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A Historical Paradise

3 Days 2 Nights
Writer
Thoriq Hasani and Izzat Haziq
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Delve into the history of ancient Terracotta Army at XI’AN, the starting point of the famed Silk Road.

Home to the majestic funerary art of the Terracotta Army, the province of Xi’an in China offers a rich historical experience, with origins dating as far back as 500,000 years ago with the discovery of the prehistoric Lantian Man, in Lantian County. The historical province also witnessed the birth of an ancient network of trade routes, the Silk Road that stretches all the way to Africa and India. Three days and two nights may not be enough to fully explore this city, but here are a few must-see spots if you do pay a visit!

DAY 1
Xi’an Bell Tower
Xi’an Bell Tower

Start your journey at Xi’an city centre, which is an hour and a half’s drive away from Xianyang International Airport. You’ll find the stately Xi’an Bell Tower here, which is famously known for its distinctive Ming Dynasty architecture and green roof tiles. Its sister Drum Tower sits to the west, is just a 10-minute walk away. In the olden days, the bell would be rung at dawn while the drums would be beaten at dusk every day. As the Drum Tower is adjacent to the Muslim Quarters, do explore the unique neighbourhood and sample delicious Shaanxi snacks.

You might also notice that the inner city of Xi’an is enclosed within the 13.7 kilometres long Ancient City Wall. Here, you may either choose to rent a bike to experience the sights and sounds of the city or visit the Shaanxi History Museum and learn about the province’s glory days through the collection of relics.

Ancient City Wall
Ancient City Wall

Head south to Chang’an to visit the Xingjiao Temple, where the remains of the Buddhist Monk Xuanzang rests. Located on the Shaoling Plateau, the temple is divided into three courtyards which houses several important religious statues and scriptures.

Further down east is the pièce de résistance of Xi’an, the famed Terracotta Army and Horses of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The terracotta army is only part of a garrison in Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum, which is listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Reportedly. the terracotta army and the tomb complex took approximately 40 years to complete and over 700,000 men worked on the construction at the time. Archaeologists have uncovered roughly 200 new warriors, 12 horses, and two chariots, as well as a number of bronze weapons, over the past 10 years. Today, the excavation and restoration of the terracotta figures is still ongoing as most of it still remains unearthed. One fun fact is when you look at them closely, you’ll see that no two figures are exactly alike.

Terracotta Army and Horses of Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Terracotta Army and Horses of Emperor Qin Shi Huang

After that, you might fancy a dip in the Huaqing Hot Springs, a famous spa complex originally built for Concubine Yang, of Emperor Xuanzong, located at the north foot of Mount Li.

As for Xi’an cuisine, op picks include sour and spicy Suantang Jiaozi dumplings, the cold spicy noodles or Liangpi and Steamed Spiced Beef in Pita Bread, commonly known as Fenzheng Rou, all of which can be found at most of the restaurants and street stalls around the city.

Huaqing Hot Springs
Huaqing Hot Springs
DAY 3

On your third day, head north towards the Hancheng district to pay a visit to the Sima Qian Temple, named after a famous historian, displaying his life in the four exhibition rooms within. Meanwhile, the late historian’s tomb is located at the back of the temple, shrouded by an old cypress tree. The temple provides an ideal location for you to enjoy the stunning vistas of great rivers and mountains surrounding it.

After that, head west to Xianyang - the capital of the Qin Dynasty to visit the Xianyang Museum. The museum boasts collections of artifacts from the Qin (221 BC to 206 BC) and Han (206 BC to 9 AD) eras. Once a Confucian temple area, the renovated building retained some of the old temple’s facade. There are nine halls altogether, housing an array of relics including paintings, calligraphy, pottery and jade objects. Here is also where you’ll find the biggest sitting Bronze Buddha statue of of the Ming Dynasty.

Zhaoling Mausoleum (L), Qianling Mausoleum (R)
Zhaoling Mausoleum (L), Qianling Mausoleum (R)

The burial sites of many of China’s great ancient leaders are also located here at Xianyang, including the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, tomb of the Emperor Liu Qi and Empress Wang of the Western Han dynasty; the Zhaoling Mausoleum, tomb of the second Emperor of Tang, Taizong, which is built into a mountain; and the Qianling Mausoleum, tomb of Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian.

Don’t forget to sample out some of the local dishes before you leave! How about a bowl of Liangfen, a scrumptious combination of cold spicy jelly noodles with sesame paste, vinegar and mustard to get your appetite starting? For something more hearty, grab a bowl of deep-fried beef with rice, topped off with spicy cumin lamb skewers. Or if you’re in the mood for snacks, give Doufunao a try. The silken beancurd grub will surely hit all the right spots for you. Head to Cao Yun Ma Tou Shaanxi Food inside the Hancheng Lake Park for some of the best local food here.

Liangfen (L), Doufunao (R)
Liangfen (L), Doufunao (R)
GETTING HERE

International flights by AirAsia X from the second terminal of KL International Airport, klia2 will bring you to Xianyang International Airport. Once at Xianyang International Airport, you are only half an hour away from the Xi’an city centre so be sure to begin your exploration as soon as you get there.

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