Xian Day 1 and Day 2, Exploring The Capital of Ancient China

Xian was my first destination during my trip to China this time in August this year. It’s has become one of the destination I like to go long time back due to the history of the city. Xian was named as Changan in old time and had become the capital of ancient china for several dynasty, more than Beijing. No wonder, there are many historic places to visit on this city.

How to Get Here?
You can fly to Xian through Xian Xianyang International Airport.  Me myself fly to this city via Bangkok as Thailand Airasia, the only budget airline flying to this destination from South East Asia. From this airport, the most budget choice to the city is using airport bus. You will just need to pay 26 Yuan compared using taxi which will cost around 150 Yuan to reach the city center. Airport bus going to Bell Tower is located at platform no 6 located outside the the arrival terminal building, whereas platform no 5 is going to railway station area. For airport bus going to Bell Tower, it will end at Melody hotel after stop on one destination before.

For my first and second night, i stayed at Bell Tower Youth Hostel with private room that can accommodate up to 2 people. The reason I chose this hostel is as the location is directly facing the bell tower in the middle of the city, very convenient for transportation choice as it’s near subway and also underground pass for the main road. The interesting thing in this hostel was the label for hostel amenities put in the room is labelled as City Spring hotel, the same as the label on Chinese for this hostel name in front of the building. It’s quite though as my room is located at the end of 4th floor with no elevator, hence I will need to carry my luggage through the stairs. This hostel is a bit worn out with old carpet laying on the floor, but the price is budget considered the prime location where the hostel is located. The good thing on this hostel is there is 24 hours KFC  beside the hostel on the same building hence it’s very helpful for me as I arrived there at night.

On the next morning, I slept over a bit late as late night arrival and check in. The first destination will going through Terracotta warriors and horses with stop at Huaqing palace. Going to terracotta in budget is a bit challenge as the location is far away from the city approximately one hour on normal traffic  from Xian.  Most of hostel or hotel and travel centers will offer you tour to Terracotta but quite expensive. Even there are many touts on bus station and train station offering you private car rental booking, or bus but more expensive way.  For cheapest option is taking the green bus no 5 (306) which located next to the train station. When you are facing train station from the bus station infront of the train station,  the bus parking will be on the right hand side near Dico’s. But please note, there are several dico’s counters on the areas.

When you see the train station, just go straight until you see the bus parking on the areas. The bus start as early as 7 AM up to 7 PM with very cheap price, 7 Yuan to go to Terracota and if you stop at Huaqing palace, you will need to pay 6 Yuan and additional 3 Yuan from Huaqing palace to Terracota. I have to say the bus was so convenient as it’s air conditioned with so economic price.

My suggestion to you is to catch the bus as early as possible as the seats sells as hot cakes due to economic price offered. For me myself at that time who arrive at around 9 AM have to que for about 1 hour just to get into the bus as August was school holiday time in China.  While the bus  was running on its journey,  i took this opportunity for further rest in nice air conditioned bus.

The bus finally stop at Huaqing palace. The entrance fee to this palace is 110 Yuan for period of March up to November, whereas for low season from December up to February, the ticket price is 80 RMB.  For children 6 years and under as well 120 cm and under, admission to the palace is free. This palace was built by Tang dynasty Xuanzong for  his most favoured concubine, Yang Kuei Fei (Lady Yang).  Entrance fee for the palace is 110 Yuan, not include the cable car fee of 60 Yuan.  Most of tourist attractions in China has special price for student about half of the normal price, however not sure whether they will accept the international student card. Huaqing palace also became the headquarter of Chiang Kai Shek before until 1936 at the time Xian incident took place.

After the entrance, you will find the Huanyuan garden. This garden was built in 1877 at the order of Shen Jiazhen, magistrate of Lintong county. In this garden, you can also find the reception gate where all the people before who want to meet with Chiang Kai Shek need to be registered at this place.

The highlight of this place is the royal pool. In front of the building, you can find the statue of Yang Kuei Fei, the highlight. Near the statue, you can enjoy foot bathing using hot spring water from the area.

In the area, there are different pools built in the past, like Lotus Flower pool built with lime stones exclusively for Emperor Xuanzhong.

There is also Shangshi pool for imperial chefs and palace officials.

Whereas for Lady Yang, there was one pool dedicated for her, Crabapple pool, also named as Lotus bathing pool.

For crown prince, there was also separate pool available.

While roaming around the pools, you can also enjoy the paintings available around the wall.

Behind the building, you can see the active source of the hot spring water of the area which contain sodium carbonate and sodium sulphate.

Finish exploring the Huaqing palace, it’s time to go to next destination, the terracotta warrior using bus with 3 RMB fee. Entrance for Terrracota warrior is 150 RMB, not yet include 5 RMB for eco car going up to the area else you need to have long walk to the exhibitions area.

Inside the area, you can find the museum of Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum. Interesting fact of Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum is it was built for 38 years involving 700,000 labourers cover 56.25 square kilometres. The project is started since the Qin Shi huang Emperor ascended the throne at the age of 13.  Inside the mausoleum, there are huge collections of burial objects include the terracotta warriors which was believed those are the things that the emperor needed in his afterlife.

Ones of the highlight collection here are two bronze Chariots and horses. Most of the parts were made of bronze with some parts made of silver and gold with each of chariots made of 34000 parts.

Inside the museum itself, you can find several terracotta warrior as well.

Next section is pit 2, which has L shaped. Same as pit 1, pit 2 also contain mixed military forces of terracotta in four arrays : arches, war chariots, cavalaymen and infantry men.

And of course, the next  section explored is the pit 1, the highlight of this place, where you can find huge collections of terracotta warriors inside the pit.

At the night, it’s time to explore the city area. This time is visiting the bell and  drum tower. Both of the towers looks alike. The way to distinguish between both tower is via the upper front of the tower whereby the drum tower has a line of drum.

Drum itself was also named as earthly sound is worshiped as magical instrument with supernatural power. As for bell was named as heavenly sound.  Both of the sounds was believed to fear the evil and conceive the good.

The last destination of the day is the moslem quarter which was located behind the drum tower.  I would suggest you to have your stomach empty before visiting this place as there are a lot of nice snacks and BBQ around the area.

In here, you can also purchase different type of nuts especially freshly  roasted walnut which are so delicious.

We will continue our Xian journey next week, stay tune.

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