Why you should go to Xi'an!

Xi'an in central-northwest China is most famous for the 3rd century BCE Terracotta Army, discovered by accident in 1974 and now one of the country's major tourist attractions, but it is also an ancient cultural and political center, dating from the 11th century BCE and the Zhou dynasty. One of the birthplaces of Chinese culture, it was the last stop on the Silk Road and the capital of 13 dynasties, including the Han and the Ming. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda dates from Tang Dynasty in the 8th century.

But it's not all ancient history. The city of over 6 million is a university town and a modern transportation hub with a new subway system and non-stop flights from outside China. Foodies will want to visit the Muslim Quarter and try local cuisine including a crumbled flatbread in mutton stew (Yangrou Paomo) and cold noodles (Liang Pi). Nightlife offers karaoke bars, discos, the Shaanxi Opera (Qin Qiang) and at least one gay bar.

Great Mosque

Great Mosque

Things to do

The 6th century Great Mosque of Xi'an is the largest mosque in China and the only one open to visitors although non-Musims cannot enter the main prayer hall. On the...
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Bell Tower

Bell Tower

Things to do

The 14th century wooden Bell Tower, the largest and best preserved of its kind in China, is at the exact geographic center of the ancient city and a handy marker today.....
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Drum Tower

Drum Tower

Things to do

At the southern end of the Muslim Quarter, the 111-foot (34 meters) Drum Tower houses ancient drums once used to sound warnings. Now drum concerts are held six times a...
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Muslim Quarter

Muslim Quarter

Things to do

Home to Chinese Muslims for over 1000 years, the Muslim Quarter is a Middle Eastern souk that grew up at the eastern end of the Silk Road. Along Beiyuanmen Muslim...
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Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Nightlife

The Tang Dynasty Show at the Tang Dynasty Palace is a 7th-10th century spectacular full of dance, acrobatics, ancient music elaborate costumes and scenery. Plus it comes...
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Tang Paradise

Tang Paradise

Things to do

Tang Paradise is a 165-acre (0.67 sq. km) theme park modeled on an ancient garden complex of the Tang Dynasty and incorporating traditional Chinese architecture and all...
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Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts

Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts

Things to do

The Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts is dedicated to conserving and exhibiting ancient Chinese murals, including murals from the Goddess Temple in Lianing Provience,...
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Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Warriors

Things to do

The Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an is now under five hours from Beijing by bullet train instead of what was once a 12-hour journey. Domestic flights are also available....
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Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Things to do

The 7th century Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the Da Ci'en Si Temple complex in a southern suburb became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 as part of Silk Road. Rebuilt...
De Fa Chang Restaurant

De Fa Chang Restaurant

Restaurant

The four-story Da Wan Chang on the north side of Bell Tower Square offers an 18-course dumpling banquet. Table service upstairs is more expensive than on the first floor...
De Fu Xiang Street

De Fu Xiang Street

Nightlife

Just inside the South Gate of the city wall, De Fu Xiang Street is a collection of bars and coffeehouses that make up what passes for nightlife in Xi'an. Just off Fen...
Gran Melia Xi'an

Gran Melia Xi'an

Hotel

The 389-room Gran Melia Xi'an of the Spanish luxury chain is in suburban Xi'an, about 8 kilometers (5 mi.) from the Muslim Quarter and 45 kilometers (28 mi.) from the...
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Huaqing Aegean International Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Huaqing Aegean International Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Hotel

A 20-minute drive from the Terracotta Warriors, the Huaqing Aegean International Hot Springs Resort has an outdoor hot springs pool and gardens, a nightclub with DJ,...
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Westin Xi'an

Westin Xi'an

Hotel

In addition to the usual Westin amenities, the 329-room Westin Xi'an has its own on-site Chinese Museum with over 2000 artifacts and provides guests with free tickets to...
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4 community reviews / Xi'an

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Excellent
LGBT-friendly
Average
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Getting around

As in the days of the Silk Road, Xi'an is a transportation hub with an international airport 47 kilometers (about 29 miles) northeast of the city. It is the meeting place of nine national freeways and six national highways with seven large long-distance bus stations. Train service includes high speed trains to Beijing and bullet trains to Shanghai and Guangzhou - all operating out of the North Railway Station - and regular train service and trains to Lhasa, Tibet, stopping at the Xi'an Railway Station just north of the city wall. Traveling in the city, it makes sense to buy Chang An Tong (transportation smart card), which can be used on local buses, the subway and taxis.

Although car rental agencies can be found at the airport and train station, you would not be able to drive in China unless you have a Chinese driver's license as international driving permits are not recognized. The options is to rent a car with driver or hire a taxi for a trip.
Public bike rentals are available at sites throughout the city between 6:30 am and 9 pm.
The subway system, the first in western China, was launched in 2011 and continues to expand. Line 2 is most useful to tourists. It travels between the North Railway Station and the International Conference and Exhibition Center with major stops in the city center.
Bus service is available throughout the city and suburbs with special tourist lines to major attractions (like the Terra Cotta Warriors) and double-decker hop-on/hop-off sightseeing buses. Buses with "K" before the route number are air-conditioned. Only a few public buses announce stops in English.
Taxis in Xi'an are mostly green and can be hailed on the street. Fares are metered, but longer distances are by flat rate. Most taxi drivers speak only Chinese.

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