Our next stop on our China adventure is the city of Xi'an! We had an early morning flight from Beijing and arrived in Xi'an around 10am. We booked a private tour to take us around for the day, so we were promptly picked up from the airport and driven to another one of our bucket list spots: the Terra Cotta Warriors.
We first went to a Terra Cotta factory that manufactures Terra Cotta warriors the same way they did way back in the day, and with the same kind of terra cotta clay. They sell these as souvenirs and also help fix the broken terra cotta warriors from the pits. #wegotasmalloneasasouvenir #totaltourists
We then drove to see the actual Terra Cotta Warriors. For those who don't know, in 1974, completely by chance, seven farmers were drilling for a well and hit something solid (the soldiers). Unsure of what was down there, they notified the Chinese government. It has now become one of the world's most famous archaeological finds/sites, and they are still digging and undercovering stuff. #thankyoufarmers For those who are wondering what happened to the farmers (like Nate and I!), they were set up with lifetime salaries from the government for finding this site and were able to retire since they took over their land. #happyending
Fun facts about the site: There are over 8,000 soldiers discovered so far (and they're still digging), 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses - and they're over 2000 years old #OG These soldiers were built to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Chinese emperor who united the 7 kingdoms of China with a common language, money, and culture.
Each soldier is unique, and no two soldiers are the same (no two soldier's faces are the same). It took over 39 years to finish building all of them, 37 years during the emperor's reign (he started when he was 13), and 2 years to finish during his son's reign. They had criminals help build all of these soldiers (over 700,000 helped!) Everyone who helped build and bury the tomb were killed so no one would know where the treasures were hidden inside. #areyouimpressedyet?
The soldiers are in the actual formation they would be for war and include different ranks of officers, generals, and soldiers. Some believe these life size soldiers were made to stand guard over the emperor's soul, or the emperor expected his rule to continue in death as it had in life.
So far the site contains 3 pits that you can visit. The roof above the soldiers collapsed (most likely because the weight of the soil above it) - crushing all but one of the soldiers discovered so far. The factory we visited before helps fill in any missing pieces from each soldier the archeologists discover.
The first pit we visited was pit 1. It contains the most soldiers discovered so far, over 6,000. It is 750 ft long and 203 ft wide.
Pictures do not do this place justice. It was crazy seeing this in real life and the vast amount of soldiers. And it was fun to see it's still a live archaeological site where they're still digging out soldiers and piecing them together in the back.
We moved from Pit 1 to Pit 3. Pit 3 is the command post, with high-ranking officers, and a war chariot. The horses should be pulling chariots but they were made of wood, so they decayed.
Pit 2 is the pit that is the least excavated and has cavalry and infantry units, and war chariots
They have the 'Lucky Man' on display here, the only soldier they've found out of 8,000 that wasn't broken. They also have other officers, weapons, and horses on display in this exhibit.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat after the pits, and headed into the main city of Xi'an. Here we got to see the Bell Tower and Drum Tower - both built in the 14th century. These were used back in the day to signal the opening and closing of the gates to the city of Xi'an, which is still encircled by the old city wall. Xi'an is one of the few cities in China that the city wall is still standing, and it stands 12 meters high.
The Bell tower would chime at 4:30am to open the city gates, and the Drum Tower would sound at 9pm to close the gates. The city of Xi'an is built around this city center where the East streets have commercial buildings and shopping, the North streets have government buildings, the South streets have luxury shopping, and to the West hotels.
We then walked around the Muslim Quarter which is located behind the drum tower. We saw lots of street vendors and delicious food, but we were saving our appetite for a dumpling restaurant our guide recommended.
After walking around, we had one of the best dumpling meals! (This is rated in our top 3 meals of China) The restaurant was located near the Bell Tower. We paid a reasonably flat fee (I think around $16), and had at least 20 unique dumplings each. Some stuffed with duck and garlic, sweet potato, chicken and onion, soup dumplings, and the list goes on. We couldn't finish everything and ended up taking home to-go bags back to our hotel.
After our endless, amazing dumpling meal, we were full and exhausted. We headed back to our hotel to rest up for our early flight to Shanghai in the morning.
Our private tour was great and I highly recommend. We booked through ChinaXianTour.com. Very reasonable price and a great value :)
Until next time!
Follow in our Footsteps:
We had the best tour through this company:
China Xian Tour
Mobile: (86)15129005119 (86)15829057647 (24hr)
Xian Office Tel: 86-29-68805382
Office hours (Beijing time):09:00-20:00hrs (Mon to Sat)
Terra Cotta Warriors
Lintong, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
+86 29 8139 9001
Price: adult/student Mar-Nov ¥150/75, Dec-Feb ¥120/60
Hours: 8.30am-5.30pm Mar-Nov, to 5pm Dec-Feb
Beiyuanmen Snacks Street, Lianhu, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China, 710001
Price: ¥35, combined Drum Tower ticket ¥50
Hours: 8.30am-9.30pm Mar-Oct, to 5.30pm Nov-Feb, last admission 30min before closing
Beiyuanmen, BeiYuanMen XiaoChi YiTiao Jie, Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
Price: ¥35, combined Bell Tower ticket ¥50
Hours: 8.30am-9.30pm Mar-Oct, to 6.30pm Nov-Feb, last admission 30min before closing
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!