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Xian -- best way to see the warriors

Xian -- best way to see the warriors

Old Jul 28, 06, 1:28 pm
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Xian -- best way to see the warriors

I understand they're a little less than 20 miles from town. I'm sure the most viable options are join a tour or hire a taxi. Do the tours enhance one's understanding, or is it just a herd? And if I hire a taxi, where should I do it and how much should I pay? I assume arranging it from my big Western hotel would result in a massively inflated price.

Similarly, what's the best way from the airport to town, and how much should that cost?

Thanks!
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Old Jul 28, 06, 3:05 pm
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A lot of this is dealt with in just about any guide book.
Originally Posted by iahphx
I understand they're a little less than 20 miles from town. I'm sure the most viable options are join a tour or hire a taxi.
Why, I wonder?

There are direct airconditioned buses from just east of the railway station. You can then spend as long as you like there, and come back when you please. The bus is also very cheap (around Y5 each way when last seen) and you avoid having to haggle with drivers and deal with various shenanigans. The bus number is 306.
Originally Posted by iahphx
Do the tours enhance one's understanding, or is it just a herd?
Tours never enhance understanding in China, but quite the opposite. They are merely the means by which the official view on Chinese culture and history (its glory and superiority) are pushed down your throat, and by which guides enhance their incomes at your expense. A tour to the Warriors will include several other stops (and if you want to visit those also the convenience may make a tour worthwhile) including shopping 'opportunities'. Signage usually gives you exactly the same 'information' as the guide will be spouting. Go by yourself and take a more reliable source in book form.
Originally Posted by iahphx
And if I hire a taxi, where should I do it and how much should I pay? I assume arranging it from my big Western hotel would result in a massively inflated price.
This last assumption is correct. Simply stop taxis in the street away from the hotel and bargain. All you need is the characters for going to the warriors, waiting (insert length of time here) and coming back written down on a piece of paper. People at the reception of your hotel can deal with this. The result should be the rate per km posted on the side of cab times the number of km round trip, less as much as your bargaining skills will get you. But note that if you state a period of time at the site, and you happen to overrun that, you'll be up for intense renegotiation. It may be better just to ask for a half-day or one-day hire, but if asked for a precise time of returning to town, and that's exceeded, the same problem may occur. In short, take the bus.

Unfortunately there are just too many foreigners with no knowledge or understanding of China visiting Xi'an all the time, and all wanting to do the same thing, providing a constant supply of victims for taxi drivers and those in Xi'an are notoriously tiresome. Beware, too, of all the shops at the site, and do not eat in the vicinity. The best that can happen is that you'll be overcharged for poor food. Much worse has been known to happen, however.
Originally Posted by iahphx
Similarly, what's the best way from the airport to town, and how much should that cost?
Again, multiple printed sources will tell you this. There's an airport shuttle bus hourly, for Y25 when last seen. If taking a taxi, use the meter. It was about Y80, but rates have recently increased.

Peter N-H
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Old Jul 29, 06, 11:43 am
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Thanks, Peter, for the very helpful information. On the east side of the Xian train station, is it easy to find the stop for bus 306 (like is there a bus stop sign with the bus number on it)? Does the bus terminate at the warrior site, so that knowing where to get off (and back on again) is not an issue?
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Old Jul 30, 06, 5:00 pm
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A taxi is really not that difficult to use or negotiate with: your hotel will have destination cards written out for this purpose. I would also recommend taking a taxi from the airport: just insist on the meter -- it is much easier.
I agree that guides to the warriors are utterly useless and indeed factually incorrect from what I overhear (I am a museum curator); a good guide book will do, and frankly Wikipedia is terribly good for Warring States, Qin, and Han history -- I guess these entries haven't yet been ruined.
For the warriors, be warned that it is essentially a dreadful tourist experience, with lots of pushy souvenir sellers, ugly museum buildings, and (to be honest) over-restored warriors. They are impressive, but you really have to make a beeline for the big enclosures and look hard and closely.
I believe that it is much better to go really late in the day towards closing time when all the groups have gone.

Be sure you also visit the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which has great excavated treasures, although the setting is not great. Also, there are several delightful and quiet museums near the Han tombs outside of the city, which have great treasures and give some idea of excavations -- you can see the pits, some working digs, and then get information and the best of the objects. The most interesting are Maoling and Xianyang. No one goes there and they are in the coutnryside, so it is a great relief. Hire a taxi for a half-day. There remain a few interesting neighborhoods in Xi'an, around Ba xian an (temple), but be prepared for pollution and traffic.
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Old Jul 31, 06, 9:57 am
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We will be in Xian at the end of August. Is the airport on the same side of town as the Warriors?

Is there a direct way to the airport from the Warriors? If only by taxi, can someone guestimate time and cost?

Thanks.

Ed
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Old Jul 31, 06, 9:59 am
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I was staying at the Sherston Xian last year and I booked a hotel car. It wasn't so expensive. When I got to the site I got a tour guide who spoke good English very easily and cheaply.

Avoid going in public transport and large groups unless budget is a real issue!

And make sure you go - its very interesting!
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Old Jul 31, 06, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Vulcan
We will be in Xian at the end of August. Is the airport on the same side of town as the Warriors?

Is there a direct way to the airport from the Warriors? If only by taxi, can someone guestimate time and cost?

Thanks.

Ed
IIRC the airport is the opposite side of town to the Warriers, but it should be very easy to fly in and out and see them with ample time without having to stay the night in an otherwise quite forgettable city. If you budget 60 - 90 mins for journey time each way then that should be more than enough.

I wish I had done that actualy!
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Old Jul 31, 06, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by nimeta
IIRC the airport is the opposite side of town to the Warriers, but it should be very easy to fly in and out and see them with ample time without having to stay the night in an otherwise quite forgettable city. If you budget 60 - 90 mins for journey time each way then that should be more than enough.

I wish I had done that actualy!
Xian is funny that way: some people say the city itself is very interesting, some say it's not.

I'm planning on hedging my bets: a day to see the warriors, a day to see everything else.
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Old Aug 1, 06, 12:59 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx
Xian is funny that way: some people say the city itself is very interesting, some say it's not.

I'm planning on hedging my bets: a day to see the warriors, a day to see everything else.
On a separate note, if travelling around China I would recommend flying Business Class (they also call it 1st class, but its the same on Domestics). It costs very little extra and it avoids some terrible queue's at airports. Also the tickets become fully transfereable between airlines also. It added a huge amount of pleasure and flexibility to my trip last year.

IIRC I booked the tickets on Expedia!
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Old Aug 1, 06, 1:16 am
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Originally Posted by nimeta
IIRC I booked the tickets on Expedia!
Which means, of course, that you likely paid between two and five times what you might have paid had you simply booked them on arrival in China.

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Old Aug 7, 06, 12:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Peter N-H
Which means, of course, that you likely paid between two and five times what you might have paid had you simply booked them on arrival in China.

Peter N-H
Actually they were very cheap!!
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Old Aug 8, 06, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by Peter N-H
Which means, of course, that you likely paid between two and five times what you might have paid had you simply booked them on arrival in China.

Peter N-H
I usually have my flight arrangements made while in China but I have also checked pricing on Expedia and found ticket prices to be almost identical. I am sure there are exceptions.

I have also heard feedback from tourists in Xi'an airport who said a full day was more than enough time to visit the Warriors but they admitted there were many other attractions they did not have time to see.
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Old Aug 8, 06, 1:07 pm
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I would never take an organized tour in China (or anywhere else, for that matter) -- all they do is insulate you from the culture you've traveled all that way to visit.

A taxi to Xi'an is by far the best choice and not hard to negotiate. Your hotel can assist you if you're reluctant to initiate the transaction. Note that there are other interesting things to see in the area around the terracotta warriors, including the Qin Emperor's tomb (a small man-made mountain, not yet opened, but interesting -- at least to me -- none the less). The terracotta warriors are particularly well-curated. There are three large halls that show various stages of the excavation, as well as a very nice museum. All of it is extremely accessible to foreigners (English signs are everywhere), and no tour guide is needed. Note that you will run two gauntlets -- one of vendors of tourist souvenirs and one of tour guides. Politely, but firmly, saying "Bu ya" (don't want) will get you through.

Also note that there is a lot to see in Xi'an besides the warriors. Our favorite sights were the Little Goose Pagoda (older and more atmospheric than the Big Goose Pagoda), and the ancient Buddhist mosque that is still in use. The mosque is in the middle of a large Moslem neighborhood which, in itself, is very interesting to see.

China has also opened a large cultural park dedicated to the history of the area.

We were there for ten days in January, and didn't exhaust everything we wanted to see and do in the area.
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Old Aug 8, 06, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by PTravel
I would never take an organized tour in China (or anywhere else, for that matter) -- all they do is insulate you from the culture you've traveled all that way to visit.
Apparently it isn't necessary to join a tour to be insulated from the reality of China. Just keep your eyes shut, avoid doing any reading, and swallow anything you're told while there. Soon you'll be sounding like China Daily.

Originally Posted by PTravel
"Bu ya" (don't want) will get you through.
No doubt that's because there'll be a pause while the vendors try to work out what it is you're trying to say. "Bu yao" might actually be understood, however.

Originally Posted by PTravel
Buddhist mosque that is still in use
A Buddhist mosque? Now that would be something to see. Can you give a location? Is there a Daoist synagogue, too?

Although heavily restored (you should have seen it in the early 80s) the Great Mosque in the centre of the city is well worth a visit, however.

Originally Posted by PTravel
China has also opened a large cultural park dedicated to the history of the area.
So in a city and surrounding area full of genuine Tang dynasty relics, you're recommending that people waste time at a tawdry theme park full of inauthentic mock-ups of Tang buildings built a year ago, mendacious historical material intended to glorify Chinese culture at all costs, and laser light shows and song and dance routines for tourists.

I think I might find even an organized tour around tombs and temples in the countryside rather less 'insulating from the culture I've travelled all that way to visit'. Or perhaps a day trip by public bus to quiet, leafy, hillside Xingjiao Si, an active temple housing (since 669) in three pagodas the remains of the genuinely Tang-era expeditionary scholar monk Xuanzang and two of his assistants.

No, on second thoughts. Let's join the crowds at the theme park and find out the real history of Xuanzang.

Peter N-H
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Old Aug 8, 06, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Peter N-H
No doubt that's because there'll be a pause while the vendors try to work out what it is you're trying to say. "Bu yao" might actually be understood, however.


I'm imagining a foreigner walking around the streets of China sounding like an NBA athlete (BOO-ya!), and all the puzzled looks on the locals' faces.
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