Sunday, June 17, 2018

Travel Guide: Xi'An

Xi'An is an interesting city that has centuries of history under its belt. It was one of my stops during a trip to China last year (2017). There was a mix of old and new as I explored the bustling metropolis.


Places to  See and Things to Do

Xi'An has a number of places to visit and things to do, you can easily fill your itinerary, even if you're staying just for a couple of days.

Terracotta Warriors



The Terracotta Warriors are the most famous attraction in the city.


There are guided tours that include transfers and some food; however, you can get to the site on your own by public transportation and visit each pit without a guide. Here's a detailed post (Terracotta Warriors) about my trip there.

Muslim Quarter


Xi'An has a substantial Muslim population; the Muslim Quarter is a live and bustling place to visit from the afternoon until the evening.




There are plenty of shops that sell souvenirs, clothes, knick-knacks, kitsch and other stuff. It also has restaurants and food stalls that offer local cuisine.



There are some attractions within the quarter (some have entrance fees). I only entered the mosque; the latter was unique in a very Chinese way. It was unlike the many mosques I've seen during my trips.



Check out the Muslim Quarter during your visit, it's quite an experience.

Towers





The Bell and Drum Towers in the city are relics of its ancient past (albeit restored and maintained). These towers are some of the attractions you can visit (for a fee) during your stay.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda



What would China be like without temples? The Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the more frequently visited ones in the city. There's plenty of locals and foreigners wandering about its complex. You have to pay the entrance fee to get inside.

The Wall

You can also go up and walk, bike or take the electric car to explore the different parts of the wall that surrounds the ancient city. There's an entrance fee of CNY54 (adults). You can also rent single or tandem bikes, or ride the electric car (CNY80 to go around, CNY20 between two stops). A single bike rental is around CNY45 for two hours. A tandem bike costs CNY90 for two hours. You pay extra if you go beyond the allotted time and there's a deposit CNY200.

Day or Overnight Trip to Mt. Hua

Mt. Hua is famous for its dangerous passes, wooden planks that hug the some parts of the mountain. I didn't go, but I didn't hear good stories from other travelers. They did it in one long day and cost them a lot of money to get to it and back.

Anyway, if you're interested in going...The mountain gained popularity because of the beautiful views of the peaks during sunrise.

There's an entrance fee of CNY160 from March to December and CNY100 from December to February. The ticket is valid for two days.

You can get to the jump-off point of the mountain by public transportation.
  • Go to Xi'An North Rail Station and board a bullet train bound for Huashan North Station. Once you get to the station, you can board a green bus Huayin 1 or Huayin 2 to Shengtai Guangchang (this is the tourist center as well)
  • You can take a tourist bus from Xi'An Railway Station's east square, board the one bound for Jade Spring Temple. A single trip ticket costs about CNY39.5 and a round trip one costs CNY66.5. The bus operates this route at around 6:30AM to 7:00PM.
Retrace the steps you took to get back to Xi'An after your hike.

Around the City

Xi'An is a developed city with an extensive bus and metro and subway network. It's easy to get around by public transportation. It helps to know some Chinese phrases or have the Chinese characters of the places you want to visit on hand. The latter is useful because all you have to do is just show it to someone who is willing to help you.

Getting In and Out of the Airport

It's easy to get in and out of Xi'An's airport, there are plenty of airport shuttle buses throughout the day and night to get to different parts of the city. The fare is around CNY25 (lower or higher depending on which part of the city you'll go to). Here's a detailed link: Xi'An Airport buses.

How to Get to Xi'An

Beijing and Shanghai are possible entry points to get to Xi'An, if you're coming from Manila. Some cities like Kuala Lumpur have direct flights to the ancient city. If you enter via Beijing or Shanghai, you can easily take the bullet or overnight train. There are also regular flights to Xi'An from many cities across China. You can check CTrip for more information about flights and train schedules.

Where to Stay

Xi'An's a big city, there's plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation across the budget spectrum. I stayed at Han Tang House; cheap dorm beds (big and soft too). The restaurant has good food but pricey. It's also near a bus stop that goes to the railway stations, and a subway station within walking distance as well.

Expenses

I only stayed for a couple of days in Xi'An, here's a list of my expenses during my visit. This was also a stop on a weeks long journey around China.

*Everything's in Chinese Yuan unless otherwise stated

25 - Airport bus
23 - Transportation
151 - 4 nights Han Tang House
243.5 - Food and drinks
168 - Overnight (hard sleeper cabin) train to Lanzhou
50 - Entrance fee for Bell and Drum Tower
15 - Round trip bus fare to see the Terracotta Warriors
150 - Entrance fee Terracotta Warriors' pits
25 - Great Mosque entrance fee
54 - Miscellaneous (laundry, souvenirs, etc.)                              
904.5 - Total



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