Home Xi'an Travel Guide Tour Planning How to Plan a Trip to Xi’an

How to Plan a Trip to Xi’an

Travel Xi'an with China HighlightsTake a cycling trip on the Ancient City Wall. Discover Xi'an at your own pace.

Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Warriors, enjoys the laudatory title of 'Living History Museum', because of its abundant historical and cultural relics.

It's not as big and modern as Beijing and Shanghai, but it will impress you with its collection of precious heritage sites, some tracing back to 3,000 years ago.

If you are planning a tour of Xi'an, read on to get the best from your time and some tips on planning the itinerary.

The Best Things to Do

The Terracotta WarriorsFollow our knowledgeable guides to learn how the vivid Terracotta Warriors were made. 

The main attractions of Xi’an are its historical sites, delicious food, and Muslim culture. Some of the activities that we would recommend include:

  • Visit the Terracotta Army: It is one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, and one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.
  • Cycle or walk atop the ancient City Wall: Pedaling along these very old battlements provides both a great view of Xi‘an.
  • Admire an ancient Buddhist pagoda: Big Wild Goose Pagoda is indeed a place of peace, tranquility, and meditation in the middle of a bustling metropolis.
  • Learn about China's history at Shaanxi History Museum: Regarded as “the pearl of ancient dynasties and house of Chinese treasures”, the museum is one of the four largest museums in China, with over 370,000 historical items.
  • Taste the food in the Muslim Quarter: A hub of the Muslim community in Xi’an City, it is a great place to taste Muslim food and buy souvenirs.
  • Night activities: Enjoy the night scenery around the Bell Tower, take part in a Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, stroll on the ancient Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square and watch the music fountain performance…

How Long to Stay: 2–4 Days

It depends on your schedule and your interests. Usually people spend 2–4 days there.

Days Most Recommended Attractions Sample Tour for Inspiration
1 full day Terracotta Warriors, the Ancient City Wall Xi’an Highlights Tour
2 full days Terracotta Warriors, the Ancient City Wall, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarter Essence of Xi'an Tour
3 full days The above plus a Mount Hua adventure OR more historical sites like Qianling Mausoleum, Maoling Mausoleum, and Famen Temple Xi’an Highlights and Mount Hua
4 full days Extend to Luoyang for the Longmen Grottoes and Shaolin Temple OR extend to Pingyao Ancient Town Tailor-made according to your interests

If you have your own travel ideas, just contact us and our travel advisors will tailor-make a Xi'an tour for you.

The Best Time to Go

Big Wild Goose PagodaBig Wild Goose Pagoda

Xi’an has four distinct seasons; summer is very hot and winter is freezing. See more on Xi'an Weather.

The best time to visit Xi’an is in spring and autumn, which boast comfortable temperatures and lack the crowds and rain showers of summer.

The peak season is from May to mid-October, when the prices for hotels and flight tickets are higher. You should prepare to spend significant time waiting in lines and to hear the noise of big tour groups of Chinese visitors.

We recommend that you book well in advance if you plan to visit during these Chinese holidays:

  • China's summer holiday season (July and August)
  • Labor Day (May 1–3)
  • National Day (October 1–7)
  • Spring Festival (late January or early to mid February)

How to Get to Xi'an

Xi'an has an international airport: Xianyang Airport. It has flights from Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Singapore, San Francisco, Bangkok, and Tokyo.

As Xi'an is located in the heart of China, it takes no more than 3 hours to fly to Xi’an from most major Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin, and Lhasa.

Many visitors travel to Xi’an after their trips to Beijing or Shanghai. Bullet trains are increasingly becoming a viable, quick option. See more on Xi'an Transportation.

How to get to Xian

Getting a Visa… or No Need to Get a Visa?

You may enjoy 3-day visa-free access to Xi’an if you take an international transfer via Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. Read about the 72-hour visa-free policy.

If you plan to visit other destinations in China, you need to apply for a China visa.

Recommended Hotels

There are all levels of hotels in this large city, which can meet most requirements. However, the standard and range of facilities is generally significantly lower at local hotels outside the city, e.g. near Mount Hua.

It is very easy to find a hotel in Xi’an, ranging from 5 star hotels to youth hostels. It is most travelers’ first choice to stay in the city center due to the superior geographical location and the convenient transportation.

Some hotels recommended by our local specialists:

  • 5-star hotel: Wyndham Grand Xi’an South
  • 4-star hotel: Grand Noble Hotel

Famous Local Food You Should Try

Xi'an foodDumplings in the shape of a rabbit

Praised as 'the capital of table delicacies', Xi'an is rich in delicious local and foreign food.

The most famous local food are the "two banquets and two soups of Xi'an" — Shaanxi snacks banquet, the dumpling banquet, lamb soup with pita bread, and pig colon soup with bread.

Muslim Snack Street is a great Muslim food hub, where you can find various kinds of Muslim food, such as skewers of lamb, chicken wings, quail eggs, bowls of noodles, mutton soup, and green bean custards.

Beilin District (碑林区) in Xi'an is a food paradise, where the majority of local restaurants are located.

Read The Top 10 Dishes You Should Try in Xi'an.

Discover Authentic Xi’an with Us

Xi'an tourLearn how to make clay warriors from local craftsmen at their cave dwelling. Get in touch with local culture comfortably with our private tours.

Our specialists have journeyed to every corner of the city and uncovered the best things to see and do. They can use their first-hand knowledge to help plan your trip to Xi’an.

Take a minute to fill in a form, and we will begin to create your own trip, or you can find some inspiration from our following sample itineraries.