The Bare Traveller

Terracotta Army Museum – The Complete Guide

Planning a visit to Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’An, one of the most important landmarks in China is something that many people have to consider when visiting the country. So is it really worth it?

Terracotta Army Museum - Pit 1

You can’t help but visit the Terracotta Army in Xi’an. You must have seen the impressive videos and pictures online of thousands of terracotta soldiers buried with their emperor.

Xi’an Terracotta Army is one of China’s greatest sites and one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures.

Terracotta Army Museum - ticket check

For the record,  these 8000 statues constitute the military of the primary emperor of China: Qin Shi Huang. One on his achievements was to successfully unify China after many years of war.

Their appearance near the emperor’s remains served to both protect him and demonstrate his might in the afterlife. 

These statues, dating from the late 3rd century BC were discovered in March 1974 in Xi’an by a farmer. Seeing a damaged head, he informed the authorities who uncovered the size of the area.

Terracotta Army soldiers

It took 36 years and an army of 700 thousand workers to establish this necropolis. Soldiers were uncovered in the workshop and various body parts were assembled.

All soldiers have unique faces and hairstyles, and the quality of the details is excellent. Evidence of this is, for example, soldier shoes, using a braided cord on the soles of the feet. You cannot believe it!

It is worth mentioning that these extinct soldiers did not necessarily retain their original color after 2,000 years underground. The tomb of the Emperor is under a heap of soil that is yet to be excavated.

Terracotta Army soldier

As of now, the authorities are waiting for more advanced techniques and technologies to appear in order to take the risk of excavating the emperor statue.

The site has been constantly flooded by tireless archaeologists for decades. However, there is still a lot of work to be done at the facility and it will be for decades ahead. This shows us how unique this site is.

Terracotta Army Tour

This location is 40km east of Xi’An. The Museum consists of three buildings and three pits where you can find Terracotta Warriors.

An interesting fact is that the soldiers were not moved and the authorities had to build a closed building structure to house them.

Terracotta Army Museum - Soldiers Excavation

When you visit, you will see that work is still going on at this site while archaeologists are still getting the statues out of the ground.

Pit Number 1

This place with 2,000 soldiers is the most impressive and largest. Located in a large hangar, the scenery is impressive.

Terracotta Army Museum - The Soldiers

It is also estimated that there are a total of 6,000 soldiers in the pit and 38 carts can be admired.

Pit Number 2

Small, mainly including archers, jockeys and tanks, all carefully placed in the order of battle.

Terracotta Army Museum - Pit Number 2

Pit Number 3

This is the smallest of the three and hosts the command house.

Terracotta Army Museum statue

Bronze Tanks Exhibition Hall

This hall is magnificent! Each of these tanks consists of 3,400 pieces, weighs 2600 Lbs, and is all decorated in gold and silver. 

Terracotta Army Museum - Bronze Tanks Exhibition Hall

These tanks oldest pieces are made of bronze. The details are really breathtaking.

Should you use a guide when you visit the Terracotta Army?

Actually, I recommend taking a guide on a terracotta tour. This is a amazing site that you only visit once in a lifetime. 

Assuming are already in China, you should make the most of this unique site. This way you can learn a lot about Chinese history and society.

If you are travelling alone and on a tight budget, I recommend you find other foreign travellers to split the costs. When I visited Xi’an, I joined a couchsurfing event and visited the site with two travellers from Italy.

Terracotta Army Museum Visit

When you arrive at the site, you will see the tour guides at the entrance. They will come to you offering their services. Most of them speak English and other European languages. Expect to be charges around 200 yuans (about 20 euros).

There’s an audio kit you can hire from the reception, but personally I recommend just sticking with a professional tour guide, who will make your visit more detailed and interactive.

Some useful Tips when you visit the Terracotta Army

  • Don’t worry about the weather conditions as the statues and displays are mainly indoors.
  • I recommend not to visit the site during week-ends or Holidays : National Day (From the 1st to 7th of October), and Labor Dat (1st to 3rd of may). It is one of the most visited landmarks in China, and if you do during these periods, it will be very crowded.
  • It should take you about 3 hours to complete your visit.
  • The Museum is open from 8:30 am to 5pm (to 4:30 during the low season).
  • I recommend you arrive before 10AM as it is less crowded (I visited the site from 9AM).
  • If you are a photographer, I recommend you bring your zoom lens. Using a smartphone won’t help as the statues are within a distance, and you want to take clear pictures with details.
  • Luggage Storage is available at reception if you are travelling with a rucksack.

How to get to the Terracotta Army Museum?

Bus Number 5 from Xi'an to Terracotta Army
  • From Xi’an Railway Station, take the bus number 5. The Journey will last for about an hour and will cost you 150 CNY.
  • From Xi’An Airport, take the shuttle bus to the railway station and then the bus 5. The journey will last for 2 hours and cost you 250 CNY
  • From the City Center: Take a bus to the Railway Station and then Bus 5. It will cost about 200 CNY with a 1h30 mins journey.

Ticket Price

The entry fee to the terracotta Army is 150 Yuans.

Terracotta Army Museum Single Ticket

There’s an option that includes a visit to the Terracotta Army, Xi’an City Wall, the Muslim Quarter, all of which have bicycle rentals, guides, and hotels. A good choice if you are short on time. Details below. 

The Museum Shop

I cannot finish this article by not mentioning the museum shop. The highlight is the authentically signed terracotta statue. They come in all sizes and can be a great addition to a decoration shelf.

One unique thing you could do is to take a picture by the statues, and even get a terracotta figurine representing your face. Awesme isn’t it?

Final Thoughts

Personally, I really enjoyed visiting the terracotta Army Museum. Using a tour guide has enabled us to learn more about the history of the statues, the details and the importance of the site. A landmark that must be included in your travel plans in China

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