Xi’An was the starting point of the Silk Road, and is famous for being home to the Terracotta Warriors. However it is important to know that the site of the Terracotta Soldiers are not IN Xi’an, it’s about an hour away.
And I opted to not visit this overcrowded site, since most of the soldiers are replicas.
There is much more to experience in Xi’an than just this historic site, and that’s what my goal was when I hit up this city in the central part of China.
I was lucky to have an American friend who worked as a teacher in Xi’an to give me a more local experience. Nobody speaks English here, and the version of Mandarin spoken is also slightly different from what I’ve learned in Shanghai. For the first time, it was difficult to find food to eat, or know where I was going. The streets are vast, and the city is spread out.
The best way to experience Xi’an is by walking or biking the city walls. It is the world’s largest city walls at 12 meters tall, and has been restored beautifully. You can even peer into some neighbourhoods and home when atop the walls, with exceptional city views at sunset. The current city wall in Xi’an was built by the Ming Dynasty, there’s even a reenactment show you can watch to learn the history as people here are very proud of this history.
Another popular feature about Xi’an is it’s Muslim Quarter, known for its delicious food. The street food is the best I’ve experineced in China – noodles, fried rice, dumpling, beer – 24 hours a day! From the night I landed till I left, I kept going back to the same street food market (in front of a popular nightclub) for dinner because the environment was inviting and entertaining.
As a city Xi’an is pretty calm and no expat friendly. It’s another big Chinese city, not much charm other than the history and the street food.