In which I cycle Xi’an’s City Walls
The last time I went to Xi’an was before I moved to Zhangzhou. That’s a long time ago and a time when I used to write tremendously long blog posts…I’m sorry!
My friend Sophie, who studies at MinNan University in Zhangzhou is actually from there and she had invited me to spend a few days with her. I was originally going to go for Spring Festival, but instead Beka came to China (which I loved!) and promised Sophie that I would visit when I left Zhangzhou.
I’m not one to break promises, so sure enough on 1st September I arrived in Xi’an quite late and quite emotionally drained from the goodbyes of the week (more about those in posts to come).
We only had one day in Xi’an together as I’d thrown together a hectic travel schedule before moving to New Zealand so we spent it wisely and first on our list was to cycle Xi’an’s city walls.
First we made it to the South Gate, which had changed since I was there last, as the subway in Xi’an is causing crazy building work everywhere. Once Sophie and I found the entrance, I paid 54RMB to get up onto the City Walls. As a student, Sophie paid 27RMB. Once up, we had a great view over the city. The ticket also has a mini map printed on the back of it which is really handy to get yourself adjusted, although when you hit the North, South, East and West gates, you will always see the Bell Tower in the centre of the city.
Next, we rented bikes. These were 40RMB per single bike for 100mins. You could also rent a tandem at 80RMB for 100mins. Sophie and I went for single bikes and left behind 400RMB in deposit (200RMB/bike).
If you found that the bike was uncomfortable for any reason, you could exchange it for another at any of the bike stations along the walls, which was really great.
It was a little bumpy along the wall, but that didn’t stop our enjoyment of the day. The weather wasn’t too hot either, so whilst Xi’an has ever shown me her blue skies, we were comfortable cycling in t-shirts and shorts.
There are lots of things to see when you cycle Xi’an’s city walls. As we cycled South to North on the western side, we went past a lot of the older architecture that Xi’an as an ancient capital, is famous for.
There are plenty of watch towers to keep you interested along the wall:
There’s a bell, which used to ring in one of the main gates:
The walls are pretty high and impressive and are well decorated with these lanterns all year round – they were there on my previous visit in February 2012…
Whilst it is possible to get around the whole wall in 100mins, (it’s 13.7km long), Sophie and I went fairly sedately and did halfway. As I’d done South to North on the eastern side on my previous visit to Xi’an I can now say that I’ve done the whole of the wall!
On the northern section, we even saw Sophie’s apartment building, which was great!
If you want to cycle Xi’an’s city walls, the bikes are available from after spring festival (roughly) until November. I’d really recommend doing it as you get a great sense of the scale of the city, as well as a good orientation of it as well.