Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor :: Attraction Travel Tip

Inside/Near the city

City Wall of Xi’an (城墙). As the world’s largest city wall, the Xi’an city wall has been restored and is wide enough to easily ride 5 bikes across. You can hire one at the top of the South or East gate; you must return it where you got it, but beware 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. 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. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty on the foundation of the Chang’an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty. ¥40, ¥20 students (Sept 2010).

Shaanxi Provincial Museum (陕西历史博物馆; Shǎnxī Lìshǐbówùguǎn; also known as Shaanxi History Museum). This museum houses a collection of local artefacts that span the entirety of the province’s history from the Neolithic through 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. Arrive early to avoid crowds and to get one of 1000 free tickets each day (bring your passport). ¥35 winter, ¥50 summer.

Forest of Steles (西安碑林; Xīānbēilín), (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.

Wolong Temple (卧龙寺), (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.

Big (Wild) Goose Pagoda (大雁塔; Dàyàntǎ), (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 sometimes during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby. ¥25 to enter the temple complex, another ¥20 to enter the pagoda.

Little (Wild) Goose Pagoda (小雁塔; Xiǎoyàntǎ), (At Jianfu Temple). Completed in 709AD. To enter you will have to buy a fairly expensive joint ticket with the adjoining Xi’an Museum (¥50, Jun 09).

Bell Towers (钟楼; Zhōnglóu), (In the exact center of the city). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Drum Tower).

Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu), (Just to the northwest within the Muslim Quarter). ¥27 (or ¥40 including Bell Tower). edit

Busy Muslim Street

Grand Mosque (清真寺; Qīngzhēnsì), (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 (回民街 Huímín Jiē) 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 (八仙宫; Bāxiāngōng). 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.

Outside the city

Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses (兵马俑; Bīngmăyŏng), (A short distance away from the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, it is the last stop of bus 306). 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. An in-site museum has been built over these pits, covering a floorspace of 20,000 square meters and displaying 8,000 life-like terracotta warriors, 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. ¥110, half-price students.

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. Visit also the Shaanxi Provincial Museum to see the best examples of the pottery found at Banpo.

Famen Temple (法门寺). 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.

Huaqing Palace (华清池; Huáqīngchí), (First stop of bus 306). 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. ¥70, hot bath ¥30.

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

Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum (秦始皇陵), (Third stop (second for the museum) of bus 306 before the Terracota Warriors). Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China. You can visit the surrounding gardens and mountains, but you can not get inside the mausoleum. There is a low quality museum with a reconstruction of the Mausoleum. Taking pictures in the dimly lit museum is forbidden, although staff will not control it too much. Mausoleum ¥40, museum ¥15.

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

Taiping National Park (太平国家公园), (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 (祥峪森林公园), (37 km S of Xi’an, N slope of Qinling Mountain).

Hua Mountain, (About 2.5 hr outside of Xi’an, or 40 minutes by high-speed train. High-speed rail station is about 30minutes away from the bell tower by cab. Cab ride is about 35rmb. Once arriving at the Huashan high-speed train station it is a quick taxi ride (20rmb) to the mountain trailhead.). This is one of China’s sacred mountains. Very beautiful misty mountain where 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. Cable car is 80rmb/150rmb round trip and is located at the east gate and goes directly to the north peak. If you want to walk up you have to go to another entrance, the Yu Quan Yuan 玉泉圆 entrance.There are many tours that drive to the Mountain, just be aware that half of the time you will be stoping for jewelry, Chinese medicine, etc. Worthwhile if you get a nice coach.

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, (Near the airport). Han dynasty tomb containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures. 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 (although is best done as part of a journey to or from the airport). 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). The best way to get here is via tour or share a taxi (around ¥200 round-trip, not including waiting time). 80; half-price students.

Do

Hui Muslim Quarter, Huimin Street (回民街; Huímínjiē). Walk through the Muslim quarter sampling food and buying souvenirs.

Walk the City Walls. Walk along the city walls and see the South Gate (南门; Nánmén), which is illuminated at night.

Bike the City Walls. Bicycling around the city walls will take about 2 hours. Bicycles can be rented on the East and South Gates for 100 minutes, ¥20 per person, and it has to be returned to the same deposit where it was taken. Remember to take your passport with you as a deposit for the bike that you rent, or at least ¥200. Make sure that you keep the deposit ticket, as the bike vendor will not give you the deposit back without it!