Plan your Xi’an tour? If time allows, you may arrange a short side trip to Yaodongs, the cave dwellings still common in the middle and northwest of China
The ABCs of Yaodong
“Yaodong” literally means “Earth Caves”, one of the four types of the most distinctive Chinese traditional dwellings including Tulou ( earth houses, common in Fujian Province); Yaodong ( Cave Abodes, on the loess in the Northwest China); Ganlan ( a wood or bamboo storied house common in Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi) and Yikeyin (Seal-like Compound in popular Yunnan Province).
Today you still can find many Yaodong caves, the earth shelters common in the Loess Plateau in Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai.
Yaodongs are generally carved out of a hillside, a vertical side of a loess hill. The cross section of a yaodong is built with two parts – a rectangle in the lower part and a semi-circle in the upper part. Yadongs are warm in winter and cool in summer.
How to Visit Yaodong in Xi’an
Some of the yaodong caves houses in Xi’an are located in the villages not far from the old highways on your trip to Terracotta Army Museum ( also known as Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum)
So if you are intrigued by the vernacular dwellings, you just adjust your trip by driving the old highway on your mecca trip to Terracotta Warriors and the visit the earth houses in the villages, most of which are located along the old highway between Baqiao District （灞桥）and Lintong District （临潼）in Xi’an.
Virtual Tour of Yaodong Cave Houses in Xi’an
Last time we had a quick trip to one of the villages back from Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum. We branched off the highway and walked into the village along the road by a shabby shop.
At our first glance, we find most of the village houses are made of bricks. We met a middle-aged woman taking a lively kid dressed in traditional clothes.
After learning we were looking for earth houses, she said that we should go to the village houses below the hills where earth houses are often dug and carved. She continued to say that Yaodong houses in the village are only auxiliary shelters in addition to the brick houses.
She was delighted to take us to Mr.Zhang’s cave house, one of her fellow villagers. As we were walking toward Mr. Zhang’s house compound, we could easily see a low hill behind his brick house. We guessed that his earth cave house was just dug into the hill behind his front brick house.
After learning we wanted to visit his yaodong house, Mr.Zhang came out, giving us a big smile, and waved us to enter his house compound.
He told us that he had two yaodong rooms on the hill behind his brick house. One room is used as one his living rooms, the other used as a shed for restoring farm tools.
After a brief visit to Mr. Zhang’s yaodong dwellings, the kind-hearted lady continued to lead us to another village household – Grandma Li and Mr.Gao’ family. She introduced that their family also has two yaodong caves, one for living and the other for used raising chickens.
Soon we reached Mr.Gao’s family. He was very happy first to show his grandeur bungalow house. We could again easily discover a hill behind his nice brick house.
We went through his front bungalow house and saw a big yard bookended by a loess hill with two carved cave houses.
Gandpa Li told us that they had two cave rooms. They still used one of the the earth cave room as a living room and stressed that she still liked to stay inside a cave house since it was cool in summer and warm in winter.
She and her husband also used the caves to raise chickens and other domestic animals.
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 of the options for Xian guided tours:
Beijing Xian High Speed Train Experience
Best Time to Visit Xian
How to Visit Xian in Two Days?
Xian Airport Transportation
Xian Railway Station Transportation
Xian Taxi: Xian Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Xian City Layout
Xian’s Top 7 Iconic Landmarks
Where to Stay in Xian
Top 10 Attractions in Xian
Top Things to Do for Kids in Xian
How to Visit Xian on a Budget
The Starbucks in Xian
Top Markets in Xian
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Xian
Top 10 Best Restaurants in Xian
Top 10 Souvenirs in Xian
Xian Tourist Traps, Xian Tourist Scams
How to Visit Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an
How to Visit Huaqing Hot Springs in Xi’an
How to visit Muslim Quarter in Xi’an
How to Visit Xi’an City Wall
The Ramparts of Quebec City and Xian City
How to Visit Shaanxi History Museum
How to Visit Xi’an Bell Tower
How to Visit Daming Palace National Heritage Park
Top 10 Photography Spots in Xi’an
The Night View of Great Tang All Day Mall
How to Visit Hanyang Tombs Xi’an
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show in Xian
How to Visit Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Yaodong Cave Dwellings in Xian
How to Visit Mount Huashan
Mt.Huashan Snow Scenes Photos
How to visit Xiyue Temple
Top 10 Hostels in Xian
Top 10 Xian Luxury & Boutique Hotels
Xi’an: An Exotic City with an Undeniable Historical Depth
Best Places to See Autumn Leaves around Xian
Muslim Streets in Muslim Quarter in Xian
Hua Jue Xiang, Huajue Lane at Xian Muslim Quarter
The Night View of Great Tang All Day Mall
Xian City Wall Night View
What to do in Xian after dark
Xian’s Best Street Food
Xian Muslim Quarter Exotic Food
Xian Bar Street
Spring Festival Lantern Exhibit in Xian
Xian Terracotta Army Pictures
How to Visit Maijishan Grottoes from Xian by Train
How to Visit Hukou Waterfall
How to Visit Huangdi Mausoleum
Xian Lhasa Flight Experience (Tips, Photos & Map)
Beijing Xian Flight Experience
Datong Xian High Speed Train
Reviews on Beijing Xian Luoyang Tour
Any questions, just drop a line.