Xi’an is China’s Prague! Don’t believe me? Then you haven’t tried the Xi’an City Wall Challenge. Ok so there may not be the rivers and bridges everywhere, but there is still the moat surrounding the city wall and many gates, crossings to the city centre and the beautiful "circumference park" which surrounds the wall. If the weather is in your favour it is a fantastic place to experience the city close up. Summer has arrived and what better way to enjoy it than to get out among the bricks and mortar, flowers and water.
As we all know the Xi'an city wall has a long and significant history, as does Xi'an itsel. As city symbols go, there are much worse than a centuries old wall surrounding a centre, which also happens to be the largest of its kind in China. Xi'anese are justifiably proud to have such a historical land mark. Tourists and locals alike visit the wall in the hundreds of thousands if not millions every year. This page however has no intention of rehashing the history the Xian wall. If you would like to know the history then you should visit here where there is a detailed description of the statistics. Please scroll down this page to see more pictures from the Xi'an city wall.
Biking on the City Wall
It is also possible to bike around on top of the city wall which countless people enjoy. Genrally speaking the wall is fairly long (about 14 km) and pretty bumpy. It should take about an hour an and a hour to get around it on your own or on two wheels (tandem or single bikes are available). You can rent bikes on the top and if you go at a fair clip you will get round there in 90 minutes.
Exploring inside and outside the wall
My intention on this page is to offer travellers a challenge to maximse their experience in this ancient city by interacting with the locals. Anyone can walk or bike around on the city wall, and it is a cool experience, but to really feel connected with a place it is necessary to be among it. Therefore “The Challenge” is different than you may expect. We encourage travellers to journey around the city on the inside or outside or both of the wall, visiting all 17 gates (yes there are that many!!) in the process. The distance is around 14 kms so how you travel is flexible and decided by yourself. The idea is take your time and see elderly people doing morning exercises in the park which surrounds the wall, or putting on opera performances in the the evening. It is about playing ping pong or pool with local residents or practising your Chinese. It is about engaging with the local community and meeting the real Xianese. Participants are encouraged to take their time and talk to people. Whatever activities you decide to undertake, you are encouraged to take their time and communicate with people through whatever means you have at your disposal. Personally speaking I find this is a truley rewarding experience which helps me to connect with the inhabitants.
Play one or more games of pool at ChaoyangMen or other gates
Acquire a flower for a friend or family
Take a photo or video of each gate. See if you can locate them all we think there is 17, but I can't find anyone who is really sure
Play Ping Pong in the park with resident champpions.
Find “the best” cup of tea, iced water or cold beer around the wall (reasons for this may include being the cheapest, tastiest, most beautiful spot or other)
Find out how much an antique closet would cost.
Try some of the best resteraunts in Xi'an
Check out a local concert
Play Chinese chess with a native
Enjoy a cold beverage at the best garden bar in Xi'an and quite possibly China (I am serious King's Garden Bar provides a quality establishment in anyone's book)
Generally explore and get a feel for this ancient city
This idea may or may not be a good one, however I was inspired my own adventure which took me around the inside of the wall on my scooter- it really opened my eyes about the beauty of Xi’an and the friendliness of the people. In fact I now regularly undertake this journey and I can say with confidence that every day really is a new adventure- no two trips are ever the same. In addition it was one of those perfect Spring days which helped. It is also a fantastic way to observe the development of this city which is occurring at breath taking speed, with some sections fully developed and others under siege from the bulldozer.