An intoxicating fusion of culture, history and cuisine, your tailor made holiday in Xian provides the perfect chance to uncover and experience China’s ancient and intriguing past.
Located in the south central region of Shaanxi Province, historic Xian once marked the end of the Silk Road and has been called the birthplace of Chinese civilisation. The oldest of China’s four great capitals (the others are Luoyan, Nanjing and Beijing), Xian has served as the capital of no less than 13 Chinese dynasties over an illustrious 1,100 year period dating back to 221 BC.
Awe-inspiring holidays in Xian bring ancient Chinese culture to life
Xian’s rich history can be seen throughout its labyrinthine streets. The city is framed by its imposing walls, which remain intact after thousands of years and make a great vantage point for spectacular views by day or at sunset.
In the Muslim Quarter, tree-lined lanes are home to a myriad of market stalls, often run by members of the Hui community. Take an afternoon to browse the many shops, pausing for breath at the nearby Grand Mosque.
Practice your chopstick skills: Xian is known as much for its food as for its history, and if you are hoping to sample some traditional Chinese dishes then you won’t be disappointed. The smell of fragrant spices fills the air around the Muslim Quarter, as street food vendors sizzle and stew a variety of meats, noodles and dumplings, which are then served steaming hot.
Your bespoke holiday to Xian is incomplete without a visit to the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, better known as the Terracotta Warriors. This UNESCO World Heritage site was unearthed in 1974 and arise located 22 miles north-east of Xian. Around 8,000 soldiers, each one unique and intricately carved, stand guard at the tomb of Emperor Qinshihuan.
While there is plenty to do in the city, Xian serves as an ideal base for exploring Mount Huashan; one of five sacred Taoist mountains in China and situated a two hours drive away. Why not take a day trip here on a shorter 30 minute high-speed train journey? Mount Huashan is an amazing place to immerse yourself in the ancient culture and take in spectacular natural views.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda China
The ancient city of Xi’an has seen the rise and fall of many Chinese Dynasties and it is this wealth of history that draws visitors to this fascinating city to this day. From the famous Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda there is plenty to see and do in Xi’an.
Take a bicycle tour of the City Wall – the most complete city wall to survive in China, visit the Great Mosque – one of the oldest, largest and best preserved Islamic mosques in China, stop at the Yangling Mausoleum – the joint tomb of Liu Qi, the fourth Emperor of the Western Han Dynasty and his Empress Wang, or spend some time at the picturesque Huaging Hot Spring.
Considering the city’s rich history, it is no surprise that Xi’an is home to an array of museums. The Banpo museum, built on the Banpo excavation site portrays a typical Neolithic matriarchal community with two exhibition halls displaying the unearthed relics. The Shaanxi History Museum showcases the fascinating history of the region. The Beilin Museum, initially founded in the 2nd year of the Yuanyou Dynasty, has an impressive collection of stone tablets showcasing the changing calligraphy styles over the changing Chinese dynasties.
No visit to Xi’an would be complete without seeing the Tang Dynasty show – a performance of Changan music and dance which originated over a thousand years ago in the Chinas Tang Dynasty.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Located in the heart of the Da Ci’en Temple complex, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda was originally constructed during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty in 652. The pagoda was built for eminent monk Xuan Zang to house the Buddhist sutras and relics which he collected on his 17 year journey across India. The well preserved Big Wild Goose Pagoda still contains many Buddhist relics and is considered a holy place for Buddhists. Why not visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda on our full day tour?
Terra Cotta Warriors
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are one of the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century and work continues on this site to this day. Built as the funeral project for China’s first emperor, Qin Shi huang, explore the life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations and dressed in their ceremonial garb. Over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from the site, most of which have been restored to their former grandeur.
Shaanxi History Museum
Also known as the Provincial History Museum, the Shaanxi is China’s first large scale modern nation museum. The Shaanxi Province is known as the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilization and Xi’an has been the capital city in 13 dynasties which lasted over 1100 years. Consequently, the ancient history of Shaanxi is to some degree the ancient history of China. The museum is home to more than 1,700,000 cultural relics and the permanent exhibition includes three halls displaying artefacts from 115,000 years ago to 1840, offering a unique insight into the history and lifestyle of ancient cultures. Why not experience the Shaanxi History Museum on our private half day tour?
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“For the best views of Xian, take a leisurely stroll around the ancient city walls - or if you’re feeling more adventurous - hire a bike and cycle around.”
“Xian at night is magical. Locals and tourists flock to the North Square to watch a mesmerising music and light show at the fountain beneath the square’s pagoda. The Bell Tower and Wild Goose Pagoda are also spectacularly lit at night, making them a must-see during your holiday in Xian”
Rou Jia Mo (Shaanxi Sandwich)
Rou Jia Mo is a street food staple that originated in Shaanxi. Today you’ll find it eaten all over China. The Chinese equivalent to a hamburger and bursting with flavour, pork is minced, stewed and seasoned with spices before being stuffed into a flatbread. It’s deliciously moreish.
Yangrou Paomo (Crumbled flatbread and mutton stew)
Yangrou Paomo is a Shaanxi speciality that sees chunks of steamed leavened bread swimming in a fragrant lamb soup, and is usually eaten with pickled garlic or chilli sauce. Legend has it that Yangrou Paomo was created by the founder of the Song Dynasty, so it’s steeped in history as well as flavour.
Liang Pi (cold noodles)
There are many variations of Liang Pi, a local cold-noodle dish. Ask for this during your Xian holiday and you’ll usually be served stretchy, wheat flour noodles in a tangy, spicy sauce - with a handful of vegetables and herbs thrown in for good measure.
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