Visit the Xi’An Terracotta Army: tickets, prices, opening hours

Armée de Terre Cuite, Empereur Qin, Xi'an, Chine

Proud. Stoic. Poignant. The soldiers of Xi’An’s Terracotta Army have been standing for centuries. Follow the guide!

The Chinese city of Xi’an, capital of the Shaanxi region, jealously guards one of the greatest works of our history: tens of thousands of clay men, representing a Chinese army from the Qin dynasty. But perhaps you know this treasure better as the Xi’an Terracotta Army. From the soldiers and weapons to the horses and armor, everything is faithful and strikingly realistic. Every relief and detail gives the impression of a real-life scene. Accidentally discovered in 1974, these creations testify to the breathtaking craftsmanship and grandeur of a civilization that dates back over two thousand years. Despite China’s many riches, a visit to the Xi’An Terracotta Army is a must.

Tickets, prices, advice and timetables – we’ve got it all!

History of the Xi’An Terracotta Army

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / DnDavis

Imagine that one morning, you decide to build a well in your garden. Your spade hits something. You insist, but nothing breaks. You clear the ground around it. Still no water. Instead, you come upon the entrance to an underground cavern. You push open the dusty door. The sunlight penetrates and the treasure is revealed: the world’s largest army… This is the story of Xi’an’s incredible terracotta army, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eight thousand warriors fashioned one by one, with extreme meticulousness. Each face is unique. The expressions, even those frozen for millennia, are intact, deep and penetrating.

As you stroll through the forgotten alleys, you land in the heart of a battlefield erected in the middle of pre-Christian China. Officers, non-commissioned officers, tank drivers, infantrymen, horsemen on horseback, crossbowmen ready to shoot, stand solidly at your side. When you surface, you hardly realize what has just happened. Yes, you’ve just discovered a priceless treasure of mankind: the terracotta army of Xi’an, commissioned by the Qin emperor and built like a mausoleum. The purpose of the procession was to prolong his reign and protect him in the afterlife. These clay soldiers took thirty-six long years to build and required the efforts of seven hundred thousand people.

During the Emperor’s burial, women, workers who knew the secrets of the tomb’s construction and all those who attended the event were walled up alive… in the midst of traps set to protect the remains forever. Creepy or fascinating?

Our tips for visiting Xi’An’s Terracotta Army

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Bule Sky Studio

Visiting Xi’An’s Terracotta Army is like visiting China’s second most popular tourist site after the Great Wall, so you might as well make the most of this historic dive and one of the world’s most coveted wonders. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Take a guide

If you’ve never been to China, you’ll be unaware of just how few English translations and English-speaking locals there are. While it’s not essential to take a guide, as the tour is punctuated by a few phrases in English, we strongly recommend it if you want to be properly informed.

Avoiding the crowds

Open all year round, it’s an ideal place to visit in any season, with a constant flow of visitors. However, avoid weekends, public holidays and Chinese feast days. We also advise you to visit before 10 a.m. or between noon and two.

Take your time

Don’t just take a quick look around. It’s huge! It’s worth wandering the aisles and taking in the faces. Each one has its own expression, and sometimes you’ll feel as if you’re looking at real humans frozen in clay.

Knowing that the site is well laid out

Although the parking lot and the entrance to the main pits are just a few minutes’ walk away, shuttle buses make the journey for 5 yuan. What’s more, small carts can be hired between the various points of interest.

The site is therefore accessible to all people with reduced mobility.

What to do during your visit

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Lukas Hlavac

To visit Xi’An’s Terracotta Army, allow two to three hours. Bear in mind that everything is life-size and that the site covers an area of 16,000 square metres!

It consists of three pits:

  • The first features two thousand terracotta soldiers. Immense and impressive, it’s bound to send shivers down your spine.
  • The second features a large number of archers, horsemen and chariot drivers. It’s the most extensive in terms of historical information and ornamental pieces.
  • The third houses the command post.

Please note that you won’t be able to admire the entire army. Some of it is deliberately still buried underground. In daylight and in the air, the soldiers’ original paint flakes off and disappears. Hence the current graying color. The government is waiting for technological advances to protect the mineral paint before embarking on new excavations.

Your ticket to the Xi’An Terracotta Army includes entry to the Qin Shihuang Mausoleum. Here you can admire a reproduction of the Emperor’s tomb. Qin Shi Huangdi, born in 259 BC, is a veritable figurehead among Chinese emperors. He is considered the unifier of the Chinese empire and the father of the Great Wall. For the record, the real tomb is one of the rooms still buried and secret. It is said to be adorned with a bronze palace, surrounded by mercury-filled trenches simulating rivers and the sea…

You can also visit Xi’An’s Terracotta Army, starting with a bicycle tour. With just a few pedal strokes, you’ll be able to admire the still-intact ramparts that watch over Xi’an’s old town. This almost fourteen-kilometer ride will cost you 60 yuan.

How much does a ticket to Xi’An’s Terracotta Army cost?

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Bule Sky Studio

A ticket to Xi’An’s Terracotta Army costs :

  • During high season (early March to late November): 150 yuan (approx. €20).
  • Count 120 yuan for the rest of the year.
  • Children under one meter twenty are free, and students benefit from a reduced rate.

How do I book a ticket for the Xi’An Terracotta Army online?

You can, in fact, book your tickets online on tour operator platforms. Guided tours are available, and we recommend you take one if you’re really interested in the history of the Terracotta Army.

To visit the Xi’An Terracotta Army, on the official website, you can choose between two options:

  • Book a ticket with a simple audio-guide that gives superficial but valuable information(40 yuan).
  • Book your ticket for Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, including direct private guide

Opening hours

  • High season: the site is open from 8.30am to 5pm.
  • Low season: the site is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

How do I get to Xi’An’s Terracotta Army?

From the eponymous city, it’s about an hour’s drive to the Xi’An Terracotta Army.

  • From the Xi’an railway station or airport (with excellent connections): you’ll also find tourist bus routes dedicated to the site. Otherwise, there’s no shortage of cabs. The cheapest option is undoubtedly bus number 306 from the station north of the ramparts.
  • From Beijing: the easiest way to visit Xi’an’s Terracotta Army is by train. Express trains (about fifteen a day) link the two cities in a maximum of six hours. Expect to pay between €60 and €200 for the journey. Alternatively, opt for a low-cost night train (15-hour journey, maximum €60).
  • Concerning the tomb of Qin Shi Huang: it’s about a kilometer and a half from the museum, and a free shuttle bus can take you there.

Where to stay to visit Xi’an’s Terracotta Army?

To see the world’s most famous clay soldiers, you’ll have to travel forty kilometers from downtown Xi’an.

Our advice, after visiting Xi’An’s Terracotta Army, is to stay close to the city’s other sites of interest and make a day of it. In that case, why not stay in the heart of the historic center? Not far from the Grand Mosque, for example. Or in the Muslim Quarter: the city’s most dynamic, colorful and lively area. You can check hotel prices on this comparator.

For smaller budgets, you’ll also find plenty of Airbnb and youth hostels.