Fly To Xi’an, China
After landing at Xi’an International Airport, which lies around about 40 kilometres from the city centre, you will instantly be blown away by the high level of efficiency, friendliness and innovation that this major Chinese tourist hub offers.
The name Xi’an means ‘Peace in the West’, and over its long history, it was known as Chang An (‘Perpetual Peace’). This was the capital for some of the biggest ancient dynasties – Tang, Han, Zhou, Quin and Sui all left their mark on the city over the ages. Old ruins, temples and even tombs are a testament to this rich history.
That said, it’s not just the historical sites that will bowl you over – there is also a vivid culture, some incredible gardens and parks, plenty of modern facilities and much more to explore.
Visa Requirements & SA Embassy Details
- South African passport holders travelling to Xi’an do need a Visa to enter China, which can be arranged at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria (Phone: +27 (0)12 431 6500). Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after you return, and that it has 2 blank pages for stamps.
- The closest South African Embassy to Xi’an is situated in Beijing. Address: 5 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Beijing 100600. Phone: +86 10 6532 7323. Website: saembassy.org.cn.
See and do
There are many notable attractions to take in on a visit to Xi’an – to make things a bit easier, we suggest starting with the most obvious sights. Historical monuments, tombs and ancient ruins are the city’s main claim to fame – be sure to check out major landmarks such as the old, 14th Century city wall, the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and Great Mosque of Xi'an.
There are also some amazing parks, temples, gardens and museums to explore. Try taking a local walking tour if you have time, or take a trip to the Huaqing Hot Springs, Mount Li and one of the many beautiful national forest parks such as Mount Zhongnan for a rewarding outdoor adventure. Other activities to try include Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Shows at Shaanxi Song & Dance Theatre, genuine Chinese karaoke at Yinhe International KTV, and a taste exploration of the local cuisine.
From centres such as Great Tang All Day Mall and Century Jinhua Mall, to colourful markets such as Beiyuanmen Night Market, Beiyuanmen Street and the Muslim Market or even large stores along the likes of People's Livelihood Department Store, Xi’an offers Chinese shopping at its very best. Things to buy include lucky waving cats, antiques, spices, pottery, designer knockoffs and local Chinese brands in the clothing home décor line.
With its pedestrian bridges and footpaths, the city is well-designed for walking, but there are many ways to get around without overexerting yourself. These include the six line metro system, taxis that mostly run on compressed natural gas, rail (including the Zhengzhou–Xi'an High-Speed Railway), hired car or even electric bikes, which are popular with students and locals.
Xi'an Airport (Xianyang) – SIA
Food and beverage: Self-service drinking fountains in passenger areas, Buffet Restaurant, Shishang Restaurant, Silk Road Restaurant and Cafeteria.
Currency Exchange: Foreign exchange facilities are at the customs exit on the first floor in T2, as well as various ATMs situated throughout the airport.
Lost Luggage: you may report lost luggage at your airline’s desk, or at Lost & Found, which is open every day from 06h00 to 22h00.
Airport Hotels: Xianyang Ocean Spring Grand Metropark Hotel, Longdong Hotel and Mehood Hotel, plus sleepboxes and hotel suites at the airport that can be rented on a half hourly or hourly basis.
Car Hire: Sixt, Europcar, CarTrawler, Ian and others (many rentals come with a driver too).
Airport Hub: Xi'an Airport (code SIA) is a hub for China Eastern Airlines and Joy Air.