5 fun things to do in Xi’an

Xi'an City Wall, photo by Grey World on Flickr

Long before Xi’an as we know it now came to exist, there was a city called Chang’an, which was the home of emperors, artisans, warriors and merchants. Chang’an, the Xi’an of the olden days, has a past filled with glory and riches thanks to its strategic position on the Silk Road. Xi’an used to be one of the end of the Silk Road, and it reached the pinnacle of Chinese civilization thanks to its mix of cultures, its wealth and its power, but all of this was all gone by the 10th century. Even with Chang’an long gone, Xi’an is one of the most historic cities in China, and one of the best starting points for your exploration of Chinese culture and history. But in addition to the Terracotta Army that draws most of Xi’an visitors nowadays, there are tons of other activities in this lovely city. Here are 5 fun things to do in Xi’an.

Bike on the city wall

Xi’an can boast of the largest city wall in the world, with a whopping height of 12 meters and width of 15 meters, circling over 13 kilometers of the city. Walking on the wall at night, when the city lights are plain to see and the wall is transformed by the lights places along it is really pleasant, but the most common way to explore the wall is on bike. When the weather is good, bikes can be rented at various points along the wall.

Dumpling feast and Tang Dynasty Show

Muslim Quarter, photo by Jack Zalium

If you’re in love with Chinese cuisine in general, but especially dumplings, you will love the Dumpling banquet and Tang Dynasty show tour, which allows you to regale yourself with over twenty varieties of dumplings, as well as see an authentic Tang Dynasty show. The colorful costumes, graceful dances and lovely music that was fashionable during the Tang era will make the dumplings taste even better.

Explore the Muslim Quarter

Although Buddhism is the most widespread religion in China, there are countless minority religions that coexist peacefully. Xi’an Muslim quarter is a very interesting part of the city, presenting a unique fusion between Islamic and Chinese cultures. The quarter was founded in the 8th century by merchants from the Middle East who came to trade in Xi’an. Get lost through the winding alleys and imagine yourself back in the times of the Silk Road.

Visit Wolong Temple

photo by Mills Baker

Wolong Temple is not the most important temple in Xi’an (that honor belongs to the Big Wild Goose Temple), but it is one of the oldest, as it is over 1800 years old. The temple was very nicely restored and it sports beautiful decorations painted in vibrant colors, and despite the constant bustles, it the kind of place that puts you at peace.

Buy Souvenirs

You can load up on local souvenirs at the bazaar in the Muslim Quarter, which is hectic almost all day long, or you can head to the slightly more quiet Calligraphy street. The souvenir shops selling the usual fare are quite fun, but the best thing you can get on Calligraphy street is…calligraphy. You can watch skillful calligraphers at work, and even buy their art. In any case, shopping for souvenirs is definitely one of the top 5 fun things to do in Xi’an.

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