Another noteworthy highlight of our trip to China was definitely our visit to Xi’An, in particular the Terra Cotta Warrior Army. We were surprised to learn that the historical relic dating back to 210 BC, more than 2,000 year ago, was only first discovered in 1974 by some local farmers digging a well. The farmers notified the local officials, who quickly notified government officials prompting an archeological task force to investigate.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the warriors were a form of funerary art for Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, to assist him in further rule in the afterlife. Although only a small portion of currently been unearthed, it is estimated that in the three pits containing the Terra Cotta Army there are 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
Many tours are available, but we opted to arrange travel ourselves. You can take Bus 306 from the east parking lot of the Xi’An Railway Station, for 7 RMB per person to the Terra Cotta Army Museum. Note that it is the last stop, which may help minimize your confusion, as there are several stops along the way. Buses run well into the evening, and you simply return to the same location in the parking lot for a return trip. Museum entrance fees are 90 RMB per person, although if you have your student IDs, you can receive the discount, which is 45 RMB per person. We also rented an audio guide for 40 RMB, only renting one, and using our own set of headphones, with one bud in each ear.
Although Pit 3 (Bronze Works) is quite small, Pits 1 and 2 are expansive and offer great views if you are patient. Prepare yourself for the noisy raucous tour groups, of which most are quite inconsiderate and can at times leave you a little frustrated. Take a deep breath, and relish in the knowledge that they will move on just as quickly as they swarmed in.
Shopping opportunities abound surround the Museum, including life size Terra Cotta Warriors to purchase and ship home for that perfect spot you’ve been trying to fill in your living room. We’ve heard life size replicas will cost you 1,500 RMB ($219 USD). Not bad if you’re lucky enough for it to make it home in one piece.