Xi'an

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Xian , is a historic city in Shaanxi Province in China.

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Points of Interest in Xi'an

Inside/Near the city

  • City Wall of Xi'an (西安城墙; Xīānchéngqiáng). As the world's largest city wall, the Xi'an city wall has been restored and is 12m high, 18m wide is its bottom, 15m wide on the top, 13.7km long, and bikes(also bikes for two or three persons) are provided for renting, now it's ¥40 per 90 minutes/bike. You can hire one at the top of the South or East gate; you may return it to other stations on the wall (there is one at each of the four main gates), but be sure to verify this before stating your ride. Be aware that bikes will not be rented if there is any chance of rain, because the top of the wall becomes slippery. Check the weather forecast before you buy a ticket to enter the wall. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes 4-5 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty(A.D.1368-A.D.1644) on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty(A.D.618-A.D.907). The Xi'an City Wall International Marathon is held each year in Nov. since 1993, running on top of the wall, athletes from more than 50 countries and regions have participated in the competition during the last 16 sessions. Also, the Xi'an city wall Cycling Race are held on top of the wall since two years ago.

There is a small museum inside the city walls at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the city wall itself. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection. ¥40, ¥20 students (Sept 2010).

  • Shaanxi Historic Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn; also known as Shaanxi History Museum), xiaozhai, Xian,China (500m northwest to the Big wild goose pogoda). This museum houses a collection of local artefacts that span the entirety of the province's history from the Neolithic through the Qing dynasty. In particular it contains fabulously well preserved pottery from nearby Banpo neolithic village (also worth a visit) and many excellent Shang Dynasty bronzes. Although some guidebooks call it "one of the best museums in China", its old fashioned pots-and-arrowheads-behind-glass format may appeal mainly to enthusiasts, though they also feature some well-made but glorifying high-definition movies in the exhibition halls. The most eye-catching articles are those from the Tang Dynasty, originally used by the royal family. Arrive either really early or before 13:00 to get one of 4000 free tickets each day. Make sure to bring your passport, it's one ticket per id! Museum is limited to 6000 visitors per day to avoid overcrowding. It closes at 17:00 (July 2012).
  • Forest of Steles (碑林; Xīānbēilín) (Just inside the southern city wall, near the Wenchang Gate). This collection of 2,300 stone tablets (many written to provide an "official text" of the Chinese classics) and epitaphs is the largest and oldest of its kind in China.

This includes the famous Nestorian Stele, dating back to the 7th century. It depicts the coming of Nestorian Christianity to China. The Nestorian Stele is in Showroom Number 2 and is the first stele on the left. ¥50/¥25 Beilin Museum, foreign student cards not accepted (January 2012).

  • Wolong Temple (卧龙寺) (One block North and East of the Forest of Steles museum). This active Buddhist temple dates back to 200BC. Recently restored, the temple is vibrant and busy.
  • Big (Wild) Goose Pagoda (大雁塔; Dàyàntǎ) (At Ci'en Temple, take bus 41 or 610 from the main train station). Built by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi(高宗李治) in 652AD. Emblem of the city of Xi'an. In the fountain in front of the pagoda there is a very nice water and music show sometimes during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby. ¥50 to enter the temple complex, another ¥40 to enter the pagoda.
  • Little (Wild) Goose Pagoda (小雁塔; Xiǎoyàntǎ) (At Jianfu Temple). Completed in 709AD. You can claim a ticket for free just to join the temple area, you must pay ¥50 (student half-price) if you want to walk inside the pagoda (Note that the ticket still states the old price of ¥30, however ¥30 is charged)..
  •    Bell Towers (钟楼; Zhōnglóu) (In the exact center of the city). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Drum Tower).
  •    Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu) (Just to the northwest within the Muslim Quarter). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Bell Tower).
  • Grand Mosque (大清真寺; Qīngzhēnsì) (Behind Drum Tower). Built in a perfect mixture of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles with seating for 1,000 worshipers and the Muslim Street district (回民街 Huímín Jiē) around it. It is famous as the very first mosque ever to be built in China. It can be quite difficult to find through the winding back streets but is very well known to locals. Only Muslims are permitted entry to the actual mosque but there is plenty to see in the many accompanying courtyards. Ladies are asked to cover up with a scarf according to Muslim tradition. ¥25.
  • Eight Immortals Temple (八仙庵; Bāxiān'ān). An active Daoist temple built for the famous Eight Immortals, including the Eight Immortals Bridge, lots of steles in the walls with text and illustrations, and multiple worship halls.
  • DaMing Palace and Park. This is, first of all, a huge park with both green spaces and an enormous open square with an equally-impressive ancient palace gate (the palace is Tang dynasty, built in 634 AD). There's a model of the palace next to the gate. The square sometimes hosts public performances. The park even has an IMAX theatre. The park, gate and square are accessible for free. If you pay for admission, you can actually go into the partially restored palace ruins and other sections of the park protected by a moat. Worth seeing for the sheer size of it - it's a very surreal effect compared to the crowding in the rest of Xian. Immediately north of the railway station (though you have to go around using side streets, since there are railway tracks in the way). You may also be able to get there via DaMing Xi subway station.

Outside the city

  • Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses (兵马俑; Bīngmăyŏng) (A short distance away from the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, it is the last stop of bus 306). This mighty army of terracotta warriors and horses, found in three vaults, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of Shaanxi and one of the most popular in all of China. An in-site museum has been built over these pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and displaying 8,000 lifelike terracotta warriors, 100 or so chariots, and 30,000 weapons. The assemblage has been billed by the tourist industry as the Eighth Wonder of the World and a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The ticket office is next to the parking lot, which is a 5/10 minute walk away from the entrance to the museum. Buy your tickets at the ticket office or you can also buy them from resellers at the entrance for a ¥5 fee. For ¥5, you can opt to take a small bus from the ticket counter to the entry to the site, which saves you about 10 minutes of walking. On the way back, however, you are forced to walk in order not to "miss" the countless opportunities to buy small terracotta warriors, other tourist articles and food. For those not interested in Chinese food, there is a KFC very near to the ticket counter. Student tickets can only be bought at the rightmost ticket booths, which do not sell regular tickets. ¥150, students ¥75.
  • Banpo Village Ruins (半坡遗址). 6,000 year old ruins of a village site including the residential and pottery-making areas, ancient tools, as well as a burial ground. Take bus #42 from the train station. Visit also the Shaanxi Historic Museum to see the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo.
  • Famen Temple (法门寺). This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67AD, contains a 13-storied brick pagoda as part of the monastery. This pagoda fell down in the rain in August 1981 and revealed a 1000 year old underground vault full with 2,400 treasures belonging to the Tang and previous dynasties given as offerings. These included gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones and textiles, as well as religious items. The biggest treasure is a finger bone of Buddha offered to the Emperor of China during the Tang dynasty.
  • Huaqing Palace (华清池; Huáqīngchí) (First stop of bus 306). 09:00-17:00. Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan in Lintong County so he could frolic with his favoured Imperial Lady Yang to his heart's content. It is possible to take hot baths inside. You may also take the nearby cable car (¥60 return) to catch a Birdseye view of the area. ¥110, ¥60 Student.
  • Mao Ling Mausoleum (茂陵博物馆). The tomb of the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty, includes many stone carvings.
  • Qinshihuang's Mausoleum (秦始皇陵) (Third stop (second for the museum) of bus 306 before the Terracota Warriors). Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China. You can visit the surrounding gardens and mountains, but you can not get inside the mausoleum. There is a low quality museum with a reconstruction of the Mausoleum. Taking pictures in the dimly lit museum is forbidden, although staff will not control it too much. Mausoleum ¥40, museum ¥15.
  • Qian Ling Mausoleum (乾陵博物馆). The only shared tomb of the first empress of China Wu Zetian, and her husband Emperor Gaozong of Tang Dynasty.
  • Taiping National Park (太平国家公园) (44 km SW of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain). Famous for its waterfall and the largest area of wild Zijing flower (the city flower of Hong Kong) in north China.
  • Xiangyu Forest Park (祥峪森林公园) (37 km S of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain).
  • Huashan Mountain (华山) (About 2.5 hr outside of Xi'an, or 40 minutes by high-speed train. High-speed rail station is about 30minutes away from the bell tower by cab. Cab ride is about ¥35. Once arriving at the Huashan high-speed train station it is a quick taxi ride (¥20) to the mountain trailhead). This is one of China's sacred mountains. Very beautiful misty mountain where you can climb steep stairs while holding on to chain railings for support. If you take the cable car up, you can climb around the four peaks in about 3-4 hours. Cable car is ¥80/¥150 round trip and is located at the east gate and goes directly to the north peak. If you want to walk up you have to go to another entrance, the Yu Quan Yuan (玉泉院) entrance.There are many tours that drive to the Mountain, just be aware that half of the time you will be stoping for jewelry, Chinese medicine, etc. Worthwhile if you get a nice coach.
  • Tang Paradise. Tang Paradise is the largest tourist program in northwest China. It covers and area of 1,000 mu (about 165 acres) and was established with and investment of ¥1.2 billion. Located to the north of the original Tang Dynasty Lotus Garden site, the present Tang Paradise is the first theme park fully demonstrating the charm and grandeur of the royal garden in Tang Dynasty. The Tang Paradise boats many new records: the largest movie on water screen in the world, the first theme park of five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell), the biggest outdoor fragrance project in the world and the biggest reproduction of the Tang royal garden comples in China. Ever since its opening to public on April 11, 2005, Tang Paradise has attracted people from different walks of life with its surprising charm, including some prominent political figures like Lian Zhan, Chairman of Kuomingtang from Taiwan. It has become a must see attraction in Xi’an.
  • Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Near the airport). Han dynasty tomb (known locally as HanYangLing) containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. There are human figures (think small and naked version of the terracota warriors) as well as a whole army-like formation of life-like animals (pigs, dogs, etc). The "Underground Museum" at the excavation site has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations and is definitely worth a visit (especially easy to do if done as part of a journey to or from the airport). There's a very unique holographic movie experience as part of the exhibit (no 3D glasses required, English and some other language translation available, ¥10 though it is unclear if it's a legitimate fee). It's also worth getting a guide or following one around (note that English ones are more expensive than Chinese ones) because they will explain things in much more detail than the captions. Some people also climb up to the top of the burial mound (you can see a worn trail going up the side). If you cross the road you can see the Archaeological Exhibit Center (where some of the best figures are kept), a deer park (with actual live deer), and ruins of a "sacrifice temple" (not too impressive). The grounds around the mausoleum are nice to stroll in, with fragrant wild grasses and a rose garden next to the Arch. Ex. Center. It is possible to get to the site via tour or share a taxi (around ¥200 round-trip, not including waiting time). By public transit, take the subway to XingZheng ZhongXin station (North of the city, ¥3). When you exit, you'll see a huge roundabout. You need to catch bus #4 from there, which can be a bit tricky. You can take exit B3 from the subway (South road from the roundabout, West side), go south until you see Hotel Liu Lian on your right - there's a bus stop right next to it. Or, take exit A2 from the subway (North road from the roundabout, West side), go North until you see a bus stop (the East entrance to City Sports Park and a stadium will be on your left). Both stops seem like they go the wrong way (South instead of North), but don't worry, the bus turns around soon after them. As of June 2012, bus #4 seems to be a small pink bus, comes every 30min or so, and costs ¥2. Be careful since it may not actually stop! You must actively flag it down. If you miss it, you can run to the other, East side of the road (be very careful crossing all these lanes of traffic) and you can flag it down as it turns around and starts going North. This is a bit easier to do at the City Sports Park stop. As of November 2012, the easiest way seems to be to take the subway to XingZheng ZhongXin station, then take exit B3. After leaving exit B3 walk for 100 yards straight ahead, you will see a bus stop across the street. Bus #4 stops here at the following times: 08:30/09:30/10:30/12:00/13:30/15:00/16:00/17:00. The departure times from the Tomb are approximately half an hour to an hour after these times. ¥80; half-price students.

Xi\'an City Walls

Da Ci\'en Temple

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Drum Tower

Xi\'an Bell Tower and Drum Tower

Bell Tower

Beilin Museum (Stele Forest)

Terracota Army

Mount Hua

Tang Paradise

Great Mosque of Xi\'an

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Xi\'an Jiaotong University

Xingqing Lake

Northwest University

Northwestern Polytechnical University

Shaanxi History Museum

Qian Ling Mausoleum

Jiaodaruisun Stadium

Xi\'an Qujiang Haiyang World

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About Xi'an

Background

Xi'an is more than 3,000 years old and was known as Chang'an in ancient times. For 1,000 years, the city was the capital for 13 dynasties, and a total of 73 emperors ruled here. Xi'an is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties. With so much history within the ground the city lies upon, it is no wonder that there are so many historical ruins, museums and cultural relics to be found here. It was already influencing the world outside of the Great Wall of China as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road(丝绸之路). Here traders from far and wide brought goods and ideas for sale and took goods and ideas back with them to their native countries. In present day Xi'an not much of its former glory remains within the city confines, due to the constant warfare and political changes that swept China particularly throughout the 20th Century. Today the city has a pleasant cosmopolitan flair to it and it is worth visiting for the famed Terracotta Warriors alone. It has often been said that, "if you have not been to Xi'an, you have not been to China!"

Activities

  • Hui Muslim Quarter, Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē). Walk through the Muslim quarter sampling food and buying souvenirs.
  • Walk the City Walls. Walk along the city walls and see the South Gate (南门; Nánmén), which is illuminated at night.
  • Bike the City Walls. Bicycling around the city walls will take about 2 hours. Bicycles can be rented on each of the four main gates for 100 minutes, ¥40 per person, and it may to be returned to any of the other stations (however, be sure to verify this before starting your ride). Remember to take your passport with you as a deposit for the bike that you rent, or ¥200. Make sure that you keep the deposit ticket, as the bike vendor will not give you the deposit back without it! Also - the bikes are generally relatively new and well maintained - however, check the tire pressure and whether the brakes work before choosing yours. You can also rent tandems for ¥80 for 100 minutes.

Food

Xi'an specialties include:

  • Yang Rou Pao Muo (羊肉泡馍) is one of the signature dishes of the area, it consists of a piece of thick, chewy bread and a kettle of lamb soup. The diner shreds the bread with his hands and places the shreds in a bowl, the soup is then poured over the shreds (along with meat, maybe some noodles or scallion, etc.) The trick is to shred the bread into pieces that are "as small as possible", like the size of your pinky fingernail. Most first-timers will shred their bread in pieces that are too large. In some restaurants, they have already shredded the bread for you. It is normally also served with pickled garlic and chili. If you don't like lamb, some restaurants also offer a beef version. Tong Sheng Xiang Restaurant and the Lao Mi Jia are recommended.
  • Biang Biang Mian (面) is a local provincial specialty noodle dish that is extremely good. The wide noodles are spiced, have a broth, and include toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, beef, etc. The character for "biang" is very complex (58 strokes) and distinctive. A popular chain has a red sign with white characters, and includes the face of the "Noodle King" (image).
  • Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍) is the closest thing to a beefburger. This is a local tradition and should be very easy to locate. Sandwich-like, with pork, beef or lamb, this is a must-try item for anyone who is in this area.
  • Xiao long bao-zi (小笼包子) are basket-steamed dumplings (one basket ¥3), common as a midnight snack. Look for its big brother "Da bao-zi" only available first thing in the mornings, like a steamed Cornish pastie, but very nice.
  • Guan Tang bao-zi (灌汤包子) are steamed buns served with sauces inside.
  • Shi Zi Bing (柿子饼) are buns made from persimmons, stuffed with something (e.g. black sesame paste), and deep-fried, so they're quite sticky-sweet. You can find many sellers in the Muslim Quarter, and they are only ¥1 each!
  • Lu dou gao (绿豆糕) are literally green bean cakes (come in small cubes), but they're more moist than you may find elsewhere and also come with a variety of mixings (e.g. sesame). Half a Jin should be about six cubes and cost about ¥5 at a cart in the Muslim Quarter.

Some good places to look for restaurants are:

  • The Muslim Quarter close to the Drum Tower is a vibrant area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. If you're looking for snacks, this area is also full of people selling dried fruit (especially dates) and nuts/seeds (sunflower, melon, pumpkin, etc.) Prices are per Jin (500 g) and are pretty much standardized throughout the area, so you can't really bargain unless you're buying a lot (but who wants 1 kg of peanuts anyway?) Watch out for the pits in the dates!
  • Street food (mostly sold after sunset, or some near night clubs/bars after 23:00) presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on by tens of little food vendors on street side, each with a red lamp. There are a few roads running perpendicular to the Muslim Quarter road that have a larger variety of streetside food (at cheaper prices because these roads are harder to access). As streetside stores are nearly a model of perfect competition, look out for food sold at significantly higher prices, yet maintain a long queue as these are likely to be tastier. For instance, some vendors may unscrupulously sell beef mixed with lamb and pass the meat off as pure lamb meat to cut their cost, however those who sell real lamb meat usually charge a higher price.

Budget

A good way if you do not want the expensive hotel food or just want to try real Chinese cuisine, is to simply go into a small restaurant and point to a dish somebody else is having and you will get a meal for less than ¥10 (seldom ¥20) per person.

A good street for eating is Xiyang Shi running east-west near the mosque in the Muslim quarter.

  • Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan (温馨饺子馆), 123 Xushimiao Street (Next to the Good World Hotel, off of Lian Hu Lu). A good cheap place for jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). There is no menu, but endless supplies of fresh jiaozi of many flavors. From ¥4-5 a bowl.
  • Lao Sun Jia (老孙家), 364 Dong Dajie. Has fantastic yangrou paomo which is very cheap but flavoursome. No English spoken but easy to communicate with sign language! Franchises all across town.

Mid-range

McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC or its Chinese brother, Dicos, are widely available within city walls for a change from the daily Chinese cuisine. There are also three Starbucks within a 5-minute walk of the Bell Tower.

  • Highfly Pizza (高飞) (Down the right hand street after coming out of South Gate (南门)). Real pizza and other western food.
  • Green Molly Restaurant & Pub (绿茉莉) (200m north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road (西安市高新区高科大厦副楼一层 (世纪金花商场后门向北200米路东))),  +86 29 81883339. 10:00-23:00. A restaurant where you can indulge in the tastes of home, whether that be in the U.S., Europe or even Mexico. The restaurant owns only the second authentic pizza oven in Xi'an. Downstairs, the first and only real pub in Xi'an has a wide selection of beverages ranging from imported beers to wine and delicious cocktails.
  • Small World Cafe (Jianguomen 建国门), Huancheng Nanlu Dongduan 90# (Outside Jian Guo Gate (建国门外)). 11:00-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. From the windows, one could see busy Huancheng Nanlu (环城南路),while it is really quiet inside.
  • Small World Cafe (Dayanta 大雁塔), Ynataxilu 雁塔西路 (Southeast to Big Goose Pagoda (大雁塔东南角)). 10:30-22:30. Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake. Out of the north windows, one could see Big Goose Pagoda.
  • Delhi Darbar (新德里餐厅), Dayanta West Road (雁塔区大唐通易坊东头路北) (Directly west of the Big Goose Pagoda on a street full of upscale bars and restaurants). Authentic North Indian food run by a wonderful Indian manager. Service is good, food is devinely delicious, and prices are very affordable. Mango Lassi for only ¥10 is a must have. Average meal price is about ¥40 per person. Highly Recommended.
  • Village Cafe. A nice urban cafe on Shi Da Lu that offers burgers, steaks, and all sorts of drinks and desserts. From ¥30-60 per person.

Splurge

  • La Seine, Nandajie (南大街) (Near Bell Tower). French style restaurant.
  • Tang Paradise Hotel (Near the Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang Resort of Xi'an). Dinner Show in a large 165 acres theme park. The charm lies in that all the buildings in the park are built in the luxurious style of the Tang Dynasty. The best time to visit is at night when most of the shows, including fireworks and dances, are performed.
  • Koi, Sofitel on Ren Min square. Japanese cuisine.
  • Village Cafe (32 Shi Da Lu, opposite of Bank of China). If you miss your burger, this is the place to go.

Drinks

Night clubs in Xi'an are not abundant. All clubs play the same music, a mix of Chinese disco and some pop music. Most people go out between 22:00 and 01:00, but clubs are generally open until 04:00.

Be mentally prepared to be aggressively approached by club operators desperate for patrons.

In summer time, the area around South Gate (南门) is beautiful. East of it are three nice bars with terraces and gardens.

Along the short Nandajie (南大街) are the most clubs (you can also eat on the street as there are restaurants open past midnight).

  • MIX (Big light ad). Rather nice places to sit and drink.
  • Palando. Rather nice place to sit and drink.
  • Night Cat. Dance floor, some foreigners and OK-DJs.
  • Kulala. Dance floor.

Other options include:

  • 1+1 (一加一; pronounced), Dongdajie (东大街) (In the middle of the street). Remains one of the most popular clubs and definitely the most popular among foreigners. The club has 2 dance floors: first floor is mostly J-pop music, second floor is mostly hip-hop. There is a relaxed open air bar on the 5th floor which has live music every night.
  • De Fu Lou Cafe & Bar (De Fu Lou Paulaner Bar), De Fu Xiang Street. In Bar Street (De Fu Xiang), one of the first bars ever to open in Xi'an and a favourite hangout for locals. Live football on the big screen and live music every night.
  • Salsa (莎莎; Shasha), 7F, Parkson building, No.107 West Street. Is probably the most popular club. This club is your best bet on Fridays and Saturdays however yi-jia-yi is more consistent during the week. The dance floor, while smaller than yi-jia-yi's, is usually less crowded, so you have a bit more room to dance. Be careful if your group is mainly non-chinese as they sometimes decide to limit the number of foreigners allowed in.
  • Off-road Tea Bar, Jiefang Road (800 m S direct to Xi'an Railway Station). Has been checked by Google Business. Here, one could enjoy the fresh green tea in Southern Shaanxi and could meet local cycling and trekking lover.
  • Havana Bar, Renmin Square (In Sofitel Hotel). Has a Colombian band and makes good cocktails. It's not your average Buena Vista Social Club, though: they play loud music inbetween band performances and the band plays a wide array of pop and salsa. This location is more of a club than an actual latin bar.
  • The Belgian Bar, 69 Shun Cheng Nan Lu Dong Duan (150m east inside the South Gate),  13201672369. The first and only Belgian bar in Xi'an. Friendly pub atmosphere and huge range of beers. Popular with expats and locals. Awesome location facing onto the city wall.
  • Vice Versa, Wen Chang Men (Wen Chang Gate) (Beilin History Museum (Beilin Bo wu guan)),  151 092 72480. 15:00-05:00. Vice Versa is a cultural mix of east and west, found in one of the older districts of Xi'an. With a relaxed cafe/restaurant open during the day, a lively bar serving a mix of western and asian beers/cocktails at night, and a crowd of expats and Xi'an locals. Has a skate shop on the third floor, run by Converse pro-skater Xiao Jian. Located next to the front gate of the Forest of Steles History Museum, next to the city wall at Wen Chang Gate, you can call Mike at 151 092 72480 if you get lost.

Shopping

Souvenirs

Xi'an souvenirs include small copies of terracotta warriors, wood-carved Buddhas and dragons, Tang Tricolored Pottery, hand made paper cut (by many regarded as the most important arts form in Xi'an), all other kind of folk art and also fake western products.

  • Terracotta Warriors (秦始皇兵马俑). If you are visiting the Terracotta Warriors, be prepared to meet some of the most hardcore hawkers you are likely to meet anywhere. If you keep quiet, they will usually bargain themselves down in front of you in desperate pleas for your money. A box of 15cm high Terracotta warriors cost ¥5-10 (if you're lucky) or ¥15-25 (more likely) even if they offer it to you for ¥45. Wood-carved Buddhas and Dragons for about the same. They are fortunately kept at a distance from the actual site. Many travelers report enjoying this experience. It is definitely not a reason to avoid seeing the Terracotta Warriors. The exit from the pit areas to the parking lot leads through long avenues lined with souvenir stalls and shops. The barkers will try to get your business, but are not as aggressive as the touts at the entrance or immediate exits.
  • Bazaar Area (Behind the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter around the Great Mosque). The best place to buy souvenirs in the city center is the bazaar area. The seller usually offers you a very high price, and even if you bring them down by 50%, they will still make a big profit. This is also a good place to buy folk art, specifically folk style block prints in a single shop which go for about ¥50 if you can stand bargaining when the older gentleman artist himself is standing right there. This area is also full of fake name-brand products like watches, bags, clothes. Bargain hard.

Shop owners will typically sell such fake branded products to expatriates at three times the price they offer to Chinese people. For instance, a Louis Vuitton wallet going at ¥80 will be touted to Westerners at ¥200 or more. If your haggling skills are exceptional, you can bring down the price to a mere ¥30.

  • Calligraphy Street (书院门步行街) (Near South Gate inside the city wall towards the east, walking down South Street on the left side, continue to where the road splits in front of South Gate and turn left to find the entrance gate next to a small pagoda, midway do a slight dog leg to the right, at the far end is the Forest of Steles). This is another souvenir shopping area. Less hectic than the Muslim Quarter.
  • Tang Tricolored Pottery Factory (唐朝三色陶器厂). Tang Tricolored Pottery is a style that was lost and has now been recreated from pieces of pottery found in tombs. It is graphic in image and eye-pleasing in color. The factory recreating the style offers over 100 varieties of items, like statues, animals and utensils.

Clothes

Xi'an is a great place to buy clothes.

  • East Street (Dong Dajie) (The eastern of the four big streets descending from the central Bell Tower). Has regular fashion shops.
  • South Street (Nan Dajie). Has finer clothes and shoes, and is home to boutiques like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Marc Jacobs.
  • Baihui Market (百汇市场) (In Xiaozhai (小寨), ¥10 by taxi from the city center). Local youngsters shop here. It is one of those fake-brand markets. Sport shoes should be less than ¥150, pullovers and nice jeans sometimes less than ¥100, lots of cheap fashion accessories. This is also a great place for DVDs and CDs but understand these are mostly pirated copies.
  • Kangfu Road (Outside the east city wall, straight through the Northeast Gate). A great place for a bargain. Nothing is (bargained for) over ¥50 and most clothes can be bargained down to about ¥20 if you are really aggressive. But this place is full of poor quality stuff.
  • Shida Lu. A trendy place to shop in a largely student populated area in the south of the city. Shida Lu has lots of hair salons, and clothing botiques.
  • Century Ginwa. This luxury shopping mall has two locations in Xi'an. One downtown by the Drum Tower, the other in Gaoxing on Keji Lu.

Books

Foreign Language Bookstore 外文书店 The best place to hunt down an English language novel or book is the Foreign Language Bookstore. Almost every major city in China has one these days, but don't expect to be overwhelmed by the fabulous selection of English books – whether in Xi'an or in any city in China. Expect to find a handful of popular novels and classic prose. You'll also find bucket loads of English language text books and dictionaries for studying purposes.

Add: 349 Dong Dajie, Xincheng District, Xi'an 地址:西安市新城区东大街349号 Tel: 029 8721 9872?

Jiahui Hantang Book City 嘉汇汉唐书城 The largest bookstore in Xi'an, Book City has a fairly decent selection of imported English books. You'll find a wide range of books here, from educational ones, to classic novels, and modern literature to children's books. The place gets swamped with people at the weekends, so for a more pleasant browsing experience, come during a weekday.

Add: 111 Chang’an Zhonglu, Yanta District, Xi’an 地址:西安市雁塔区长安中路111号 Tel: 029 85219888 Opening times: 09:00-21:00

Xi'an Book Building 西安图书大厦 Another place worth checking out is the Xi'an Book Building, four floors of books as far as the eye can see. Though the vast majority of books are in the Chinese language, you will find a small selection of English books on the second floor. The building also houses a small audio and video section, as well as a café.

Add: 214 Jiefang Lu, Xi’an 地址:西安市新城区解放路236 Tel: 029 87416666 Opening hours: 09:00-21:00

Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore 钟楼新华书店 Another very small English language book selection can be found at the Bell Tower Xinhua Bookstore. Unless you're nearby, your best bet for English books is still the Foreign Language Bookstore or even the Book City. However, if you're also looking for stationary, cards, wrapping paper etc. then it may be worth checking out and to trying to kill two birds with the one stone. Otherwise don't expect an English-language book Mecca here.

Add: 377 Dong Dajie, Xi'an 地址:西安市东大街377号 Tel: 029 8724 0844 Opening hours: 09:00-20:00

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Xian on Wikivoyage.

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