Shaanxi Province's

XI'AN

Global Mark : 13.09 (up)

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 2 3 5 3 3 2 3

1

11.56

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
27 81%  (22) 59%  (16) 81%  (22) 5 to 20 14.63


Description :
A former capital full of historical sights inside or outside its huge walls

Comments : This place is with Beijing the culturally "must see" of China. Whether or not backpackers should see it is another matter...

What to do : Count your money to see if you can afford Xi'an and its sights / Cycle the town / Walk the Muslim area / Make your own opinion about whether or not the Terracotta Warriors are worth seeing / Travel in time by visiting one of the best museum of China /

What you may not like : The scarce and far between's budget accommodations / The Chinese and foreign tourists / The massive size of the place and the numerous sights all around /

How long ? 1 or 2 days for the city sights plus one day in the surroundings


Where to stay ?

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

  • Blue Sky Hotel (623 9313) / 15mn walk on the west of the train station, on Huancheng Beilu Dongduan / Dbl 80 or 110 without or with bath / Trpl or quad 120 or 160 without bath / OK toilets / Common shower / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the convenient location, the clean and comfortable rooms, the reasonable rates for Xi'an, the view toward the wall... / What you may not like : not being able to pay for one bed only

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Sept 00)
 Dbl without bath costs 100Y. The rooms are definitely not clean and comfortable, at least ours wasn't - it was stinky, dirty and noisy, and the common showers could as well be called a swimming pool.

Backpacker's Tips : Carmen Arellano, Mexico (Sept 00)
 I stayed at the Blue Sky Hotel, very convenient, clean with telephone and all services for 50 yuans per night a single room. I lived the experienced of being the one and only foreigner in a Chinese hotel.

 

  • Shang De Hotel (742 6164) / Near the Train Station, opposite the Long Distance bus station, on Shang De Lu, passing the gate / Dorm not for foreigners / Grotty Dbl without bath in the basement 90Y / One brighter Dbl on second floor 90Y / Dbl with bath 138Y / OK toilet / Good bath in another room / HW 24 hrs / Bike 10Y par day or 1.5Y per hour // Go there for its very central and convenient location, for negotiating a discount, for the English of some staff... / What you may not like : the basement's cells, the noise from the street if you are not in the cells, the not so clean rooms

  • Flats of Renmin Hotel (029 624 0349), 9 Fenghe Lu, about 4km on the west of the train station, Bus No9 from Train Station / Old Bldg : Dorm 25 or 40 in 5 or 3 beds' rooms, Dbl with bath 110 / New Bldg : Dorm 45 in 3 bed's rooms, Dbl with bath 160 / Ok toilet & shower / HW 24 hrs / Bike 10Y per day / Internet 20Y per hour // Go there for the cheapest beds in town, the clean and comfortable rooms in the new bldg, the free breakfast included in all the prices, the free transportation from the train station if you reserve, the proximity of western restaurants, the relatively quiet location, the English of some staff,... / What you may not like : being stuck with most of the travelers outside the city, the old and a bit damp rooms in the old bldg, the sleeping staff that you might not want to disturb too much...

  • Petroleum Hotel (823 7381 ext 3300) / 5km south of the South Gate, Bus 706 from Train / Dbl with bath 60 / Better Dbl or Trpl 120 or 150 / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the cheapest Dbl with bath in town / What you may not like : being completely outside the city in a relatively unpleasant environment, coming all the way to be told they are full (call before starting your expedition south)

  • Victory Hotel (7855 040), south of Heping Gate / Sgl or Dbl with bath 130 & 160 / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the relatively good location near the South wall, the clean rooms,... / What you may not like : the tiny rooms and bathrooms

 
Blue Sky Hotel lantian binguan

Shang De Hotel

shang de

Flats of Renmin Hotel

renmin dasha gongyu

Petroleum Hotel

shiyou binguan

Victory Hotel

shengli fandian


Internet ?
  

  • China Telecom, opposite the main post office, on the west of Bell Tower : 18Y per hour or 10Y per 30mn, 9 to 22 daily, 15 computers

  • Internet site, south of the South Gate, No76 North ChangAn Rd, near Little Goose Pagoda : 16Y per hour or 8Y per 30mn, 12 computers. The staff is a bit confused by the price so it might be possible to negotiate it down.


What to see/visit ?

  • Shaanxi History Museum : (4), Y25 or Y30 (Y12 students) / One of the best museum of China / Foreigners are supposed to go through a separate entrance via a souvenir shop and pay this privilege an extra 5Y. In practice, you might be able to buy your ticket with the Chinese crowd...

  • Big Goose Pagoda : (3), Y10 plus Y15 to go up, Exp / Do not bother to go inside but instead cycle around. Nearby is the Tang Dynasty Arts Museum (Y5) and two gardens (Y2/3)

  • Little Goose Pagoda : (4), Y5 plus Y10 to go up / The pagoda has been shaken up by an earthquake but the surrounding garden and Jianfy Temple are peaceful enough once the tourists have been replaced by Tai Chi practitioners. The 8000 kg bell made in 1152 AD is unfortunately locked in a building (look from the window)

  • Da Xingshan Temple : (3), Y8 (3 students), Exp / Could be nice once the buildings are repaired and the temple' doors unlocked...

  • Forest of Steles Museum : (4), Y20

  • Great Mosque & Muslim area : (5), Y12 / A favorite with travelers ! Go to the mosque via the Drum tower and follow the souvenirs shops up to the entrance. Set up in 742AD during Tang Dynasty. Restored and widened in Song, Yuan, Ming & Qing Dynasties. The complex cover 13,000 m2. As with all the Mosque, can not go inside the praying hall but can go toward the toilets to see more carvings...


The Army of Terracotta warriors
: (5), Y65 (35 students), Bus 306 or 307 from Train Station (Y5.5, 1 hour, every 10mn).

This is the reason of the tourist invasion of Xi'an : to get a glance at what as been quoted the 8th wonder of the world, the largest archeological site museum in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987 and the pride of a whole country : the 2000 years old life-size terracotta soldier and horses...

Whether or not you will be moved by what you see is subject to question (most people are) as the three vaults are only visible from an elevated circular path and a lot of figures are covered by plastic or out of reach : you certainly do not see the 6000 figures advertised... The tourist crowd also do not help to feel the history leap (the best time to visit is at opening at 8:30 but it is also a bit more quiet at noon or in the afternoon). It is in theory forbidden to take photos (you see signs everywhere) but the Chinese tourists do not seem to care so why should you ?

On the second floor of the second vault are some display of a few of the 40,000 or so pieces of bronze weapons that have been excavated.

But maybe the best exhibit are the two superb bronze chariots and horses made of over 3000 parts each. They were respectively broken to 1338 and 1555 multi-fragmented pieces when discovered in 1980 so you may get an idea of what kind of puzzle your money is helping to create...

The 360 degree cinema is an entertaining way to get some historical facts about the site (shows are alternatively in English or Chinese) but the tactile computers (in English or Chinese) found in vault no1 and at the chariots display are definitively the best way to learn and be amazed...

All together and considering that you need a good three hours to peacefully walk around (you won't usually be allowed so much time if on a tour as they may stop in other places before), the entry price is not that ludicrous.


Bus Schedules :

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Huashan 12 ordi 3 6:30 to 16:30 ++ hour
Luoyang 42 sleep 10 6:30 1 na
Zhengzhou 58 sleep 13 18:00 1 na
Lanzhou 105 sleep 13 13:30 1 na
Guyuan 60 sleep 15 12:30 1 na
Yinchuan 110 sleep 15 12:30/18 2 na

Notes : West Station for Xiangfan (Hubei) or Zhouzhi & Huxian near Xi'an / Minibus to Huashan from 7 to 19 every 40mn (Y20, 2h15) from east of Train Station / There is no bus to Zhongwei.

Trains  << Click there


The trip to Huashan :
Minibus / SS / L&R / Y20 / 3h30

Minibus from the east of the trains station were supposed to do the trip from 7am to 19pm every 40mn in a light speed 2 hours and 15 minutes for a big 20Y. Well, forget the theory ! And the schedules...  Our bus started only when packed and it stopped at every imaginable corner to find new passengers. That involved regularly leaving the fast highway for badly slow and bumpy roads. Some passengers were starting to get a bit nervous as it was obvious that the driver was not offering them the deal they had paid for. The police was apparently not so pleased with the bus itinerary also and this delayed us for another 15mn. All together, we reached destination more than 4 hours after I arrived at the station... The big bus from the bus station might therefore be a better deal : they are less likely to change road as they already take the slowest and cheapest one. No surprise and a big saving of 8Y... But if this is also too much adventure, the train remains the fastest and safest option (No318 at 8:27 or No202 at 9:42 for 20Y)

The trip to Zhongwei :  Trains / Night & SSS / Y99 / 8 hours

It was easy to buy the ticket but I could only do it a few hours before departure as the trains going through Zhongwei were not leaving from Xi'an. Ours was from Shanghai, quite a long way, so it was not really a surprised that it  arrived 1h30 late. This gave us the opportunity to watch more scenery and it was quite worth it...

See also the Trip from Lanzhou to Xi'an...