5 Best Things To Do In Xi’an With Kids

Xi’an is a great place to spend a weekend, and it is a wonderful city to visit with kids.  It’s only 4.5 hours by train from Beijing, or a short 1 hour flight from Bejing airport.

Xi’an (pronounced shee-aan) is located in north-central China, and is on many lists as a ‘Must Visit’ city in China.  We travelled during the summer with medical-grade masks and needed them in Xi’an, as the air quality was pretty poor.  Xi’an is (re)known for dust storms in the spring and early summer, also.

Xi’an is the Ancient Capital of Many Dynasties

Xi’an was formerly known as Chang’an and has a storied past as the ancient capital of 13 dynasties, including the Qin, Han, and Tang, spanning more than 1,200 years. This past has left the city with an incredible array of historical sites beyond the Terracotta Warriors, like the Han Yang Ling Museum, an underground museum showcasing Han dynasty tombs.

Xian China Terracotta warriors

What’s there to do in Xi’an with kids? Plenty! Here are some of our favorites.

1. Bicycle On The Xi’an City Wall

The Xi’an City Wall is one of the oldest, largest, and best preserved city walls in China, and was built more than 600 years ago in the Ming Dynasty. It circles the old city, and is really quite impressive.

It’s much wider than you might imagine, and measures about 14 kilometers around, 12 meters high and was built with earth, quicklime, and glutinous rice extract!

The walls were once built to protect the city and the Ming dynasty emperor and they have excellent views of the surrounding areas.Xian China- ancient city wall

The Xi’an City Wall is in fact the world’s largest city wall. It’s a monumental feat of engineering. The wall was originally built for military defense but now stands as a proud symbol of Xi’an’s storied past and resilience through so many dynasties.

Xian China city wall

The best way to see the wall is by bike.  We rented bikes at one of the four towers and were allowed to cycle on the wall, which is really huge – about 15 meters wide. It’s like a 4 lane road.

It was amazing to view the city from this angle and we saw the very distinct areas of Xi’an from the past filled with lavish pagodas, and the high-rise modern buildings of the present and future.

It is highly recommended to bring and protective face masks, as the air quality in Xi’an can be very poor, depending on the season. We were there in summer and it was hazy but not terrible. But it was hot!
Xian China pagoda with kids
It was so incredibly hot and humid
Xian China Golden temple
You can see the striking difference of the old pagodas and the new skyrise buildings

2. Visit The Terracotta Warriors Museum

This is what Xi’an is really known for.

The morning is the best time to visit the Terracotta Warriors Museum, and it takes about an hour by car from the city of Xi’an to reach. It’s not really close, it was unearthed on a farm.

We were there in August, and it was over 100 degrees in the dome that covers the excavation. It was incredibly hot at 10 am, so it was even more important to visit in the morning while it was still somewhat cool.

 The Terracotta Warriors were discovered by a group of Shaanxi farmers from the local Yang in 1974 while digging a well.

 The Terracotta warrior museum in Xi'an

Every warrior is detailed and unique!
Every warrior is detailed and unique
This UNESCO World Heritage site has more than 8,000 terracotta warriors, horses, and around 10,000 bronze weapons.  It seems like every single warrior is unique – they have their own look, equipment and dress. I can’t even imagine creating 8,000 of these life size sculptures.
Archaeologists are using digital scanning techniques to help the excavation in Xi’an, and continue to unearth new pieces.
Xian China Terracotta warriors
The army of warriors stands in three exhibition pits, and what is particularly fascinating is that each warrior was individually designed and has different facial characteristics.  They also vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals.

3. Sample Great Food in Xi’an with Kids

Being near the central part of China, Xi’an is a mecca for many of the great Chinese cuisines, and restaurants in Xi’an range from Cantonese to spicy Sichuan styles.

Xian China food

Dumplings, noodles, lamb kebabs and spicy sichuan bean dishes were some of our favorites.

4. Visit The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the most symbolic structure in Xi’an and is worth an afternoon visit. The Pagoda not only offers panoramic views but also houses sacred Buddhist scriptures that were brought from India by the monk Xuanzang in the 7th century.

This towering structure is a symbol of the city’s importance as a center for Buddhist study and the spread of Buddhism in China.

The top of the pagoda provides a great view of the whole old town. The Pagoda was really beautiful and sat on peaceful grounds filled with interesting people.

Xian China with kids - Wild goose pagoda
The color red symbolizes good luck in China and it’s supposed to bring happiness when you ring this bell.

The 110,000 square meter plaza at the foot of the Pagoda is where locals go for free public entertainment such as Tai Chi and chess. Elderly and young Xi’anese practice calligraphy with oversized brushes during the summer evenings.

5. Learn Chinese Calligraphy

We took a calligraphy class to learn the art of Chinese painting and shared a lesson in basic calligraphy.
Learning calligraphy in Xian
It was good fun trying to write in Chinese and this was another aspect of Chinese culture we found ourselves fascinated by. The demonstrations were interesting for us all and we enjoyed the different exhibits of calligraphy works from renowned Chinese figures.

We found out that Xi’an marks the eastern end of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that connected China with the Mediterranean. That explains why so many dynasties were seated here, and made Xi’an a source of culture, trade and technological advances. We thought Xi’an was a very interesting city and a great place to travel with kids.

We visited Xi’an on a 14-day adventure tour of China. We traveled with our kids to Bejing, Xian, Chengdu, and Lhasa, Tibet, and ended in Shanghai.

Have you ever visited Xi’an or planning to visit?

Leave a comment below to let me know what you thought!

About The Author


I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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