Day 1: Drum Tower, Bell Tower, Muslim Street
Highlights: Explore your local area and see the Drum Tower and the Bell tower during the day. Eat your heart out at Muslim Street at night.
Xi’an is a relatively small city when compared to the likes of Beijing, so you should be able to walk everywhere in the inner city within half an hour or so.
We arrived from Beijing around Midday, so we got to the hotel early in the afternoon. After settling down, we took an approximately 30min stroll to reach the Bell Tower. The Bell Tower in Xi’an is the largest in China and has a lot of architectural and artistic importance. Also explore the Drum Tower nearby and the city centre. There was a drum inside the Drum Tower (hence the name) which would be used to tell the time in the afternoon.
In the evening, after exploring the surrounding Drum Tower and Bell Tower, grab a bite to eat at Muslim Street. So what’s the deal with Muslim Street? Xi’an was the starting point of the ancient Silk Road a millenia ago, and merchants from Arabic countries and Persia who did business in China settled down in what is now known as Muslim Street. Nowadays, Muslim Street is a street filled to the brim with street food! Here are our top must-try snacks found on Muslim Street:
- Lamb skewers
- Sugar cane juice
- Roujiamo (a bun stuffed with marinated lamb or beef)
- Yangrou Paomo (pita bread soaked in lamb soup)
- Cold noodles
- Plum juice
- Xi’an pot yoghurt
Tip: it’s super crowded, watch your belongings!
Day 2: Terracotta Warrior Museum, Xi’an City Wall, Tang Dynasty Show
Highlights: Head out to the Terracotta Warrior Museum to see the army of terracotta warriors. Walk along the Xi’an City Wall. Later in the evening, enjoy a dumpling banquet and watch a Tang Dynasty dance and music performance
First thing of the day is to head out to the Terracotta Warrior Museum. The terracotta warrior army was created to accompany and protect the first emperor of an united China in his afterlife. Emperor Qin also built his army as a show of his power and influence. This army of soldiers is one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. In total there are 3 pits of excavated terracotta soldiers that you can visit, with pit 1 having the most soldiers unearthed.
In the afternoon, climb up the Xi’an city walls. These city walls are likely the first thing you would’ve noticed about Xi’an - that it is a walled city and the walls separates the inner from the outer city. Fun fact - buildings inside the walls are only allowed up to a certain height, which means all apartment buildings must be outside of it! Being a walled city, the gates (north, south, east and west) were once historically important strategic points. On the wall, take a stroll around to see the views and the moat surrounding the wall or rent a bike!
At night, head over to see the Tang Dynasty Show (http://xiantangdynastyshow.com/). This is a performance which showcases the music, art and dance that was so prevalent in the Tang Dynasty and is a very popular show for people visiting Xi’an. The show does not have any dialogue, and instead conveys meaning through song and dance. The show may also change depending on when you go - for us it was The Empress of the Great Tang, about Empress Wu and her rise to power.
At the same location, there is also a dumpling banquet. You can experience this before your Tang Dynasty Show. A common schedule is to have the dumpling banquet before the show at around 6pm, and then go to the show at 6:50pm. The dumpling banquet has 20 types of dumplings, such as soup dumplings, fried, sweet and of course savoury!
This marks the end of the 2 days in Xi’an! Have you been to any of these places? Do you recommend anywhere else to explore in Xi’an?