Xian (pronounced she-anne) is home to the world famous terra cotta warriors and a major city in Northern China.
Citizens of most nationalities will need a visa to visit China.
Money and Tipping
Getting Into Xian
Flights from Beijing are frequent and travel time is approximately two hours. If you have some time and want to save some money, direct overnight train service takes approx 11-12 hours for this journey on routes Z19 (Beijing West to Xian) and Z20 (Xian to Beijing West). You can also take high speed trains which make the trip in five hours. Foreigners require passports to purchase train tickets.
Getting To/From the Airport
Xian's airport is Xianyang (XIY). International departures and arrivals use Terminal 2. Do not arrive too early when departing since the international area does not open until approx two hours before a flight.
Best way to get into Xian from the airport is by airport shuttle bus. Fare is 26 Yuan (25 plus 1 Yuan fuel surcharge). Check the current routes at the bus operators website http://cwagi.com/ (use google translator).
Taxis at the airport turn off their meters in order to extort the maximum amount of money from tourists. You will need to bargain keeping in mind a metered fare to the bell tower should cost between 120-150 yuan.
Taxis are inexpensive in Xian but it is difficult to find an empty one during busy periods. Do not expect your taxi driver to speak English so have your destination written in Chinese.
The metro is brand new (opened Sep 2011) with one line complete and more lines under construction. The current line 2 only runs north-south intersecting the bell tower. Ticket machines have English instructions and accept bills except for the 1 Yuan note. You can get change for large bills and 1 yuan notes at the staffed counters.
Buses are a good way to get around although destinations are only displayed in Chinese. Buses stop at all stops so you don't need to press a buzzer if you want to get off. Fare is only 1 Yuan for non air-conditioned buses and 2 yuan for air conditioned ones (K prefix on routes). A popular route, 611, runs from the railway station to the bell tower. Check the back of bus stop signs for timetables and operating hours.
Search hotels in Xian here
Huashan (Hua Mountain)- Located east of Xian and only 30 minutes away by bullet train from Xian North railway station (metro Beikezhan) to Huashan North station. Take the green minibuses to the main gate. The four peaks are accessible by either cable car or hiking and there are hotels where you can overnight on the mountain. Entry pass is 180 yuan and good for 2 days. Your fingerprint is taken at the gate. There are several options of getting to the peaks -
From North Peak, you will need to climb up a pass through the Gold Lock Gate to get to the other peaks. The recommended route to see all four peaks is clockwise from East Peak to South Peak to West Peak. Central peak can be missed since it isn't that high nor scenic. For the adventurous, there are two thrilling side trips which require renting a harness for 30 yuan. The Sparrow Hawk Steps at East Peak leads down to the Chess Pavillion and the Cliffside Plank Walk between East and South Peak (head up into the pavillion when you see the banners). Trails are all stepped in either stone or concrete with some appearing recently widened. There are a few vertical sections cut into rock with steel chains (but with alternate easier routes). Photographers (30 yuan for a picture), restaurants, hotels and snack stops can be found throughout the mountain.
Shopping & Restaurants
10 Yuan shops can be found under the bell tower where you can buy sets of small terracotta warriors and bronze chariot replicas.
Beiyuanmen St (Muslim St) - This main street directly north of the drum tower is filled with restaurants and street food. Streets off the main one will tend to have better prices. Directly to west (left) and running parallel is a covered souvenir market which lead to the mosque.
On the southeast corner of the Bell Tower is KaiYuan Shopping Mall with a food court on the 7th floor.
Luomashi Pedestrian Street - This area is located southeast of the clock tower and runs north-south. There is a Walmart at the southern end.
Defu (Bar) Street - Located southwest of the clock tower and contains a high concentration of restaurants and bars.
Shu Yuan Men - This street running parallel to the wall by the south gate specializes in art, calligraphy and antiques.
Xian has many specialty dishes unique to the area.
Biang Biang Mian - A mixed wide noodle featuring a complex written name composed of 58 strokes. Available at many noodle restaurants including several on Beiyuanmen St in the Muslim Quarter and First Noodle Under the Sun (location in northwest corner of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda complex).
Dumplings - Xian's version on XiaLongBao can be found in Jia San Restaurant at 93 Beiyuanmen. Order and pay at the counter pointing to the picture menu displayed above. Take your receipt and find a seat where waiters will fill your order. Pre-paying is standard procedure in many Xian restaurants. De Fa Chang, a famous dumpling restaurant, is located on the northwest corner of the Bell Tower Square above the Haagen Dazs. The ground floor is self-service while upstairs has banquet rooms. The expensive, multi-course dumpling sampling menu has mixed reviews.
Rou Jia Mo - Xian's version of a hamburger, is essentially chopped meat served in a bun. Found in many restaurants and street side stalls.
Yang Rou Pao Mo - A mutton based soup, you are first given a piece of unleavened bread which you need to break up into tiny pieces (like a giant cracker). The best restaurants are on the Xiyanghshi St heading left at the end of Beiyuanmen.
Try cafes for wifi. Facebook is blocked in China.
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Xian Weather Forecast