Walking on planks on
top of the mountain Hua Shan
Xi’an was our third stop during our trip in China. We took the high speed train from Pingyao to Xi’an which was only three hours. We instantly loved this city. Xi’an is surrounded by a city wall and everything is quite close, especially in comparison with Beijing and Shanghai! For us, Xi’an was definitely the biggest surprise and our highlight of the trip in China!
We stayed at Han Tang Inn Hostel and we absolutely loved it! The location is great, very close to the Bell Tower (heart of the city centre) and the subway. They have a really nice common area where you can enjoy a nice dinner or a drink. The hostel also has a free activity every day so it’s very easy to meet new people. Our favorite activity was definitely the dumpling party where they teach you how to make dumplings yourself (one with meat and one vegetarian). If you’re craving for some western food now and then, make sure to order a pizza here (so yummy). And make sure to try the hazelnut or caramel milk tea! Most comfy drink you can find. And last but not least: they have a yummy breakfast buffet every morning for almost nothing!
The things we’ve done in Xi’an
Rented a bike and went around the city wall (14 km)
A fun day to get a glimpse of the city is to rent a bike and cycle the wall. This city wall is the best kept and most complete city wall of China, was built between 618 and 907 and is 13.7 kilometers in length. After you bought a ticket to enter the wall you can rent mountainbikes on top of the wall which you can use for two hours. The wall is very wide so it’s easy and fun to cycle! We cycled around in about one hour and forty minutes while stopping a lot enjoying some beautiful views! It’s interesting to see how different the architecture is outside the city wall in comparison with the buildings inside the walls.
Wild Goose Pagoda and Water Fountain Show
Another beautiful place to visit in Xi’an is the Wild Goose Pagoda. It’s easy to get to by subway and it’s centered in a beautiful little park with water fountains in front of the park. Every night you can enjoy a beautiful music water fountain show (ask in your hostel about the time it starts, it can change depending on the season). This show is the biggest one in Asia!
Muslim Quarter(street food!) and the Great Mosque
A completely different side of Xi’an is the Muslim Quarter, where over 20.000 Muslims are centred. The streets are very chaotic because you will find a big central market and street food everywhere (be prepared for all kinds of smells), which is absolutely heaven when you love food as much as I do. We also visited the Great Mosque which was a beautiful, scenic and quiet place. This mosque is one of the best known and oldest mosques in whole China (they start building it in 742), so it is definitely something to check out.
I don’t even know where to begin about this one! I guess just by saying: try and check this out! We enjoyed some very yummy dinner in a very local restaurant – the thing you have to learn and accept in China is that the restaurants don’t look scenic at all (read: very bright lights and white shiny floors) and you will doubt the hygiene, but I promise you that in this places you will find the most yummy food! – we continued with a beer in a little bar and ended up in a crazy disco place where we saw groups of rich Chinese surrounded by dozens of the most expensive liquors doing crazy dances. Very fun to see and we ended up having one of the best nights in our whole China trip!
The things we’ve done close to Xi’an
Hiking the Hua Shan Mountain
One of my absolute favorite things I’ve done in China: hiking the impressive Hua Shan Mountain! It it’s approximately 100 km from Xi’an. The mountain is one of the Five Great Mountains of China and has a long religious history. The mountain has five peeks with the highest peek of 2155 meters. We started our hike at the bottom of the mountain early in the morning. In a bit more than three hours we hiked to the first peak: the North peak. The views we’ve seen here took already our breath away, little did we know it would only get better and better.
From the North peak you can continue your trip to the rest of the mountain peeks. After a little hike you can easily decide which peaks you want to go to. You will walk/climb a lot of (very steep!) stairs so be prepared when it comes to your shoes, clothes and water (it can be very hot in China).
Our highlight of the day was doing the planking trail on top of the mountain. We had to wait for two hours (besides this place the mountain wasn’t too crowded at all), but it was absolutely worth it! You have to descent a little bit by climbing down to get to the planking trail. Here you will walk on top of the Hua Shan Mountain (2000 meters high!) just standing on a couple of planks. This should definitely on your bucket list! This planking trail is known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. When I was standing in line I thought it would be very scary and I was a little bit afraid, but the minute I started doing it I could only love it for a fully 100 percent (probably also because of all the adrenaline rushing through my body).
National Park Cuihua Mountains
This National Park was actually a surprise for us. Because the Hua Shan Mountains are so famous in Xi’an, no one really talks about this National Park. We decided quite spontaneously to visit this park after finding this park online. We traveled by subway and bus to get here. The park has a beautiful lake where you can enjoy a little comfy walk. But the most impressive part of this park are all the caves where you can climb through! The mountains in this area of China are very rocky which created beautiful rock formations and stunning views. For us it was interesting to experience how the mountains and caves created micro climates – at one cave it was zero degrees! And because no one really knows about this park, the park is almost empty which will make you enjoy the nature even more.
To be honest, our trip to the Terracotta Warriors kinda disappointed us. It still is something you have to see when you’re in Xi’an and the history of the warriors is interesting, but the place itself is not as impressive as we hoped it to be. I think this is caused by the immense crowds here which made us experience the warriors way less than when wanted to. We booked our trip to the Terracotta Warriors at our hostel, which was very affordable. The warriors have been built to protect the First Emperor in his after life: Qin Shi Huang. This means that all the warriors where buried with the Emperor! There are more than 8.000(!) warriors, most of them still buried.