Do you feel as if you have pretty much done all there is to do in Xi'an, with your options especially limited during winter time? Well, there is yet more of Xi'an to discover, and this winter doesn't have to be as gloomy as you think. Take a look at what else the city has to offer.
1) SkiingView In Map
Is city life in Xi'an not quite as adventurous enough for you this winter? Are the perilous thrills of crossing the road or taking a bus no longer leaving you feeling delightfully exhilarated? If so, a little action is needed. Now, I'm not suggesting sky diving or extreme mountain climbing (these I would not suggest to do in China), but some safe action that may excite you and get the pulse racing a little.
This winter why not go skiing? "Skiing in Xi'an!?....we're not in France are we?" is one reaction I got when I suggested that we should hit the slopes. No, we are not in France and yes, we can still go skiing. However, let me not get your hopes up too much. I am not about to reveal that Xi'an harbours ski mountains that will put the Alps to shame, nor am I going to suggest that ski enthusiasts will get…well…enthusiastic about the slopes. The few ski slopes that Xi'an has to offer are safe and relatively small. For those inexperienced or unconfident skiers, Xi'an skiing would prove to be a perfect and exciting choice to get a little adventure this winter.
Accessible both in terms of distance and price is a place called Bailuyuan (白鹿塬滑雪场), east of the city. The slope is busy and small with only one or two dips; it is meant for the light hearted and the patient, with 100 RMB and 150 RMB allowing you two to three hours worth of ski time, respectively. As I am not an experienced skier and do get a little nervous at the thought of plummeting down a mountain like a snowball, the Bailuyuan ski place was great fun and did actually thrill me.
The place was well staffed, leaving you feeling if you did happen to fall, there would be professionals to help you get on your feet again, or should I say skis. The equipment provided was in surprisingly good condition and the staff were quick to hand it to you. In terms of temperatures, although Bailuyuan is a man-made slope not located high up in the mountains, let me warn you that it is still absolutely freezing. I foolishly made the assumption that wearing jeans would keep me warm enough…Oh how wrong I was! By my second fall I couldn't feel my legs as the snow and ice had seeped through my feeble one layer of jeans. I had paid for two hours of ski fun, but the sub-zero temperature was too much and I resigned after just over an hour. Moral of the story: pack up on the layers.
Bailuyuan is open from 8:30 to 24:00. Day and night skiing is available, but night skiing will be less busy than during the day. The day hours are from 8:30-17:00 and the night hours are from 17:00-24:00. In addition to the price you must give a 300 RMB deposit for the equipment rental. This you will get back upon departure.
Add: Bailuyuan, 86 Shui'an Lu, Xi'an
Prices: - 80/100/130 RMB for one/two/three hours day skiing, Monday-Friday.
- 100/150/180 RMB for one/two/three hours day skiing, weekends.
- 80/120 RMB for two/unlimited hours night skiing, Monday-Friday.
- 100/150 RMB for two/unlimited hours night skiing, weekends.
How to get here: A taxi from the city within the wall will take 30-40 minutes and will cost 50-60 RMB. Alternatively you can take the 240 or 910 bus which will take approximately one hour.
2) Hot springsView In Map
This winter chill can leave your body in need of some serious relaxation and warmth. Getting a massage can prove to be quite relaxing, but I feel that it just does not warm me up enough – my body is still clamouring for that little bit more. Imagine bathing in a huge steaming hot pool of water enriched with Chinese herbal remedies… Why not let yourself be nursed back to warmth by dipping into some hot springs. Xi'an has a few different hot spring sites available all year round, but one that particularly stands out is the Aiqinhai hot springs (爱琴海), located north east of the city.
Aiqinhai is a large hotel complex which offers many different hot spring pools filled with different tea, soup, fruits, vegetables, flowers and even fish. Although these hot springs unfortunately aren't authentic springs hidden in the rocky mountains, the atmosphere of the site does still exude a natural ambiance. There are some pools under a shelter which I'm afraid to say do look like small man-made swimming pools that you could find at your local gym. But if you venture around the site you will stumble upon smaller quaint springs located out in the open surrounded by rocks and plants. These are as close to the real deal as you will get.
However, it must not be forgotten that we are in China; the world's highest populated country. This means that everywhere you go there is guaranteed to be crowds, and the hot springs are no exception. I didn't feel suffocated or cramped in the springs, but it was not as peaceful as I had imagined it to be. But once I submerged myself in the hot water, closed my eyes and relaxed the sound of screaming children and laughter faded.
One spring in Aiqinhai that I would highly recommend is the fish spring. In this spring there are tiny fish called ‘kangalfish' which gather around your body and nibble away the dead dry skin. Although this may not be the most relaxing experience I have had, it certainly left me feeling clean and smooth. So if you feel brave enough and want to get rid of that winter dry skin, take a dip with the fish. But be warned, they do bite!
Add: 8 Shangu Dadao, Lintong District, Xi'an
Tel: 029 8385 5555
Opening hours: 08:00-24:00
Price: 198 RMB for whole day
How to get here: From Xi'an Railway station 西安北站you can take the 914 bus to Aiqinhai. It will take approximately 30 minutes and get off when you see the big lit up sign for the hot springs.
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Keywords: winter activities Xi’an what to do in Xi’an skiing in Xi’an hot springs Xi’an
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