Xian China was the center of this vast country, before that coveted status was taken by Beijing. Xian, or Xi’an as it is sometimes spelled, was once the legendary start and end of the Silk Road, conjuring images of caravans drawn by camels, and of materials swirling with color and desert dust. Today, Xian China is a truly modern city and a popular destination for shopping, bars and nightlife. Due to its rich history, Xian attractions include some of the most important historic treasures of China, including the awe-inspiring First Emperor’s Terracotta Army.
Any Xian China tour will make much of the city’s history as a trading center, where poets, monks, and courtesans mixed with merchants and emperors to buy, sell, and be entertained. As the area changed hands, it has been the site of the capitals of a string of major dynasties. As Xian history reaches all the way back to the eleventh century BC and the Zhou dynasty, Xian attractions hail from all ages, with the ancient mixing with the modern. Xian museums are brimming with the nation’s treasures, including the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi and the jaw-dropping Terracotta Warriors, as well as the City Walls, which are both a historical marvel, and still very much a part of the bustling contemporary city. While Beijing attractions draw the most tourists every year, Xian is not far behind.
As a modern city, Xian has been contentious. While some of the contemporary buildings may not be aesthetically pleasing, a good Xian China tour, like all good tours of China, will take in both the old and the new. Xian attractions such as the Bell Tower, from which point the four biggest commercial streets begin, demonstrate this blending of the ancient and the modern. There is great diversity in the city, so visitors can sample the delights of Muslim cuisine in Moslem Street, as well as the Great Mosque, before visiting the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the Buddhist temple, or wander around the Tang culture theme park, named Tang Paradise. Thankfully, after your day is over, there are a good selection of Xian hotels to choose from, in which to rest your feet and recuperate.
Xian China is a great jumping off point to visit the surrounding Shaanxi province, which is full of archaeological sights. A Xian China tour will probably offer some sort of excursion outside of the city, either to visit these ancient sites, or take in some modern history at the caves in Yianan, which served as the base for the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s. Along with the Yungang Grotto, near the city of Dutang, te Yianan caves is one of several world-famous cave clusters in China.
A typical Xian China tour would head to the city from Beijing. You can take a deluxe train from Beijing West to Xian that takes roughly eleven and a half hours, and runs overnight so you can get a good night’s sleep before taking in all the Xian attractions. The city’s Xianyang Airport is one of the most well serviced in the country, and you can fly to nearly all of the main destinations in China from here, and there also some international flights, for example to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Japan. If you’re looking for flights to China, you would be well advised to arrive in Xian as your starting point.
Top image: capelle79 (flickr)