New life in old city

Updated: 2015-03-16 07:39

By Mike Peters(China Daily)

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New life in old city

The Muslim quarter of Xi'an, featuring food stalls and sit-down restaurants, is a highlight of any Xi'an visit. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

Xi'an is hailed as the easternmost hub from which the Silk Road's land route webbed westward to reach Rome. Armies of tourists besiege the modern metropolis to view the Terracotta Warriors, but Mike Peters discovers other marching grounds worth exploring.

Few getaways from China's capital beat Xi'an. Its laid-back lifestyle and distinct culture are very different from the big cities of the east coast. It's reasonably close to Beijing, and you can see and do a lot in a short time.

Chang'an-as the city was known in its heyday-was the capital of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and has long been acclaimed as the gateway to the old Silk Road. It was the biggest city in the world when ancient Chinese culture was at its peak, and many of Xi'an's best experiences for visitors hark back to the caravan days.

Two full days can provide a good taste if that's all the time you have. The trick is to fly in early and fly out late-or take an overnight sleeper train each way. From Beijing, you can depart around 9 pm and arrive in Xi'an at 7 am with a night's rest, so you can hit the ground running.

We made our hotel reservations ahead of time, which gave us a jump on getting to the area's most popular tourist attraction: the famed Terracotta Warriors. A hotel shuttle bus met our train, swept us to our lodgings and expedited check-in for those who wanted to jump back on the bus for the one-hour trip to see the warriors' excavation and museum.

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