One Week in Ancient China
6 DAYS OF HISTORY AND CULTURE IN CHINA
In the beginning of this year I made a bucket list of all of the sites in the world I hoped to see. The canals of Venice, the Taj Mahal, and of course, The Great Wall of China. So, when a girlfriend reached out about a trip to China, I jumped at the opportunity and booked a flight that day. With so many amazing cities, it’s hard to narrow down which to visit. We decided to prioritize seeing the ancient history Xi’an and Beijing have to offer. I highly recommend these two cities if you want to turn back the pages of time while also getting a splash of modernity.
🇨🇳 Uncover the amazing history of the Terra-Cotta Army Museum
A collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor
These statues were built in 209-210 BCE by the emperor to protect him in the afterlife
This wasn’t discovered until 1974 when three farmers accidentally came across it digging for a well!
🍵 Experience a traditional Chinese tea ceremony
Fun fact: In China, tea is a symbol of elegance. Smaller tea cups = more elegant
🍜 Enjoy handmade Biang Biang noodles at Old Xi’an Restaurant while meeting one of the farmers!
🥢 Be wowed by the food presentations and crispy duck at Restaurant Tian Xiang Ge
🖋 View beautiful artwork and take a Calligraphy class at the Tang Bo Art Museum
The art of calligraphy originated and was developed in Xi’an
A must-do — This Calligraphy class was one of my favorite things from the trip!
🏯 Sightseeing at the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
🥟 Dumplings at Defachang, one of Xi’an’s best dumpling houses, are a must
🚲 Bike the top of the Ancient City Wall, also known as the Fortifications of Xi’an
🍚 Dinner at the market-style Yi Cafe with food options from around Asia and Europe
✈️ Say goodbye to beautiful Xi’an and arrive in Beijing!
🏯 Spend some time exploring Temple of Heaven, the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties place of prayer
🍸Drinks one floor above the restaurant at Atmosphere, Beijing’s highest bar
🏯 Go to another must-see, the Forbidden City, the world’s largest and best-preserved imperial palace complex
Surrounded by a moat and wall are 9,999 room, this palace was home to the Ming and Qing dynasties
Pro tip: The Forbidden City only lets 80,000 people in a day. Tickets sell out 3 days in advance so it’s important to book online in advance.
🏯 Visit the Summer Palace, a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing
🍜 Dine on regional Northern China cuisine at The Red Chamber
🍺 Beer time at Beersmith, the only gastropub in the Guomao area
🇨🇳Great Wall of China time! Here are some tips:
Go to the Mutianyu section (located in the Huairou District) to avoid huge crowds
The section is steeper, so keep that in mind if you’re traveling with kids, elderly, or disabled people
I highly recommend getting there early to beat the heat (it can get up to over 100 degrees) and crowds
Bring water, a hat, tissues, and sneakers
Take the toboggan down — this was another favorite trip activity!
🎨 Roam around 798 Art District, the contemporary art district home to many galleries
🍜 Final Beijing meal at Scene A Cafe
✈️ Say xiè xiè (thank you) to Beijing and head back to Xi’an for the final activities and to catch the direct flight back to LA
🥟 Explore and eat the delicacies of Huimin Street, also known as Muslim Quarter, before heading to the airport
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
For a five-star experience, look no further than the Shangri-La Hotels. The hotels in both Xi’an and Beijing give you that old-world elegance of an Imperial Palace while providing the modern amenities for a luxurious stay. The helpful staff eases the anxiety of being in a foreign country by helping with tours, reservations, and any other needs you may have. Named after the earthly paradise described in the book Lost Horizon, the hotels live up to their namesake and make you feel like you’re staying in this mystical utopia.
FLYING FROM THE UNITED STATES?
With international flights, it is so worth finding a direct flight to make the most of your trip. This helps you acclimate to the time difference, have no stress with making a connecting flight, and of course, have less travel time to get to your final destination. On the direct Hainan Airlines flight from LA to Xi’an we took, the 13 hour (😱) journey felt like lounging in a hotel room rather than sitting on a plane. After changing into their complimentary pjs, I put in the Bose headphones they provided, browsed their huge selection of movies (hello Harry Potter marathon), and enjoyed the traditional Chinese breakfast and dinner (seriously, I didn’t know plane food could be good). You’ll feel spoiled and relaxed not only in their business class but also the plush economy seats.
Xié Xié for reading!
For tips on what to pack for your China trip, check out I brought with me here.