Why Is This Place so Great?
If you’re looking to visit a city for its historical purposes, Xi’an should definitely be on your list. Known as the most ancient city in China, travelers should be prepared to see the changes between Chinese imperial times, for Xi’an was once home to emperors for over a thousand years throughout the Qin, Han, Tang, and Ming dynasties. This city was also the Eastern terminus of the Silk Road, which was in use for international trade from 130 BC to 1453 AD; thus, Xi’an became a melting pot of cultures and religion that has been retained to this day. Just north of the city center, you’ll be able to find a vast Muslim community with its streets lined with stalls selling mostly authentic food, but you’ll also find some souvenirs too.
Where Should I Stay?
For Luxury Choose: Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square
Photo of the Hotel’s Superior Room. Courtesy of Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square
There are numerous hotels in Xi’an that would fit the Luxury category, but we chose Sofitel on Renmin Square based on its amazing location. Positioned within the heart of the walled city, this hotel is within walking distance of many landmarks including the infamous Bell Tower, Drum Tower, and Muslim Quarter. With the hotel set in vast lush gardens, you can also be sure to have a great night’s rest away from the noise that can come from a city hotel.
For Lifestyle Choose: Angsana Xi’an Lintong
Photo of the hotel’s Royal Room (Standard Category). Courtesy of Angsana Xi’an Lintong
This Banyan Tree Group hotel may be a little bit outside of the city center, but it’s just a 15-minute drive away from seeing the Terracotta Warriors. Lifestyle travelers will love this hotel for its vast and unique wellness options – amongst its wellbeing amenities are 25 different hot spring pools! Each of these pools is themed with different herbal ingredients to maximize on the experience (including a milk and lavender infused pool that we’re sure you’ll love). Guests can also partake in the hot springs in their rooms too since every room is equipped with a bathtub that has access to the water used to replenish their hot spring pools.
For Boutique Choose: Time Tunnel Designer Hotel
Photo of the Hotel’s Premium King Room. Courtesy of Time Tunnel Designer Hotel.
Mr. Rao Baohua designed the Time Tunnel Designer Hotel in a fashion that embraces the building’s former purpose of being a warehouse. The hotel is located in the art district of Xi’an called Ba Qiao, approximately a 20-minute drive away from the city center. This region is comparable to the 798 Art Zone in Beijing containing numerous galleries and ateliers. Amongst their amenities, all 32 rooms are equipped with bathtubs, rain showers, and a complimentary mini-bar. For guest entertainment, the hotel also has a game room with KTV, pool table, and darts available in their public spaces.
What Should I do?
For Luxury: Archaeological & Guided Tour of Han Yangling Museum
Photo of the Excursion. Courtesy of Viator
This new excursion on Viator allows people to get a hands-on approach to archaeological study. Whilst on this tour, you will see the famous tomb of the fourth emperor of the Han Dynasty, what this emperor envisioned for China, and use professional archaeological digging tools to discover more of what this 2100-year-old museum holds. We highly suggest guests visit this museum prior to visiting Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors. If you’re interested in this activity, book here.
For Lifestyle: Ride Bikes or Hike the Xi’an City Wall
One of the best ways to see Xi’an is by visiting the city walls – the oldest walls to be constructed in all of China, dating back to the 14th century. Although there was once a time when all cities in China were walled, most of them have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Despite this, these walls were untouched during that time of conflict, and have been restored on numerous occasions over the centuries to keep its cultural heritage. The wall spans approximately 8.5 miles long and can be hiked or seen by bike for a small fee.
For Boutique: Visit the TangBo Art Museum and Learn Calligraphy
Take a free guided tour (available in English and Chinese) of the Tangbo Art Museum to learn more about the beauty of Chinese art ranging from carvings, bamboo canvases, and propaganda work during the Cultural Revolution. There will even be a lesson in the art of Chinese Calligraphy. Kindly note that despite the free guide, there is an entrance fee for travelers no longer attending school.
Where Should I Eat?
For Luxury: Shang Palace at the Shangri La Golden Flower Xian
Photo of the restaurant. Courtesy of Shangri La Golden Flower Xian
While many of Xian’s luxury hotels feature some great eateries, we recommend Shang Palace because they serve an assortment of authentic Cantonese, Sichuan, and Shaan Xi local specialties with a contemporary twist. While there are many classic favorites such as char siu (honey-barbecued pork) on the menu, one must order the noodles handmade from scratch by the restaurant’s noodle master.
For Lifestyle: Tian Long Bao Yan Vegetarian Restaurant
This vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant should definitely be your top pick if you follow these dietary requirements. English is not spoken by the staff, but the menu has English translations that will get you by. Those who are just looking for a lighter, but incredibly tasty meal, will enjoy this establishment as well!
For Boutique: Snacking along the Muslim Quarter
If you’re visiting Xi’an, a trip to the Muslim Quarters must be on your list. This street is all about the food! Experience everything from hand-pulled noodles, stews, kebabs, and a selection of sweets down these streets. There’s a ton of food to try, so remember to take a break and check out some souvenir shops (don’t forget to bargain!).