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Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, was called Chang'an in ancient times. It is situated in the central part of Weihe Plain. The city is bounded by the Weihe River in the north and the massive Qinling Mountain Range in the south. As one of China's seven ancient national capitals, it served as the capital for 12 dynasties spanning more than 1,000 years. Xi'an, therefore, has a great number of precious relics and historical sites.

The main tourist attractions include The Terracotta Warriors, Great Wild Goose Pagoda, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Huaqing Pool, Banpo Site, Stele Forest, Great Mosque, Qianling Mausoleum, Famen Temple, and the Maoling Mausoleum. Xi'an was the starting point of the old Silk Road that extended from Asia to Europe and played an important role in cultural interflow between the East and West in ancient times.

Shaanxi Province, an inland province in China, is also called "Qin" or "Shaan", and is one of the birthplaces of Chinese culture. Beishan Mountain and the Qinling Range stand as two boundaries that divide the province into three natural areas - the Loess Plateau in northern Shaanxi, the Guangzhong Plain, and the Qinba Hilly land. The plateau and hilly land make up most of the province's area. Shaanxi Province boasts an area of 205,600 square kilometers and a population of 36 million people.

The weather in Xi'an is continental with four distinct seasons. This is an arid region that experience little precipitation outside of summer and autumn thunderstorms. The summers can be rather hot, though the occasional rain shower will cool things down. The winter is usually cold and dry, and the snow levels are not significant (only about 5cm). The best time of the year turns out to be the spring and autumn as the weather is neither hot nor cold – making it perfect for daytime walks, traveling, shopping, or just sitting outside with the locals eating kebobs.

Everywhere you look in Xi’an food is being sold, from the impromptu noodle vendor on the roadside to the classy five star restaurants. Shaanxi cuisine is one of the most remarkable in the country, containing elements of various Asian styles. It’s blending of method and ingredients hints strongly to the history of the region as a center of cultural and information exchange. Most dishes are noodle based and most noodles are hand made on the premises. The flavours of Shaanxi display a mixture of Eastern China, Sichuan, and the Central Asian republics that have influenced the culinary development of the region for millennia.

If you ever miss food from home Xi’an is there to help. There are several McDonalds, Pizza Huts and KFCs around the city centre and in Xiao Zhai (close to Aston 2). Most of the big hotels as well as the youth hostels cook an assortment of Western dishes. The best deal is the buffet at the Hyatt Hotel, where you can indulge in all your cravings from salads and cheese to steak and brownies. There’s an odd Brazilian Barbeque/Bavarian hybrid on Heping Lu. The Brazilian restaurant has waiters that come round and carve up big bits of meat for you. The best pizza in town comes from High Fly located in three different places around the city. There is also a foreign owned western restaurant called “Small World”. Small World serves hamburgers, pizza and much more.

The transport system is very well developed and you can get anywhere in Xi’an by bus for 1 yuan. There are taxis everywhere as well which are also very affordable and more convenient. Many locals prefer to simply ride bicycles or electric bikes from place to place, and many of our teachers choose this option. There are even some bicycle rickshaws still plying the streets that will take you through the back alleys for only a few yuan.

The train station is the main hub for long distance travel. It is located outside the North-East corner of the City Wall. From here you can purchase tickets to locations all over the country. There are very convenient overnight sleeper trains originating in Xi’an to destinations all across Northern China. The bus stations are also located in the vicinity of the train station. Short distance travel is very easy since the bus stations have 100’s of buses running to different locations throughout the province. These locations include tourist hot spots, smaller cities, and villages located all around the greater Xi’an region.

Xi’an also has an international airport located away from city centre, near the town of Xianyang. From here you can fly to destinations all across China and beyond. Given the development of tourism in the region the airport is exceptionally well connected for inland China, largely to cater to the needs of domestic travellers.



 
 
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