Xi'an, formerly Romanized as Sian, is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the northwest of the China, in the center of the Guanzhong Plain. One of the oldest cities in China, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming dynasty. Xi'an is the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi'an is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
Xi'an has most of its annual precipitation from August to late October in the form of rain. It is characterised by hot summers and cold, dry winters. Spring and autumn will be somewhat brief and dry.
The city is surrounded by a city wall, in its middle the Bell Tower. From this one, the four main streets descend into the four points of the compass.
There is a rail/ subway system, buses and taxis to transport you around the city.
Shaanxi Cuisine, also known as Qin Cuisine, is the representative culinary achievement in the northwest China. In comparison to other Chinese cuisines, it is outstanding in three aspects. Firstly, due to Shaanxi's geographical location in the centre of China, various kinds of materials deriving from both north and south China are adopted. Second is the special cooking skills of the local chefs, including Tun (deep-fry), Qiang (fry quickly in hot oil, then cook with sauce and water), Chao (stir-fry), Zheng (cook by use of steam), Dun (braise) and so on. Finally is its frequently use of salt, vinegar, capsicum and garlic, making the savoury flavour of sour, spicy and fragrant.
The history of Shaanxi Cuisine is said to be as long as the national's civilization, retaining the table characteristics of the Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. At present, the Cuisine has been divided into the Guanzhong (central Shaanxi), Shannan (south Shaanxi) and Shanbei (north Shaanxi) cuisines according to their geographical locations. Here, in Xian, the Guanzhong Cuisine plays the vital role in the citizens' daily lives as well as the Shannan and Shanbei dishes supply the gastronomists with another choice.
While marvelling at the numerous historical sites and cultural relics in and around the city, tourists are also interested in shopping in Xian. Apart from the daily goods, there are a number of local products, including food, wine, Chinese calligraphy and pictures as well as vivid handicrafts.
Bell & Drum Tower Commercial Centre: The four famous streets in Xian -- East Street, South Street, North Street and West Street belong to the Bell Tower Commercial Area which is the most important in the city, permeated with strong modern atmosphere. You can find several big department stores and supermarkets there.
Xiaozhai is a flowering commercial area in Xian which mainly attracts young people. You can find Parkson Department Store, Feixuan Underground Shopping Plaza, Haobang Shopping Plaza and Baihui market at Xiaozhai. You can bargain the price of the goods in most stores here. Gaoxin Business Area is a place filled with white-collar groups. There are some famous huge malls here including Century Ginwa Shopping Mall and Golden Eagle which are at the intersection of Gaoxin Lu and Keji Lu.
Night clubs in Xi'an are not abundant. All clubs play a mix of Chinese disco and some pop music. Most people go out between 10PM and 1AM, but clubs are generally open until 4AM.
In summer time, the area around South Gate is beautiful. East of it are three nice bars with terraces and gardens. Along the short Nandajie are the most clubs and you can also eat on the street as there are restaurants open past midnight.
The Terracotta Army isn't just Xian's premier site, but one of the most famous archaeological finds in the world. This subterranean life-size army of thousands has silently stood guard over the soul of China's first unifier for more than two millennia. Either Qin Shi Huang was terrified of the vanquished spirits awaiting him in the afterlife, or, as most archaeologists believe, he expected his rule to continue in death as it had in life whatever the case, the guardians of his tomb today offer some of the greatest insights we have into the world of ancient China.
The discovery of the army of warriors was entirely fortuitous. In 1974, peasants drilling a well uncovered an underground vault that eventually yielded thousands of terracotta soldiers and horses in battle formation. Throughout the years the site became so famous that many of its unusual attributes are now well known, in particular the fact that no two soldier's faces are alike.
Wild Goose Pagoda
This pagoda, Xian's most famous landmark, 4km southeast of the South Gate, dominates the surrounding modern buildings. One of China's best examples of a Tang-style pagoda, it was completed in AD 652 to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by the monk Xuan Zang. His travels inspired one of the best-known works of Chinese literature, Journey to the West. Xuan spent the last 19 years of his life translating scriptures with a team of linguist monks; many of these translations are still used today.
Ancient City Wall
Xian is one of the few cities in China where the old city walls are still standing. Built in 1370 during the Ming dynasty, the 12m-high walls are surrounded by a dry moat and form a rectangle with a perimeter of 14km. Most sections have been restored or rebuilt, and it is now possible to walk the entirety of the walls in a leisurely four hours.