Top 10 amazing things to do in Xi’an, China

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One of the top things to do in Xi'an is to visit the Mt Huashan, and climb to teh top of it!

We traveled to China! Until now I can’t believe that we have been to Xi’an, one of the most important cities in China. This last-minute trip turned out to be an awesome experience and a great introduction to Chinese culture and history. After a few days of fun, here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Xi’an, China.

This year we crossed off so many destinations from our travel bucket list, from traveling to the Komodo Islands in Indonesia, to Macau, Hong Kong, and Xi’an in China. No doubt Xi’an was the biggest surprise. I thought that our trip Shaanxi Province, northwest China, was going to be only about museums and historical sites, but actually was full of adventure, adrenaline, and fun.

So, if you are planning to travel to China, these are the 10 amazing things to do Xi’an that you must add to your travel itinerary, you will never be left wondering what to do in Xi’an! From natural wonders to mouthwatering meals, time to share with you all the best things to do in Xi’an.


10 unmissable things to do in Xi’an

Xi’an is, by far, one of the best places to visit in China, and all of the Xi’an things to do are worth your while. Whether you are visiting at night or during the day, spending a week in Xi’an or even just a day, here are the best parts in this storied city!

The Terracotta Warrior are one of the things to do in Xi'an, you gonna spend at lets 3 hours visiting the mausoleum.

See the Terracota Warriors lined up on the mausoleum is one of the most impressive things do see in Xi'an, China.

1. Start your own Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Warriors are the most famous Xi’an attractions and you absolutely must see them. Visiting the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and walk by the huge pit are an extraordinary experience, and is one of the most interesting things to do in China as a whole.

The Warriors are impressive, the size, the expressions, the perfect craftwork. Everything is mind-blowing, especially if you start putting the pieces together and realize that the Terracotta Warriors date back from 221 B.C.


The Museum is packed, and you gonna spend at least 3 hours walking around. But the visit is totally worth it, this is such a unique thing to do in Xi’an. If you have spare time, visit one of the workshops around the museum and have a close look at how the warriors are made.

Or even better, you can make one of them, put your hands in some local clay and create your first ever terracotta warrior.

A super cool thing to do in Xi'an is to attend a workshop and learn how to make the Terracotta Warriors, and create your own little army.

2.  Mount Huashan, face one of the most dangerous mountains in China

Be prepared for adrenaline, heights, and sweat. Huashan Mountain is not only one of the most beautiful places to visit in Xi’an, but it’s also one of the most challenging things to do in Xi’an. Climb Mt.

Huashan is not easy, but it’s doable. A day trip to the mountain is a must and you will be swept away by the natural beauty of this place.

One of the most dangerous mountains in China, Climb the Mt Hua is a must thing to do in Xi'an.

Known as one of the most dangerous hikes in China, Mt. Huashan have 5 peaks and the highest one is the South Peak 2,154.9 meters above sea level. It’s a long journey to the top.

First, you need to buy the ticket at the tourist center, then you take a bus to the main entrance of the mountain and from there you go on a cable car to the top of the mountain where you can walk to the peak. They say it’s a very scenic route, and I bet it is, although we couldn’t see anything apart from clouds and mist.

Despite the cloudy and col weather, hiking the Mount Huashan was amazing, one of my favorite things to do in Xi'an, China.

The weather was horrible, rainy, cold, cloudy and during the whole afternoon, we didn’t see the sky nor the valley, one of the most beautiful parts of Xi’an sightseeing. But to be honest, climbing that dangerous mountain in such harsh conditions made the experience even more adventurous.

The sad part is that we didn’t walk into the wooden plank that hangs on the side on the side of Mt. Hua. The dangerous walk becomes a deadly experience when the rain is heavy and the mist is thick.

I like adventure, but deadly stuff – not my thing…

Ride a bicycle on the top of the City Wall, such a cool thing to do in Xi'an. You must do it when travelling to China.

3. Go on a ride at Xi’an City Wall

The old town of Xi’an is surrounded by a huge wall, an impressive and well-preserved construction. Visiting this ancient structure is one of the most spellbinding things to do in Xi’an.

The wall is open to the public, you just need to buy a ticket and go on the top of it. But things can get better, one of the amazing things to do in Xi’an is to ride a bicycle on the top of the wall. You can discover the history behind the Ming and Tang dynasties while cycling and having fun.

Try your artistic skill during a Chinese Calligraphy class, one of the hardest things to do in Xi'an, but was amazing to learn the history and the culture.

4. Learn Chinese calligraphy

Go on an artistic journey at the Tang Bo Art Museum and learn about Chinese painting and calligraphy. Appreciate ancient and modern art and try your talent in a hands-on workshop. This was one of my favorite things to do in Xi’an, so rich in culture, information, and great fun.

When the “teacher” was presenting the symbols and the technique everything looked so easy, but once you hold the brush and you start writing the first Chinese words you realize how artistic the Chinese calligraphy is, and how difficult is to master it.

I spent minutes trying only one word, and the result of awful. I couldn’t write the proper word but on the photo, I look like a professional.


5. Discover ancient China at the Shaanxi History Museum

The Shaanxi History Museum is huge, and if you really want to appreciate all the art and history inside you must spend a day there.

We didn’t have much time, and as much as I like history and museums, I have a time limit for it. I can’t stay longer than 3 hours inside a museum, I get dizzy. I need a drink, food…. Sorry but that’s me!

During our quick visit to the museum in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China, what we saw was really impressive. Murals from the Emperor’s tombs, painting, artifacts and history from the Silk Road.

I forgot to mention before, Xi’an was the starting point of the Silk Road, the route that connected merchants from Europe to the Orient. Not only a business route but a cultural and social achievement in human history.

The best part of the dinner is to dress with ancient Chinese clothes. What a fun thing to do in Xi'an!

6. Have a fancy dinner at Zhenai Lishan Daqin Xiaoyan Restaurant

I like food, but there is nothing better than eating delicious food while wearing a traditional Chinese costume. The restaurant is stunning, the staff was dressed in costumes that made us travel in time, to the period of Qin Dynasty. This is a great spot to visit in Xi’an at night!

We had our own private dining room and Chinese costumes waiting for us. That’s what I call a proper fancy dinner. If you want to know what to see in Xi’an that will showcase culture, the traditional attire is one of the best to see!

The food was prepared to perfection, old Chinese recipes served in beautifully decorated plates. In the menu Chinese delicacies as chicken feet, cold spicy noodles, soups, and local wine. After dinner, they let us walk around the restaurant, take photos and act like crazy tourists.

The only problem is that we couldn’t keep the robes. Once we had eaten, my desire was to be dressed in Chinese clothes for the rest of the trip. This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Xian, China!

One of the amazing things to do in Xi'an is to travel to the past and learn about the history and culture of China.

7. Travel to the past at Yuanjia Village

Even being a historical and important place in China, Xi’an is a modern city. If you really want to see how life was during the Tang Dynasty, then you should visit the Yuanjia Village. It is not known to be one of the big Xi’an tourist attractions, which means you won’t bump into bustling crowds.

When the bus stopped there we had the feeling of traveling to the past. The tiny houses, the cobbled streets, alleys, food being cooked with wood fire and the mist in the air made everything looks so real. The village was built to keep ancient traditions alive, and to show the visitors some crafts and foods that have been forgotten in modern China.

The nicest part is that most of the people visiting the village were Chinese, it seemed that Yuanjia Village is more a local tourist attraction that actually a place for foreigners. What makes it a super special place to visit in Xi’an.

Food! The best place for street food is the Muslim Street! You travel itinerary to Xi'an must have a visit to the Muslin Quarter, it's a must thing to do in Xi'an.

8. Eat your way through the Muslim Street

This is one of the most interesting and delicious things to do in  Xi’an, and you must spend at least one evening at the Huimin Muslim Quarter in the old town.

Muslim Street is the physical mark of the Silk Road, where everything started and where you can see the Arab influence in the middle of China. A must-see adventure on the Xi’an, China map!

The mix of culture resulted in a delicious and mouthwatering street where you can find local Chinese dishes served with nuts and traditional flavors from the middle east. Go with an empty stomach and eat everything you can…

Some dishes look good and taste good, others I’m not that sure… If you like a food adventure, this place is for you. It is a very flavorful and unusual Xi’an attraction.

My favorites: the roasted potato with paprika, the grilled and spicy tofu, and the tofu skin with peanut sauce. Rob tried the lamb skewers and love them too.

Go to the Muslim Quarter for the food, but also pay attention to the little houses, the traditional architecture and the mix of culture. It’s a really interesting place to visit in Xi’an.

When searching for things to do in Xi'an, don't forget to walk around the old town and appreciate the architecture and local customs.

There are so many things to do in Xi'an old town that you need to spend there at least a day and two evening.

Eat everything you can find at the Muslim Street, this is most delicious street and things to do in Xi'an.

Rob tried the lamb skewers and loved it. For him, this is one of the food you must try when visiting Xian in China.

9. Drum & Bell Towers

Before venturing yourself into the Muslim Quarter you must visit the Drum and Bell Tower, that are located close by. Our guide told us that every city in China has these two towers, one for the drums and another for the bell.

What makes them so special is the architecture and how they look magical after sunset when the colored lights start to shine in the middle of the black night.

Our list of things to do in Xi'an must have a visit to the impressive towers in the old town.

10. A vegetarian feast

The 10th unmissable thing to do in Xi’an must be eating good food! Gorgeous and yummy vegetarian food! I know you are probably thinking this is a silly joke, but it’s not! It’s true!

One of the best meals we had during our whole trip to Xi’an was in a vegetarian restaurant, more precisely a Buddha restaurant. The name of the place is Tian Long Bao Yan and they serve a banquet of flavors, from soup to stir fry veggies and mushrooms that taste like heaven. It was great to see how vegetarian food can be creative, tasty and unusual.

Now that you already know all the unmissable attractions in Xi’an, it is time to talk about how to plan your trip to Xi’an. Also, check out this great 2-week itinerary in China and enjoy the best of the country.


How to travel to Xi’an in China

Before you even think about buying your flight to China, first you need to check the visa requirements. Depending on where you are from, your passport or where you are living, you will need to follow some rules and put together some documents.

Here is the link to the Chinese Visa information website, have a look and follow the instructions.

Read on for a handful of valuable Xi’an tips for traveling!

Before you make your travel itinerary and list the things to do in Xi'an, you must check out all the Chinese Visa requirements.

> Chinese Visa

We applied for our visa at the Chinese Embassy in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was an easy and fast process. As our trip was organized at the last minute, we opted for the 24 hours visa service, it was a bit more expensive than the traditional visa, but we received the Chinese tourist visa in 24 hours.

Before flying, make sure you have empty pages on your passport and that you look alike to your passport photo. That was an issue Rob faced while crossing the border. On his passport, he was with a tiny beard, but on the day we traveled he was shaved, also the gray hair flagged him as suspicious.

The officer at the immigration wasn’t sure if he was the true owner of the document. Took him almost 15 minutes answering questions until he finally got the stamp.


> Flights to Xi’an

You will need to get two flights to travel to Xi’an. To research and buy long haul flights we use Kiwi. They have a really cool searching system to find the best connections, save money and travel wisely.


> Getting around Xi’an

You can try public transportation, bus and metro are everywhere in the city. But with the language barrier, it can be a  real challenge. Another option is to use Uber, the service works pretty well, you don’t need to explain where are you going and you can pay by credit card. Easy peasy! Never used Uber before? Sign up here and get a free ride, a little gift from Love and Road.


> Where to stay in Xi’an

We stayed at the Sheraton Xi’an and it was really nice. The hotel is very classic, the rooms are spacious, the bed lovely and the breakfast huge… It took me three mornings to finally discover all the food served during the breakfast, from oriental dishes to the most westernized eggs ‘n’ bacon.

The only downside of the hotel is the rules for using the pool. They have a huge warm swimming pool, but to enjoy it you need to wear a swimming cap. So don’t forget to pack yours!

Check the rooms and do your reservation at Sheraton Xi’an here, if you are not sure if this is the best hotel in Xi’an for you, keep searching.

Other good choices of hotels in Xian, China are:

Jin Jiang International Hotel Xi’an – Rooms from USD 66 per night

Time Tunnel Designer Hotel – Rooms from USD 54 per night

Hilton Xi’an High-tech Zone – Rooms from USD 97 per night

Yongyangfang Art Hotel – Rooms from USD 38 per night

We recommend that you book on Agoda or They have a good selection of properties at great prices. If you are traveling on a budget you can find rooms for 20 to 30 USD dollars, which is a good price for the city.

You are travelling to a different country, with different culture don't be surprised if among all the things to do in Xi'an you find out some weird stuff.

> Cultural Shock

You are traveling to China and there will be some cultural shock, it’s normal. Especially when the Xi’an population is a hefty 12 million.

I was a bit concerned with this trip and if I would handle well some of the Chinese behaviors that bother me, but to be honest, overall it was fine. Only the spitting that annoyed me a bit. But it’s ok, the places we visited were so beautiful, we learned about such an interesting culture and history, that the cultural differences are part of the process.

If you have problems trying different food, and the Chinese language, or if you don’t know what to expect from China, do good research before traveling to Xi’an city.

Read about Chinese manners and prepare yourself. Sometimes travel takes you out of your comfort zone, and that’s amazing!

Also read: How much does it cost to travel to Hong Kong?

Traveling to Xi’an China

This will be a journey full of memories, fun, and experiences that will leave you thrilled! With this Xi’an travel guide, you are bound to be engrossed during every moment of your time in Xi’an, China! Are you excited to travel to Xi’an, China? Plan your itinerary and don’t forget to add to it these 10 amazing things to do in Xi’an, I’m sure you gonna love the city!

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Top 10 Things to do in Xi'an, China! History, Adventure and Fun! All the unmissable places and attractions in Xi'an, plus travel tips. How to travel to China, visa requirements, where to stay and a cultural shock.


51 thoughts on “Top 10 amazing things to do in Xi’an, China”

  1. This is so similar to the itinerary I recently had as I traveled through Shaanxi province. Xi’an is just amazing, and the Muslim Quarter really was amazing (especially while I was a bit lost with friends).

  2. Fun! We are going to Xian next year with our kids as part of a larger trip through China. I definitely want to try some of these things especially the Muslim quarter. We love trying new foods (and our kids to a lesser extent)

    • I’m sure your kids gonna love Xi’an, the Muslim quarter is a delicious experience and cycling around the city walls are great fun, specially if you rent those big bicycles that can fit the whole family 😉

      Enjoy, cheers,

  3. Its good to see that you’re adventurous, but not crazy. It seems like climbing the ‘most dangerous hike’ path was worth it, rather than risking it further to do the climbing part. I visited China on a school trip as a 16 year old and it certainly opened up my eyes!

  4. Wow, the climb looks and sounds kinda amazing in a scary way. I am surprised they still allowed you to climb at all in the rain and cloud like that. Not sure I would have been brave enough to do even what you did. I have heard the food is reason enough to visit tho. Thats why its on my list.

  5. A few years ago the terracotta army was on tour and we got to see part of them in Rome. I’d love to see them in China! I am worried that some of the Chinese behaviors like spitting will make me lose my patience, so thanks for addressing that. There are things that will definitely be a culture shock when I visit.

    • Hi Jennifer!
      To be honest, I was prepared for a stronger cultural shock, but surprisingly Xi’an was easy to explore, and only in a few moments I felt really out of my comfort zone. It’s a different culture, we need to open our mind for it, and at the end we learn a lot.
      Happy travels,

  6. This is somewhere I really want to visit! After learning Xian was where the Terracotta Soldiers are, this place has been on my list for a while! Nice to know there’s more to do besides this as well!

    • Hi Tom!
      Xi’an has plenty of interesting places to visit and see, most of the tourist go there only for the terracotta Warriors, but I do recommend to stay a bit longer and get to know this ancient and interesting city.

  7. I spent a month in China and didn’t love it. However, one of my regrets is not getting to Xi’an and seeing the Terracotta Warriors. I think of this list, other than the warriors is the calligraphy. It’s just so beautiful, and I’d love to now more about the art.

    • Hi Leah,
      A month in China is a lot of time, I’m not surprised you didn’t enjoy too much. I’m not sure if I would be able to do it, it’s a long period in a very different culture.
      And you are right, the Chinese calligraphy is amazing!
      All the best,

    • Hi Tara,
      The vegetarian options were a big surprise for me, I was afraid to not eat well n Xiãn as I’m not a meat eater. But surprising we found delicious and vegetarian food there.

  8. I lived in Japan for a year but never made it over to China. I would love to visit and your photos look amazing. I saw the Terracotta Army when they came over to London but it would be wonderful to see them in their original setting. Polly

  9. Are you guys based in Chiang Mai now? Seems like it was such a good little getaway! I can’t believe I spend 2 years in South East Asia and never visited China :/

    • Hi Amelie!
      We just left Chiang Mai, we are in Bangkok now, enjoying the last days in Thailand.
      We put China on our Asia itinerary on the last minute and was worth it!
      Hope to see you in Europe!

  10. Hi Nat,
    What time of year did you visit Xi’an? We are going to China in July but our trip doesn’t include it so we plan on returning next year as we are doing a ’round the world’ including Tibet and we discovered we can get the train from there so we plan on staying a few days.

  11. Thanks for the excellent travel log Natalie and Robson. I have actually been twice to Xi’an and the second time January 2018 I spent the month in China including 4 days in Chengdu Sichuan and a week in Xixuangbanna which is in the south of Yunnan province bordering Laos and Myanmar where the Mekong River flows and they have wild elephants. I actually clicked on your page to see what that first picture was. I am wildly guessing it is near the Dao temple south of Xian. The rain and fog made it a beautiful and mysterious picture. I am wondering where the Bhuda restaurant is. It sounds like a tasty place to eat.

  12. Hii Nat
    Super awesome write up. Im planning Xian on Oct last week. Mount Huashan and muslim street will be my prime importance, Thanks to you. If you dont mind please clarify few of my doubts. Which month u visited? How is the local transport (Gmap showing, to travel 5KM in bus, it will take 1Hr…Is it?)? Do they speak English? How is the restaurants? are they costly?
    Thanks in advance

  13. Hi,

    Nice post. I’m interested in doing at least one non-touristic visit in Xian, and I think I’ve found it through your post — Yujian village. I’d like to know how to get there. Thanks for any additional info!

  14. Natalie, where is the gate from your main image? I have been googling it but cannot find a similar one in Xian.

    Thanks for your great article!

  15. Hi! Great post. When did you go to Xian? I am concerned about the weather and would like to walk the wooden plank. I am planning to go late March.

  16. Hi! I am traveling to Xian next week. Was wondering whether Yuanjia Village is not too touristy? I mean you get mobbed into buying souvenirs/high pressuring? What is the best time to go there, and how long is it worth spending time there based on your experience.

    Thanks for sharing…love your spirit of sharing and paying it forward for others!

    • Hi Ezam,
      The Yuanjia Village is a touristic place, but we didn’t feel the pressure to buy souvenirs either to eat at the restaurants or cafes. It was a very relaxing and pleasant walk through the village. I believe we spend almost 2 hours there, we had some snacks and endless photo opportunities. We visited in the middle of the afternoon and if I’m not wrong we left around 5 pm.
      Wishing you an awesome trip!


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