Xi’an was my favourite city in all of China. It ticked all the boxes: Shopping, Food and Sightseeing and is the home of the Terracotta Army! Xi’an was buzzing at all times, and it was one of the most beautiful cities we visited!
We stayed in Bell tower hotel. This was one of the best hotels in my opinion. The staff was extremely accommodating and the location was fantastic – we had a direct view of the Bell tower which is stunning at night. The Drum tower is only 5 minutes away, there is a Starbucks 2 mins away and the ‘Muslim street’ as they call it, is about 10 mins walk and the City Wall is about 15 mins walk too. The oldest mosque in all of China is also nearby. Xi’an was the place to be.
On the first day, we made our way down to ‘Muslim street’. Imagine miles of freshly cooked and tasty food – all of which is halal! Behind the food stalls, you will find alleys full of good shopping. We did most of our shopping here actually and loved it! This is an experience all by itself. We then made our way to the mosque, which is found in one of those alleys almost at the end of Muslim street (away from the side facing the Drum tower). This is hands down an amazing experience – just imagine old and beautiful Chinese architecture in the time of the Emperors, mixed with Islamic style Chinese Calligraphy. It is said that this Mosque was gifted to the Muslims, after they had helped the Emperor defeat his enemies in combat. The mosque has a stunning garden and we spent a good amount of time just walking around. Xi’an was a little bit colder than Beijing during this time (March/April) however we did have some warmer days too. After this adventure, we went back to the street and tasted as many things as we possibly could. There was one stand where they grilled lamb meat for you on the spot – Oh jeez, my tastebudds were dancing! For a meat lover like me, it was heaven and I probably ended up eating about 10 of them in total during my stay. There is usually a massive line for this particular stand – it is difficult to miss and is nearby the Drum tower itself.
We booked to see the Tang Dynasty show for the following evening through our hotel – it seemed the simplest way. They did offer an alternative show that was easier, offered transport and cheaper however the Tang Dynasty show is known internationally – and there is a reason for that as you will come to see.
We then took a stroll to the city wall, which was absolutely beautiful. You can hire bikes and follow the wall around the entire city if you’d like. We went at night time and it was equally as beautiful then. I certainly recommend a visit! The views were just amazing. Just outside of this particular side of the wall, there were shops and groups of people dancing. Yup you heard right. In China, you will often find groups of people doing a dance in the evening, as some sort of exercise I presume. On this particular road, there were probably about 10 different groups doing 10 different styles of dance, all of which you welcome to join. Xi’an was a bustling city – alive and fragrant!! One of the cities that I will revisit for sure.
The next day, we got up early and visited the Drum tower – they do performances here at certain times of the day. You pay to enter and it is a small crowd watching classical Chinese music being played with classical Chinese instruments. It was beautiful to watch and gave a good insight into their musical culture. It also had nice views of the nearby park. We then walked around and did some shopping in the area. We got offered ‘silk’ for a cheap price, of course this wasn’t real silk…but none the less, there were other nice items one could buy. We obviously continued eating the foods along the Muslim street, as you do. Once we were done with that, we went back to our hotel and organised a car to take us to the infamous Terracotta army – a UNESCO cultural site. There is a bus that takes you there which is much cheaper than renting a car, but we were under time constraint. The ride took about an hour and we were dropped off a few minutes outside the entrance. Once we had bought our tickets, we had to walk a good 15 minutes before reaching the actual park (yes it’s a long way to go!) and even longer once you exit the park (took us 20-25 mins!). Anyway, only one of the pits in the museum actual has the Terracotta army in them. Although it was a pretty cool sight, it was jam packed with tourists and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. We did go in the middle of the day, so I suppose it was prime time. I’d suggest you’d go as early as possible to avoid the surge in tourists. The other two pits had excavations but not many statues in them. We left quite quickly after the first room.
We went home and got changed into ‘fancier’ attire to attend the Tang dynasty show. TIPS: If you arrive early, you may get an upgrade for your seats. We bought the cheapest tickets but got sat in the middle. They also have tickets with dinner included but as I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat half of the food, we opted for show only. AND BOY, WAS THIS AN EXPERIENCE! Absolutely loved it. My senses were just at peace with the music and visually, the show was one of the best I have ever seen before. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SEE THIS SHOW!!!
We then took a stroll around the area whilst walking back to the hotel, as usual, the city of Xi’an was wide awake and buzzing. I wished we had had more time to explore this place. I made a mental note to return to this beautiful place next time I go to China.
Over and out! /SQ