This ancient capital of China has more than a few lesser-known gems
Any history buff worth their salt would know that Xi’an more than rivals Beijing and Shanghai as the core of ancient Chinese civilisation. The imperial capital of thirteen dynasties, Xi’an is most famous for being home to the iconic Terracotta Warriors that guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. Add a walk along the City Walls and a visit to the Dayan Pagoda, and you’ll see why this city wowed Mark Zuckerberg in 2015.
But the basic one-day itinerary does not do justice to the treasures of China’s rich cultural heritage that Xi’an holds. And if you get restless looking at towering, centuries-old structures after another, get ready to be surprised by the colourful diversity of natural and urban life not too far away. From modern politics to scenic views to a foodie’s paradise, these five awe-inspiring places will get you delving deeper into this fascinating city.
5. Muslim Quarter Food Street (回民街)
You haven’t really experienced Xi’an until you’ve tried the local food that have made Shaanxi cuisine one of the most popular Chinese regional cuisines around the world. And there’s no better place to try all the signature dishes at amazing value than the Muslim Quarter food street (回民街). Follow the crowd and the aromatic smell of bone broth to this street food paradise at the very centre of Xi’an city, west of Zhonggulou Square.
We have the city’s days as a trading hub of the ancient Silk Road to thank for its culinary history. Merchants from the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia would bring their cuisines with them to Xi’an. The result? A dazzling diversity of food at the Muslim Quarter, mostly run by Hui Muslims. For our Muslim readers, yes, you’ll find lots of halal delicacies there!
Some must-try dishes are yangrou paomo, mutton stew with crumbled flatbread; and roujiamo, a thick and fluffy bun stuffed with hand-shredded meat. Although it might seem like most of the food on offer are meat-heavy, vegetarians and vegans need not despair. The signature noodle dishes, liangpi and biangbiang noodles, are usually served without meat. For those with a sweet tooth, there are also various types of glutinous rice cakes and hammered candy sprinkled with nuts, perfect to bring home as a gift for your family and friends. Everything is freshly prepared at the Muslim Quarter, and it’s a visual feast to watch the local vendors stretch your noodles and candy with amazing dexterity.