Xi’an

As my favourite destination in China, Xi’an today sits in the fertile Wei River valley, one of the epicentres of early Chinese civilisation.

The area was home to the capitals of several major dynasties (historians can count 11), stretching all the way back to the Zhou in the 11th century BC. The remnants of this ancient world are everywhere – from the First Emperor’s Terracotta Army to the Muslim influence that still characterises the city.

Understandably, Xi’an is one of China’s major attractions, but the modern city is also one of the country’s great polarisers if you either love it or hate it. Most people only spend two or three days here, but history buffs could easily stay busy for a week. Topping the list of sights in and around the city are the Terracotta Warriors, the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the Muslim Quarter and the City Walls but my favourite is still the Shaanxi History Museum, which is in my opinion, the best in China.

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