Xi’an is situated on the Wei River Valley, the cradle of ancient Chinese civilization. It marked the start of the famous ‘Silk Road’ that linked China with central Asia and the Roman Empire. And it served as the first capital of a unified China and the capital of 13 dynasties periodically from the 11th century B.C. to the early 10th century A.D. In ancient times, this capital city was knows as Chang’An – the city of “everlasting peace”.
Xian is one of the world’s four famous ancient capitals of civilization and one of the birthplaces of the Chinese civilization, having a history of more than 1 million years. It served as the imperial capital for 13 Chinese dynasties, including Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Xin, Eastern Han, Western Jin, Former Zhao, Former Qin, Later Qin, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui and Tang. Xian got its name, city layout and characteristics during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). As the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, Xian contributed a lot to the regions and countries along the road for the transmission of civilization, foreign trade and exchanges in ancient China.
Attractions: With numerous cultural relics, the city is regarded as the ‘Natural History Museum’ due to the condensation of its long history. Within the city, there are many attractions that visitors can easily reach and explore, such as the City Wall, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Muslim Quarter, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi History Museum and Tang Paradise. At night, North Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Tang Paradise and Da Tang Bu Ye Cheng (Great Tang All Day Mall) are best choices. In the east, there are Banpo Museum, Terracotta Warriors known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Huaqing Hot Springs, Mt. Lishan and Mt. Huashan. In the west, there are many attractions that also claim the attention of the tourists, including Famen Temple, Qianling Mausoleum, Great Buddha Temple, Taibai Mountain and Taiping National Forest Park.
Dining and Shopping
Xian is blessed with many local snacks, among which the most famous ones are Liang Pi (Cold Rice Noodles), Rou Jia Mo (Meat Burger), Guan Tang Bao Zi (Dumpling Stuffed with Hot Gravy), Rou Wan Zi Hu La Tang (Vegetable Stew with Lamb/Beef Ball), Jing Gao (Steamed Glutinous Rice), Dumpling Banquets, etc. There is a Moslem Street beside the Drum Tower in Central Xian, where most of the local snacks can be found.
Centering on the Bell Tower, there are 4 main avenues stretching in all directions, on which there are many big shopping centers, department stores and supermarkets, such as Kai Yuan Shopping Mall in Dong Dajie and Century Ginwa Shopping Mall opposite to it. Supermarkets are numerous in Xian. Besides this, there are pedestrian streets in Xiao Zhai, Luo Ma Shi, Fen Xiang and De Fu Xiang.
Air: Xian Xianyang International Airport is 47 km (29.2 miles) northwest from the city. It provides over 400 scheduled flights to 70 cities of China and abroad every day.
Train: Xian Railway Station is the largest railway terminal in west China, connecting Longhai, Xikang, Ningxi, Baoxi, Houxi, Xiantong and Xihu railway lines. The city is also the only access for trains running to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing. The North Railway Station began operating in 2011 and is presently the biggest railway station in China, as well as in Asia.
Xian Subway: Subway line 2 has been in operation since Sep. 16, 2011. Subway line 1 is planned to be finished in 2013. Subway line 3, 4, 5, 6 and a single-track light rail for sightseeing in Qujiang New District are also in the planning stage.
Taxi: Taxis in the city are in green or blue with a sign ‘Taxi’ on the bottom. The minimum charge is CNY6, but only for the first 2 km (1.2 miles). You have to pay an extra CNY1.5 per km (0.6 miles) for additional distance and CNY1 for fuel surcharge.
Bus: There are mainly 6 Long-distance Bus Stations in the city both to cities within Shaanxi and some cities of neighboring provinces. There are about 350 bus lines in the city, including 14 newly added lines serving the International Horticultural Exposition. Most of the buses charge CNY1 or CNY2 (air-conditioned) per person for the whole way. Only a few mini-buses sell tickets by distance.
Weather: Basically, there is no distinctive spring in the city, and the rainy season usually falls in July, August and September. So, the best time for a visit is in April, May, June, September and October.