Xi'an, China - Stein Travel
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Xi'an

In ancient times the city of Xi'an was a major crossroads on the trading routes from eastern China to central Asia, and the beginning point of the famed Silk Road; in recent years this 3,100 year old city that was once regarded to be on a par with Rome and Constantinople, has come back into its own as one of China's major tourist attractions.

In 1974, on the city's eastern outskirts, archaeologists stumbled across a treasure trove: an army of terracotta warrior figurines in battle formation standing in underground vaults. Hailed as the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an have brought visitors from around the world flocking to the city to soak up its historical and cultural heritage, and perhaps embark on an adventure tour along the ancient silk caravan route.

Xi'an, in ancient times known as Chang'an, is situated in central China in the southern part of Guan Zhong Plain in Shaanxi province, with the Qinling Mountains to the north and the Weihe River to the south.

Besides the terracotta warriors, the city has a great many historical relics of interest including museums and temples, having been the capital city of China through 12 dynasties during its thousands of years of development. The city wall is the largest in the world, and the Forest of Steles, with its collection of more than 3,000 ancient stone tablets, is both the largest and oldest in China.

Information & Facts

Climate

Xi'an has a continental monsoon climate, with four separate seasons. Summers are usually hot and wet, and winters tend to be cold and dry. July to September is the wet season and the average yearly temperature is 56°F (13°C). Spring and autumn are favourite times to travel to Xi'an, though generally the weather is pleasant year round.

Getting Around

Xi'an is easy to negotiate on foot, as it is relatively small and compact. Buses run frequently, linking most attractions, as do the smaller and more crowded minibuses. Taxis are plentiful but visitors should ensure the metre is switched on as drivers can tend to overcharge with 'fixed rates.' Hiring a bicycle is also an option, though one should be careful on the busy streets.

Language

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.

Money

The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Time

Local time is GMT +8.

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