Well I managed to cross another one off of my tourist list with only two and half weeks left in China, the city of Xi’An and the terracotta warriors.
It was a trip planned by my study abroad university, Beijing Language and Culture University, and cost around 1700 RMB. We took an overnight train to xian that left at 5:30 in the afternoon and arrived in the city at around 8 the next morning, due to unforeseen delays. We started our day immediately after grabbing a quick breakfast at our hotel, the Xian Hotel, that consisted of a buffet of fried rice, egg rolls, and fresh fruit. Our first stop was the terracotta warriors factory where they reproduced the soldiers for museums and collectibles. This was extremely interesting and I would suggest it if it was an option. After going through the factory, we went to the actual pits. I will say the terracotta warriors were cool but I’ll talk more about them later on. After the pits we went to see the Wild Goose Pagoda located in downtown Xian.It was also intriguing and easy to get to since it is close to the city wall but like I’ve said before, because of the time period in which these temples were built, they are all extremely similar and if you had to choose between something unique to Xian or the pagoda, I would go with the former. However, considering its easy location I would recommend dropping by to see the temple built for the famous Chinese children’s’ tale, the Monkey King.
To end our first day in Xian, after seeing the Wild Goose Pagoda, we went to see a Tang Dynasty Show, the most prosperous dynasty in China’s history and the one Xian was most associated with, while enjoying a dumpling banquet.
The show was so fun to watch and the dumplings were delicious! I’ll have to get back to you on the name of the hotel where we ate and saw the show but I would definitely recommend it! It will bring out the oo-ing and aw-ing, camera-toting tourist in everyone!
After a goodnights sleep and a western shower (hallelujah), we started the next day with a trip to the Xian City Wall. The city wall was actually my favorite part of my trip to Xian. A new tourist attraction set up by the city of Xian is to rent bikes out to tourist for 40 RMB/100 min. The wall is approximately 9 miles long and the best time I had on the whole trip was biking around the wall with everyone!After biking the wall, and eating an NFL player-sized portion of chinese food, we went to visit the Shaanxi Provence history museum. The museum was interesting but it did present a problem as all of the exhibits are in Chinese, which limits non-native/lower-level chinese speakers to simply gazing at the relics.Overall, the museum was interesting but unfortunately not a must-see on the list of non-asian tourists.
So heres the summary of the trip and some tips for all of you who are interested in traveling to Xian:
1) the terracotta warriors are not as spectacular as you might have assumed so do not be disappointed. I know, it sounds like blasphemy, but its true. It is extremely hot in the pits, it is always packed, and the fact of the matter is that there are not that many uncovered warriors. The ones that are uncovered are interesting, but it is hardly the hundreds of statues pictured by most tourists, including myself. So if you are going to go, take lots of water, wear something heat friendly, and consider the cultural significance over the sheer number of soldiers.
2) take the high speed train. Spending the night on a train rumbling through picturesque chinese countryside sounds wonderful, but rumbling along with about 6 square inches of personal space and sleeping 8 feet off the ground in the clothes you wore all day long is not. Spend the extra money for the high speed train ticket and get to Xian in 3 hours rather than 13.
3) go with a tour guide. Xian is much harder to navigate than beijing and it has no logical public transportation. Paying for a tour guide may be more expensive but it will save you time and money in the long run and will help you make the most of your time in the city.
4) don’t overstay your welcome in the city. We were in Xian for a grand total of 40 hours and I still think we could have done it in less time. If you had a guide, you could definitely get in most of the top tourist sights in one jam packed day, and thats what I would suggest doing.
Hope this helps anyone looking to travel through Xian! Happy Travels!