New life in old city

Updated: 2015-03-16 07:39

By Mike Peters(China Daily)

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Planning your stay

Xi'an has a wide range of accommodations, from new five-stars to mid-range to gloriously funky hostels-all ready to make it easy to get to the local sights. Hostels here are some of the best anywhere-the environment is very competitive, so they have to be.

On my first visit to Xi'an, I enjoyed breakfast in a charming hostel courtyard near the south gate and, making an afternoon stop in the bar, sampled my first cup of medicinal wine.

That's the clear Chinese liquor generally known as baijiu, in this case dipped from a huge apothecary jar that also included a fearsome (if desiccated) snake, tiger bone, sea horse and the penis of I can't remember what. None of these exciting ingredients contributed to the taste as far as I could tell. But the bartender assured me the brew was designed for long life, and-at 50-something-I'm all for it.

At the other end of the accommodation scale, we went the upscale route on another visit.

The Kempinski hotel is sublime for meetings and conventions, with session rooms and banquet facilities on a quiet lakeside site that's a half-hour or so from the distractions of the old city.

Chef Waylon Fu at the Dragon Palace restaurant makes the menu distinctly local, starting with a spicy Chang'an-style deep-fried chicken and an elegantly simple version of the local noodles.

If you go

China Eastern operates domestic flights between Xi'an and most major Chinese cities. The airport is 40 kilometers north of the city, with regular shuttle bus service to town (one hour, 40 yuan). The busy rail station is just outside the old city's north gate.


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