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We had an absolutely perfect day with our tour guide - Rogin Luo - who took us for a hike along The Great Wall! Didn't know what to expect and were thrilled to have him as our guide. Very imformative, knowledgable and fun! We go to experience a part of The Great Wall that was unrestored and see all its natural beauty. Got a long history lesson along the way!

After the hike, we all went to lunch at a small place at the bottom of the hill. Located in a house, we ate lunch in the proprietors bedroom! What a hoot! Rogin is the Best of the Best! This tour company delivered for us and we are extremely grateful.

Westborough, Massachusetts
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Home  »  China Travel Guide  »  Xi'an Travel Guide  »  Top 10 things to do in Xi'an
Top 10 Things to Do in Xi'an

Xi'an is the most selected city on the China city tour list just after Beijing. "Xian" in Chinese literally means "Peace in the West", historically known as "Chang An" ( Perpetual Peace ), an ancient capital city for some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including the Zhou, Qin, Han, the Sui, and Tang dynasties.

Many tourists say the city of Xian looks more Chinese than the those metropolitan cities such as Beijing, Shanghai. It is a favorite haven for those who are interested in Chinese culture and its people.

If it is your first time to visit Xian, then you may wonder what are the most important things to do in Xian for a short trip of 2-3 days. There is huge information on what to see in Xian, which you may get from either some popular travel books or plentiful quality websites including tripadvisor.com and about.com.

As a local travel expert, we are happy to present you our version of Top 10 Things to Do in Xian for your reference. You are kindly advised to visit Xian per your personal interest. Hope our Top 10 Things to Do in Xi'an will be helpful in planning your Xian trip.

Top 10 Attractions or Things to Do in Xian
Army of Terra_Cotta Warriors Xian City Wall Xian Muslim Quarters and the Great Mosque Bell & Drum Towers Forest of Stone Steles
Army of Terra-Cotta Warriors Xian City Wall Xian Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque Bell & Drum Towers Forest of Stone Steles
Hanyang Tombs (Mausoleum of Western Han Emperor Liu Qi) Shaanxi Provincial History Musuem Big Goose Pagoda Huaqing Hot Spring Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show
Hanyang Tombs Shaanxi Provincial History Musuem Big Goose Pagoda Huaqing Hot Spring Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show

Xian Map

Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum To visit the Terracotta Warriors Museum is the main reason why you are here in Xian. You may have already seen its pictures from China travel books or China tour related travel websites. The original site was found by a local farmer digging a well in 1974.

Now it has turned into the most important attraction in Xian - Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum. It is located about 30km east of the Xian City. The museum includes Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3 as well the exhibition hall of the chariots and horses. The Pit 1 is the largest of the three.

Opening Hours: 8:30AM – 5:30PM
Entrance Fee: RMB 150 (March 1-November 30); RMB 120 (December 1-the end of February)
The ticket also includes the entrance to Qin Shihuang' Mausoleum.


Xian City Wall The main magnet of Xian is the city wall, which is the most complete city wall that has survived in China as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

It was enlarged in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) from the city wall initially built in Tang Dynasty (618 -907). Now it is 12 meters tall, 12-14 meters wide covering 14 kilometers in length with a deep moat surrounding it. You can walk, even cycle on the wall. Its south gate is the most largest with a suspension bridge. Most of the tourists choose the south gate for sightseeing.

Entrance fee: 40 RMB
Ticketing Offices: at any of the four gates to the Wall
Opening Hour: 08:00 – 20:00
Suggested Travel Time: 1-3 Hours


Xian Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque
The Xian Muslim Quarters is just located behind ( north of ) the Drum Tower. The Xian Muslim quarters is a delightful place you will never miss! The famous Great Mosque is located in the Muslim Area.

For the tourists coming here, the bazaar in the Muslim area is most attractive with a wide area of stalls selling everything. The streets and walkways are full of life. The shopping is great, very cheap and some unusual items we will seldom see anywhere else in China. The Great Mosque in Xian is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China.

Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, the Great Mosque of Xian is completely Chinese in its construction and architectural style, except for some Arabic lettering and decorations.


Bell & Drum Towers In Chinese history from Ming Dynasty, each city had a bell tower and a drum tower. The bell was sounded at dawn and the drum at dusk each day in ancient time, a means of telling time and coming alerts. Xian was not exception.

The Bell Tower and Drum Tower of Xi'an date back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The two are located in the center of the Xian city connecting the four roads from east, south, west and north within the city wall. Atop the Bell Tower you will have a panoramic view of the Xian City; atop the Drum Tower you will have a bird's eye view of the Muslim Quarters.

Entrance Fee: 35 yuan ( Bell Tower ) and 50 yuan ( A combo ticket of Drum Tower )
Ticketing Booth: at the underground Bell Tower subway tunnel
Opening Hours
Peak Season (April 01 – October 25): 08:30 -21:30 )
Low Season (October 26 – March 31 ): 08:30 -18:00)

Forest of Stone Steles Xi'an Forest of Stone Tablets was originally built in 1087. The Forest of Stone Steles in Xi'an holds a big collection of steles in China. It is a classical courtyard styled structure at the site of former Confucian Temple in Sanxue Street, Xian, close to the south gate of Xi'an City Wall.

The museum has an area of over 30,000 square meters. It is one of the centers of ancient Chinese stone-engraving classic. It is also the center of the works of art of noted calligraphers of past dynasties. The numerous standing steles likens a forest, hence the name " Forest of Steles". With a history of over 900 years, it is an art treasure well known at home and abroad.

Transport: bus 23 40 221 222 302 309 402
Open time: Daily 9:00am to 5:30pm;
Admission RMB: 30 per person

Hanyang Tombs
It is the forth emperor - Jing Emperor's tomb in Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) which was opened in 2001 and is famous for its rich collection of the terracotta figurines and animals.

Actually his tomb is not opened yet. What we see on the exhibition hall are artifacts from his main tomb's surrounding burial sites. Hanyang Tomb is about 20 Km to the east of Xian airport, 30km north of the downtown Xian. For many tourists, Hanyang Tombs are more like a hidden gem!

Entrance Fee: RMB 90
Underground Palace: RMB 35
Opening Hours: 8:30-17:30


Shaanxi Provincial History Musuem Among amazing collection of Chinese artifacts, there are several well-preserved terracotta warriors and horses and as well as many other exhibits like bronzes, ceramics, construction materials through the successive dynasties, Han and Tang bronze mirrors, and coins and currency, calligraphy, rubbings, scrolls and so on.

The museum is located about 6 km south of Bell Tower in the heart of Xian City. Take Tourism Bus No. 08 from West Bell Tower and get off at the 11th stop of Cuihua Road and walk to the museum ( 90m) or take a taxi going there ( about 15 yuan ).

Summer (March 16 – November 14): 08:30~18:00 ( ticket delivered till 16:30)
Winter (November 15 – March 15): 09:00~17:30 (ticket delivered till 16:00 )
Closed on Monday (still open on national holidays)


Big Goose Pagoda Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located inside Daci'en Temple, a holy place in the middle of a vibrant and modern growing city of Xian. It is a good place to learn about the influence of China's Buddhism and culture.

It is an active Buddhist temple with monks chanting, working and living. Local Chinese visit the place to worship and burn joss sticks. So the pagoda is part of Daci'en Temple, which were both originally built in Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the temple precedes the pagoda.

Entry fee for Daci'en Temple: RMB 50
Entry fee for Ascending Big Wild Goose Pagoda: RMB 30 ( First pay RMB 50 to enter the temple)
Opening Hours: Summer (March 16 – December 4): 08:00~17:30
Winter (December 04 – March 15 ): 08:00~17:00

Huaqing Hot Spring People usually visit Huaqing Hot Spring on the way to or back from the Terracotta Army since this site is located under the Lishan Mountain just 8 km east of the Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum.

It is famous for both its spring scenery and the romantic love story of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his concubine Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). If you want to know more about the Chinese history, especially the Tang Dynasty as well enjoy Chinese gardening, this is the right place.

Entrance Fee:
RMB 150 (Mar 1 – Nov 30)
RMB 120 (Dec 01 – Feb)
Children below 1.2 meters: free of Charge
Opening Hours:
07:00 – 18:00 (Mar 01 – Nov 30)
07:30 – 18:30 (Dec 01 – Feb )

Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show For most first time visitors, it is a pleasant surprise that you won't find yourselves lonely when night falls in the ancient city of Xian. The major avenues of Xi'an like Xi Dajie, Nan Dajie and Dong Dajie are brightly and beautifully lit lined with luminous neon signs stores.

If you are not interested in the street evening shopping, then the Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square and Nanhu Lake are the favorite night hangouts, where the dazzling lights and beautiful scenery will surely shock you! Is this Xian? Yes, it is!

If you prefer a night performance to kill your night time, Tang Dynasty Show is your best choice. Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show is an outstanding element of this ancient rich and prosperous society, giving an insight into the peaceful life style of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).

There are two major venues to put on the performance - Shaanxi Song & Dance Theatre and Tang Dynasty Palace, which both offer two choices - performance including dinner or excluding dinner.

Where and When to See:
1. Shaanxi Song & Dance Theatre
Showing Hours 20:00 - 21:00
No. 165, Wenyi Road, Xi'an (outside the east gate )
2. Tang Dynasty Palace
20:30 - 21:40
No. 75, Chang'an Road, Xi'an (outside the south gate )

More Top 10 Lists for Unique Things to Do in Xian

1. Top Things to Do for Kids in Xian 2. Top 10 Things to Do at Night in Xian
3. Top 10 Best Restaurants in Xian 4. Xian’s Best Street Food
5. Top 10 Shopping Malls in Xian 6. Top 10 Markets in Xian 
7. Top 10 Souvenirs in Xian 8. Top 10 Hostels in Xian
9. Top 10 Xian Luxury & Boutique Hotels 10. Top 10 Xian Budget Hotels
11. Top 10 Hostels in Xian 12. Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in Xian
13. Xian’s Top 7 Iconic Landmarks
14. Top 10 Photography Spots in Xian

More Xian Travel Tips & Attractions

More Xian Travel Tips
1. When is the best time to visit Xian 2. Xian City Layout
3. How to visit Terracotta Army in Xian  4. Where to Stay in Xian
5. Xian tourist traps, Xian tourist scams 6. How to Visit Xian on a Budget
7. How to Visit Huangdi Mausoleum 8. Xian Bar Street
9. Mt.Huashan Travel Tips 10. How to Visit Hukou Waterfalls
11. The Starbucks in Xian 12. Muslim Quarters in Xian

More Xi'an Attractions
Tomb of Princess Yongtai The tomb of Huo Qubing Tomb of Zhanghuai
Tomb of Crown Prince Yide Taibai Mountain Maoling Mausoleum
Xianyang Museum Ba Xian An Monastery Wei Yang Palace Site
Tang Dynasty Arts Museum E Pang Palace Site Cui Hua Mountain
Hancheng Xiangji Temple Western Zhou Chariot Burial Pit
Temple of Flourishing Teaching Tang Paradise Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Moslem Street Huimin Street Straw Hut Temple Mausoleum of Liu Qi
Daxingshan Temple Shuyuan Gate Peasant Painting Huxian

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