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How to Visit the Terracotta Army — an Insider's Guide

The Terracotta Army Museum is one of the must-visit attractions for all travelers to China. The attraction is located in Xi'an, in West China's Shaanxi Province.

The Best Time to Visit

Terracotta ArmyThe life-size figures are modeled on the First Emperor's real army

The Terracotta Army is an indoor attraction, which is not likely to be affected by weather, so it can be visited all year round.

As the Terracotta Army Museum if one of the must-visit attractions in China, it is crowded most of the time. We advise our customers to avoid the following periods when the museum is particularly crowded:

  • National Day Holiday (October 1–7), when it is fully packed;
  • Labor Day Holiday (May 1–3).

It is recommended that you start your day early and try to arrive before large bus tour groups. Alternatively, if you do not mind having a late lunch, visit around noon when other visitors leave for lunch.

Weather in winter is dry, cold, and least comfortable, and it's also the worst season for air quality; but it’s also low season, when the crowds are fewest.

Learn more information about Xi'an Weather.

Travel Style: Private, Group, or Independent?

China Highlights guide and customers Travel with China Highlights, and you will be taken care of well by your private guide.

A private tour means a lot of flexibility, and you will be well taken care of by a private guide and driver. The museum is crowded most of the time, but our guides know how to escape the crowds, and help our customers to enjoy more in the museum. See our 2-Day Terracotta Warriors Private Tour.

Going with a group you won’t get lost, but it lacks flexibility and personal service.

Traveling on your own you may meet a lot of hassles, such as wasting time on finding a (non-con) taxi or public bus to the attraction, lining up for tickets, reading maps, making sense of Chinese signs, etc.

A Reliable Guide Is Needed

There is very little (good English) signage, so a guide is definitely needed to explain the exhibits, and help you get the most out of a visit.

China Highlights guideA knowledgeable China Highlights guide will add much value to your tour.

Museum guides offer their services at the entrance. They will swarm around you while you are buying your ticket. Please be discerning if you use one, as some try to force tourists to buy something at souvenir shops. Some travelers have reported their disappointing experiences with hired guides on TripAdvisor.

There are audio guides for rent (40 yuan, deposit 200 yuan), but we don't recommend them as the English is difficult to understand.

Highlights You Should Not Miss

The highlights of the museum are the three pits (Pit One, Pit Two, and Pit Three) where the warriors are on display, and the Exhibition of Bronze Chariots

Pit One is the largest and most impressive, where about 2,000 terracotta warriors are displayed. Pit Two uncovers the mystery of the ancient army array. Pit Three represents the command post.

Vault one is usually crowded with tourists. According to our experienced guide, the best views are from the front of the vault around the corners. See map below.

The Terracotta Army Route Map

From the Entrance to the Museum

The parking lot is about 1 km from the entrance. There are buses running from the parking lot to the entrance, but, as you need to queue for them (in the busy travel season from May to October), we recommend you walk the 15 minutes or so there if you are able. Our guide will accompany you on the walk if you don't want to line up for the bus

How to Travel There?

It is very convenient to travel to Xi'an from major cities in China by air and train. The Terracotta Army is about 1 hours' drive from the city.

how to get to terracotta army

Private Tour Recommended!

The most convenient way is to take a private tour. Your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to the Terracotta Army.

Your guide will help you buy tickets, saving you a lot of time and trouble lining up. With our guide you will have the flexibility to decide how much time you spend at each exhibit. See our 2-Day Terracotta Warriors Private Tour.

Taking a Tourist Bus — Beware of Fake Buses

  • Tourist bus 5 (306 displayed) departs from Xi'an Railway Station. The bus stops at several attractions along the way, and the Terracotta Army is the last station. No English is spoken by the driver.
  • Operates: 07:00–19:00
  • Journey: 42 km (26 mi), 1 hour, 12 stops
  • Avoid fake tourist buses: Genuine tourist buses are grey coaches with 45 seats and tickets purchased from a conductor on boarding. The typical fake tourist bus is light yellow (maybe with 游5 displayed) with 20 seats and a ticket window. The operators waste your time with tourist trap visits, where you are also encouraged to waste your money.

Taking a Taxi — Maybe Lots of Hassles

Taking a taxi is not recommended. Some taxi drivers may not take you to the Terracotta Army directly, stopping at tourist shops instead, or they may rip you off. The correct price is about 300–400 yuan (48–65 USD).

Some city taxi drivers may insist on taking you to the Terracotta Army, even if you've clearly said you want to go somewhere else! If you refuse, they may not take you where you want to go either.

More Travel Essentials You Won't Want to Miss

terracotta warrior details
  • Location: 30 kilometers east of Xi'an in Lintong District.
  • Opening hours: 8:30am–5:30pm; 8:30am–5pm off-peak
  • Entry: 150 yuan (March 1 – November 30); otherwise 120 yuan. Children under 1.2m: free of charge.
  • Restrictions: Armed guards at the gate check for prohibited articles. No flash photography inside.
  • Souvenir shops: When you finish your visit, you have to pass an area with a lot of souvenir shops. We don't recommend you buy gifts there, as they may be over-priced. A better place to buy souvenirs is the market in Xi'an.
  • Avoid the scams: For example, don't buy the book signed by the famer who claims to be one of the discovers of the Terracotta Army. They are all fake. Many play that role to rip off travelers. The book is over-priced at 180–200 yuan: (29–32 USD). Museum guides may recommend it to you!
  • Avoid the crowds: Getting there earlier than the tourist groups will save you a lot of time waiting. It opens at 8:30am. Our guide will tell you the best time to depart from your hotel. Weekends are often more crowded than weekdays.
  • Restaurants: There are many tourist restaurants around the museum, but lower your expectations on taste and quality. Some even may rip you off. Our guide will choose the best available restaurant for our customers.
  • Toilets: There are toilets inside and outside the museum grounds. They are all Chinese-style squat toilets. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The on-site toilets are free, and those outside charge 1 yuan.
  • Don't go to the Tomb of Qin Shihuang as it is only a mound. It's not excavated yet, so there's not much to see.

Popular Terracotta Army Tour Itineraries

Can I Take a Day Tour from Beijing to See the Terracotta Army?

Xi'an is about a 2-hour flight or an overnight train ride from Beijing. A day tour from Beijing to see the Terracotta Army is possible, but very rushed. It takes 2–3 hours for a round trip from Xi'an airport to the Terracotta Army.

Beijing to xian day trip

With a Beijing return flight and airport transport, the total traveling time will be around 9 hours! Itinerary: early start, afternoon Terracotta Army Visit, late return to Beijing.

We suggest you to take a night train from Beijing to Xi'an and fly back. You will have a more relaxing day and plenty of time to see the Terracotta Army this way. Train Z19 arrives in Xi'an at 08:00, and four T-trains arrive between 06:32 and 08:34.

See details on our One-Day Beijing & Xian Highlights Tour

Also see our 3-Day Xi'an Discovery by High-Speed Train from Beijing

Or our travel advisors can help you arrange a Terracotta Army day tour from Beijing, and give you suggestions according your requirements. Contact us.

Discover a Mysterious Place to Have a Close Experience with a Terracotta Warrior

ttTo have an exclusive look at a mysterious organization. 

The organization's exhibits are not displayed for public viewing. The artifacts are quintessential state-level treasures. There are four items from the Terracotta Warriors excavation.

Travel with China Highlights and you can have a close look at them, rather than viewing at a distance with the tourist crowds at the museum/excavation site.

If you are interested, please ask your travel advisor to add it into your itinerary.

Our Xi'an Tours Offer Many Terracotta Army Options

Our main Xi'an tours all include a flexible, private Terracotta Army tour, and can be tailor-made to suit you.