The Best Food Tours in Xi'an, China
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 and delicious food tours in or near the area to help you taste the best the city has to offer.
Immerse yourself in the culture, history and, most importantly, the food of Xi'an on this tour that puts diving into local street snacks front and center. But not just any street snacks. You'll be getting a firsthand experience of what locals love, and the stalls you'll be stopping at aren't likely be found in the pages of your guidebook. What you encounter as you wind your way through the colorful back alleys of Xi'an's food-filled Muslim Quarter will be a tasty, unique, and fun trip through foodie heaven. You'll work your way through the tangle of stalls cooking up some of the best street food in the city. In the process, you'll learn about and taste specialties from five stalls that locals love. The stalls you end up at are normally hard to find, tucked away in the backstreets of the Muslim Quarter, so you know you'll be getting a truly local experience with every bite. Amidst all the snacking, go back in time with a stop at Gau's Grand Courtyard, which in the evening is decorated with traditional red Chinese lanterns. The 400-year-old mansion is a good example of architecture from both the Ming and Qing Dynasties and provides a good overview of the history of the time. Once you have your fill, it's time for a drink near the city walls along Defuxiang bar street, which, as the name suggests, is lined with bars. While not long, the street offers a peek into the local nightlife of Xi'an and you can feel free to either stay out, or make your way back to your hotel after a busy day of exploring and eating.
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Depart from your centrally located hotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and arrive at the elegant venue to begin your cultural experience. Take a seat in the banquet hall and feast your senses on an array of 20 dumpling varieties; relish the flavors of the steamed specialty stuffed with seafood, minced meat and fresh vegetables. After your gastronomic prelude, sit back and prepare your eyes for the extravagance and charisma of the Tang Dynasty Show; watch talented dancers and singers perform in vibrant costumes that have graced the region for centuries. After the show comes to its compelling conclusion, return to your hotel in your comfortable vehicle after a highly memorable evening.
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Take this 3-hour walking tour of Xi'an at night to explore the food cultures of China's central city, and taste local delicacies, such as steamed dumplings, bingfeng, and peanut candy. Start at the brick and timber Bell Tower, Xi'an's most iconic monument, and one of the grandest towers of its kind in China. Continue to Fanji Restaurant and start your food tour proper at a 100-year-old restaurant, popular for its delicious rou jia mo- baked pancake stuffed with minced pork. See the lights of Drum Tower as you stroll onto Muslim Street, center of a large Chinese-Muslim community. Here, you will be welcomed by a mix of food aromas. Try some plum juice, while you watch locals make walnut and peanut candy. Jia San Restaurant is your next stop, where you can enjoy guantang baozi- a type of dumpling in rich soup. Move on to the best vendors for barbecued lamb, beef, or fish, paired with bingfeng, a local soda that tastes like orange juice. Head back down Muslim Street for a mouthwatering dessert of persimmon pancake, to complete your Xi'an foodie forage.
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Greet your gastronomic guide at a central location beside the Bell Tower in Xi'an and embark on your culinary tour of the city's vibrant downtown district. Listen as your guide offers intriguing insight into the town's rich history and then take a seat at your first eatery, Fanji Restaurant. Sample the restaurants specialty, rou jia mo, succulent grilled bread stuffed with minced pork, and sip a refreshing rice wine before wandering past the Drum Tower to Muslim Street, an enclave famed for its cosmopolitan community of Chinese Muslims. Enjoy the colorful sights and enticing aromas of street food stalls and sip a bottle of sweet plum juice as you watch candies being made. Next, head to Jia San Restaurant to pleasure your palate with guantang baozi, steamed buns bursting with flavorful gravy. Savor the flavor of succulent barbecue at another street stall and wash it down with a palate cleansing drink of bingfeng, similar to orange soda. Devour shredded pancaked and sesame fillets at another esteemed eatery and then return to Muslim Street to conclude your tour with a delectable persimmon pancake. After 3 hours of feasting, bid your guide and group farewell at a central Xi'an location and make your own way back to your accommodation.
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Your local guide will pick you up and you'll make your way over to the ever popular morning food market to buy the freshest local ingredients needed for your cooking lesson. Food markets can be a daunting place when you don't speak the language or even recognize some of the food on offer, but now you've got an expert guide to lead the way and introduce you to some of the delicious staples of Chinese cooking. You will then drive to the home of a very friendly local family that will show you how to cook a traditional Chinese lunch. The menu will consist of two classic Chinese dishes of your choice. Your session will also include a lesson in dumpling wrapping and noodle making, which will come in very handy when showing off your new chef skills to friends back home. After helping your hosts with the meal and learning some of the basics of Chinese cooking, sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is a great opportunity to talk to local people about everyday life in Xi'an. After lunch, bid farewell to your new friends and head over to one of China's most famous and important archaeological sites; the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors. Built over 2,000 years ago to guard the first Chinese emperor in the afterlife, the 8,000 soldiers and horses have been painstakingly sculpted and, remarkably, it is said that no two soldiers' faces are the same. Your guide will introduce you to the story behind the Warriors and their place in the story of the Quin Dynasty. You'll also make a stop at the museum, which offers some fascinating examples of what the Warriors would have looked like when they were first completed all those centuries ago. After a memorable day of getting to know the 'real' China, you'll be dropped off back in Xi'an.
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