A Weekend in Xi’an, China
Today we welcome Sarah Bennett of The Further Adventures of Bennett. Sarah takes us for a weekend in Xi’an, China sharing where to go, what to see, and food to eat. Sarah visited Xi’an while living in China for two years. Let’s join Sarah for a tour of a weekend in Xi’an, China!
Think of Xi’an and you’ll be thinking of the Terracotta Warriors. I get it, so did I. But they’re actually a bit of the way outside of the city itself. What could I actually do in the city though? What could you do once you’ve hit that all important sight? I’ll show you what you can do with a weekend in Xi’an, China.
There are many other things to see in this ancient Chinese city that I had never even heard of. What’s so easy about getting around Xi’an is that things are either inside the city walls or outside of them – there is the Bell Tower in the centre of the walled part, so it’s pretty simple to get around.
Better still, I was lucky enough to have a friend to show me round and introduce me to all the hidden treasures.
The Muslim Quarter
This is situated behind the Drum Tower. The Bell Tower obviously has bells and the Drum Tower, drums. There are many streets that wind their way behind the Drum Tower, all offering you shopping time, local food or just to wander and soak up the atmosphere of everyone going about their daily business. It’s an explosion on the senses with the sights, sounds and smells of the different streets. Wander deeper into the quarter and you’ll also find the Great Mosque.
A massive part of the Muslim Quarter, but also all over Xi’an, where many different snacks are available to try, sweet or savoury. My favourite is liangpi, a local cold, spicy noodle (centre top picture). Something I also tried for the first time was yang rou pao mo – first you tear the bread up (bottom left picture), then they add the meat and the soup (centre bottom picture). I have no idea why you have to tear the bread up, but it was delicious so I can’t really complain! Top left you have a breakfast soup. It was a bit like yang rou pao mo. However, it wasn’t a liquid soup, more like a gloop, but edible and tasty none the less. You have baked seafood balls with onion shavings and mayonnaise (top right) which were a good little snack whilst we were doing a lot of walking. For some sweet things, try the dates (centre left), date cake, (centre right) or the jam covered rice thing. Yes, I truly do not know what it was apart from delicious!
As you can tell, I really, really enjoy food!
Cycle the City Walls
Renting a bike is a great way to see Xi’an from the top of the city walls. Not only is the ride a complete lap (13.7km), you also get to see everything from a different viewpoint. Old Xi’an is full of interesting rooftops and house adornments. Go on and explore as many of them as possible by renting a bike and getting some exercise at the same time.
This is just inside the South Gate of Xi’an. All along the street you can see fantastic souvenirs for Chinese calligraphy, from brushes to paintings and even music instruments. You can also get your own name stamp made. Many Chinese have these to sign off important documents. The characters are the traditional Chinese characters, instead of the simplified ones. If you are a man you will have a carved dragon on the top, while women will get a phoenix. This is my Chinese name bai xue, which means Snow White, because in China I was really tall compared to all my friends!
The Big Goose Pagoda
One of the main sights in the city, outside the city walls is the Big Goose Pagoda. It was built in 648 in honour of a dead queen. It is big, with many steps if you are feeling adventurous. Since Xi’an can sometimes be smoggy, you won’t always get the best view from the top.
The Big Goose Pagoda Fountains
These are a “fountains-to-music” show in the grounds surrounding the Big Goose Pagoda. A little surprising, they dance before your eyes to sounds of classical giants. Watch out for the very tall fountain at the end of the plaza which goes incredibly high.There are generally 2 shows daily, 12pm and either 8:30pm or 9pm depending on the day and the season. From November to January there are no shows, except during Spring Festival, Chinese New Year.
All in all there are plenty of interesting places to explore in the centre of Xi’an during a weekend visit and be able to soak up the magic of an ancient Chinese city.
Have you ever visited Xi’an?
All photography provided by The Further Adventures of Bennett.