Hutong Food Tour (China Day 6)

A recurring theme on our China trip, was eating food. We did a food tour in Xi’an, ate our hearts out in Muslim Street in Xi’an, a cooking class in Beijing, and now a hutong food tour in Beijing. We booked our tour through Viator, but we were given a business card by our tour guide (who actually owns the company) at the end. She runs Discover Beijing Tours if you want to book directly or book one of her many other tours. Our guide Qing, was amazing. She added so much to this tour, that while we may have enjoyed the food more on the Xi’an tour, we preferred this one. But more on that in a minute.

After arriving back in Beijing in the early morning after our overnight train ride from Xi’an, we took a taxi to our hotel. This time around in Beijing we were staying at the Beijing Raffles Hotel. It is located extremely close to the Forbidden City and¬†Wangfujing Street is just around the corner. A metro stop is located on the corner as well. Brian had been wanting to stay in a Raffles for a long time and Beijing provided our opportunity to splurge just a little and stay there. Though splurging on a 5 star hotel in Beijing isn’t nearly as costly as in the US, Europe, or other countries. + Read More

Xi’an City Walls (China Day 5)

One of the top things to do while in Xi’an is to visit the City Walls that surround the ancient city. While on top of the walls, you can rent bikes and cycle around a portion or the entire 13.7km (or 8.5 miles) route along the Xi’an City Walls. We had visited Dubrovnik in 2014 and when we read that you could cycle around the Xi’an City Walls, we were picturing walls the width of the ones in Dubrovnik. How wrong we were. The walls circling Xi’an range from 12-14 meters (or 40-46 feet) in width! That leaves plenty of room for people, bikes, and battery powered vehicles to zoom around without crashing.

Xi'an City Walls from below

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Muslim Quarter (China Day 5)

After arriving back from the Terracotta Warriors, we caught a taxi from the train station to the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an. The Muslim Quarter is located just north of the Xian Drum Tower and stretches for blocks. It’s a very popular area to explore of both tourists and locals. The main street stretching from underneath the Drum Tower is Beiyuanmen Street and it is lined with stalls selling food, restaurants, and shops. The large Muslim population located in Xi’an is likely attributed to Xi’an being the starting point of the ancient Silk Road which led to a large number of merchants traveling from the Arabic and Persian countries and settling in Xi’an.

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Terracotta Warriors (China Day 5)

We headed to the famous Terracotta Warriors first thing in the morning on our fifth day in China. The Terra Cotta Warriors were the sole reason we had taken the bullet train to Xi’an in the first place. While most people use Xi’an as their base when visiting the Terrcotta Warriors, they are still about an hour away from the main part of town via bus. You could take a taxi to save some time, but the bus fare is so inexpensive (7 CNY per person) that it’s hard to justify spending at least 150 CNY to save some time. Though to be fair we had a bit more trouble finding the bus then what online made it seem like.

We took a taxi from our hotel to the train station where the buses leave from. Our guide book had said the bus No. 306 was a green bus and while we found the bus 306 easily enough, it wasn’t green so we weren’t entirely sure. There was a green bus also saying it was going to the Terra Cotta Warriors which of course made it more confusing. When we asked the first bus driver at Bus No. 306 about going to Terra Cotta Warrior, he shook his head and walked away. Needless to say, we walked off away from the buses to regroup and re-read through our notes about bus travel to the Terracotta Warriors. Both our guide book and my notes I had printed from online were both very specific about bus No. 306 so we walked back and there was a new bus driver by this point. After asking him he said of course, let us buy tickets and told us to make sure we got off at the last stop (the bus does make a few other stops on the way) and that he would come get us at the last stop. Luckily once aboard, the rest of the ride went smoothly and we arrived at the Terracotta Warriors. + Read More

Lost Plate Food Tour (China Day 4)

The Lost Plate food tour we did while in Xi’an was one of the unexpected highlights of our time in China. We had already booked a food tour in Beijing, so when I stumbled on the Xi’an food tour I initially didn’t look into it. But after thinking about it and reading such rave reviews, we opted to do a food tour in both cities. Our Beijing food tour would be done upon our return to the city. In the end, I’m so glad that we did both. They were very different, as you will see when I post about the Beijing one.

The Lost Plate food tour included complimentary pickup (within the city walls I believe) and started at 6pm. We had one other couple on the tour the night we went and they were actually staying at a hotel within the same complex as we were which made for easy pick up for both couples. We traveled around town via private tuk-tuk and were allowed to drink unlimited beer and soda.

Lost Plate Food Tour

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