Xian City Orientation Tour, Xian

Xian is situated in the central-northwest part of China. It is one of the most ancient cities in the country and famous for being home to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Terracotta Army. Xian is 3100 years old and has a rich history, being the terminus of the Silk Road. Do not hesitate to take a walking tour and see the world-famous attractions of Xian.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Xian City Orientation Tour Map

Guide Name: Xian City Orientation Tour
Guide Location: China » Xian (See other walking tours in Xian)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.8 km
Author: helenp
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Xian City Wall (Chengqiang)

1) Xian City Wall (Chengqiang) (must see)

The Xian City Wall is the only surviving complete wall surrounding a city in China. It is also the largest defense barrier in the world.

Emperor Zhou Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty erected the Xian City Wall in the 14th century. When the emperor captured Hizhou, he was advised by a wise hermit called Zhu Sheng to build high walls to defend the city and fill the city with provisions before calling himself emperor. Zhou Yuanzhang heeded the sage advice, unified China and ordered all local governments to built strong city walls to defend their territory. The Xian City wall was the strongest among the other city walls in the country.

The Xian City Wall was an improvement on an old wall built during the reign of the Tang dynasty. It is 12 meters high and 13.7 kilometers long. There are 98 watch towers placed 120 meters apart. The wall has four gates consisting of three towers in each direction. The gate towers were used to lift and lower drawbridges. A narrow tower and a main tower were also built near each gate. Tunnels connected the gate towers and 11 passages for horse driven carts took soldiers to the top of the wall. There are also four larger watchtowers at each corner of the wall. The Southwestern tower was probably built during the reign of the Tang Dynasty and has a round shape while the other three corner watch towers are square.
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Bell Tower (Zhonglou)

2) Bell Tower (Zhonglou) (must see)

The wooden Bell Tower in Xian is the largest and best preserved tower in China. It stands at the center of the city at the intersection of the North, South, East and West Avenues.

The Bell Tower was constructed in 1348 during the reign of the Yuan Dynasty. The old tower was relocated to its present site in 1552 by the Ming rulers of Xian. Their successors, the Qing Dynasty rulers, rebuilt the structure, expanded it and gave the building its present shape.

The Xian bell Tower is 36 meters high. It stands on a 9 meter high and 36 meter long brick base. The tower had a large iron bell that was struck every hour to tell the time. The bell fell from its original location and is now found in the northwest corner of the base of the tower. The doors are engraved with sculptures based on folk tales of ancient China. Vehicular traffic once passed through large arched doorways under the tower. Today, it is closed for vehicular traffic and has become a large pedestrian subway. There is also a fenced in park around the Bell Tower. It is particularly beautiful at night when lanterns hung from the eaves light up the tower.
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Drum Tower

3) Drum Tower (must see)

The Xian Drum Tower is the largest among drum towers in China. It houses a drum museum where visitors can see ancient drums dating back to over a thousand years.

The Xian Drum Tower was constructed in 1380 during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. It has a base of blue bricks with a wooden tower on top. A large drum was placed in the tower and struck to signal sunset in the evening. The practice was restored in 1950 to encourage tourism. In 1996, a large drum similar to the one that was once in the tower was made from a single piece of high quality cowhide and placed in the tower.

Twenty four drums were placed in the north and south of the Drum Tower. They represent the twenty four solar systems used by the ancient Chinese to predict the changes in climate and to warn local farmers. The hall in the first floor has drums of all sizes decorated with Chinese characters depicting good luck. Visitors are not allowed to touch these drums. The drum museum displays a variety of drums used in ancient China. A drum beating performance takes place here every day. Visitors can get a spectacular view of the city of Xian from the top of the Drum Tower.

Opening Hours: 8:30 am - 9:30p.m (Apr. 1 - Oct. 25); 8:30am - 6:00pm (Oct.26 - the next Mar. 31)
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Muslim Street (Bei Yuan Men)

4) Muslim Street (Bei Yuan Men) (must see)

The street from the Drum Tower to Beiyuan Gate in Xian is referred to as the Muslim Street. It is a shopping street with shops selling products and cafes serving dishes with an Islamic flavor.

Huimin Jie is popularly called Muslim Street in Jian. It is the area where the Hui people who follow the Islamic faith live. It is 500 meters long and paved with black stones. The buildings that flank the street retain the old architecture of the Ming and Quing Dynasties. The area has ten mosques of different sizes including China’s earliest Great Mosque. The Hui people have preserved their traditions, cuisine and culture for thousands of years. They came to China from West Asia through the silk route from India. The street offers a unique atmosphere compared to other parts of the city and adds to the cultural diversity of Xian.

The Muslim Street is frequented by locals for the many delicacies served in the restaurants. Well known dishes include Yang Rou Pao Mo or Bread soaked in mutton stew, pickled vegetables and sliced beef stirred with rice and Xiao Su Rou or Small Crisp Mutton. This dish consists of mutton wrapped in starch and steamed. Black plum juice is served to visitors to wash down the rich food served by the restaurants in Muslim Street.
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Xian Museum

5) Xian Museum (must see)

The large Municipal Xian Museum was opened to the public on World Museum Day, the 18th of May 2007. It is a repository of objects relating to the 13 dynasties that called Xian their capital.

The Xian Museum is designed based on the Chinese concept of the Universe with a round heaven and a square earth. It was designed by Ms. Zhang Jinqiu. It covers an area of 70,000 square meters. The exhibition halls cover an extent of 11,000 square meters. It has three floors including an underground floor. Permanent exhibitions, special exhibitions and temporary exhibitions are hosted by the museum.

The Museum displays over 130,000 exhibits from different dynasties that ruled Xian. There are objects from the Zhou Dynasty, the Han Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty, the Qin Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty among others. The first floor has Buddhist stone statues and gilded figures made of bronze. There is also a theater showing the history of the Wild Goose Pagoda here. The second floor has jade objects, seals and screens with calligraphy on display. A collection of paintings by Zheng Banquiao a well known Qing Dynasty painter is displayed here. The underground floor has exhibits unearthed from different parts of the city. Temporary exhibitions displaying objects from districts and locations around are held periodically by the Xian Museum.

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 09:00am-5:30pm; Closed on Monday
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Small Wild Goose Pagoda

6) Small Wild Goose Pagoda (must see)

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the two pagodas in Xian that date back to the Tang Dynasty. It has a unique architectural design that helped the structure withstand the earthquakes that shook the city.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 707 AD during the reign of the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD). It has 15 floors and starts reducing in size from the 6th to the 15th floors giving it a spiral shape. The semicircular base helped the structure to withstand the earthquake of 1487. Despite the magnitude of the earthquake, the stress was distributed equally to prevent the collapse of the structure. The earthquake caused cracks in the building which were covered by a subsequent earthquake. This phenomenon was called Magic Healing by the local people.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is made of bricks with eaves on each storey. The lintels have intricately carved figures of Arhats and grasses. Each floor has a wooden floor and a low roof with windows on the north and south. The interior of the pagoda has a tubular structure. A winding wooden staircase takes visitors to the top floor. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the last remaining monuments from Chang An, the name of the city of Xian during the reign of the Tang Dynasty.
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Shaanxi Province Stadium

7) Shaanxi Province Stadium

The Shaanxi Province Stadium is a large stadium in the city of Xian that hosts sporting events. It is also called the Zuque Stadium because of its location near Zhuque Square.

The Shaanxi Province Stadium is a multi user stadium. The official name is the Shaanxi Province Jiaodaruisen Stadium. Between the years 2005 and 2007, it was called the Coca Cola Stadium. The Shaanxi Province Stadium can seat an audience of 57,000. It is the home of the Shaanxi Zhongjian Chanba the premier soccer club of the city. It is also used for athletic training and events. It was inaugurated in the year 1999 and renovated in the year 2008.

The Shaanxi Province Stadium has a soccer field where the Shaanxi Zhongjian Chanba team practice soccer and play matches. The stadium is packed with spectators when matches between the local soccer teams, Shaanxi Guoli and Xian Anxinyuan take place. It also has a four lane athletic track and weight training rooms. The Shaanxi International Exhibition Center is located on the east side of the stadium. It is a large exhibition hall with underground parking where events and exhibitions are held. It is the largest modern event arena in the city of Xian.
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Shaanxi History Museum

8) Shaanxi History Museum (must see)

The Shaanxi History Museum is one of the first state museums with modern facilities in China. The collection has objects from the Stone Age to contemporary sculpture and displays objects from the 13 feudal dynasties that ruled Shaanxi province.

The Shaanxi History Museum was built in 1983 and inaugurated in 1991. The building covers 55,600 square meters and has a display of over 370,000 objects. The building has the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty with a central hall and multiple storied buildings rising from each corner. The museum collects, conserves and conducts research programs into the rich history and culture of the province. It has also held exhibitions abroad in Japan, France and the United States.

The basic exhibition hall consists of three large display halls where exhibits are arranged in chronological order. The first hall has Stone Age tools to objects from the Qin Dynasty of 206 BC. The second hall has exhibits from the reign of the Han Dynasty in 206 BC to 589 AD. The third hall has objects from the Sui Dynasty to the Qing Dynasties. The East Exhibition hall is dedicated to contemporary art and the Theme Exhibition Hall is used for temporary themed exhibitions. The museum also has an impressive collection of Tang Dynasty mural paintings from the tombs of Tang Dynasty nobles.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 09:00 to 17:30

Walking Tours in Xian, China

Create Your Own Walk in Xian

Create Your Own Walk in Xian

Creating your own self-guided walk in Xian is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Xian Suburbs Historical Tour

Xian Suburbs Historical Tour

While the city of Xian is famous for its pagodas, a tremendous city wall and gorgeous temples, several "treasures" are hidden on the outskirts of the city. Actually, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, located in the eastern suburb, is a historical must-see. Also, you will be impressed by the Lishan mountain's incredible beauty, admired many centuries ago by Chinese emperors. We invite you to take this walking tour and explore the historical sights located in Xian suburbs.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 10.3 km
Parks and Squares Walk in Xian

Parks and Squares Walk in Xian

Xian is a historical city or as locals say a city of the past. Though it is considered to be rather small, it is perfectly formed. All the main sights are located in the center, surrounded by a circle of small squares with landmarks and beautiful lakes. Though they do not represent must-see spots, we think you will enjoy this walking tour through Xian's amazing gardens.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.5 km
Tang Dynasty Tour in Xian

Tang Dynasty Tour in Xian

In Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty is a synonym for prosperity and progress. During a period of almost 300 years, great reforms were implemented and stability was achieved. Also, the Tang emperors chose Xian as their capital city, due to its large population, and developed it throughout their rule. It is highly recommended that you take this tour and visit the places that brought glory to the Tang dynasty.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 10.2 km
Xian's Daily Life Self-Guided Tour

Xian's Daily Life Self-Guided Tour

Xian is a great historic city of China. Of course, the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Mosque, the Goose Pagodas, the Bell Tower and the City Wall should not be excluded from the must-see list of every tourist. The usual places where only locals hang out are overlooked by almost all guides. However, if you want to look at this city from a different angle and discover its hidden "face" you should take a "Daily Life" walking tour in Xian.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 km
Cultural Tour of Xian

Cultural Tour of Xian

In ancient times, Xian was a center of art and culture. It played an important role in improving trade between east and west, due to the fact that it was the terminus of the Silk Road. Nowadays, Xian is filled with museums, galleries, opera houses, etc. Check out the most popular cultural spots in Xian on this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km
Shopping Streets of Xian Walking Tour

Shopping Streets of Xian Walking Tour

Xian is an amazing city where you can do some quality shopping, especially if you crave for some authentic Chinese souvenirs. The ideal choice for you is to explore the streets of Xian, because that's where the souvenirs are cheaper. We invite you to take this walking tour and go for a stroll along the shopping areas of Xian.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Xian for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Xian has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Xian, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.