I travelled to Xian about 2 and half years ago, in summer of 2013. I have been procrastinating on writing about this since then, I finally did something today. Its better late than never right?
A little Background
Xian is located in the Northwest of Mainland China. Mainland cause my chinese friends referred to it so much, this might delve into history a bit, but basically this is the Area under the control of the Communist party of China. So from my little understanding, to my friends, China refers to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, but mainland China is well, mainland China excluding the countries mentioned previously. It took some getting used to. Xian is the capital of Shaanxi and was formerly known as Chang’an, an ancient capital in Chinese History.
China is quite big, It was an AIESEC exchange, so together with the other students, we stayed at a small town, about 1 hour 30 minutes from the City center of Xian. we came out to the city on almost every weekend.
I used Finnair, I was so fortunate, they had just begun flying to Xian, I don’t regret my choice at all. The crew was amazing, the price was fair, I think I bought my ticket, two way, about 3 months before the travel date, it cost me a little over 600 dollars. I had a 17 hour stopover in Finland, had I considered it, I could have toured a part of the city in that time before my flight. There’s a lot to see at the airport though.The food was also good, the service was brilliant, I would use Finnair again, going to China. While in Xian, bus transportation was the norm, within the city the tickets were about 1 or 2 yuan, if am not mistaken. There are only two subways lines in Xian, which I believe we used just once.
I stayed in Xian for over 4 weeks, so I had time to see as much as I could. As an AIESEC volunteer, we were pretty much busy on weekdays, but the weekends were holidays, so we used the weekends for sightseeing.
On the first weekend, we visited the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum site museum and the Museum of the Terracotta army which is the 8th wonder of the world. The underground of the first museum was dimly litted and we weren’t allowed to take pictures. It had depictions of the workers who built the palace. It was a good learning experience. As for the Terracotta warriors, this was even better, it was brighter and yay we could take pictures
Going to this museum was so amazing, it took a while, so bring some snacks for the journey. The skill and time taken to craft each terracotta warrior and how it was discovered and is still being excavated was just amazing, everyone has a different hairstyle, different face. It just helps you to appreciate art much more. Don’t forget to take along your International student Id wherever you go, we got most of our tickets for half price if we could show our student cards.
Next day, we went hiking, we climbed a mountain, the Qinling mountains, I’ll write about my hiking experience in my next post, so watch out.
We also visited the Great wild goose pagoda and the small wild goose pagoda. Again it was good to learn about the history of these, climbing them, seeing the relics in them and seeing beautiful views of the city. If you ask me, its okay to climb just one of the pagodas. You should plan your visit to the Great wild goose pagoda around late afternoon, so when you’re done, you can watch the fountain show, this is apparently the largest musical fountain in Asia. The experience was just daebak!
We also visited the Drum Tower, The Shaanxi history museum which I believe was free. The Xian city wall, we couldn’t climb, haha because it was too expensive, Actually this was even cheaper than the terracotta warriors, or maybe we were just annoyed that they didn’t give us student discounts 😀
Visiting the Muslim street is a must whether in the day time or at night, actually whenever we ate out in the city center, it was somewhere on the Muslim street. The market is a great place to get souvenirs also. A little tip about going to the local markets in China, for the traders who have little merchandise and who may not be in a popular tourist location, unless if it really pricey, you can just buy, but for other places, especially popular tourist locations, I was advised to begin bargaining from 1/3rd of the original price 😀 this came in quite handy in Beijing
Xian was amazing, food was cheap, accommodation affordable and the people were nice and welcoming. This is just a glimpse into a part of China that I visited, and am so grateful to AIESEC for giving me this opportunity to visit China.
In separate posts I would write about my experience of Beijing, my food experience in China and my hiking experience in Xian.
Visiting every single place, I’ve highlighted on the list cost me in total about a 100 dollars, if not lesser. China is really affordable, and language wasn’t so much of a barrier for me, once again its thanks to AIESEC friends we met in China.
Ah, you must go to a KTV station while you are in China. We went for karaoke so many times, I can’t remember the count and every time was fun. And the pricing was great too, the more persons, the cheaper the price and in my experience the more fun you have.
So if you are still a student and under 30, find out whats up with AIESEC at your school. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel to some place you might be scared to go on your own!
Hope the post was helpful, would like to hear from you. 🙂