Xi’an is truly a very pretty city! We stayed at the Ramada Hotel at the city center, very close to the Bell Tower (and the food street, more on that later in the post). This hotel is thankfully right next to a China Merchants Bank branch. I must say our stay at Ramada was great, they have really good service, and friendly, proactive English speaking staff and fast room service!
To get to the Terracotta Warriors, and if you don’t want to spend 400-500 RMB one way (taxi or hotel car), go to Xi’an station, about a 5 min tuk tuk ride from the city center (RMB 20) and prepare to queue up! Your patience will be put to the ultimate test. We waited for an hour and a half, to get onto a city bus. That’s bus no. 306. RMB 7 gets you the ticket to reach the warriors in just over an hour’s time. Later we did find out that we could have paid a bit more, RMB …wait for it…. 9, to get onto a much better faster coach (no. 915). However you would find the bus conductor hustling desperately at several stops to cajole more people to get on, so it may get stuffy. Take the window seat! 🙂
Arrival at the TW spot itself happens without drama and there are 3 pits to see. Tickets are at RMB 150 per person, after which they have shuttle service at RMB 5 per person for a 2 min ride, if you don’t want to or can’t walk the 10 mins to pit 1. Get a guide – it’s worth it. They have English speaking guides who can take you around at RMB 150 for 2 people or RMB 200 if you are 4 or more. However you may be urged to visit the jade museum/ store after the pits so they can get their “stamps”.
Pits 1 and 3 are the best. 1 in particular is the one you would have seen in pics. It’s massive, overwhelming, wonderful, leaving you awestruck. I won’t talk about all my feelings when I first saw the warriors, but I have to say, all the waiting in the crowds and the restroom visit to the McDonald’s at the start of the bus trip was forgotten!! The sight of the warriors is simply stunning.
You may get to meet the man who actually discovered the terracotta warriors back in 1974 as a farmer digging for a well. Buy the book for RMB 200 and he signs it for you. The book comes with a bunch of postcards.
Saturday night here over a long weekend was expectedly crowded. To top it all, it was drizzling.
However this food street I had heard/ read about turned out to be the largest, liveliest, most delicious and meat filled street I have ever seen. The smell of meats, noodles, dumplings, roasted walnuts, sweets and breads was gorgeous and saliva inducing! The stalls are inviting and there are lines of restaurants serving up the best Uighur/ Shaanxi province food you will ever have. I had the best noodles of my life here.
Special mention: The “Ro Jia Mo”
This is a Chinese hamburger, the most famous snack in Xi’an. I ate variations if this and below is the best vendor of these on the food street. These sell at RMB 15 a piece and are the hottest selling items on the street. I won’t mind lining up for these. They are delicious lamb-filled burgers, and I can eat many in a go.
The City Walls
We went up the city wall for a walk. Tickets are at RMB 54 per person. The courtyard and the top of the wall offer a scenic view of the city and its avenues and lanes. You can rent a bicycle (they also have tandem bikes) to cover off the length of the wall, but we really didn’t have it in us to line up yet again, so we walked for a bit, and then headed out.
On the last day, after exploring the wall, we were strolling around and chanced upon this street called Defu Road. It is a narrow lane that is almost adjacent to the wall and leads up to a really quaint street, lined by bars that have an old feel about them. Probably were built long time ago. The street is lazy, quiet, and the bars have interesting “English” names (Captain Bar, Old Henry Bar, etc). Outdoor seating available. Drinks are not really cheap, but get one here, it’s a cool experience.