Visiting The Terracotta Army in Xian, China

Visiting The Terracotta Army in Xian is one of THE things to do when you travel to China. Perhaps second only to visiting the Great Wall of China from Beijing! I’ve been to the terracotta army twice, once as a broke backpacker, and once with money. The first time I did it all independently, and it cost about $35 or so and took the whole day. The second time I booked a tour for about $100, and it took half a day. Which was better? If you’re broke, like I was, take the bus and do it yourself. If you’re older and on holiday. And not wasting time is important. Just book a guided tour. It’s much more stress-free.

TLDR? I used these guys to book a tour to pick me up from Xian, drive me al the way to the Terracotta Army, guided tour (in English) and drive me back to the city by 3 pm. $110 or so.  Money well spent

Things to do in Xian
Things to do in Xian; Visit the Terracotta Army

What Is the Terracotta Army in Xian?

The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in 1974 when 3 farmers were digging a well in Shaanxi Province. Now those 3 guys take it in turns to sit at the entrance of the Terracotta Army and have their photo taken. 

The very brief story behind the army is that it was built for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. In 210BC when the Emperor died, he was buried with the army to protect him in his afterlife. Brutal.

Now the Army is housed in 3 huge vaults, showing 8,000 lifesize warriors all with individual faces and expressions, 300, 000 weapons, 100 chariots etc. The actual site disappointed me a little actually, I think I was too excited about seeing something I dreamt about for years. I was left a little underwhelmed. That being said, it’s still awesome but temper your expectations a little so you’re not left disenchanted.

Visiting the terracotta Army
Visiting the Terracotta Army

Where is the Terracotta Army?

It’s in Xian, China. Very roughly speaking, it’s in the geographic middle of China. Xi’an is a really cool city, one which strongly considered moving to and studying Chinese in actually (before I fell in love in Thailand, and got engaged in French Polynesia). 

The Terracotta Army is actually about an hour drive, 40km or so, west of Xian’s city centre. 

terracotta army china
terracotta army china

How to Get to the Terracotta Army in Xian?

First, you have to get to Xian, I wrote about that here. Once in Xian, you have 3 options to get to the Terracotta Army:

*Xian is now only 5 hours by train from Beijing on the new fast train!


The cheapest option, obviously. Head to the Xi’an train station and take the GREEN BUS (or bus numbers 306, 914 or 915). It’s about $1 and takes you directly to the Terracotta Army. The same bus will bring you back. It takes about 90 minutes.


Group tours can run from about $75 to $200 with pick-up and drop off from Xi’an city. These guys are about $100 and are the most pain-free way to do it!


It’s an hour, roughly, each way. So you can take separate taxis, or have your taxi wait for you. It’ll cost about $25 each way, plus another $20 or so waiting time. So $70 or so all-in. Better to just book a tour, to be honest.

visit the terracotta army china
visit the terracotta army china

Tips on visiting the Terracotta Army in Xian

Terracotta Army Ticket Prices:

150RMB (about $23). Half price for students.

Terracotta Army Opening hours:

March 16th until November 14th: 8:30 – 17:30

November 15th until March 15th: 8:30 – 17:00

Best time to considering visiting the Terracotta Army?

Late Spring to Early Autumn or Fall. So April until September. But visiting all year round is completely doable. And in fact, my first time was in December.

terracotta army china
terracotta army china

Final Thoughts on Visiting the Terracotta Army

It’s hugely famous. But for me, I was a little underwhelmed. However, with the story behind it, and the fact that Xian is such a cool city, I’d still 100% recommend people visiting the Terracotta Army. Huashan Mountain is probably the biggest highlight when visiting Xian, but the Terracotta army would come in second. It’s of huge cultural and historical significance, so go for it. 

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