Cheap Tours and Activities in Xi'an (Terra Cotta Warriors, the Wall, and more)
Xi'an is a large city and capital of the Shaanxi Province in central China. Once known as Chang'an (Eternal Peace), it marks the Silk Road's eastern end and was home to the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties' ruling houses. At archaeological sites in Xi'an's surrounding plains are the famed Bingmayong (Terra Cotta Army), thousands of life-size, hand-molded figures buried with China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Xi'an is a melting pot of cultures and religions, and was home to not only emperors, but also courtesans, poets, monks, merchants and warriors, the glory days of Xi'an may have ended in the early 10th century, but a considerable amount of ancient Chang'an, the former city, survives behind the often roaring, modern city. Xi'an's Ming-era city walls remain intact, vendors of all descriptions still crowd the narrow lanes of the Muslim Quarter, and there are enough places of interest to keep even the most amateur historian riveted. Must-sees include the Army of Terracotta Warriors, the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, Xi'an City Walls and the Muslim Quarter, but try to set aside time for its pagodas and museums, plus a side trip to nearby Hua Shan. The ancient city of Xi'an is famous for its distinctive cuisine. Located on the starting point of the Silk Road, Xi'an has been influenced by Chinese and Islamic traders, as well as the local Shaanxi Province, so food lovers are spoiled for choice in Xi'an, with its dizzying array of local restaurants and street food. With so much to see, do, and taste, Xi'an is a great place to experience, and there are several options for exciting activities and tours in or near the area to help you make the most of your time here.
Depart from your Xi'an hotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and venture to the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of the Terracotta Army. Listen as your guide sets the historical scene and describes how 7,000 life-sized terracotta figures and horses were buried beside Emperor Qin Shihuang in his majestic mausoleum. Disembark and explore the site, marveling at the endless rows of figures. Browse the exhibitions of the museum to gain further insight into the intriguing history of the tomb. Revitalize with a traditional Chinese lunch in a local restaurant then head to the site of the Banpo ruins, an ancient area whose origin is more than 6,000 years old. Marvel at artifacts from a Neolithic matriarchal community and hear of how the ruins were discovered during a groundbreaking excavation. After your explorative tour, return to your comfortable vehicle and relax during the journey back to your Xi'an hotel, where the tour concludes.
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You'll set out in a vintage jeep for the famed Terracotta Warriors just outside of Xi'an to see the imposing UNESCO World Heritage site for yourself. Constructed for the first emperor of China to serve him in the afterlife, the life-sized army is estimated to be 8,000 strong. So far, around 2,000 figures have been excavated, of which no two are alike. They stand in three pits of varying sizes, the largest being nearly the size of three football fields. It's an awe-inspiring sight to say the least.
Next, you'll discover a truly local way of living with a trip to see some yaodong, cave dwellings found in the Loess Plateau, where the soil is sticky and porous, making it ideal for digging. The unique dwellings, usually built into a hillside, are still inhabited by many people today. You're likely to be hungry after all that sightseeing, so then you'll have lunch in the countryside at a local farmer's house where you'll get an inside look into daily life and customs in the area, and get a better sense of the more relaxed pace of life outside the city. Hopping back in the jeep, it's time for a drive to the top of Lishan Mountain, where you can get a bird's eye view of the Terracotta Warriors below, and you'll spend some time at Renzu temple, a place where locals have come to pray for their ancestors for more than 13,000 years. Then, you'll get on your mountain bike and cycle from the top of Lishan Mountain to the foot along beautiful mountain roads, passing epic scenery as you make your way down on two wheels.
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Extend your stay in Xi'an with a half-day tour of the city with a professional guide. As the region's capital and doorway to the Silk Road, Xi'an is one of the richest and most well-protected cities in China. Discover the amazing history of the walled city on this informative tour. Visit the renowned Shaanxi History Museum and learn about the area's rich culture and intriguing history, from the 2nd-century BC Emperor Qin Shihuang to today. Next, follow your expert guide to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Built in the Tang Dynasty, this iconic Buddhist temple is a symbol of the city, and features a seven-story square pyramid standing 210 feet high. Hear fascinating stories about the temple and learn about the important role it plays in the region's culture. If you have time at the end of the tour, take a stroll around Xi'an's famous pedestrian street and sample local snack foods before enjoying a comfortable drive back to your hotel.
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Take a step back in time on this unique adventure that gets you up close and personal with Xi'an's old city walls, the most complete ancient city wall in China. You'll start with a visit to City Wall Park where in the morning, locals dance, practice tai chi, and even sing Qin opera. Center your thoughts and learn more about the history and culture of Buddhism at Crouching Dragon Temple, or Wolong Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Shaanxi Province. You'll follow your morning of exploring with a culinary adventure through one of the biggest morning markets along the city wall. Watch food being prepared before your eyes from some of the best stalls in the market. The first meal of the day is a big deal in Xi'an and you'll get to experience it like a local, snacking on five specialties as you eat your way through the market. Then, you'll be ready to check out the old city wall. You'll start at the east gate, and once atop the wall there will be great photo ops of the city below. Walking the wall's perimeter is the best way to experience it, or, if two wheels is your preference, you can rent a bike. The 12-meter high wall is sometimes referred to as China's other Great Wall and was erected in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty. The whole way, whether you're stuffing your face with local delicacies or admiring the ancient wall, you'll be learning about the culture and history of Xi'an, all while having a blast.
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