You’ve Seen the Terra Cotta Warriors. Now What?

A&K Tour Director Gerald Hatherly


Ever since 1974, when local farmers accidentally unearthed its now world-renowned Terra Cotta Warriors, Xian, China, has graced countless luxury China tour itineraries. Viewing the life-size antiquities up close, accompanied by an on-site archaeologist on an A&K Luxury Small Group Journey, is an unforgettable travel experience clearly worth the trip. Less obvious is how to choose from among this ancient city’s many other cultural and historic attractions. So, we asked Gerald Hatherly — one of A&K’s premier Tour Directors and a Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist for China — for his best recommendations.


What makes Xian a must-see destination?

Beyond the obvious attraction of the Terra Cotta Warriors, Xian is still very much Chinese. Being less cosmopolitan than Beijing or Shanghai, for example, it gives the traveller a better feel for where traditional China is heading as it embraces the future. Xian also has a strong historical appeal. Founded 6,000 years ago, it was one of the cradles of Chinese civilization and has served as China’s capital on 13 different occasions. In the Middle Ages, it was a key stop on the Old Silk Road, which brought cultural influences from the Middle East still in evidence today. Xian is also one of the few cities in China that has an ancient city wall remaining intact.



What is your favorite restaurant and cuisine?

The Defachang Restaurant, where they make traditional Xian-style dumplings. They may be fried, baked or boiled, and they come with any of about 100 different fillings. Their dumplings are all handmade and attract locals and visitors alike.


What do you consider the city’s best center for art and culture?

I’d have to choose the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which offers a wonderful record of Chinese history and culture, notes Gerald. Its collection includes ancient bronze bowls and earthen pottery, tracing China’s progress from the Neolithic Era through to the early 20th century.