This post was written by Mark Raihlin, a business student with a passion for tech, music, astrophysics and – of course – traveling.
Xi’an is one of the oldest cities in China, located a good 1000 km southwest of Beijing, and the starting point of the legendary silk road. Its rich cultural heritage and natural surroundings drew me and six of my fellow peers for a trip during the Chinese Golden Week, October 2013. Besides exploring history and architecture and food and a nightly train ride, all that was outplayed by an epic 12-hour hike up the Hua Shan, one of China’s “Five Great Mountains”.
1. How did you hear about Xi’an in the first place?
The mission was clear: get the most out of a week of holidays in China. Xi’an was a must see. (You might have heard of the Terracotta Army, it’s there as well).
2. For how long did you stay there?
We stayed there for 5 days but given the sheer size of the city, not to mention it’s surroundings, it was definitely not enough!
3. How did you prepare for your trip to Xi’an?
We booked a flight to the small ancient city of Pingyao, and went on with a night train (speaking of testing limits) to Xi’an. To get to the mountain, there was a 120km bus ride. Tickets and housing should be booked in advance, to avoid problems. Everything else will work out just fine.
4. Why did this place become so special to you?
The feeling of getting up at 4am to start hiking, watching the sun rise behind the mountains and catching one of the most impressive views ever, to return fatigued, happy and ready for the most delicious local food.
5. Is there any hidden spot that you want to share with us?
In case your guts aren’t ready for the “world’s most dangerous hiking trail”, or if the queue is simply too long, there’s a nice alternative just left of the former entrance. You get climbing equipment and can descend to a small stone temple on the peak of a lower cliff.
6. If you could come back but just go to a single place there… Which would you choose? And why?
I would want to learn more about the city’s rich history. Otherwise, I’d probably hike the last one of the five peaks of Hua Shan.
7. Can you leave us some special places for staying, eating or visiting in Xi’an?
In central Xi’an, there is a Muslim quarter with lot’s of amazing local restaurants. We had lunch in a place in the Dapiyuan street, where they serve raw food that can be fried on a pan right in the middle of the table. It’s basically a dry version of the “Hot Pot”.
Categories – Mountain
Natural Beauty –
Cultural Offer –
Best time to visit – We went during a peak holiday season (beginning of October), so it might be less crowded outside that period.
Best way to move – Walking and Hiking
Cost – Between 20 and 30 € / day, everything included