the locals (mainly number 914). These buses will also take you to the Museum, but they use local roads (no highway express like bus 306) so they are a bit slower. 914 is however more frequent during the day than 306. One-way ticket price is ¥7 (pay on the bus). Not a bad trip if you want to see how locals travel.
Most hostels and hotels run tours to the warriors with an English speaking guide. These aren't necessarily better, be prepared to spend a good portion of the day (as with any Chinese tour) visiting "terracotta factories," "museums", "Chinese medicine shops", and other tourist traps. But you will get to your destination without dealing with the bus (the warriors are quite far outside of town) and not all of the public buses that go there are legitimate.

By Foot

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

By Bike

Fortunately Xi'an's main sites (with the notable exception of the Terracotta Warriors) are bunched fairly close together. Be wary of the narrow streets and cars that squeeze you out of the way. Bike lanes are available on some streets, however, places to lock bikes, typically are not.

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Eat

Xi'an specialties include:

Yángròu Pàomó (羊肉泡馍) is one of the signature dishes of the area, it consists of a piece of thick, chewy bread and a kettle of lamb soup. The diner shreds the bread with his hands and places the shreds in a bowl, the soup is then poured over the shreds (along with meat, maybe some noodles or scallion, etc.) The trick is to shred the bread into pieces that are "as small as possible", like the size of your pinky fingernail. Most first-timers will shred their bread in pieces that are too large. In some restaurants, they have already shredded the bread for you. It is normally also served with pickled garlic and chili. If you don't like lamb, some restaurants also offer a beef version.
Biáng biáng miàn is a local provincial specialty noodle dish that is extremely good. The wide noodles are spiced, have a broth, and include toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, beef, etc. The character for "biang" is very complex (58 strokes) and distinctive.
Ròu jiā mó (肉夹馍) is the closest thing to a hamburger. This is a local tradition and should be very easy to locate. Sandwich-like, with pork, beef or lamb, this is a must-try item for anyone who is in this area.
Xiǎo lóng bāozi (小笼包子) are basket-steamed dumplings (one basket ¥3), common as a midnight snack. Look for its big brother "Da baozi" only available first thing in the mornings, like a steamed Cornish pastie, but very nice.
Guàn tāng bāozi (灌汤包子) are steamed buns served with sauces inside.
Shìzi bǐng (柿子饼) are buns made from persimmons, stuffed with something (e.g. black sesame paste), and deep-fried, so they're quite sticky-sweet. You can find many sellers in the Muslim Quarter, and they are only ¥1 each or less!
Lǜdòu gāo (绿豆糕) are literally green bean cakes (come in small cubes), but they're more moist than you may find elsewhere and also come with a variety of mixings (e.g. sesame). Half a Jin should be about six cubes and cost about ¥5 at a cart in the Muslim Quarter.

Some good places to look for restaurants are:

The Muslim Quarter close to the Drum Tower is a vibrant area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. If you're looking for snacks, this area is also full of people selling dried fruit (especially dates) and nuts/seeds (sunflower, melon, pumpkin, etc.) Prices are per Jin (500 g) and are pretty much standardized throughout the area, so you can't really bargain unless you're buying a lot (but who wants 1 kg of peanuts anyway?) Watch out for the pits in the dates!
Street food (mostly sold after sunset, or some near night clubs/bars after 23:00) presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on by tens of little food vendors on street side, each with a red lamp. There are a few roads running perpendicular to the Muslim Quarter road that have a larger variety of streetside food (at cheaper prices because these roads are harder to access). As streetside stores are nearly a model of perfect competition, look out for food sold at significantly higher prices, yet maintain a long queue as these are likely to be tastier. For instance, some vendors may unscrupulously sell beef mixed with lamb and pass the meat off as pure lamb meat to cut their cost, however those who sell real lamb meat usually charge a higher price.
If Muslim food isn’t your thing, you can find a few more typically Chinese restaurants on Dongmutou Shi (东木头市) southeast of the bell tower.

A good way if you do not want the expensive hotel food or just want to try real Chinese cuisine, is to simply go into a small restaurant and point to a dish somebody else is having and you will get a meal for less than ¥10 (seldom ¥20) per person. A good street for eating is Xiyang Shi running east-west near the mosque in the Muslim quarter.

Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan (温馨饺子馆), 123 Xushimiao Street (Next to the Good World Hotel, off of Lian Hu Lu). A good cheap place for jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). There is no menu, but endless supplies of fresh jiaozi of many flavors. From ¥4-5 a bowl.
Lao Sun Jia (老孙家), 364 Dong Dajie. Has fantastic yangrou paomo which is very cheap but flavoursome. No English spoken but easy to communicate with sign language! Franchises all across town.
Caprice Restaurant + Bar (卡佩斯西餐厅), 11B Diamond Peninsula, Corner of Yan Nan 3rd Road and Furong West Road, Qujiang District (曲江新区雁南三路钻石半岛11B, 雁南三路芙蓉西路十字路口西南角) (Take the 500 bus, get off 1 stop past the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔)at the Starbucks and walk east 500m), ☏ +86 29 89136510, ✉ info@capricexian.com. 11:00-22:00. An upbeat restaurant designed like a Chicago-style steakhouse that has pretty authentic Italian and British pub food. For those only wanting drinks there is an Los Angeles-style lounge where they specialize in cocktails. Good portion size and popular with the local expats. If you go during lunch or in the early evenings you can chat with the Canadian owners for traveling tips. $8-16.
Highfly Pizza (高飞) (Down the right hand street after coming out of South Gate (南门)). Real pizza and other western food.
Green Molly Restaurant & Pub (绿茉莉) (200m north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road (西安市高新区高科大厦副楼一层 (世纪金花商场后门向北200米路东))), ☏ +86 29 81883339. 10:00-23:00. A restaurant where you can indulge in the tastes of home, whether that be in the U.S., Europe or even Mexico. The restaurant owns only the second authentic pizza oven in Xi'an. Downstairs, the first and only real pub in Xi'an has a wide selection of beverages ranging from imported beers to wine and delicious cocktails.
Small World Cafe (Jiànguómén 建国门), Huancheng Nanlu Dongduan 90# (Outside Jian Guo Gate (建国门外)). 11:00-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. From the windows, one could see busy Huancheng Nanlu (环城南路),while it is really quiet inside.
Small World Cafe (Dayanta 大雁塔), Ynataxilu 雁塔西路 (Southeast to Big Goose Pagoda (大雁塔东南角)). 10:30-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. Out of the north windows, one could see Big Goose Pagoda.
Delhi Darbar (新德里餐厅), Dayanta West Road (雁塔区大唐通易坊东头路北) (Directly west of the Big Goose Pagoda on a street full of upscale bars and restaurants). Authentic North Indian food run by a wonderful Indian manager. Service is good, food is devinely delicious, and prices are very affordable. Mango Lassi for only ¥10 is a must have. Average meal price is about ¥40 per person.
Village Cafe. A nice urban cafe on Shi Da Lu that offers burgers, steaks, and all sorts of drinks and desserts. From ¥30-60 per person.

La Seine, Nandajie (南大街) (Near Bell Tower). French style restaurant.
Tang Paradise Hotel (Near the Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang Resort of Xi'an). Dinner Show in a large 165 acres theme park. The charm lies in that all the buildings in the park are built in the luxurious style of the Tang Dynasty. The best time to visit is at night when most of the shows, including fireworks and dances, are performed.
Koi, Sofitel on Ren Min square. Japanese cuisine.
Village Cafe (32 Shi Da Lu, opposite of Bank of China). If you miss your burger, this is the place to go.

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Drink

+1 (一加一; pronounced), Dongdajie (东大街) (In the middle of the street). Remains one of the most popular clubs and definitely the most popular among foreigners. The club has 2 dance floors: first floor is mostly J-pop music, second floor is mostly hip-hop. There is a relaxed open air bar on the 5th floor which has live music every night.
De Fu Lou Cafe & Bar (De Fu Lou Paulaner Bar), De Fu Xiang Street. In Bar Street (De Fu Xiang), one of the first bars ever to open in Xi'an and a favourite hangout for locals. Live football on the big screen and live music every night.
Salsa (莎莎; Shasha), 7F, Parkson building, No.107 West Street. Is probably the most popular club. This club is your best bet on Fridays and Saturdays however yi-jia-yi is more consistent during the week. The dance floor, while smaller than yi-jia-yi's, is usually less crowded, so you have a bit more room to dance. Be careful if your group is mainly non-chinese as they sometimes decide to limit the number of foreigners allowed in.
Off-road Tea Bar, Jiefang Road (800 m S direct to Xi'an Railway Station). Has been checked by Google Business. Here, one could enjoy the fresh green tea in Southern Shaanxi and could meet local cycling and trekking lover.
Havana Bar, Renmin Square (In Sofitel Hotel). Has a Colombian band and makes good cocktails. It's not your average Buena Vista Social Club, though: they play loud music inbetween band performances and the band plays a wide array of pop and salsa. This location is more of a club than an actual latin bar. edit
The Belgian Bar, 69 Shun Cheng Nan Lu Dong Duan (150m east inside the South Gate), ☏ +86 13201672369. The first and only Belgian bar in Xi'an. Friendly pub atmosphere and huge range of beers. Popular with expats and locals. Awesome location facing onto the city wall.
Vice Versa, Wen Chang Men (Wen Chang Gate) (Beilin History Museum (Beilin Bo wu guan)), ☏ +86 151 092 72480. 15:00-05:00. Vice Versa is a cultural mix of east and west, found in one of the older districts of Xi'an. With a relaxed cafe/restaurant open during the day, a lively bar serving a mix of western and asian beers/cocktails at night, and a crowd of expats and Xi'an locals. Has a skate shop on the third floor, run by Converse pro-skater Xiao Jian. It is next to the front gate of the Forest of Steles History Museum, next to the city wall at Wen Chang Gate; you can call Mike at 151 092 72480 if you get lost.
Park Qin (basement Qin bar), A-2 Shuncheng West Alley (inside the South City Gate), Beilin District, Xi'an (Go to South Gate. Walk along inside wall about 20 meters. Go into hostel and down stairs into basement.). An underground basement bar (underneath Xi'an Shuyuan International Youth [Party] Hostel [see listing below]). Always packed, with live entertainment and a lot of laowai. Go early to get a table. Entrance not marked. Press blue-lit buzzer beside door to get in. Can be a really wild party.

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Sleep

As with most Chinese cities, several cheap run down hotels can be found near the train station. There are a few decent ones inside the city walls, on a road called Jie Fang Lu, going directly south from the train station. Bargaining is possible, especially if you are staying for more than one night. Expect to pay under ¥100 for a single room as getting a room for as low as ¥30 is possible. There are at least six international youth hostels right in the center of the city, easy to find. Booking on the Internet will usually save you money, prices start around ¥15.

3e Hotels International, 54 Nandajie (between the South Gate and the Bell Tower, right next door to a KFC on the W side of the street). Single room with free broadband internet is ¥154. Right outside the door is a coffee shop.
Bob's Guesthouse, 85 Huan Cheng Bei Lu Rd (just outside the city walls, a short walk from the train station). Doubles with en-suite bathroom for ¥100; dorms from ¥25 (summer 2006).
Ludao Binguan, 80 Xi Ba Lu (西八路), ☏ +86 29 87420308, fax: +86 29 82101222. A nicer-than-average hotel and hostel. Dorm rooms are between ¥25-50, depending on the season. Reasonably nice hotel room for around ¥75. The manager Jim Beam is friendly.
Hq Guesthouse in Xi'an, Hong Cheng Guoji Gong Yu, Xihuamen Shizi, 西安市, 陕西省, 710003, ☏ +86 13149250037. Small but cozy setup in a brand new apartment complex by the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an. Free pickup, free internet. 1 bedroom apartments from ¥300.
Xi'an Shuyuan International Youth Hostel, Xi Nanmen, ☏ +86 29 87287720, fax: +86 29 87287721. Excellent location just next to the South Gate. 8 people dorm from ¥35/night. There is an excellent pub under the hostel, and a very nice coffee house. Perfect place to hang out, surf internet, just 10 minute walk from Drum Tower and the moslim snack street!
Han Tang Inn Youth Hostel, 7 South Long Alley, ☏ +86 29 87231126, +86 29 87287772. The hostel is in a 4 floor building down a alley near the Bell Tower. Rates range from ¥30-160; doubles with ensuite bathroom costs ¥120/night (as of June 2010; booked on hostelworld.com). The hostel includes a bar on the 4th floor with TV, pool table, movies and 3 guitars. Free computer use for internet in the lobby. wifi in the rest of the building is iffy but you can ask for an Ethernet cable. The staff run lots of events (e.g. a dumpling party) each wee. Have a partner, Shuyuan Hostel, near the South Gate.
duolamaer gallery international youth hostel, 7 Shuncheng Avenue, Zhuque Gate (10 m from South Gate), ☏ +86 15129032007. Duolamaer is a painting-themed hostel providing a vibrant accommodation for independent travellers who require basic but clean living facilities. It is run by a bunch of arts enthusiasts, who give that place a creative and aesthetic atmosphere.
Warriors International Youth Hostel, No.98 Bei Ma Dao Xiang (Across the street from the West Wall, North from the main West Gate and South of the Lama Temple). Great budget option, in a quiet spot along the inside of the West City Wall. Opened April 2012 - facilities are clean, spacious, and comfortable. Staff are young, friendly, have a good grip on English. Free train station pickup, A/C, Wifi, computer use, and one beer/coffee ticket. Train 103 within easy walking distance to/from train station. Dorms posted as ¥50, book online through a 3rd party for ¥20/night.
Ancient City Youth Hostel (古城青年旅舍), 4 Lianhu Rd, Xi'an (Take the subway to Beidajie and take exit B. Turn around and pass the police station to find the entrance in a backyard behind another hotel. From the main train station, take bus 9 or 103 to Beidajie, or ask them to pick you up.), ☏ +86 2987365338. A cozy and modern place, clean and in very good shape. Well-heated rooms and comfortable beds. Staff speak good English and know all of the important bus routes. There is a very nice bar (Tsingtao ¥12), although your experience with the food may vary. The breakfast sets (¥20 upwards) are recommended, however. A pool table and a ping pong table are available, as is a fitness room. On the downside, rooms close to the bar tend to be noisy and draw smoke. ¥40 upwards.
Citadines Xingqing Palace Xi'an, 159 Xingqing Rd, Beilin District, ☏ +86 29 8338 0588, ✉ enquiry.xian@the-ascott.com. Offers 139 studio, one and two bedroom apartments. Amenities such as fully-equipped kitchen, gymnasium, business center are available.
Xian Central Serviced Apartments, Xihuamen Shizi, ☏ +86 15829031947. Xian central serviced apartments are more than 100 sq m. Spacious, newly furnished, clean and about 1 min walk to the Muslim Quarter. Free PC and internet in every apartment. Provide free use of mobile phone for guests to use while out exploring the city.
Qindao Business Hotel (西安秦道商务酒店), 100 Nan Guang Ji Jie (It is along Xi Dajie across from the Parkson Shopping Center and entrance to the Muslim Quarter), ☏ +86 29 87615888. Free internet and cable TV in the rooms. Travel office and public computer available in the lobby. Complimentary breakfast at 4th floor restaurant of mediocre quality, but their regular menu items are quite good and the view from the balcony is great. Laundry service: 2 day turnaround ¥10/item. Beware of the massage place on the 7th floor. It is nasty. ¥286 for a double room (2 people) and up.
Grand Mercure on Renmin Square (西安豪华美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☏ +86 29 87928888, ✉ grandmercure@renminsquare.com. A heritage hotel of 202 rooms, 21 suites, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture.
Mercure on Renmin Square Xi'an (西安美居人民大厦), 319 Dongxin St (In the grounds of Renmin Square.), ☏ +86 29 87928888, ✉ mercure@renminsquare.com. A heritage hotel of 113 rooms, first opened in 1957 and reflects the Sino Russian style of architecture. From ¥ 594.
Nanlin International Hotel, No. 8 Nanxin Street, Xincheng District, 西安市 SA, ☏ +86 29 87216000. Nanlin International Hotel is a four-star hotel in Xincheng District. It is 3 km from Xi'an Railway Station and 40 km from Xianyang International Airport. Air-con room equipped with cable TV and free high-speed Internet access. Best rates on official website start at ¥287+.
Warriors apartments, Building B, Hongcity International apartment, No.15 Xihuamen St., Xi'an, ☏ +86 13519197819, ✉ clarenceguo@yahoo.com. Family run, boutique apartment hotel. Qin-styled accommodations with 40 life-size warriors in the three apartments. Each apartment has terracotta warriors and has 1 or 2 bedrooms, bathroom, dining area, color TV, bed quilts, oven, full kitchen facilities and broadband internet access.
Ibis Hotel, 59, Heping Road, Xian, ☏ +86 2987275555. Part of Accor Group. Very basic facilities. Free broadband internet access. Price per night starts from ¥199.
Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel (金花豪生國際大酒店), 18 West Section, Huancheng S Rd (200 m outside south gate of walled city). 5-star in two modern towers with 324 rooms. From US$ 60 ppn.
Golden Flower Hotel, JiaoDa ShangYe JieQu, Xincheng Qu (5 km east of walled city, take metro 1 to Tonghua Men B). 5 star hotel, large rooms with views. Swimming pool, spa, 3 restaurants, lobby bar and shops. Double from US$50.
Sheraton Xi'an Hotel, 262 Feng Hao E Rd (2 km west of centre, take Metro blue line or bus 611), ☏ +86 29 84261888. Standard 4-star Sheraton offering. This quarter of town is being demolished so it's a bit forlorn.
Garden Hotel (唐华宾馆), Ci'en Rd, Yanta District, ☏ +86 29 8760 1111. Four-star hotel with a stunning imperial-inspired façade and 292 beautifully appointed rooms. Facilities include conference and banquet venues, three restaurants, and an indoor swimming pool. (updated Sep 2018 | edit)
Jin Jiang International Hotel (西安锦江国际酒店 , formerly Kempinski), 6 West Section, Euro-Asia Avenue, Chanba Ecological District (At river confluence 10 km northeast of walled city), ☏ +86 29 8355 0000. 5-star luxury hotel with river view and extensive conference facilities. On opposite bank is Euro-Asia Economic Forum. from 80 US$ ppn.
Xi'an Xindicheng, Somerset Serviced Apartments (西安盛捷新地城服务公寓), No.64 West Section of South 2nd Ring Road, Yanta District, Xi’an (400 m west of Metro red line), ☏ +86 29 8790 9888, ✉ enquiry.xian@the-ascott.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Serviced apartments for short and long stays. Self contained rooms with kitchen, washing machine, shower. Spa on the top floor with gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Close to a university, which has a number of very tasty street food stalls in the morning, and after 11pm. From US$ 80 ppn.

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

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 27.9833333
  • Longitude: 120.4

Accommodation in Xi'an

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This is version 79. Last edited at 12:33 on Dec 10, 19 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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