China Xian terracotta army

The eastern end of the ancient Silk Road and one of China’s historical capitals, Xi’an is a fascinating fusion of culture, food, archaeology and history.

You’ll no doubt want to see its famous Terracotta Army, which is located just 50km from the city centre, and is serviced regularly by buses and tour companies, but include some time to see the rest of Xi’an too.

Once known as Chang’an (meaning Eternal Peace), the city’s 14th century walls have been carefully restored and maintained, and the Tang-dynasty-era Big Wild Goose Pagoda holds plenty of interest beyond its enjoyable name. The Muslim Quarter in the heart of the city is famous for its mosques and markets where you can sample delicious street food.

7 days

Historic north east

Wall and warriors
Beijing (2 days) Great Wall of China (1) Xi'an (2) Pingyao (1) Beijing (1)
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10 days

China’s Golden Triangle

The big three
Beijing (3 days) Xi'an (2) Shanghai (3) Hangzhou (2)
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14 days

China overland

Metropolises, teahouses and ancient history
Beijing (3 days) Great Wall of China (1) Xi'an (2) Shanghai (3) Chengdu (2) Yangshuo (3)
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  • Beijing

    Beijing

    With a history dating back over three millennia, China’s mammoth capital is a proud celebration of old and new — showcasing shiny modern skyscrapers alongside the imposing Ming and Qing-era Forbidden Palace...
  • Shanghai

    Shanghai

    Shanghai is China’s biggest city and a rising financial powerhouse...
  • Chengdu

    Chengdu

    The charming city of Chengdu, with its beautiful traditional teahouses, is the perfect place to experience China’s famed tea-drinking culture...
  • Great Wall of China

    Great Wall of China

    Mutianyu is easy to reach from downtown Beijing and home to one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China, with densely distributed watchtowers and breathtaking woodland views...
  • Yangshuo

    Yangshuo

    In recent years Yangshuo has transformed from a quiet rural settlement into one of China’s most popular tourist destinations...
  • Hangzhou

    Hangzhou

    There aren’t many images of China more iconic than Hangzhou’s West Lake...
  • Pingyao

    Pingyao

    Considered China’ best-preserved ancient walled city, Pingyao Ancient City (its appropriate official name) is famous for its largely intact Ming and Qing-dynasty infrastructure and architecture...

Things to do in Xi'an

Our recommended experiences and activities

Cycle the old city wall of Xi’an
Xi'an

Cycle the old city wall of Xi’an

Xi’an is China’s original capital and home to the oldest and best-preserved city wall in China — and a great way to see it is by bike. Give yourself a few hours for regular stops so you can take in the wall’s amazing engineering.

Where to go in China

Our recommended places

Beijing

Beijing

With a history dating back over three millennia, China’s mammoth capital is a proud celebration of old and new — showcasing shiny modern skyscrapers alongside the imposing Ming and Qing-era Forbidden Palace. Like China itself, the city has been transformed over the last century, from an ancient walled city to a stylish metropolis and seat of the ruling Communist Party. Politics are never far away in Beijing, and any trip would be amiss without a visit to the vast pedestrianised Tiananmen Square — site of Chairman Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China.

Shanghai

Shanghai

Shanghai is China’s biggest city and a rising financial powerhouse. In the heart of the city is the Bund. This famous promenade symbolises Shanghai and from here you can see its enigmatic mix of architecture, from grandiose colonial buildings to modern skyscrapers.

Chengdu

Chengdu

The charming city of Chengdu, with its beautiful traditional teahouses, is the perfect place to experience China’s famed tea-drinking culture. As the capital of culinary-favourite Sichuan Province and UNESCO’s first-ever City of Gastronomy, Chengdu’s food-scene is as varied, flavoursome and spicy as you might expect. Once you’ve sated your taste buds, make sure you take a trip to the Chengdu Panda Base, a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas, red pandas and other endangered species.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Mutianyu is easy to reach from downtown Beijing and home to one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China, with densely distributed watchtowers and breathtaking woodland views. Go early to avoid the worst of the crowds, and choose from a cable car, chair lift or hike up, and a hike or toboggan back down.

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

In recent years Yangshuo has transformed from a quiet rural settlement into one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. Known for its striking limestone karst landscape, the region has fantastic cycling and hiking routes, while the town itself has developed a reputation for partying and shopping. Escape the hustle and bustle and connect with nature with a paddle down the gentle waters of the Li River on a natural bamboo raft.

Hangzhou

Hangzhou

There aren’t many images of China more iconic than Hangzhou’s West Lake. Zhejiang Province’s capital and former seat of the Song Dynasty, Hangzhou’s rolling green hills, spotlessly clean lake and rich cultural heritage ensure this “heaven on earth” remains a must-visit for travellers touring the Middle Kingdom.

Pingyao

Pingyao

Considered China’ best-preserved ancient walled city, Pingyao Ancient City (its appropriate official name) is famous for its largely intact Ming and Qing-dynasty infrastructure and architecture. Though a number of China’s cities boast “ancient” historic features, history-buffs shouldn’t miss Pingyao’s authentic and extensive old town.

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