Saturday, 20 May 2017

CHINA: Xian

Xi'an is more than 3,000 years old and was known as Chang'an in ancient times. For 1,000 years, the city was the capital for 13 dynasties, and a total of 73 emperors ruled here. Xi'an is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization having served as the capital city for the Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang dynasties.

With so much history within the ground the city lies upon, it is no wonder that there are so many historical ruins, museums and cultural relics to be found here. It was already influencing the world outside of the Great Wall of China as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road.

Here traders from far and wide brought goods and ideas for sale and took goods and ideas back with them to their native countries. In present day Xi'an not much of its former glory remains within the city confines, due to the constant warfare and political changes that swept China particularly throughout the 20th Century.

Today the city has a pleasant cosmopolitan flair to it and it is worth visiting for the famed Terracotta Warriors alone. It has often been said that, "if you have not been to Xi'an, you have not been to China!

Xi'an has most of its annual precipitation from August to late October in the form of rain. It is characterised by hot summers and cold, dry winters. Spring and autumn will be somewhat brief and dry.

How To Visit Xian

Xi'an Xianyang International Airport is located 40 km (25 mi) northwest of the city centre, in Xianyang. Flights are available to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dunhuang, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Harbin, Hangzhou, Hohhot, Kunming, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Urumqi, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xining and Zhangjiajie within Mainland China. International flights are available to Helsinki, San Francisco, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Singapore as well as Nagoya, Fukuoka, Niigata, Tokyo and Hiroshima in Japan. As Xi'an is located in the heartland of China, it takes no more than 2 hours to fly to most major Chinese cities.

The airport has three terminals. Terminal 2 and 3 are for domestic flights. The international flights depart from the terminal 2 near terminal 3.

Most people use taxis or the airport bus to reach town from the airport, however taking a taxi is not recommended, as most taxi drivers will raise the price for non-local tourists. A taxi will cost about ¥150 from the airport to the Bell Tower downtown. You will pay around ¥ 50-75 more if you take one of the climatized Japanese-branded black taxis rather than the typical green taxis.

At the airport, both types of taxis are waiting at the same spot to pick up passengers. The airport buses leaves traveling one of 6 routes, each every half-hour from 06:00 to 18:00. A ticket (which needs to be purchased beforehand at the counter inside the arrival terminal) costs ¥26 and the trip takes at least one hour; there are several lines but the most useful are Airport Bus No. 2,to the railway station in front of Jiefang Hotel and No. 1 which used to run to the Bell Tower, but buses no longer run this centrally in the old town; of the two lines that run inside, one stops near the West Gate and the other near the East Gate.

As long as there is an arriving flight, there will be a bus, so don't worry about arriving late at night or early morning; officially, on line 1 there is a bus every 20 minutes but buses will often depart as soon as they fill up. The airport bus route is the best way between city and the train station,where a veritable fleet of buses leave constantly to take tourists and locals to the Terracotta Warriors, among other places.

If you're a spur-of-the-moment traveller expecting to find enterprising, helpful people to greet you with options in English, you may be disappointed. Especially outside of high season, there are surprisingly few such freelancers. It's a good idea to book a tour in advance if you want to get off of any but the most-beaten paths. Many tours will extend an airport pickup at a discounted cost or, in some cases, at no cost.

If you want to take a taxi to the Terracotta Warriors, for example, it may cost as much as ¥200 from the airport, and, with few drivers speaking English, the phrase Bing Ma Yong (Mandarin for "Terracotta Warriors") will come in quite handy.

The high speed train from Xi'an North Station to Luoyang-Longmen is now available many times a day, starting from 07:00. The distance of 400 km (250 mi) takes about 90 minutes. The high speed train station is located about 10 km (6 mi) north from the Xi'an north gate,do not get it mixed up with the Xi'an North gate train station. The last train returns around 19:00.

Schedules may change, so it is best to check it out at the station or website. Use the cheap and highly efficient subway to get to and from Xi'An central (¥3 as of September 2014, takes about 30 min).

There are plenty of trains transporting passengers to and from most of the major cities inside China. Keep in mind during national holidays and peak travel periods, train tickets may available only if booked in advance,most ticket sales open 10-21 days in advance.

Traveling in a seat hard or soft-class, likely means a bargain price but may be accompanied by smokers, loud noise, and activity in the aisle while you try to sleep. Do not travel hard class if you are uncomfortable with these settings. Sleeper cabins are limited to 6 people each,4 for deluxe soft sleepers, which are typically only found on the trains originating from Beijing.

If traveling alone, keep an eye on your luggage and practice common sense. Also note it's customary for bathrooms to close 30-60 minutes before getting to the final destination of that route.

Trains run to several domestic cities including: Beijing (5-13 hours), Chengdu (13-18 hours), Chongqing (14 hours), Guangzhou (8–24 hours), Kunming (36-53 hours), Lanzhou (8-10 hours), Lhasa (36 hours), Shanghai (11-20 hours), Urumqi (31-56 hours), Wuhan (4-18 hours), and Zhengzhou (2–6 hours).

Xi'an Station is at the north end of Jiefang Road,just outside the northeast city wall. As you exit, there will probably be lots of people offering cheap hotel rooms; just ignore them if you already have a room booked. Even if you don't, you probably don't want to get one from them anyway.

Also, don't fall for the people who offer to exchange a Xi'an map for your used train ticket - they reuse them for some shady purposes, e.g. re-selling them to people who just want to get into the station or try to sneak on a train.

In Xi'an, it is very easy to get to the railway station by city bus from anywhere in the city. There are several stops within 200 m of the station look for train station East or North on a bus route. Bus 603 will take you into the city for only ¥1. Many hostels also offer free pick-up if you arrive between 06:00 and 09:00.

Xi'an North Station serves the high-speed rail. It is connected by the metro system. Destinations include Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Shijiazhuang, Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Changsha, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. If you want to take a taxi from the North Station, note that when you exit the station for the taxi stand, you will be greeted by a crowd of eager private drivers offering fake taxi rides.

Ignore them and continue walking down the corridor until you reach the outside doors. The official taxis will be waiting for you.

Xi'an South Station is a very remote railway station. The easiest way is to go to the southern-most stop on the subway, and then taking a taxi. Note however that even taxi drivers have a hard time finding this one. However, trains from this station will not sell out as fast, which might make this station the only one available for you.

There are over-night trains to Pingyao and Taiyuan from here (leaving at around 17:00, and about 11-12h travel time) and also trains to far away locations such as Urumqi (38½ hours), Hohhot (15 hours), Kunming (32 hours), Guangzhou (24½ hours) and Chongqing (10 hours).

The main long-distance bus station - Shaanxi Province Long-distance Bus Station is located approximately 100m south to the exit or entry to Xi'an railway station, immediately after you cross the city wall.

Bus service is available to: Huashan (2-3 hours), Lanzhou (8-10 hours), Luoyang (5-7 hours), Pingyao (7-8 hours), Taiyuan (12 hours), and Zhengzhou (9-12 hours).

If you are arriving from Pingyao by bus, you will most likely arrive at the east bus station. Catch the bus 203 right next to the bus station to get to the city centre.

Traffic is heavy, right of way is unheard of, and the rule of thumb is "keep going no matter what,although drivers do note red lights.

The city is surrounded by a city wall, in its middle the Bell Tower. From this one, the four main streets descend into the four points of the compass.

North-Street
East-Street
South-Street
West-Street

Do not get confused by different names in tourist guides, addresses and bus stops: Nandajie, Nanda-Street, South-Street, South-Avenue are all the same.

Locals often speak about Within city walls and Outside city walls when talking about locations. Outside the walls, the southern part is the most interesting, it offers shopping streets, bars and some nightlife.

There are plenty of buses departing everywhere in short-intervals (main lines every 5-10 minutes). If you are not confident enough with orientation, or if you do not like packed buses, the cheap taxis are the best alternative, broadly available, except for during rush hours.

Line 2 runs north-south. You can connect to and from the Xi'an North Train Station (for the high-speed rail network. Line 1 runs east-west and crosses Line 2 at (Bei Da Jie) in the city center. Line 3 runs roughly in the northeast-southwest direction and intersects with line 1 at (Tong Hua Men) and line 2 at(Xiao Zhai).

Regular buses within the city cost ¥1 (¥2 for air-conditioned, marked with a snow-flake) no matter how far you go. Since there are many buses in the city, it can be useful to go to the Tourism Office Center,which is situated near the Bell Tower and ask for a free map of the city, with the buses' lines on it.

A popular line for tourists is #610 which connects the railway station, the Bell Tower, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an Museum, the Shaanxi Historic Museum and the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. Unfortunately it is not one of the most frequent,sometimes you can wait for half an hour, though usually it comes in a few minutes.

Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of West Street; take it westwards to then go south to the museums and pagodas, take it eastwards to then go north to the railway station. Near the railway station,there are many stops for different lines you can catch it at the third block on the main street going straight south from the station.

Another useful line is #609 that connects the Bell Tower, the South Gate and the Big Goose Pagoda. Near the Bell Tower, it stops at the beginning of South Street.

Although the 609 and 610 can be infrequent, the 611 is very regular, and connects the train station and the Bell Tower. Look for it over the road from the station.

There are many buses leaving regularly for the Terracotta Warrior museum in front of the Xi'an bus station,east to the train station, outside in the north the city walls.

Bus 306 (Chinese bus green 5) leaves from the lot in front of the train station and will take you to a parking lot right in front of the museum site in about an hour,it can take up to 90 minutes in case of traffic jams. A one-way ticket costs ¥7 just get on and sit down, then a conductor will come and give you a ticket.

It also stops at several other tourist attractions along the way, e.g. the hot springs. Make sure you don't make the mistake of going to the bus station on the inside of the wall near the train station. That's where there are touts with signs saying bus 5 and bus 306, trying to hustle you onto their private bus. Although they do take you to the destinations, you are forced to go to visit attractions you might not want to go to.

If you're facing the train station directly, the lot where the bus departs from will be on your right - it's near a Dico's. Look out for a sign with a bunch of Chinese characters with 306 in between them.

Small buses which are used by the locals. These buses will also take you to the Museum however they go through local roads,no highway express like bus 306 therefore it will take slightly longer to arrive. Not a bad trip if you want to see some of the local area. Note: local bus 915 will take you to the museum site in about an hour as it takes the highway express too like the 306. The ride is not as comfortable as the 306 since the buses are often packed with people even standing.

Most hostels and hotels run tours to the warriors with an English speaking guide. These aren't necessarily better, be prepared to spend a good portion of the day,as with any Chinese tour visiting "terracotta factories," "museums", "Chinese medicine shops", and other tourist traps. But, you will get to your destination without dealing with the bus the warriors are quite far outside of town and not all of the public buses that go there are legitimate.

Watch the taxi drivers in Xi'an as the industry is not regulated as it is in other larger cities. You may find yourself being taken on a long ride around town to get where you are going. It can also be difficult to convince them to take you anywhere even to the railway station. If in doubt get your hotel or hostel to write down the place you want to go in Chinese. Between 3 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon the taxis change their shifts. This means the drivers are rushing to their handover points, so they won't pick you up even they are empty.

Trips within the city walls are generally around ¥10, longer trips to the attractions south of the city are ¥12-20. Especially when you take a longer ride, like to or from the airport, it is always good advice to insist on using the taxi meter.

The rate for the normal (green) taxis is ¥6 for the first 2 kilometer and then ¥1.5 for every additional kilometer. Waiting times longer than 2 minutes will be charged ¥1.5 per minute. After 11:00 PM the starting price is ¥7. At the airport and around some of the big hotels you might also find black taxis.

They charge ¥2.4 per kilometer, but are more spacious and comfortable. There is a road fee of ¥10 for the Airport Expressway. This is not included in the price the taxi meter shows. So going to or coming from the airport is usually ¥10 more than what the meter shows.

Be careful when taking a cab to areas outside Xi'an proper, such as the Terracotta Warriors. Scamming taxi drivers will pretend that the road is "apparently under maintenance and only the local cabs know the rest of the road to the Terracotta Warriors." Don't believe them, and don't pay anyone anything until you are sure you are at your destination.You can recognize the Terracotta Warriors site by how well it's built up, after passing through less built-up areas.

Be careful to reject stops you didn't request as the cab drivers earn a commission from bringing you such places. Thus, it is generally much safer and reliable to take the buses if you want to travel to the Terracotta Warriors.

Fortunately Xi'an's main sites (with the notable exception of the Terracotta Warriors) are bunched fairly close together. Be wary of the narrow streets and cars that squeeze you out of the way. Bike lanes are available on some streets, however, places to lock bikes, typically are not.

City Wall of Xi'an . As the world's largest city wall, the Xi'an city wall has been restored and is 12m high, 18m wide is its base, 15m wide on the top, 13.7km long, and bikes also bikes for two or three persons) are provided for renting, now it's ¥45 per 120 minutes/bike or ¥90 for 120/2-person-bike plus a refundable deposit. You can hire one at the top of all gates; you may return it to other stations on the wall.

Be aware that bikes will not be rented if there is any chance of rain, because the top of the wall becomes slippery. Check the weather forecast before you buy a ticket to enter the wall. If you want to foot it though, a complete loop of the walls takes 4-5 hours. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers.

The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty(A.D.1368-A.D.1644) on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty(A.D.618-A.D.907). The Xi'an City Wall International Marathon is held each year in Nov. since 1993, running on top of the wall, athletes from amore than 50 countries and regions have participated in the competition during the last 16 sessions. Also, the Xi'an city wall Cycling Race are held on top of the wall since two years ago.

There is a small museum inside the city walls at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the city wall itself. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection. ¥54, ¥27 students (August 2014).

Xi'an Qujiang Museum Of Fine Arts Ci'en Road, Qujiang New District B2 level of the Westin Hotel or enter from the east side of the building,. 09:00-17:00 (last entrance at 16:30). This museum is located at the south of the Big Goose Pagoda, in the same building as the Westin Hotel. It is one of the best private museums in China.

The main hall exhibits ancient Chinese murals paintings throughout the ages, with over 80 pieces throughout different dynasties. The other gallery show Ming dynasty gold pieces that were exhibited in the Musée du Président Jacques Chirac in France and contemporary Chinese Jade sculptures that were exhibited in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This is a hidden gem of this city and should not be missed.

Shaanxi Historic Museum Shanxi Lishibowuguan; also known as Shaanxi History Museum), xiaozhai, Xian,China (500m northwest to the Big wild goose pogoda),rough the Qing dynasty. In particular it contains fabulously well preserved pottery from nearby Banpo neolithic village also worth a visit and many excellent Shang Dynasty bronzes.

Although some guidebooks call it "one of the best museums in China", its old fashioned pots-and-arrowheads-behind-glass format may appeal mainly to enthusiasts, though they also feature some well-made but glorifying high-definition movies in the exhibition halls. The most eye-catching articles are those from the Tang Dynasty, originally used by the royal family.

Arrive either really early or before 1pm to get one of 4000 free tickets each day. Make sure to bring your passport, it's one ticket per id! Museum is limited to 6000 visitors per day to avoid overcrowding.

Forest of Steles, Just inside the southern city wall, near the Wenchang Gate. This collection of 2,300 stone tablets many written to provide an "official text" of the Chinese classics and epitaphs is the largest and oldest of its kind in China.
This includes the famous Nestorian Stele, dating back to the 7th century. It depicts the coming of Nestorian Christianity to China. The Nestorian Stele is in Showroom Number 2 and is the first stele on the left. ¥100, foreign student cards not accepted.

Wolong Temple, One block North and East of the Forest of Steles museum. This active Buddhist temple dates back to 200BC. Recently restored, the temple is vibrant and busy.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda , At Ci'en Temple, take bus 41 or 610 from the main train station. Built by Emperor Gaozong Li Zhi in 652AD. Emblem of the city of Xi'an. In the fountain in front of the pagoda there is a very nice water and music show at various times during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby. ¥50 to enter the temple complex, another ¥40 to enter the pagoda.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda, At Jianfu Templ. Completed in 709AD. To enter you will have to buy a joint ticket with the adjoining Xi'an Museum ¥30, Jul 11 Note that the ticket still states the old price of ¥50, however ¥30 is charged

Bell Towers Zhonglou, (In the exact center of the city). ¥35 (or ¥50 including Drum Tower).

Drum Tower Golou, Just to the northwest within the Muslim Quarter. Performances at 9:10, 10:00, 11:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00. ¥27 (or ¥40 including Bell Tower).

Grand Mosque Qingzhēnsi, (Behind Drum Tower). Built in a perfect mixture of Islamic and Chinese architecture styles with seating for 1,000 worshipers and the Muslim Street district Huímín Jie around it. It is famous as the very first mosque ever to be built in China. It can be quite difficult to find through the winding back streets but is very well known to locals. Only Muslims are permitted entry to the actual mosque but there is plenty to see in the many accompanying courtyards. Ladies are asked to cover up with a scarf according to Muslim tradition. ¥25.

Eight Immortals Temple. An active Daoist temple built for the famous Eight Immortals, including the Eight Immortals Bridge, lots of steles in the walls with text and illustrations, and multiple worship halls.

DaMing Palace and Park. This is, first of all, a huge park with both green spaces and an enormous open square with an equally-impressive ancient palace gate (the palace is Tang dynasty, built in 634 AD). There's a model of the palace next to the gate. The square sometimes hosts public performances. The park even has an IMAX theatre. The park, gate and square are accessible for free.

If you pay for admission, you can actually go into the partially restored palace ruins and other sections of the park protected by a moat. Worth seeing for the sheer size of it - it's a very surreal effect compared to the crowding in the rest of Xian. Immediately north of the railway station (though you have to go around using side streets, since there are railway tracks in the way). You can get there via line 2 Da Ming Gong Xi subway station exit C.

Shaanxi Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum, No.279, Xiqi Road, Xi'an.. Folk arts from all Shaanxi areas are displayed here, depicting traditional local daily life.

Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses Bīngmayon), 20km east of town, 2km west of the Qinshihuang Mausoleum ¥150, students with chinese student card ¥75 includes access to the Qin ShiHuang Mausoleum (Take bus 306 (7¥) 914 (8¥) or 915 (8¥) from the main train station just outside the North Gate (not the fast train station further north).

These are very frequent, eg the 914 runs every 4 minutes and is clearly labelled on the side of the bus in English. Journey time is approximately 80 minutes. If you arrive from the airport, you can take the airport bus (26¥) for the train station. (Prices as of January 2014)). High Season hours (March 16th – November 14th): 8:30 – 17:30. Low Season hours (November 15th – March 15th): 8:30 – 17:00.

This mighty army of terracotta warriors and horses, found in three vaults, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction of Shaanxi and one of the most popular in all of China, with over 2 million visitors per year. An in-site museum has been built over the three excavated pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and displaying 2,000 life-like terracotta warriors (there are believed to be around 8,000 in total), 100 or so chariots, and 30,000 weapons. The assemblage has been billed by the tourist industry as the Eighth Wonder of the World and a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.

If you arrive by public bus, you will likely have to cross the broad parking lot before catching sight of the many buildings connected to the site of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. You will still have at least 10 minutes of walking and at least 2 gates to pass through before actually catching sight of the Terracotta Warriors, so be ready.

After crossing the parking lot, you can find the main ticket office to the west on your right when facing away from the main street the buses use to get in. Your ticket will be punched at the main entrance, easily visible west from the ticket counters. If you need the toilet after the long bus ride, wait if you can until you have bought your ticket and entered through the first gate.

The toilets just inside are free, and much cleaner than those outside. The paths to the main pits squiggle up the mountain's gentle slope to the southwest. It may seem as if you might just pass by something interesting on the way, but there's really nothing more than nicely tended trees. If you follow any squiggling path or just the crowds, you should arrive at the second gate, where your ticket will be punched again. For another 10 yuan, you might be able to take a glorified golf cart from the ticket counter to the site of the pits, which could save you a few minutes of walking.

After passing through the gate, there are many buildings to enter and no obvious sign of a route to take, but if you continue ahead arrow-straight from the gate, you'll reach Pit 1, which is the main attraction. Pit 2 slightly to the right of the entrance features horses and chariots, but, perhaps disappointingly, it is not excavated as of January 2014. Pit 3 is adjacent to Pit 1 and can be reached from the rear of the Pit 1 building. It has a few warriors and a couple of horses exhumed.

The Exhibition Hall is in front of Pit 2 to your right just as you enter the second gate) and features 2 fully excavated bronze chariots in full array. There is a small, reasonably priced coffee shop next to the exhibition hall. Upon exiting, back through the second gate, you can either avoid the hawkers with their clay figurines and jade knick-knacks by taking the squiggling paths back northeast to the main entrance, or exit through the auxiliary gate directly west of the gate to the pits, and haggle your way to some deals on souvenirs and food.

If you mistakenly go up hawkers' hill the first time instead of proceeding directly west to the main ticket gate, you may be able to enter through the auxiliary gate for 160 yuan, an extra 10 yuan charged by ticket resellers.) For those not interested in Chinese food, there is a KFC at the bottom of the hill. And if you see the KFC and head west, you can get back to the main ticket booth. The free gold shuttle buses to the Qin Mausoleum take boarders just north of the main ticket booth. A short distance away from the Terracotta Warriors is Qin ShiHuang's Mausoleum (see below), which is free to visit with the purchase of a Terracotta Warriors ticket.

Qin ShiHuang Mausoleum , 2km east of the Terracotta Warriors. Admission is free with purchase of a Terracotta Warriors ticket. (Take one of the free gold shuttle buses from the Terracotta Warriors just behind the ticket office. 4 minutes ride. The rarely-visited mausoleum of Emperor Qin ShiHuang for whom the terracotta warriors were built is just 2km away from the warriors themselves, and admission is included as part of the price of the ticket to visit the Terracotta Warriors.

The site is a large 24 square kilometer park which contains Qin ShiHuang's mausoleum still buried underneath a hill and a number of pits which are undergoing excavation, higher up the mountainside. It is believed that under the site of the mausoleum an exact replica of his empire has been re-created. Those looking to actually get inside the mausoleum mound may find themselves going in circles around a massive, square mudbrick wall which recedes into the mountain to the south.

While no entrance is possible inside the burial mound itself as of January 2014, the mound is climbable, if overgrown, with several well-worn paths to the summit. The park offers a welcome break from the busy crowds of the Terracotta Warriors and is a nice place to relax. There are cars that can take you around from pit to pit, but they are reserved for tour groups. Be sure to take an umbrella and/or sun cream on hot days as there is little shade. Much more walking is required to get to the very small excavation pits, compared with a visit to the Terracotta Warriors.

Huaqing Palace, the same way to Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses it stops before). 9:00AM-5:00PM. Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan in Lintong County so he could frolic with his favoured Imperial Lady Yang to his heart's content. It is possible to take hot baths inside. You may also take the nearby cable car 60 yuan return to catch a Birdseye view of the area. ¥110, ¥60 Student.

Banpo Village Ruins . 6,000 year old ruins of a village site including the residential and pottery-making areas, ancient tools, as well as a burial ground. Take bus #42 from the train station. Visit also the Shaanxi Historic Museum to see the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo.

Famen Temple. This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67AD, contains a 13-storied brick pagoda as part of the monastery. This pagoda fell down in the rain in August 1981 and revealed a 1000 year old underground vault full with 2,400 treasures belonging to the Tang and previous dynasties given as offerings. These included gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones and textiles, as well as religious items. The biggest treasure is a finger bone of Buddha offered to the Emperor of China during the Tang dynasty.

Mao Ling Mausoleum . The tomb of the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty, includes many stone carvings.

Qian Ling Mausoleum . The only shared tomb of the first empress of China Wu Zetian, and her husband Emperor Gaozong of Tang Dynasty.

Taiping National Park,44 km SW of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain.


Famous for its waterfall and the largest area of wild Zijing flower,the city flower of Hong Kong in north China.

Xiangyu Forest Park,37 km S of Xi'an, N slope of Qinling Mountain.

Huashan Mountain, About 2.5 hr outside of Xi'an, or 40 minutes by high-speed train. Xi'an high-speed rail station is about 30minutes away from the Bell Tower by cab and cab ride is about ¥35. It is also the last stop on Line 2 of the metro. Once arriving at the Huashan high-speed train station it is a quick taxi ride (¥20) to the mountain trailhead. This is one of China's sacred mountains, you can climb steep stairs while holding on to chain railings for support. If you take the cable car up, you can climb around the four peaks in about 3-4 hours.

There are two cable cars, one running to the North Peak from the East Gate (¥80/150 round trip) and another newer, more expensive, cable car which runs to the West Peak (nearer the summit/South Peak and "Plank Road in the Sky") - it costs ¥140 one-way, plus you'll have to take a shuttle bus to an unfinished hotel/restaurant/parking complex (¥40) and a taxi to/from Huashan bus/train station (¥20-30).

If you want to walk up you have to go to another entrance, the Yu Quan Yuan entrance. There are many tours that drive to the mountain, just be aware that half of the time you will be stopping for jewellery, Chinese medicine, etc. Worthwhile if you get a nice coach. For more information, see separate article on Huashan

Tang Paradise Tang Paradise is the largest tourist program in northwest China. It covers and area of 1,000 mu (about 165 acres) and was established with and investment of 1.2 billion yuan. Located to the north of the original Tang Dynasty Lotus Garden site, the present Tang Paradise is the first theme park fully demonstrating the charm and grandeur of the royal garden in Tang Dynasty.

The Tang Paradise boats many new records: the largest movie on water screen in the world, the first theme park of five senses sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell, the biggest outdoor fragrance project in the world and the biggest reproduction of the Tang royal garden comples in China. Ever since its opening to public on April 11, 2005, Tang Paradise has attracted people from different walks of life with its surprising charm, including some prominent political figures like Lian Zhan, Chairman of Kuomingtang from Taiwan. It has become a must see attraction in Xi’an. Entrance fees are ¥120 in peak season and ¥90 during the off season.

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi. Han dynasty tomb,known locally as HanYangLing containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. There are human figures (think small and naked version of the terracotta warriors) as well as a whole army-like formation of life-like animals (pigs, dogs, etc). The "Underground Museum" at the excavation site has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations and is definitely worth a visit,especially easy to do if done as part of a journey to or from the airport.

There's a very unique holographic movie experience as part of the exhibit,no 3D glasses required, English and some other language translation available, ¥10. It's also worth getting a guide or following one around note that English ones are more expensive than Chinese ones) because they will explain things in much more detail than the captions. Some people also climb up to the top of the burial mound (you can see a worn trail going up the side.