Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Xi'an

  • Published 2021/11/04

The vast city of Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi Province in central China.

This city, known as “peace in the west,” has long been considered the origin of Chinese civilization.

It is one of China’s four great ancient capitals, and due to its lengthy history, people refer to it as the “Eternal City.”

Located at the eastern end of the Silk Road, Xi’an used to be called Chang’an and served as headquarters to the royal houses of the Zhou, Qin, and Han empires.

Xi’an has stood as the center of 13 dynasties for over 1,100 years, and the city is proud of its rich cultural history.

Ancient locations around Xi’an include the famous Bingmayong (Terracotta Army), countless life-size hand-molded statues buried alongside China’s first ruler, Qin Shi Huang.

This magnificent city is a fantastic site to study Mandarin since the accent is easy to understand and the people are kind.

In addition to its ancient landmarks and cultural blend of Islam, Buddhists, and Atheists, Xi’an is known for its mouth-watering street cuisine.

China’s national security and space exploration programs are also based here.

With these facts, you can make sure that a lot of attractions await you in this city!

Read on to learn about the best things to do in Xi’an before you go out on your next adventure.

Walk Along the Xi’an Ancient City Wall

View of Xi'an Ancient City Wall

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The Xi’an Ancient City Wall is the biggest and best-preserved in the country.

Completed during the reign of Ming Dynasty’s Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, this landmark serves as the dividing line between the old and new parts of the city.

Cycling or strolling around this ancient wall is an excellent way to learn more about its history.

According to history, the ones who built the wall used earth, glutinous rice extract, and quick lime to make the base of the wall.

View of Xi'an Ancient City Wall

Kattiya.L /

Because of this, the wall became incredibly sturdy and stable.

Later on, they added bricks to encircle the wall completely.

If you stand at the top of the wall, you can see the city in all its glory, from the well-known brand-name stores to the bustling bar districts.

Visit the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

View of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

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In 652, Tang Dynasty’s Emperor Gaozong created this UNESCO World Heritage Site, located about 3 miles south of Xi’an city center.

To safeguard the sutras and artifacts that Tripitaka Master Xuanzang returned with from India, a journey that inspired one of Chinese literature’s most significant works, the emperor ordered to build this structure.

View of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

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The 7th floor of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda gives a stunning perspective of the entire city of Xi’an and a wealth of Buddhist relics and sacred artifacts.

It’s indeed a must-see Xi’an attraction!

To get to the Pagoda, head east from Line 2 of Xiaozhai station, and you’ll be there in about 10 minutes.

View of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda


Check Out the Life-Size Terracotta Warriors

View of the Life-Size Terracotta Warriors

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The Great Wall of China is a must-see for most visitors to Xi’an.

Local farmers were excavating a well near Xi’an, China, in 1974 when they came across the Terracotta Warriors.

According to legend, Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s troops were entombed alongside him about 210 BC to protect him in the afterlife.

View of Life-Size Terracotta Warriors

Efired /

You may see more than 8,000 terracotta soldiers, horses, and about 10,000 bronze weapons at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Since their re-discovery, these exquisite sculptures, which had been underground for millennia, have been one of China’s most famous tourist attractions.

Secure at least three hours in your itinerary if you wish to stroll through the museum that draws thousands of visitors each year.

View of Life-Size Terracotta Warriors

Efired /

They’re a must-see in Xi’an, and you’ll get a great sense of the city’s ancient character by visiting them.

You may take a public bus from downtown Xi’an to the Terracotta Warriors location.

It would take roughly an hour to reach your destination.

Go Around Daming Palace via Golf Cart

Daming Palace is a short distance away from Danfeng Gate once you’ve completed your tour.

The Tang Dynasty’s aristocracy resided in this vast open area.

It’s a fascinating spot to see, even if it’s mostly in ruins and a popular tourist destination in Xian.

Large-scale models depict the Palace’s appearance before its destruction.

Because the property is so huge, you may purchase a ticket to ride a golf cart and have it take you to all of the sights you want to view.

Go on a Food Tour at the Xi’an Muslim Quarter

View of Xi'an Muslim Quarter

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This area is a constant whirlwind of vendors, marketplaces, tuk-tuks, food, and beverages.

It’s up to each individual to decide whether or not they want to hawk their products.

In the morning, you’ll see the butchers slicing and dicing the meat for sale in their stalls on the street.

As the day progresses, the streets will get more crowded with people cooking fresh food.

View of Xi'an Muslim Quarter

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In every city, hopping in a great food tour will provide you the courage to order and understand the meal.

It’s also a terrific opportunity to experiment with foods you typically wouldn’t dare to consume.

Return to your favorite restaurant whenever you can if you locate one that serves fantastic meals (there are a lot of them).

It has become of the best attractions in Xian because of this activity!

View of Xi'an Muslim Quarter

EQRoy /

Practice Chinese Calligraphy at Tang Bo Art Museum

Learn about Chinese calligraphy and painting at the Tang Bo Art Museum.

Take part in a hands-on art session and learn about both ancient and contemporary art.

This activity is both educational and entertaining, that you can do it with your kids.

Everything would seem simple when the “teacher” explains the characters and the method, but when you put the brush in your hands, you understand just how tough it is to perfect Chinese calligraphy.

Get a Blast From the Past at Shaanxi History Museum

View of the Shaanxi History Museum

RPBaiao /

You can find many notable ancient sites in and around Xi’an, one of China’s most historic cities.

Shaanxi Provincial Museum now houses most of the region’s artifacts, initially dispersed throughout the area.

The Shaanxi Provincial Museum, one of China’s top ten museums, houses a wide range of artifacts, from prehistoric apes through the Qing Dynasty before to the Opium War in 1839.

Discover the Excavated Townsite at Banpo Village and Museum

View of Banpo Village and Museum

canghai76 /

Situated in the eastern suburbs of Shaanxi Province lies the Banpo Museum.

Banpo’s first museum stood on the site’s excavations, which is a logical decision by the museum operators.

In 1958, it officially opened its doors to the public.

The townsite is a prototypical Yangshao culture Neolithic matriarchal settlement that dates back to 6,000 years.

View of Banpo Village and Museum

canghai76 /

At the time, people in this area mainly relied on tools crafted of stone and wood.

While men fished, women, who were the primary source of income, were in charge of household tasks, including pottery production, spinning, and child-rearing.

A site hall and two exhibition halls make up the Banpo Museum’s roughly 4,500 square meters of exhibit space.

Indulge in a Dumpling Banquet

Xi’an and Northern China are known for their love of dumplings.

The dumpling banquet in Xi’an is one of the city’s most famous delicacies.

There will be a wide variety of dumplings to choose from, with various fillings and forms.

Learn how to cook dumplings by visiting a local family.

Discover why the Chinese love eating dumplings by having a dumpling banquet with your family.

The host will happily prepare a variety of dumplings for you.

Plus, they will also teach you how to make them from scratch!

Take Photos at the Danfeng Gate

View of Danfeng Gate

canghai76 /

It’s a shame that foreigners aren’t more familiar with this gate, for it has a lot to offer.

One of the original entrances to the Daming Palace, Danfeng Gate, has since been demolished.

For a long time, it deteriorated and was eventually gone.

What stands today is a replica of an earlier version of the massive brown gate.

View of Danfeng Gate

canghai76 /

However, you may still see the old gate’s foundations beneath this structure.

Although you may find a lot of information on the gate, including how the city preserves it for future generations, we recommend watching the short film.

It has English subtitles so that you can learn more about it and its history.

Bring Your Kids to Enjoy at Xingqinggong Park

Parks like this one provide a variety of activities for visitors, including aerobics, singing, dancing, and a stroll around the lake.

It’s also home to a small amusement park that will bring happiness to your youngsters.

Overall, it’s a fantastic location for families in Xi’an.

Despite the lack of terrifying rollercoasters, kids will enjoy a Ferris wheel, dodgem cars, and a haunted house.

There is also a climbing course built right into the park.

Climb Xi’an Famous Towers and Admire the City From Above

View of the Drum Tower

michel arnault /

You won’t be able to visit Xi’an without seeing the city’s famed skyscrapers!

Xi’an’s Drum Tower and Bell Tower stand within the city walls and are not far apart.

You can’t go wrong with a brief stop here! If you go to China, you’ll get to see some of the country’s best buildings and sense its rich history.

Completed 1380, the Drum Tower in Guangzhou, Guangdong, is the largest and most complete drum tower from ancient China.

The Bell Tower is China’s tallest structure and one of the best-preserved in the country. During the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Taizu erected it in the year 1387.

View of the Bell Tower

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Both are must-see attractions in Xi’an!

How do you get there?

You may take the subway to the towers, which is only a few blocks away.

Zhonglou Station, Exit C, is where you’ll find the Bell Tower’s ticket office if you take Line 2.

If you go through Exit B at the same station, you’re only a five-minute walk away from the Drum Tower.

Try on Xi’an’s Hanfu Costume

Hanfu, or Han-style clothing, is one of the classic Chinese garments that have been around for thousands of years.

Prior to 17th-century Manchu rule, the Han people wore this dress as a symbol of their identity.

A variety of styles and excellent textile methods, notably on silk, have evolved in Hanfu since the Han Dynasty.

Other Asian nations’ traditional clothing, such as Korea’s Hanbok, Japan’s Kimono, and Vietnam’s Ao Dai, has been heavily influenced by traditional Chinese garments.

Visiting an old university in Xi’an, trying on the icon of authentic Chinese culture, and posing for epic photographs with these sorts of magnificent apparel is a must-try experience for all international tourists while in China.

Admire the Beauty of Tang Paradise

View of Tang Paradise

steve100 /

Tang Paradise is a great spot to observe the Chinese people’s dedication to the environment and how effectively they build a park.

You may find traditional Chinese gardens of the Tang Dynasty in Tang Paradise, a park built in the style of those gardens.

This is one of Xian’s more peculiar attractions.

View of Tang Paradise

canghai76 /

Because the park is so lovely, you won’t even notice that it’s situated next to a slew of busy highways.

You may become completely lost in the grandeur of this place, which includes enormous traditional buildings, little traditional gardens, and a plethora of loti.

It’s the best place to unwind when visiting Xi’an.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Extreme Climbing at Mount Huashan

View of Chess Pavilion at Hua Shan

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Prepare yourself for a rush of excitement, heights, and sweat!

In addition to being among the most fun and challenging activities to try near Xi’an, Huashan Mountain is also one of Xi’an’s most popular attractions.

Although Huashan is difficult, it is achievable.

View of Mount Huashan

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You’ll fall in love with the natural splendor of the mountain during a one-day visit.

Mt. Huashan has five peaks, the highest of which is the South Peak, which stands at 2,154.9 meters high. There’s a long way to go.

You first need to buy a ticket from the tourist center, take a bus to the mountain’s main gate, and then ride a chairlift to the top, where you may walk to the peak.

View of Mount Huashan

Maciej Bledowski /

It’s said to be a beautiful path by the locals.

You can even experience a much more exciting climb to this scary peak when the weather condition is unpleasant.

Final Thoughts

Xi’an has plenty of things to see and do, and where you stay and how much you spend are essential considerations.

If you don’t know how to speak Chinese, we highly recommend downloading a translator app, so getting about in Xian won’t be a challenge for you.

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