Historic cities are easy to come by in the vast and millenary landscapes of China, so when one really stands it, its because it offers something spectacular. It is no wonder to us after a first visit years ago that we are writing this on our second trip, this time showing the city to some of most prestigious travel advising clients.
Xi’an served for quite a long period of time as China’s capital city. One look at its near perfectly preserved, massive walls reveals why. Situated on the rich Shaanxi plains in the Northwest of China, much trade and commerce between the East and the West came from the nearby medieval expressway: the Silk road.
Knowing the City:
One thing we quickly recalled on this trip is just how massive the city is. Many ‘old towns’ and even their later expansions around the world are walkable in an afternoon. Xi’an’s historic center is quite broad because the walls encircling the city are vast. The modern town extends even behind these confines and on our first day back we walked over 20km!
The city can be exploding with tourists due to its own fame and that of the nearby Terracotta Warriors. For that reason the hotels are massive and the infrastructure is good and competitive. On our last visit we stayed at the Hilton which honestly had the look of a more posh Conrad property and on this occasion, we are thrilled to see the Renaissance, certainly the best expression of this brand that we’ve encountered in the portfolio yet.
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda seen here is the icon of the city’s importance in Buddhism and culture. The Da Ci’en temple complex boasts gardens, fountains, souvenir shops and Western-style restaurants nearby. It is the most recognizable attraction in town.
The famed city walls which are more than a thousand years old and encircle five square miles of city are one of the oldest defense systems in the world still extant. There are 18 different gates and various access points for tourists to enjoy the views.
The Beiyuanmen Muslim Market located just to the North of the famous Drum tower and it is one of the most colorful and scenic parts of town. It is amazing to see how the interchange of the silk road brought not just goods but cultural and spiritual diversities.
The drum tower is an ancient timekeeping center. It stands today as a photogenic monument in the heart of the bustling city, but its function was to mark dusk each day and serve as a place for time and record keeping. Its sister tower the bell tower hailed the coming of dawn each day and is another great place to see.
Slated to become one of China’s next big luxury markets, retailers have been tapping into the spending potential of affluent visitors as well as residents. SKP Luxury Mall is the newest installment of luxury retailers in the city.