Top 10 Photography Spots in Xian

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Plan your Xian Tour? If you are wondering what you shoot on your trip to Xian and the best locations for photos here, I’d put together a post today of what I feel are the top 10 photography sites to shoot while you visit.

1. Xian City Wall
Unquestionably, Xian City Wall is probably the most photographed tourist site in Xian. That said, having been to Xian for many times, I’m often amazed by the shots I can take of the ancient city wall for each time. There are three primary times a day for shooting the rampant.

The first one is to shoot the old city wall itself during daytime. Its 14 km perimeter wall guarantees you plentiful candid photo opportunities – shoot the wall when people walk, cycle and play on the 12-14m wide wall at the top.

The Night View of the Xian City Wall

The Night View of the Xian City Wall

The second time I suggest you snap some pictures of the city wall at sunset glow. You can imagine the image of one corner of the Wall st sunset glow mirrored on the water of the city moat below! The night view of the city wall is awesome with the neon lights on the wall reflected on the moat water, just surreal!

2. Muslim Quarter
Xian Muslim Quarter is the center of the Muslim community in Xian inhabited by still over 60,000 Muslims, and most of them are the descendants of the immigrants from Arabia and Persia along the old Silk Road starting 2000 years back.

Try strolling up and down the 500m long lively street full of stalls, eateries, stands and restaurants, getting some of the community culture for great shots.

Muslim Quarter

Muslim Quarter

3. Drum Tower and Bell Tower
Move from the Muslim Quarter to the nearby Drum Tower, then walk to Bell Tower on the east of Drum Tower to get some beautiful photos of the two traditional buildings in China – Xian Drum Tower and Xian Bell Tower.

Bell Tower

Bell Tower

Ascending Drum Tower, you are able to have a bird’s-eye view of Muslim Quarter for a broader picture. Climbing up the Bell Tower also allows you to have some great shots of the main roads in the center of Xian – South Avenue, West Avenue, North Avenue and East Avenue, a grid pattern of the city construction laid out in Tang Dynasty. Then the lit Bell Tower at night is a most photographed spot in Xian.

4. Defu Alley ( Cafe and Bar Street )
Defu Lane is to the north of Xiangzimiao Street inside the South Gate of the City Wall, not far from Melody Hotel and south of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Xian Defu Lane has existed ever since Sui (581 – 618) and Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) as part of Imperial City.

In August, 1993, the government began to take full-scale revamp. After 3 years’ reconstruction, Defu Lane has turned on a new appearance, a perfect mix of the historical and modern architecture.

Defu Alley ( Cafe and Bar Street )

Defu Alley ( Cafe and Bar Street )

Now more than 40 bars, tea houses and cafes are densely located here. Each has a distinct style including the Chinese style, the American style or whatever can be found here. Setting up your tripod for wonderful photos of Xian’s nightlife mirroring through the lens the lively street at night when neon lights are lit.

5. Music Fountain Show at the North Square of the Big Goose Pagoda
The north square of Big Goose Pagoda in Xian has the Asia’s largest music fountain with an area of 20,000 square meters . It starts at 8:00pm everyday. It is a huge music fountain with the Big Goose Pagoda as the backdrop.

Music Fountain Show at the North Square of the Big Goose Pagoda

Music Fountain Show at the North Square of the Big Goose Pagoda

Get there early to get a good spot for a great night shot. There are twenty-two styles of the magnificent fountain formations shown on the seven connecting wide steps.

6. Tang Paradise
Take Bus 609 from Bell Tower area and get off at the 12th stop of Tang Paradise, about 8km southeast of the Bell Tower ( the center of Xian city ). Built and expanded on the former site of Tang Paradise in Tang Dynasty ( 618-907), now it is a revamped former imperial garden to fully demonstrate the Tang Dynasty’s charm and grandeur.

The setting, a landscaped 165-acre site surrounding a willow-lined lake, captures something of the look and feel of classical Chinese landscape painting.

 Tang Paradise

Tang Paradise

The Water Film is the main attraction in Tang Paradise. The screen of the water is a film of water, which makes you a wonderful and illusory feeling that you were on the scene in person.

When the figures in the movie appear on the screen, it seems that they are flying to the sky or coming down from the heaven. It is indeed a splendid ocular enjoyment.

The theme park gives many locations to shoot the classical Chinese gardening and landscapes. The surreal water film at night is also an interesting chance to snap a good candid photo.

7. Xian Qujiang Pool Park
Just take Tourism Bus 8 or Bus 610, you can easily get from Tang Paradise to Qujiang Pool Park, which is just situated about 2km southeast of Tang Paradise. Qujiang Pool has been a part of the imperial garden since Qin Dynasty (221BC – 207BC). In Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) it became a large garden frequented by the royal families, dignitaries and citizens.

 Xian Qujiang Pool Park

Xian Qujiang Pool Park

Today the park has restored and revamped on the historical record led by the famous architect Zhang Jinqiu. It has recreated the glorious past of the imperial park, a most visited spot of natural beauty with rich history.

It is the most relaxing park in Xian with numerous great photo opportunities to snap the classical Chinese landscapes – the pool, pavilions, gardens,bridges,lakes and traditional buildings.

Xian Qujiang Pool Park
Xian Qujiang Pool Park

8. Huaqing Hot Spring
Located 10 km west of Terracotta Army Museum, Huaqing Hotspring is an essential attraction below Lishan Mountain in Xian.

It is famous for its warm springs, outstanding master pieces of Chinese classical buildings and the romantic story that happened here regarding Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his favorite concubine Yang Yuhuan (719-756 ), often known as Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show is presented on the real-scene in Huaqing Hotspring with the backdrop of Lishan Mountain and the ponds, pavilions, corridors and palaces in the background. The performance is a real-scene singing and dancing historical drama with dazzling lights, beautiful music and songs, lavish costumes and the grand stage which is partially submerged in the water.

The poem-turned drama is presented in four parts with a preclude and 10 scenes. The four parts include “Fall in Love”, “A Sweet Couple”, “Goodbye to Love” and “Meet again on Fairyland” .

Show Time:
Twice performances a day ( Valid from April through October ) 20:00 – 21:10; 21:40 – 22:50
Entrance Fees:
RMB 220 ( east or west side area): RMB 260 ( central area); VIP area: RMB 988/888/588

Both Huaqing Hotspring and Terracotta Army is on the same eastern travel route from Xian’s city center, which can be combined to have a day trip. Follow me to have a glimpse of the great real-scene drama – Song of Everlasting Sorrow.

The music, the lights, the dancing, the singing, the lavish costumes and the grand stage, plus the real-scene of Huaqing Hot Spring – Lishan Mountain and the ponds, pavilions, corridors and palaces, create dazzling and eye-popping images, a great location for night shooting.

9. Xiao Qing Xin Railway
“Xiao Qing Xin” in Chinese literally means “Small, Fresh and New”, a kind of “Indie Pop”, here it is the nickname of one section of the railway that belongs to the former Xian Metallurgy Factory. It now still operates, passing through a quiet path arched by the dense trees neatly cut due to the coming back and forth of the trains.

Xiao Qing Xin Railway

Xiao Qing Xin Railway

This is a typical photo spot that is getting popular due to the social media. The first people who discover the sight send their photos online, attracting more and more to come here for great candid photography.

If you go there, just take care since the rail is still in operation. Take bus 224, 225, 407, and 631,and get off at the bus station of Hancheng North Road (汉城北路下). |

10. Huashan Mountain
Huashan (Mt.Huashan or Mount Hua ) is one of the five sacred mountains in China. Mt. Huashan is reputed as the most precipitous of the five.

Mt.Huashan is easily accessible by high speed trains from the five cities – Beijing ( 5 hours), Xian ( 35minutes), Luoyang (one and half hours ) and Shanghai ( 10 hours) .

Huashan Mountain

Huashan Mountain

Mt.Huashan Scenic Spot has 5 peaks – North Peak (1614.pm), the Central Peak(2037.8m), East Peak(2096.m), West Peak(2086.2m) and South Peak (2154.9m). Huashan Mountain allows you to bag a load of fascinating photos of this massive and treacherous mountain.

Staying overnight here on the summit guarantee your some great candid opportunities – Sunset and sunrise, sea of clouds, golden hues in autumn and amazing snow scene in winter.

Tip: Hassle-free Xian Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Xian guided tours:

Xian City Day Tour from US$69
Xian Terracotta Warriors Day Tour A from US$85
Terracotta Army and Song of Everlasting Performance from US$135

Xian 2 Day Tour Package from US$170 p/p
Xian 3 Day Tour Package from US$235 p/p

Further Readings


Beijing Xian High Speed Train Experience
Top 10 Attractions in Xian
Tips for Visiting Muslim Quarter in Xian
Tips for Visiting Xian City Wall
Tips for Visiting Shaanxi History Museum
Tips for Visiting Xian Bell Tower
How Visit Terracotta Army
How to Visit Daming Palace National Heritage Park
Top 10 Photography Spots in Xian
The Night View of Great Tang All Day Mall
Tips for Visiting Hanyang Tombs Xian
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show in Xian
Tips for Visiting Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Tips for Visiting Huaqing Hot Springs in Xian
How to Visit Mount Huashan
Top 10 Hostels in Xian
Best Time to Visit Xian

Any questions, just drop a line.

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2 Responses to “Top 10 Photography Spots in Xian”

  1. henry lam says:

    I see you have 10 very beautiful photos of xian. would you be able to take me to the same places for the same photos? also, your ad talked about staying overnite at Huashan mountain. I would be interest at that also.

    please advise price for 4 persons.

    thank you

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi henry lam,

    Thanks for your inquiry! Are you photography enthusiasts? The 9th spot ( 9. Xiao Qing Xin Railway ) may not availabe due to the danger involved. One of our staff members will contact you further to your request.

    The 9 photo spots take time to be covered and we don’t have enough time in Xian, maybe you just choose some of the spots to shoot. Anyhow, one of staff members will contact you. Thanks!

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