10 Best Places to Visit in Xi’an

Xi’an was called “Chang’an” in the ancient times, meaning eternal peace and order. It’s located in the northwestern part of China and known as the starting point of the Silk Road. Having witnessed the rise and fall of 13 dynasties, Xi’an is like a huge museum on Chinese history. No matter wandering around the Terracotta Army, cycling along the age-old City Wall, or climbing the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda storing the Buddhist classics, you will discover the profound historical deposit of this thousand-year-old city. Here under is a list of the 10 best places to visit in Xi’an.

At present, Xi’an City Wall is the best preserved and most complete ancient city wall in China. You will definitely regret it if travelling to Xi’an without visiting the City Wall. Built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), it now boasts a history of more than 600 years. The wall takes the shape of a rectangle, with a main gate on each side. On the wall, you can see the ancient watchtowers, archery towers, and ramparts along the way. When touching the mottled grey bricks and see characters carved on the bricks, you will feel the flavor of the old city of Xi’an. The City Wall has a total length of 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles), flat and broad, very suitable for an easy hike. Alternatively, most travelers prefer to cycling on the wall for a more comfortable experience. The City Wall is also one of the best spots to admire the night piece of Xi’an. From here, you can watch the dazzling lights nearby decorating the city to its best.

Recommendation rate:

Location: circling the city center of Xi’an
Travel time: 1 - 2 hours

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Tour to Terracotta Army, Xi’an City Wall, Xi’an Museum… from $79

 Book a Xi’an City Wall Ticket
The Terracotta Army must be one of the best places to visit in Xi’an. It is actually a large funeral pit of Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum. There are altogether three pits displaying the life-size terracotta warriors and horses. Pit 1 houses the major military force made up of chariots and infantrymen, with about 6,000 warriors. In Pit 2, you can see chariots, cavalrymen, and archers. Pit 3 is the commanding post of the whole army. Having been buried under earth for over 2,200 years, the warriors and chariots have not come to light until 1974. As soon as they were excavated, they shocked the whole world and were later recognized as the 8th wonder of the world. Standing in front of them, you can imagine the ancient battlefields and Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s ambition to conquer the neighboring states.

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Location: Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, North Qinling Road, Lintong District, Xi'an; about 1 hour’s drive from downtown
Travel time: 3 - 4 hours

 Recommended Tour:  Half Day Xi'an Mini Group Tour to Terracotta Army from $69

 Book a Terracotta Army ticket
The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang is also one of the best places to visit in Xi’an. Qin Shi Huang is the owner of Terracotta Army and known as the first emperor in China’s history. The Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum is China’s best mausoleum of all ages regarding both its size and number of funeral objects. Ancient Chinese emperors thought that they should live the same life as they were alive after death, so they often built a cemetery resembling to the place they live in during lifetime. The mausoleum adopted the layout of Xi’an, the capital city during Qin Shi Huang’s reign. Due to the complexity in excavating Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum, its inner side remains untouched. Tourists can only see a giant closed tomb embraced by mountains at present.

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Location: North Qinling Road, Lintong District, Xi'an; close to the Terracotta Army
Travel time: 2 hours
As one of the five most famous mountains in China and one of the cradles breeding Chinese civilization, Mount Huashan is worth your visiting. There are five peaks in different directions, among which the south peak is the highest with a height of 2,154.9 meters (7,069.9 feet). Mount Huashan is particularly known for its steep terrain but enchanting scenery. The Changkong Plank Road on the cliffside, Thousand-Foot Precipice, Hundred-Foot Crevice, Black Dragon Ridge and Golden Lock Pass are some of the representative dangerous spots waiting for tourists to challenge. Besides, you can find Taoist temples on the mountain, where you can learn something about Taoism, an authentic religion originated from China.

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Location: South Section of Yuquan Road, Huayin City, Weinan; 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Xi'an
Travel time: 1 day

 Recommended Tour:  4 Days Xi’an Tour Package with Mount Huashan from $539

 Book a Mount Huashan Ticket
The Huaqing Pool was a hot spring resort for the royal members in ancient times. Aside from the historical cultural relics and gardenlike landscape, the scenic area is also famous for the sad and sentimental romance between Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang Yuhuan in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). It is said that Yang Yuhuan used to take bath here so that her skin was very tender. It was in the Huaqing Pool that Emperor Xuanzong and Yanghuan created many melodies and dances. You can have a glance of the royal life in the glorious Tang Dynasty and enjoy the splendid show “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow” created on the basis of Emperor Xuanzeng and Yang Yuhuan’s love stories.

Recommendation rate:

Location: No. 38, Huaqing Road, Lintong District, Xi'an; about 1 hour’s drive from downtown
Travel time: 4 hours

 Book a ticket for Huaqing Pool
 Book a ticket for “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow”
If you are interested in Buddhism, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Xi’an. It is also one the landmarks in Xi’an. The pagoda was built in 648 for Monk Xuanzang to translate the Buddhist scripts taken back from India. It has seven storeys altogether with a height of 64.5 meters (211.6 feet). Standing on the top floor, you can have a bird’s view of the scenery in Da Ci’en Temple at its foot. Nowadays, the surrounding areas have been developed into a large tourism zone where you can admire exquisite sculptures showing Chinese culture. To its north, is a famous square with musical fountains, which is a great destination for a night tour. 

Recommendation rate:

Location: No. 11, South Section of Yanta Road, Yanta District
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours

 Recommended Tour:   2 Days Xi'an Tour Package with Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

 Book a ticket for Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Shaanxi History Museum fully explains the importance of Xi’an in Chinese history. It collects more than 370 thousand pieces of antiques from the simple stone tools of the prehistorical period to the modern items in 1840. In the sea of exquisite cultural relics, the bronze wares from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties (17th century – 1046 BC), the pottery figurines from the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), the golden wares and triple-color glazed ceramics from the Tang Dynasty, and the mural paintings of the Tang Dynasty tombs are the highlights.

Recommendation rate:

Location: No. 91, East Xiaozhai Road, Yanta District
Travel time: 3 - 4 hours

 Book a Shaanxi History Museum ticket
The Tang Paradise is a Tang-style architecture complex. Strolling in the Tang Paradise, you will have a feeling that you were travelling back to the heyday of the Tang Dynasty. Most buildings are constructed along the Furong Lake so you can admire the beautiful lake scenery wherever you go. Standing at the center of this garden, Ziyun Tower is the highlight which provides a 360-degree view of the whole garden. At night, a water screen film will be played in front of the tower, adding more fun to your visit.

Recommendation rate:

Location: No. 99, West Furong Road, Qujiang New District
Travel time: 4 hours

 Book a Tang Paradise Ticket
When talking about the best places to visit in Xi’an, one cannot forget to mention the Bell Tower and Drum Tower. The Bell Tower is situated at the very city center of Xi’an, where the four major avenues converge. To its northwest stands the Drum Tower. As their names suggest, the Bell Tower houses a giant bell and the Drum Tower has a giant drum. In ancient times, people struck the bell in the morning and the drum in the evening to tell time. Nowadays, you can still see the bell and the drum, and enjoy the bell and drum performances in the towers. When night falls on, the two towers look more beautiful under the colorful lights.

Recommendation rate:

Location: at the very city center of Xi’an
Travel time: 1-2 hours

 Book Bell Tower & Drum Tower tickets
If you are fond of food adventure, then Muslim Quarter is one of the best places to visit in Xi’an. You can have a taste of the most authentic halal dumplings, beef noodles and crumbled flatbread in mutton stew there. Besides, there are many vendors selling mutton kababs, yogurt, osmanthus cakes, and grenadine juice. Various gadgets can be found in the street stores combining traditional Chinese and middle east styles so you can feel a mix of culture. Time permits, you can pay a visit to the Gao’s Grand Courtyard in the Muslim Quarter and enjoy the shadow puppetry show there.

Recommendation rate:

Location: No. 1, West Avenue, Lianhu District; behind the Drum Tower
Travel time: 2 hours

Further Reading:
Best Time to Visit Xi’an
Where to Stay in Xi’an China – 8 Best Areas
How Many Days in Xi’an Needed?
Top 10 Things to Do in Xi'an
7 Things to Do in Xi’an in Spring
8 Things to See in Xi’an in Summer
What to See in Xi’an in Autumn - 9 Best Destinations
What to Do in Xi’an in Winter - 7 Best Destinations
- Last updated on Jul. 29, 2020 -
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