The city of Xi'an is one of the great ancient capitals of China and is the starting point of the Silk Road. It's also where the Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang was unearthed in the late 1970s.
The best way to get to Xi'an is by Shanghai Air after exploring the city of Shanghai for a few days. Here are 10 of the top sights you will want visit while in Xi'an for two to three days:
1. Ride a Bike.
Xian's offers one of he best preserved city walls in all of China. The modern wall was initially built during the old Tang Dynasty between 618 to 907 A.D. It's at least 40 feet tall and once surrounded by a deep moat for added protection. The top of the wall has an almost 9 mile bike and walking path. There are a total of 18 gates. Go to the South Gate to rent a bicycle for one or tandem for two. The ride is very picturesque and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete roundtrip. There are a few snack stands along the ride for refreshments.
2. See the Bell and Drum Towers.
At night these two historic landmarks light up in colors of red, yellow and green. During the day the bell tower chimes throughout the day and concerts are presented by live musicians playing various Chinese instruments and bells. The large bell on the outside is inscribed with various animals. The nearby Drum Tower was built in 1384 during the Ming Dynasty. Don't cross the busy street, instead walk underground through the metro walkways. Outside the towers are beautifully planted with seasonal flowers creating a visual treat for photographers. In June, the swallows fly around the towers 24 hours a day.
3. Visit the Great Mosque behind the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter.
Xi'an was the first city in China to be introduced to Islam. The Muslim Quarter has one of the largest mosques in China that is used every day. The Chinese Hui community is muslim with ancestors that have been in China since the 7th century – the beginning of the Silk Road. Today there are about 60,000 Hui Muslims living in Xi'an. Men wear skull caps and women cover their head in colorful scarves. There are stone tablets preserved and on display from 742 A.D. It's a beautiful blend of Chinese and Muslim architecture. There are upturned eaves, glazed aqua roof tiles, lovely archways and decorations of carved dragons.
4. Eat Street Food.
The Muslim quarter is a fascinating area where you can find exotic food, sights and smells. We saw a skinned mutton being butchered and skewered before being grilled and dipped in spicy Harissa sauce. There is always a wait at the Chinese Hamburger open-air stands. Others stands offer crumbled bread in lamb stew; hand pulled noodles with beef or lamb; stuffed and fried flat bread with beautiful designs; persimmon pancakes with walnuts and raisins; Chinese Mooncakes; crab apple jello shots and brick colored Jujubes or Chinese dates for sale. Watch the candy makers stretch 20-feet long taffy, while others raise heavy wooden mallets and bring them crashing down to make sesame candy. If you see raw garlic, eat a few before trying the street food. I've been told it offers chemicals that provide anti-bacterial properties to aid in stomach ailments.