Xian China – Top-10 Most Thrilling Things to Do

If you are looking for a place to go then an action packed holiday or vacation full of interesting places and lively activities can be found in Xi’an. Read on to discover the ten best activities you can do in Xi’an.

There are several activities that can keep you entertained or challenging that take place on or near the centuries old city wall.

Xi’an City Wall International Marathon

The actual race which attracts thousands of visitors from home and abroad takes place every year in late April and is a circuit of the city wall (13.7km), a half marathon (21km) or a 5km run. If you are not here for the actual event then you can still take part by jogging the course (or small section) on any day of the year. Should you wish to take part in the actual event then entry costs CNY150 or CNY100 for the 5km event.

2. The City Wall Kite Festival

The City Wall Kite Festival takes place at the Gate Tower of the walls South Gate during the 3rd month of the Chinese lunar year (April or May). It is a combination of traditional culture together with skill shown in this ancient Chinese art form. During the festival you will see several kinds of kites and some impressive performances as demonstrated by stunt kites, exhibitions of flying and on the ground in addition to demonstrations of kite making. If you are not here for the festival you can also see several locals demonstrating their individual skill at kite flying throughout the year.

3. Lantern Fair

The Lantern Fair has been held in the city since 1985 and begins on the 23rd day of the 12th month in the lunar calendar and ends on the last day of the 1st month of the next lunar year. The fair is a great demonstration of the kinds of lanterns available and is an impressive sight when they illuminate the night sky. The fair is centered on the city wall and to view the lanterns up close the entry fee of CNY100 is required to go onto the wall at any of the four gates.

4. Cycling on the Wall

The final activities that take place on the wall are either sitting on a battery operated electric car and be driven around the wall on a sightseeing tour take costs CNY80 or CNY120 if you opt for a more luxurious vehicle. You can pay CNY20 and go from one gate to the next, get off the car and look around before waiting for the next car and paying to go to the next gate.

If you like your activities to be a little more energetic then you can cycle around the wall. You must use one of the bikes for hire at the wall; they cost CNY45 for 2 hours or CNY90 for a tandem bike. You can cycle around at a leisurely pace in under 2 hours but if you exceed the two hours you have to pay extra (CNY5 for each 10 minutes). You can hire the bikes from 8am until 8pm from the South Gate, the other three gates close for cycle hire at 6pm. You will have to leave a deposit which is returned when you return the bikes, remember to keep the receipt you are given to receive your deposit back.

5. Sightseeing Bus Tours

A good way to see the city or to discover the locations of the major attractions is to do a sightseeing tour on a double-decker bus. The tours begin from Suspension Bridge Square and if you keep your ticket you can hop on and off several times to visit the attractions. It costs CNY68 and is valid for 24hours, or if you pay CNY98 your ticket includes entry to the city wall. The buses operate hourly from 9am until 5pm, and then a final bus at 7.30pm from March until October. From November until February the buses run every 2 hours from 9am until 5pm. Each bus tour takes around 90 minutes if you do not use the hop on and off option.

6. Defu Lane

Defu Lane in Beilin district is just to the north of the South Gate and in addition to being an area that is in the heart of the Xi’an nightlife it is also historically rich in its attractions. Defu Lane was once part of the imperial palace during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. Until 1995 it was a dark and largely ignored street, now it is a combination of traditions and modern life with several bars and tea houses along its length of 272m. it is a quiet street during the day when you can admire the architecture of ancient and modern China. After dark the street comes alive with neon lights as the bars begin to fill.

To reach Defu Lane there are several bus routes but the easiest way is by the metro line 2, get off at Yongningmen station and walk north for a little over 5 minutes from Exit A2.

7. A Walking Tour of the Local Food

Take a walking tour with an English speaking guide to discover some of the hidden restaurants far away from the main tourist areas where you will find the best local food. The tour includes samples of food and information on each of the dishes you get to see. At the end of the tour you get to sit down and enjoy a meal. All the food and drink are included in the price of a tour, expect to pay around CNY350 for an afternoon or evening food tour.

8. Tang Paradise

Tang Paradise is a theme park that demonstrates the charm and grandeur of the Tang dynasty. Several records were broken in creating this park. It has the world’s largest movie screen on water, it was the first to use the five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and sound in its performances and it is the world’s biggest outdoor project to incorporate fragrances into its productions. It opened in 2005 and is now a must see attraction in Xi’an. It costs CNY120 in the high season, CNY90 during the low season.

9. Banpo Village Ruins

The Banpo Village Ruins tell the story of this 6000 year old village site that includes residential areas, areas used for producing pottery, tools that were in use at that time and an ancient burial ground. You should take bus number 42 from the train station to visit this remarkable site. To fully appreciate this site you should then visit the Shaanxi History Museum to view the display of relics found at this site.

10. Shu Yuan Men (Ancient Culture Street)

The Ancient Culture Street of Shu Yuan Men is full of ancient crafts, paintings and calligraphy. It is located close to the Beilin Museum of Stone Steles. Many of the shops displaying the items are historical relics themselves having stood for more than 400 years. The artists and sellers are happy to talk to you and share their passion for their crafts. Should you wish to buy anything the prices are reasonable.


The best time to visit Xi’an is during the spring (March until May) or the autumn months of September and October, at these times of the year the weather is pleasant and warm, although you may experience some rain in the autumn. It is best to avoid visiting during the first week of October as this is the Chinese national holiday and there will be enormous crowds at every attraction and activity.