Lying over 1000km from Beijing, Xi’an is the capital city of Shannxi Province in central China, and one of the most famous and ancient cities in China. It was the imperial city for 13 Chinese dynasties, lasting over 1000 years, and the starting point of the famed Silk Road. Its old city walls are some of the best-preserved in the country. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), Xi’an was one of the greatest cities in the world with a population of over one million, and was a centre of international trade.
The focus of this trip is the incredible Terracotta Warriors, at the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Hung, 25km east of the city. Despite their world renown, the Terracotta Warriors were only discovered in 1974 when local farmers were digging a well. Buried for over 2000 years, the ranks of soldiers that can be seen today are one of the most amazing sights in China, yet were never intended to be seen by the public. Thousands of life-size terracotta figures of warriors, horses and chariots stand in battle formation, designed to follow their emperor into immortality. The figures have different facial expressions and marks of rank, and are incredibly lifelike. Originally they carried real weapons such as bows, swords and crossbows, many of which remain – and were still sharp when first uncovered.
This is a great opportunity to extend your stay after your Great Wall trek and experience what is considered by many to be the eighth wonder of the world.
We spend the morning visiting one of the main cultural sites in Beijing; depending on local conditions this will usually be either the lakeside Summer Palace, or the impressive Temple of Heaven. Both are well worth a visit! In the afternoon we transfer through the busy Beijing streets to the railway station, where we catch our overnight train (soft-sleeper) to Xi’an.
Breakfast and lunch provided. Provide own dinner. Train accommodation.
Please note:The soft-sleeper standard is a carriage with 4 beds and is clean and comfortable. Meals on the train (dinner and breakfast) are not provided - you should take food and drink onto the train. There are small supermarkets at the station. Boiled water is available on the train (you may like to take your own tea bags!)
We arrive in Xi’an early morning and transfer to our hotel, where we can freshen up before heading out to explore the city! Xi’an’s city walls are among the best-preserved ancient city walls in China; and a great way to orientate ourselves as we take in modern and ancient landmarks of the city. Many opt to hire a bike to circle the Walls (approx 2 hours, at own cost), or you can simply wander atop the walls. We then head to the Great Mosque, an impressive blend of Muslim and Chinese architecture and unlike any mosque you’ll have seen before. It offers a peaceful place to wander, set in the midst of the bustling narrow alleyways of the small Muslim quarter. Full of markets and interesting shops, these are great place to explore for souvenirs. We meet back at the hotel and head out for a traditional hotpot dinner. Hotel accommodation. Provide own breakfast. Lunch and dinner provided.
We head out 25km east of Xi’an to visit the vaults of the Terracotta Warriors, where we have plenty of time to explore the vaults excavated so far. There are still many statues beneath the earth, as the authorities investigate ways to preserve them. The figures are brightly painted, but the colours fade quickly after being uncovered and very few remnants of colour remain on the Warriors you can see today. There are three ‘pits’ to explore, as well as a museum, and we can wander at our own pace throughout this fascinating and absorbing site.
Back in Xi’an, there is the option to experience a colourful cultural show with traditional Tang Dynasty singing and dancing.
Breakfast and lunch provided. Provide own dinner. Hotel accommodation
This morning we visit the Provincial Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Silk Road artefacts as well as other relics from the Song, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties. The Museum is great preparation for visiting the Terracotta Warriors, and allows a good understanding of the culture and history of the region. There is usually some free time to spend as you wish before meeting for a late lunch and transferring to the airport for the afternoon flight back to Beijing (1.5 hours), where we transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day free.
Breakfast and lunch provided. Provide own dinner. Hotel accommodation.
NB: Activities in Xi’an may occasionally be undertaken in a different order to that detailed above. You are free to opt out of any site visits if you prefer to enjoy free time instead; simply notify your local guide.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience, fitness and ability as well as all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. If you have concerns about your fitness or if you have reduced mobility please do contact us for a confidential chat about whether this challenge is appropriate for you.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.