Visiting Terracota Warriors near Xi’an: an Honest Guide

Terracotta Army was definitely one of the bucket list items for me before visiting China. The army consists of thousands of sculptures of China’s first Emperor Qin Shihuang’s army warriors. The army was constructed in the 3rd century BC, it took 40 years and hundreds of thousands of workers. Subsequently, they were buried with the Emperor. Mausoleum of the Emperor together with the Terracotta army was inscribed, as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here is detailed historical timeline from ChinaHighlights:

How to get to Terracota Warriors by Public Transport

Getting to Terracotta warriors is not as difficult, as it looks and is completely possible by yourself. Don’t believe the people, who tell you that the only way to get there is by tour and don’t throw a lot of money on them. Taxi might be quicker, but I believe it costs somewhere around 200 yuan, so it’s a huge difference with the bus fares. So, if you want to save money, simply go by one of the public transportation options listed below.

Bus 306 from Xi’An Railway station

On our first morning in Xi’An, we woke up bright and early (okok, it wasn’t so bright, as mornings never are for me :)) and headed to Terracotta warriors. If you are going by public transport, it is impossible to get there earlier than the crowds, as bus 306 (sometimes referred to as line 5) starts running only from 8am.

We got to the Xi’An Main train station by bus #9. Note: This is not a high-speed train station (that one is called Xian North). Metro line 4 now serves this station. Besides, From the Bell Tower area, buses 603 and 611 come here. Ask your hotel, which transport would be most convenient from the place you stay.

When you get to the station and stand facing the building, head to your right. You will pass the tourist information center and get to the station area, where bus 306 stops.


Bus scams: As soon as we got close to the station, some strange woman literally jumped at us, shouting “terracotta” and pushing us somewhere. I had already read that there are buses claiming to be official, which take tourists to souvenir shops and overcharge. This was a rather unpleasant situation, but we managed to ignore and get rid of her and quickly moved towards the official bus 306.

At the time we visited, the bus was quite old and surprisingly not in par with usual standards we were used to so far in China. But it got us there safe and sound. Nowadays, they have more modern buses. The bus gets full really quickly and moves immediately after that. It only costs 7 yuan payable on the bus and takes about an hour to get to Terracota Warriors.

Note: Don’t get off at any of the stops 306 makes, you need to get to the last stop.

Bus 914/915 from Xi’An Railway Station

Apparently, lately they added other bus lines 914/915 also going from the Xi’An railway station to Terracota army. They leave from the East square of the station. We didn’t use this option though, so can’t give any further details on it.

Free Shuttle Bus from the Xi’An North Railway Station

The shuttle bus runs from the East square of the North (high-speed) railway station. You need to show them your train tickets and the tickets for Terracotta Warriors (which can now be purchased at the Tourist Service Center of the North Railway Station).

I am not entirely sure, if you can get on this bus, if you don’t have train tickets or the ticket to the site. Let me know what was your experience, if you have taken it.

From the bus stop, it’s about 10 minute walk to the ticket office and then you will need to walk to the pits.

Exploring Terracota Warriors


The tickets cost 150 yuan in high season and 120 – low season. Nowadays you have two options for buying the tickets, online or on site.

  • To get tickets online, you can do so on the official website. The English page links you to the ticketing, which is in Chinese. I didn’t manage to figure out the website to be honest. You also have an options of going through a third party, like
  • However, you can get tickets at the ticket office on the spot. I have read a lot about huge queues at the ticket offices and entrance, but it was ok on the day we went (it was a Tuesday). I assume weekends will be more crowded.

Note: Your ticket will also include entry to the Mausoleum of Qin Shihuang. It can be reached by taking a free shuttle (10 minutes) from the Terracotta Warriors. Honestly, it doesn’t look interesting enough for us to spend time on it, so we skipped it.

We found toilets, when we passed the ticket check near ticket offices. They were quite all right. I am not sure, if there are any near the pits though.

Pit 1

As soon as you get to the pits, the biggest one in front of you, is pit 1. It has 6,000 warriors in it, but only 2000 are displayed for viewing. This is the place you have seen numerous pictures of. And no, it doesn’t look as stunning as you may think from photos, as it has a very ugly modern roof. You also can’t get close to the warriors and can only marvel at them from far together with heaps of people.


But the sheer number and size of this army makes it worth it. The whole idea, that it was constructed 22 centuries ago and was buried underground for so long, leaves you speechless. Plus, if you look closely, each soldier has special facial expressions, clothes, stance, etc. It’s absolutely fascinating.


By the way, look out for the remains of the original wooden roof, still buried among the walls. The warriors were standing in rows, with walls in-between them in order to hold the roof in place. When the roof collapsed, most of it disintegrated, but you can still see signs of it.

The restoration works are constantly ongoing. It actually takes 5-8 years to restore one terracota soldier, so you can imagine, how much efforts goes into this.


Overall, many people are fascinated by the army, many are underwhelmed, given the high expectations they had, as it didn’t turn out to be the amazing instagrammable place they were hoping it to be 🙂

Pit 3

If you get out on the other side of pit 1, you can enter pit 3. This is the smallest of the 3 pits, holding only 60-something warriors. This is the command center, so the warriors you see here are mostly the officers.


Pit 2

Pit 2 holds over 1000 warriors, many of them are partly excavated. You can see the photos explaining process of excavation here. Most fascinating thing about this pit is that you can find a couple of warriors, whose armour has a little of the color preserved. The thing is the warriors were painted in bright colors originally. However, very soon after they are excavated, the color fades.


If you take a look at the photos above and below, you will definitely notice fading colors. Unfortunately, they still haven’t found a way to prevent this from happening. This is one of the reasons, along with the lack of sufficient financial resources, why the excavations don’t proceed fast. I for one certainly hope they will find this technology. Imagine how fascinating the colourful warriors were, when they were first built.


If you want to take photos with fake warriors, there is a photo stand at the Pit 2. A photo costs 100 yuan.

Next to Pit 2 you will also find a hall with the exhibition of Bronze chariots. The 2 carriages are intricately constructed and very well preserved.

After spending time at the pits, you can head back to the bus. From the exit, you can pass numerous cafes and see the market. You can taste interesting Chinese sweets, as in many other markets around China places.

We made it back to the Xi’An railway station at about 3pm. From here, you can take metro line 4 to your next destination or direct buses, such as 603 and 611 to the Bell Tower and to the

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