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48 Hours in Xi'an

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Xi'an is the historical heart of China, and you feel like you're in the Tang Dynasty as you walk along the Old City Wall. Especially when the lanterns light up at night and street musicians play traditional Chinese music on the street corner. Xi'an was all about the food for me. I loved biang biang noodles, a regional specialty, and devoured half of the street food in the Muslim Quarter, especially all the sweet desserts.
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127 E 1st Rd, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Xincheng Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710005
Muslim noodle restaurants are ubiquitous all over China, but Xi'an, with its large Muslim population, has a far better class of them. Most restaurants have photos of the various dishes on the wall, and all you have to do is point. My personal...
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Caffe Bene is a coffee chain out of Australia. This Xi'an outpost is one of the strangest and most enchanting coffee shops I've ever been to. It's essentially a glass box on top of a nondescript shopping center on Center Street, a few blocks up...
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The magic potato may be the singular most perfect food on the planet—the pinnacle of mankind's culinary ability. While by no means unique to Xi'an, the stalls dotted around the city that sell this delicacy sure know how to make it. A magic potato...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, GaoXin ShangQuan, 高新区科技路徐家庄附近(近白沙路) 邮政编码: 710065
Delhi Darbar is an excellent Indian restaurant in Xi'an. I usually order palak paneer and malai kofta when trying a new Indian restaurant, because unlike curries, it's really hard to make these without fresh ingredients. (In China, you either need...
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Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
If you live in China, you're going to have to make a serious decision, which is: do you accept that cherry tomatoes are fruit? If, like me, you do not, then you will have many hard years ahead finding tomatoes on top of ice cream sundaes, in fruit...
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Shi Ji Jin Hua Xing Guang Cheng, QuJiang ShangQuan, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710061
This is a new mall down in the Yanta area, across from the Westin. It is an enormous building built in the old Chinese architectural style of the city, which is very cool. Inside there are a couple of good and clean Chinese food options, which are...
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334 East St, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
If you're tired of chicken and pork restaurants with happy animals looking delighted to get eaten, the Angry Squid is for you. Squid is insanely popular in Xi'an, even though it's hundreds of miles to the ocean, and Angry Squid seems to be the...
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Qujiang Shangquan, Yanta, Xi'an, China, 710061
There's an amazing gallery and high-end shop just off the lobby of the Westin hotel. It has stunning examples of classic Chinese jewelry, and art such as jade Buddhas and hand-carved horse statues. Outside of the store is a beautiful atrium where...
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Furong S Rd, QuJiang ShangQuan, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China
Tang Paradise is a modern reconstruction of various ancient sites in Shaanxi province. There are a lot of beautiful buildings constructed in the style used during the Tang Dynasty. The park itself is 165 acres, with a lake in the center surrounded...
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Yanta W Rd, QuJiang ShangQuan, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710007
Northern China has some of the most amazing tasting yogurts. Since we don't have any decent yogurt in Shenzhen, I pig out every time I go north. Stalls and shops around Xi'an sell really cool drinking yogurts. This stall was on the west side of...
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Ci'en E Rd, QuJiang ShangQuan, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710061
Awa Shanzhai serves very tasty food. Their service is good and they have picture menus for easy ordering. But whereas with most Chinese restaurants it's easy to figure out the cuisine (Sichuan, Guangdong, barbecue, hotpot, and so on), the funny...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, DaTang TongYiFang, Yanta W Rd, 雁塔西路大唐通易坊4号 邮政编码: 710061
It doesn't look like much from the outside, but this is a really good Korean restaurant. Inside, the friendly staff have nice picture menus with a huge selection of Korean favorites. The kimchi is fresh, and we figured we couldn't go wrong with...
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There's a little bar area south of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, two blocks east of the Westin. The bar scene in Xi'an isn't as boisterous, by Western standards, as in other cities. That being said, if you're in the area and want a beer, this is a...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, XiaoZhai ShangYeJie, 兴善寺西街55号 邮政编码: 710065
I got really excited when I saw this humble canteen at the Daxingshan Temple, next to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and near the Westin. (I lived in Macau for a year and ate at least one meal a day at one of two Buddhist vegetarian restaurants in...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, XiaoZhai ShangYeJie, Yanta N Rd, 雁塔路
I was so excited to ride the monorail around the Goose Pagoda park, but the day I went, the power was out in the area. My heart was broken. It looks like a fun ride, all around the park and new shopping center and the pagoda itself. I bet the...
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Datang The Easy Lane, Yanta, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
Terrific tower,isn't it?The trip with my honey impressed me.I love her forever,the same as this ancient city.It's worth a visit.Holding her hands,hugging her just like Titanic,standing on the top,felling wind breeze your face.What a impressive...
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Qujiang Shangquan, Yanta, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China, 710061
This is a great little market directly across the street from the Westin and south of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. It's oriented towards visitors and tourists, so there are lots of cheap souvenirs. However, there are also plenty of cool, locally...
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Yanta W Rd, XiaoZhai ShangYeJie, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710007
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a very cool historical site to visit in Xi'an. It was built in the seventh century to house Buddhist scriptures, statues, and other relics that were brought back to China by the Buddhist scholar and traveler Xuanzang....
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1 Shehui Rd, BeiYuanMen XiaoChi YiTiao Jie, Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
I've seen people with two fully-functional hands do this kind of sidewalk chalk calligraphy before, but no one came close to this man's level of skill. He did it all with his feet! I gave this man some money and hope you will too, if you see him....
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This was a wonderful night walk along the moat on the outside of the South Wall. Traditional music softly plays and the dim lighting highlights the beauty of the lit-up wall. There's also talk of opening the boats on the moat up to tourists, which...
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Shuyuanmen Pedestrian St, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
These are one of the coolest souvenirs I've seen in China. At first I thought this man was just doing some carvings. He was: hand-carving these wooden egg-shaped things. There was also music playing, and I realized it was the eggs. They were...
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Yanta W Rd, XiaoZhai ShangYeJie, Yanta Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710007
If you're looking for something a touch classier than a man grilling octopus on the back of his scooter, this dedicated street food area is for you. It's on the west side of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, and has a lot of the Chinese street food...
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China, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, DaTang TongYiFang, 西安大雁塔南广场西侧 邮政编码: 710061
The Underground Palace is one of the strangest places I have ever visited. We stumbled upon it by chance while wandering along the west side of the wall around the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. Despite not knowing what it was, we bought tickets and...
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Qujiang Shangquan, Yanta, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
There are lots of places in the area surrounding Giant Wild Goose Pagoda where you can have your photograph taken while dressed up in costumes from ancient China. We weren't brave enough to try it, but it looked pretty fun. Kids would love it!
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, GaoXin ShangQuan, 高新一路 邮政编码: 710065
This is a slightly odd place. It's in the middle of a commercial area, with no restaurants in sight. If you get to the right block, it's actually behind a large building. You have to knock and be let in like a speakeasy. Once inside, it's a pretty...
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Shuyuanmen Pedestrian St, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
You must, must, must visit this street in Xi'an. Every shop sells either art or art supplies, such as these calligraphy brushes. I went there almost every day and tried to peek into every nook and cranny, but it's just so big. The neighborhood is...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Beilin Qu, ZhongLou ShangQuan, 下马陵
Xian's art district is called Shuyuanmen, 书院门, and there are some local artists here that sell paper cut art. Paper cutting began as a major art form in Xi'an around the seventh century, which was the city's heyday. People in China place cut paper...
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Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
There are a number of old neighborhoods in Xi'an that are lovely to explore on foot, especially between the Bell Tower and the Great Mosque, and west of the South Gate. Wandering around, you'll see old houses and stumble upon amazing stonework and...
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China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Weiyang Qu, 范家南村54号 邮政编码: 710016
The Muslim Quarter of Xi'an is famous for its vendors of dried fruits and nuts. These aren't just any old packs of nuts. They are of the finest quality, selected and dried by hand. A pound of shelled walnuts goes for the equivalent of around $10....
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16 Lianhu Rd, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China
Shi zi bing, 柿子饼, are kind of flat balls of glutinous rice and persimmons, stuffed with things like red bean or black sesame paste, and deep-fried. They're only about 2 RMB each and are so ridiculously tasty that you'll be tempted to eat more than...
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128 N Guangji St, BeiYuanMen XiaoChi YiTiao Jie, Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
I'm of the belief that all food is better on a stick, and Xi'an did not disappoint in this respect. There are women everywhere selling little desserts on sticks. These desserts are made of rice that's been pounded and steamed in cute little...
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80 Nanyuanmen, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
You can't talk about Xi'an without talking about biangbiang noodles, a unique Shaanxi food. The character for biang is one of the most complex among noodles, and is achieved by kneading the dough 58 strokes. With all the hype about the giant...
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N Guangji St, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Lianhu Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
Taxi service isn't great in Xian, but no big deal. There's great bus service around town. If you want to get home a little faster, take a tuk-tuk. There are so many around Xi'an that we got into a tuk-tuk traffic jam in this photo of the Muslim...