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“Inexpensive shopping”
Review of Xi'an

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Metro Manila, Philippines
Level 6 Contributor
166 reviews
92 helpful votes
“Inexpensive shopping”
Reviewed 1 April 2013

Date of travel: March 2013 

We had just one day in Xi'an and it was really assigned to Terracota Warriors, I wanted a small  souviner which I can carry in my bag. Of course, I wanted the warirors but it ranged from 50-150 rmb outside the gates of the park. imagine. My surprise when I found the whole box set for 15rmb near the train station!

Across the train station, there's a Mcdonalds, at the ground floor along the street are a lot of mini groceries and supermarket with all the souviners you want. Walnut brittle 14rmb, mochi balls 6.5rmb. Bottled water is 2 rmb, and yes, the soldiers in the box is 15rmb

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1 Thank nita300
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
87 helpful votes
“Xian to Beijing Train”
Reviewed 1 November 2012

We took the Z20 train from Xian to Beijing. We used chinatripadvisor.com, and booked "deluxe double sleepers" (i.e. only 2 people in the compartment). Note that the comments in the article "Beijing to Xian" are just as applicable on the reverse trip, however I will attempt to add a little more detail and respond to some comments from that article.

1) Chinatripadvisor.com did exactly what they said they would. We booked with the website about 20 days ahead, although the tickets cannot be bought earlier than 10. The cost was approx $150USD/ticket (person) for a one way trip. (Expensive, yes, but I am ok to pay for something if I get exactly what I want.) The web site said they would deliver to our hotel, and they did that. I communicated with the service via email and phone (confirming ticket purchase, ticket delivery, passports etc) and we had no issues with them. The hotel, however, didn't have a good system for keeping track of incoming tickets, so we had to invoke the panic button, our tour guide, and a few other tricks to find it. This part was the most frustrating. I should have had a Chinese friend communicate with the hotel to confirm delivery arrangements, as my Chinese language skills are similar to my French Canadian language skills, i.e. non-existent. Had the hotel been able to tell me that the tickets had arrived there, this whole process would have been a non-event. Pull someone off the street if you have to, but get the hotel to understand the delivery part and save yourself some anxiety.

2) The old Xian station is just that - old, with no real amenities. It has a minor convenience store, but not much else. In the deluxe class, you get to stay in the "lounge", but that just means that you MIGHT get a seat, if you are early. Outside the station is utter pandemonium, mixed with a little chaos, and when we were there, some rain. We thought we could put our luggage in a locker, however the lockers are outside the station, and it really isn't as secure as I wanted, nor did it look like the guy had enough room for any more luggage. So, we just waited in the lounge. In hindsight, we should have left everything at a hotel close by and headed to a mall 1/2km (or so) up the street. (our tour guide suggested this, but we weren't sure if it was going to rain, and the walk was a little far).

3) The sleepers themselves are rather old'ish, however the beds are a good size, and there is a table and comfortable chair. We could only open one piece of luggage at a time, but this didn't really seem that bad. Washroom was ok - it had toilet paper (just enough), and we asked for (and got) paper towels. Compared to a hotel, it was very basic, compared to the Xian airport, it was luxurious. (no squatting for the ladies!!)

4) While the beds are a good size, they are rock hard. However, we had a few hotels like this, so maybe this is the way it should be. Some commented that the TV's didn't work.? TV? What for?? As above, my language skills are a little lacking, so watching TV in a language I don't understand is only slightly more strange that watching soap operas, which are also in a language I don't understand.

5) Sleeping wasn't as good as I thought. The main reason is that the train has to travel across a fair amount of track that is shared with freight trains. Lots of cross overs, swaying (I was on the top bunk) and bumps. This was too bad, as once the train got onto some dedicated track, it was smooth as glass.

6) As for smoke/smell from other compartments, we might have been lucky in that we were at the end of the car, and I don't think there were any smokers close to us. Whatever the case, we didn't smell anything.

7) Food is provided by a cart that comes by, selling (what else) instant noodles in a bowl, tea and a few local style snacks. I chose the healthy option, namely sugar in the form of candy bars, and left it at that. I had brought my own coffee (Jacob's instant - great in a pinch), and there was lots of hot water in the trains. Another comment/post suggested that the dinner car is #9 - I didn't travel the length of the train, but we were in car 8, and I walked forward to (about) #12 or 13, and back to 7, and I didn't see any dedicated eating area/car.

In summary, am glad I did the trip, however the notion of a nice sleep just didn't turn into reality. And while we woke early to view the country side, the train tends to travel along a tree lined path, so we didn't see as much as I would have liked.

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Thank Mike427
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisbane, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
48 reviews
75 helpful votes
“Xian - A day away from beijing- one day tour”
Reviewed 22 April 2012

Due to my short time in China I decided to book a one day tour to Xian to see the Terracotta Army. I went online and chose my tour, sent off an email, paid my money and bang it was all done. two days before I left I was sent another confirmatin email with my guides name on it and my pick up time and itinerary.
Bright and early I was picked up at 5.30 am from my hotel lobbyand taken to the airport where I hoppped onto my flight for a 1.5 hour flight. barely enough time to have breakfast ( which was really bad- a type of congee that even I couldnt eat).
When Ilanded and came through the gate at Xian there was my name , larger than life with a tiny person behind it. My guide Pheonix stood around 5 5 and had the biggest smile on her. After introducing herself, she suggested I use the restrooms because we had an hour or so of driving ahead of us. Once in the car, {heonix and I got to know each other and she gave me as much information as I wanted. She had great knoweledge of the areas we were passing through and where we were going. We were in a mini van, so there was plenty of room and bottled water everywhere.
We firstly went to a factory to see the warriors and hwo they are made. of course you can buy the warriors here, and the sales people were a bit heavy handed in their sales attempts, but after explaining that no matter how much I loved that Clossiene cupbaoard there was no way i could pay 3 000 for it.
Next stop the warriors. as we approached Pheonix gave me more facts and asked a little more about my life, and we chatted quite easily. She spoke excellent English. her grammar and sentence structure was fantastic.
We saw Pit one before Pheonix asked me if I wanted lunch. This was around 12.30. I wasnt at all hungry so I declined. Next we saw Pits 2 and 3 before attempting lunch only to find that the restaurant was packed . After another 15 minutes of wandering Pheonix just went to the restaurant and we waited. Luckily because ther was on her and I, we got to sit on a table for four that had another single traveller like myself.
Lunch was included, and is a buffet at the only restaurant within the Warrior complex. It was amazing, They will bring out four hot dishes and then you can add from the buffet. Pheonix wouldnt sit down, but still kept appearing and asking if I wanted anything, and did I try this or that, and would run off and get me a dish if I hadnt tried anything. the other traveller, was a lovely ladie whom was amzed at the attentiveness of Pheonix. her guide had left her for the whole lunch time and she didnt know where he was. I think, she was secretly envious of my Pheonix. At the ned of lunch Pheonix got both of us a bowl of noodles to try, and this showed me just how good she was. She was now taking care of another traveller whom she didnt even know .
Lunch over, we started our trip into the city tosee the Xian City wall. This is part of a defence wall that surrounds the old part of Xian. really awesome work to see it still standing. If you hvae time you can walk around, or even cycle on it. Due to a public holiday and busy traffic I had to cut it short so that I could see the Big Goose Pagoda.
The Big Goose Pagoda is said to house the scriptures bought back by Jonghe (I might have that spelt comlpetely wrong) and is gorgeous. With Pheonixs guidance it was really goo, she gave me a wonderful history and we even lit some candles and burnt some incense. She asked me if I was Buddhist (which Im not) and seemed surprised when Isaid that I wouldnt mind lighting incense anyway. So I had a quick lesson in Buddhist devotations 101.
After the day was complete- around 5.30, pheonix and the driver Mr Wong, took me back to the airport.. Pheonix even came in and got me checked into my flight. Of course I tipped them both. This is probably the only uncomfortable part of the day. I acutally discussed this with Pheonix and I like to think I arrived at some fair amounts for her and the driver. Though Im still not sure weher she was being polite and I could have given her more.
When I arrived back in Beijing around 11, there was a driver to take me to my hotel at the airport with a nice big sign again. the whole day was long and tiring, but so worth it. It started at 5.30 am and I got back in my room at 11.30 pm. Its not a day I would suggest doing if you have kids, but adults can do it. Next time I would stay overnight in Xian because I felt that it has more to offer. I didnt get to see the Islamic Mosque or the Islamic marketys, and I wanted to cycle around the Xian City wall. I would have liked to just sit outside of the Big Goose Pagoda and people watch a little too.
But I do not regret doing the day trip and think it was fabulous. The tour compnay is called Beijing Tours Guide. I dont know if you can ask for a particular guide, but if you can, ask for Pheonix and tell her I Dani said hello.

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5 Thank ozi-volleygal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level 6 Contributor
65 reviews
86 helpful votes
“Xian - The Warriors don't disappoint but spare me the guides”
Reviewed 28 May 2011

XIAN

This report outlines a few days in Xian as part of a 28 day trip to China in April 2011

We wake kicking and screaming with the 4.30am wake up call and race down to met W and Mr D in the lobby at 5.40am. Usual carry on with check out then onto the highway arriving in time for flight.

China Eastern doesn't seem too bad and we don't have to eat our breakfast bag of goodies from the hotel. (We do later - lunch).

Arrive in Xian at 9.10 and wait and wait ... 9.45 with a lack of options I ring the Sydney travel company as we have no local details. Ten minutes later they ring back, car broken down, on the way and could we go get a coffee and please not get a taxi to hotel as this will, apparently, cause big trouble.
We oblige ( not a difficult call at this hour) we have the coffees and wait and wait, call from local office they'll be about 30mins. We wait and wait and wait - how far can one expensive cup of coffee last? We finally have another cup and work out that 4 cups of coffee at Xian airport have cost us roughly the same as the same as a bottle of JW Red back in Sydney, though we feel obliged to say that the coffee was 'Supreme Blue Mountains" .

Finally our new guide, turned up about 11.15am ... not happy Jan, - we said not happy Jan or words that effect and the guy dropped his head and we thought tears on the way, so we said okay okay, it's all worked out (A theme developing here) he has a taxi waiting and keeps apologising, company will pay for dinner tomorrow night at the Tang Dynasty Show (had completely forgotten the show), we end up comforting him.

We decide our new guide is going to be exhausting and is without a sense of humour, just wants to provide information.
So into cab and brief history of Xian follows, we have determined that each city/town in China is the most important depending on which city/town you are in at any one time. We are tired but arrive at hotel and no thanks don't want to do anything this afternoon (particularly as we suspect shopping in factories, this is a rest day).

We arrive at the hotel, rather nice 4 star with all mod cons, So lunch (Breakfast bag) and we sit and chat (really haven't had a chance to catch up since we met in Lanzhou) and do not a lot, though Scotch appears strangely .. not afternoon tea...
About 5.30 we head out to eat, find a small restaurant and eat from a Chinese menu what is fish soup and a beef dish. Okay not fabulous.
Anyway back to hotel for us to catch up and watch a movie. Not an exciting day but totally necessary if we are to continue to pace ourselves.

The guide and the no name driver arrive and we head over to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Xian seems a huge place, 8 million people; the city goes on and on. A large industrial city (which in China isn't) but of course with the wonderful ancient history, 2200 years of it. Just driving under the City Wall is a spine chilling experience.

Wild Goose Pagoda is a Ming building with a series of small temples and it must be said tourist trap stores, around it. In one temple there is modern panel on the wall which describes the story of the Buddha. When travelling in China and Sth East Asia, familiarity with the key aspects of Buddhism is necessary and tragically my knowledge falls short. Also some information about Taoism on another panel. Inevitably we end up at a 'demonstration' of calligraphy. Not being too quick we agree and have a 10 min demo which is fascinating, I’d never seen it close up before. But of course the demo is surrounded by artwork for sale and then we notice a shop is attached. We have a look and buy a few bits and pieces (after all we do need to buy souvenirs and gifts and there are some beautiful pieces and this is a government business.)
This becomes the pattern of a day which has highlights and a number of lowlights. Sales techniques in China being what they are. What did annoy me was being hurried through the Pagoda only to have as much time as we needed in the shop.
Nonetheless the Pagoda is wonderful and the temples are beautiful.

As we leave, we are asked whether we want to go to various other shopping opportunities and we agree to one, a Jade factory/showroom. We knock back several others. A brief demo at the jade place then the heavy sales technique. Marg gets the short straw in salesmen, he literally followed her around the showroom almost hanging onto her, not a happy Marg. he would not let her go and then, as she later said, he wasn't giving her any information... whereas mine was. Mine was older and more clever, he'd talk about the product, move off, come back, etc. I did buy a few bits and pieces then sat down for a cuppa (always available in these places.) He came over sat and chatted then went to the shelf to get a beautiful bowl I’d admired (major mistake stopping and looking at anything). He held it up to the light, it's translucent, we discussed etc etc . Bottom line is I did buy it, a wonderful piece I am very happy with. [Note: Am now at home and admiring my jade bowl immensely, it is a wonderful piece] Marg was still being pursued around the room. The play continues according to script though they are shocked when she finally says No, I am not buying it. I explain to my salesman that they really are too pushy and heavy handed with westerners... still they obviously make a living.

By this point we agree that lunch is in order as we have to drive an hour out of the city to the Terracotta warriors. Wonderful little noodle place run by a family who are from the Hui minority group, so Muslim. Nice people ad wonderful noodles..

So then into the horrible city traffic to head out to the Warriors.

Boy are we lucky!!! In the souvenir shop at the entrance is Mr Yang, the farmer who discovered the Warriors is signing books. Quelle coincidence! So buy the book and get it signed. No real problem as I wanted one.. Anyway we start the long trek to the actual site. Queue after queue after queue with people pushing shoving, crowding .. horrible. We show our tickets at least 4 times. Much hotter weather too, this place would be a nightmare in July/August. Warriors better be worth it ... Average of 30,000 people per day and 11 million a year, of which about 1 million are foreign tourists. I swear most of them are here today.

Fortunately for the future of China/Australian relations, the warriors are worth it.
You finally arrive in Pit 1, the largest. Thousands of people at the front getting the famous photo with the warriors lined up behind them, but to see the massive pit with rows of soldiers standing is a sight never forgotten. We walk around the edge of the Pit absolutely open mouthed. It is easy to spend a lot time here. Eventually we get over to the other two pits and the afternoon is gone. What sticks in my mind is the fact that the faces of the warriors are actually those of 8,000 soldiers who were later buried alive so they wouldn't talk about the tomb. Gets worse. There were 70,000 artisan slaves who made the tomb; they also were later buried alive. Makes the Egyptian Pharaohs look benign. Their remains have been found in Pits to the south of the main tomb. The tomb of the Emperor is not opened, they say it is full of mercury so don't want to risk anything until they have the techniques to do it properly. The feeling is that once they can it will contain some massive treasures.
It really is one of the wonders of the modern world and despite the pushing shoving crowds it is worth it. We head back to the shop where a mild dispute eventuates as Marg negotiates over some small thing to buy. This is really getting very heavy and we are going to have to be firm as the selling will only get worse as we head to Beijing.

Back into the City for the long promised Dumpling Dinner, unfortunately the drive takes too long and we have about 25 minutes to eat it before the Tang Dynasty Show. Wonderful dumplings though.
Our guide blots his copy book again by disappearing and asking us to met him a few minutes before 8 in the foyer. We arrive - no guide, we search, Marg goes to check upstairs. Nothing. Finally taken in by a theatre attendant where we block everybody's view as there are people in our seats. We leave - too embarrassing. Attendant comes out and we wait until a break in the show before re-entering, still no guide.
Show is nice, lovely costumes and some excellent musicians. On exiting an hour later our guide is there asking if we liked the show, we both say Yes, but where were you? We receive various explanations, none of which actually rings true. We've decided he is a bit of a Rain Man. There is some problem .
Not happy but only another half day with him. I've read about bad guides but this is my first experience.
Anyway am determined he won't ruin what has been a wonderful day. To see the Terracotta Warriors has been a remarkable experience and well worth everything to see them.
Another day ends and we decide we quite like Xian..

Another quiet morning perhaps a pattern developing here as we face the dreaded packing. Fortunately we are travelling by train tonight so weight isn't an issue. We've already decided that a visit to China Post while we are in Beijing will be a must. I seem to have acquired several kilos of books and several rather heavy bits and pieces.
When we finally emerge at 2pm to check out, our guide, S, isn't there but is replaced by A who obviously did her training in the Young China League and barks orders while treating us as 5 year olds. Different driver too. All most confusing especially as we have already spent a considerable amount of time calculating just the right tip, blast, we have to re-calculate. If I hear the 'Government has done ..." one more time I'll drop her over the edge of the wretched City Wall, talk about party line...

However we do get to the City Wall which is fantastic. The wall is over 13 kms long and goes around the entire old city, only two left in China, the other is at Nanking. The actual wall itself is about 10 metres wide so easy to move around and avoid the ever increasing crowds. You can bicycle around it, not surprising that we opted for a gentle stroll. Golf buggie was an alternative but for some reason known only to A they will only take a full load (8 people) at 50Y each. We think strange, perhaps 2 at 50Y is better than 0 at nothing but there you go, then told they were having a break. Whatever, we didn't get the buggy ride. But the views are spectacular and the sense of the old city surrounded by the moat was atmospheric.

So onwards towards the Old Mosque and Old Muslim Quarter. Quite frankly am becoming very tired of the celebration of the 'colourful' ethnic minorities, mostly they sing and dance nicely I gather. (Advised today that there are 57 ethnic groups in China of which 56 are ethnic minorities, see a theme developing here.) The Mosque was remarkable, old, some parts from 1700's, very quiet and dignified ... built in a Chinese style but easily recognisable as Muslim. Particularly impressive gardens, even at this time of year when spring is just springing and some green and some blossom are emerging.

Stroll through the old Muslim quarter, so called, which is a covered market where you walk along past stall after stall of the same tat. Quite picturesque though and it does in reality provide a bit of a sense of what it would have been like in the past.

We both very much enjoy the City Wall and the Old Mosque.

We need to have something to eat prior to getting on the train, try to explain to Alice my stomach is not good today and just want a bowl of rice, Marg is fine, can she sort something out? Three times I explained, told that in this area, noodles are the go - fine - noodles it is. But short conversation with local reveals a rice establishment nearby. Fine. Sit down with 15 minute conversation to determine spring rolls for Marg, and, you guessed it rice for me. By this time, S has rejoined us, we now have 2 guides.

So off to the train. Drive, walk (in fairness A and S wheel our big bags) for ages hit the crowd around the station entrance. Chinese not shy about shoving pushing etc etc ... bit of a strain all round. Finally through security check to soft class sleeper waiting room where we make friends with a nice child and wait for the Beijing Z train. Still trying to cope with crowds. We calculate that the populations of Beijing and Xian alone is that of all Australia.

By this stage just want to be on train and lose the 2 guides. Finally to the platform, nice train and then onto the 2 berth cabin. Very good, highly impressed and much better than the 2 previous I experienced (which in all fairness weren't bad).
Two bunks, private bathroom, lounge chair, storage cupboards - bliss! A really nice train with lovely views and we are sorry that we are only on it for one night. We have an hour or so of daylight to view the countryside.
Then a good night’s sleep before Beijing.

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2 Thank Ozjane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karlsruhe
Level 5 Contributor
71 reviews
29 helpful votes
“Nice city, worth to visit”
Reviewed 25 April 2011

Xi'an is a nice city and definetly worth to visit. Unfortunately we could not make it to the teracotta army as we just stayed there, due to a connection flight to Xining.

Besides the terracotta army which is definetly the main attraction (but it is a bit outside of the city), xi'an offers a great historical city centr with nice temples. Our favourite in the city was the street market in the city center. There you can buy local food and a lot of other local things.

Xi'an is easy to reach with overnight trains from beijing, as well as flights from all major chinese airports.

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Thank BenneKarlsruhe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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