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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 29, 2021
Headline for 05 Incredible Things to Do in Xi'an, China – Explore an Ancient Chinese Capital
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05 Incredible Things to Do in Xi'an, China – Explore an Ancient Chinese Capital

Referred to by some as the birthplace of Chinese civilization, Xi'an is the Shaanxi Province's capital and an ancient city steeped in history. Here are five captivating things to do which offer insights into the city's rich heritage as well as fascinating culture.


View the Ancient Terracotta Army

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Terracotta Army is one of the most famous attractions in Xi'an. Only around a 40-minute drive from city centre hotels, this site is home to magnificent terracotta army sculptures that date to the 3rd century BC; they were built and buried with the nation's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, to provide him protection in the afterlife. Today, there are three sites or pits you can visit and see thousands of Terracotta figures including soldiers in various battle poses and horses too.


Cycle Along the Ancient City Wall

A Ming Dynasty fortification, the 14th century City Wall offers a great place for some pedal-powered exploration! The 12-metre-high wall which is adjacent to nearby properties such as Grand Park Xian was originally built to protect the city and is amongst the best-preserved structures in China. Bicycle rentals can be easily found and the full journey around the wall will take around two hours; you can also wander along this site by foot or take a buggy. On your tour, you will come across ramparts and sentry buildings, not forgetting spellbinding views too.


Visit the Bell Tower & Drum Tower

Another two landmarks that date to the Ming Dynasty, the 14th century Bell Tower and Drum Tower are just walking distance from Xi'an hotels in the city centre. Towering to a height of around 36 metres, the Bell Tower is lit up at night perfect for photographing; at this site, one will find doors with intricate engravings, a smaller version of the tower's original bell, musical performances and amazing views from the top. The equally impressive Drum Tower is so named after the big drum inside, while there's a drum museum here as well.


Head to the Forest of Stele Museum

Another centrally located attraction, the Forest of Stele Museum offers a unique chance to view ancient stone tablets and sculptures that showcase elaborate craftsmanship. The museum is at the site that was once the Tang Dynasty's Imperial Ancestral Temple before becoming a Confucian Temple during the Song Dynasty. At its Forest of Stone Tablets, one will come across a rich collection of over 3,000 stone tablets that feature not only stone carvings but remarkable calligraphy too. Also of note is the Gallery of Stone Sculptures with over 70 stone sculptures that showcase both mausoleum and religious carvings.


Explore Huimin Street (Muslim Street)

Amongst the best things to do in Xi'an to soak up local culture is to explore Huimin Street, which is also known as Muslim Street. This lively street offers much to see such as the Grand Mosque, City God Temple and the Tang Dynasty's Hanguang Gate. The area which is home to the Hui ethnic people is also a primary spot for foodie adventures. You will find plenty of restaurants and stalls where you can savour authentic cuisine; top choices include BBQ meats and yummy cakes as well as dishes like roujiamo, yangrou paomo and Xi'an dumplings.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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