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Things to do in Xian China

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    Things to do in Xian China

    i have a few days in Xian in April, before I start a tour of Western China. Apart from the Terra-cotta. Warriors, Muslim Quarter, the City Wall and temples, are there any other places of interest people can recommend?

    Dumplings, unless you're gluten-free. The city is in the wheat-growing area of China, and it's famous for dumplings in amazing variety. I have been to China only for 2 weeks, 10 years ago, but I still crave the dumplings I tasted there.

    Also, in nearly any city, I think (and this is helped by jet-lag schedule, if you'll perhaps have some of that) it's fun to get up and see what's happening early in the morning; you might find people dancing to classical music, doing tai chi, biking around with bizarre-to-Western-eyes bike-loads of whatever, opening up the local business day, etc. That's what I found in Xian when I was there.


      Let me second the recommendation of dumplings! Xi'an is famous for them, and there are a number of restaurants that will do a 'dumpling banquet' of perhaps twenty different types. The fanciest (and most expensive) dumpling restaurant is De Fa Chang--your hotel may have a discount coupon for them. By Chinese standards it is pricey, but you will never have better dumplings, ever! Another unique local dish is called yangrou paomo. It's a mutton soup where you are given a bowl and a disk of flatbread, and your waiter will pantomime that you are supposed to tear it up into the bowl. If you don't tear it finely enough, she'll come back and instruct you, so tear it right the first time, into shreds the consistency of cooked rice. Then your bowl is whisked away and filled with a mutton broth with veggies and a bit of meat, and sometimes homemade noodles. Yum!!!

      You've already listed the main tourist attractions in Xi'an, but they will take up most of your time in town. The old city walls are the best preserved in China, and maybe the world. They're huge, wide and extensive, and give you a perspective on how large the ancient capital of Chang-an really was. You can rent a bike and peddle your way along, or you can walk. It will take you about four or five hours at a sensible clip to walk the whole extent of the walls.

      In the center of town are the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, which have been restored on the outside, but aren't worth the hassle of visiting from the inside, in my opinion. The Big Goose Temple, a massive pagoda, is not to be missed, and you'll see pictures of it all over town, as it is the symbol of Xi'an. Little Goose Temple is another pagoda, which lost its top in an earthquake centuries ago, and is worth a visit. The grounds there are particularly nice, as I recall. The Confucian Temple is more subdued in its décor than typical Buddhist-Taoist temples, but it does have some beautiful ancient sculptures of mythical animals. And to see a more typical Buddhist-Taoist temple in all of its multi-colored riotous splendor, check out the Temple of Eight Immortals, but be respectful of worshippers there, because it's still a neighborhood worship center.

      You could spend days wandering in the old Muslim Quarter, and the shops selling prayer rugs and such are a unique aspect of the quarter. If you like lamb and mutton, there are lots of great little street stands as well as sit-down restaurants. The Great Mosque is surrounded by beautiful grounds and looks to our Western eyes like a Chinese temple, but look closely and you'll see the Arabic influence. Only Muslims can go inside, but even if you can't, it's worth visiting.

      There are several museums in Xi'an, but the main one is the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which has lots of artifacts from the Qin period as well the much later Tang Dynasty, when Xi'an was also the capital. There's a smaller museum which I forget the name of--maybe the Xi'an City Museum?--but most of its labels were in Chinese when I visited there three years ago. There are also a number of 'museums' and 'factories' which are just over-priced gift shops. Unfortunately, souvenirs are higher priced in Xi'an than anywhere else in China. If you feel compelled to buy, bargain hard. If you pay 25% of the offered price you are probably still being over-charged!

      Xi'an is one of China's most unique and fascinating cities. Enjoy!!
      Last edited by flitcraft; 01-18-2015, 11:36 AM.
      Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.


        Echo what flicraft said about it being a fascinating place; while there was nothing I saw what I'd call *adequately* (think "tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg"), I think Xi'an is the city I'd most like to go back to for an extended stay and to explore more, of the handful I saw. (And I'd like to revisit them all ...)


          Thanks so much Timothy and Flitcraft for that information. I'm super excited now. It looks ill be coming home looking like a dumpling!