Article by XIANEASE
While many of us dream of the long vacation, the reality is that as the National holiday passes us by, that the next extensive holiday that many of us will see is Chinese New Year (not counting New Year’s Day – that’s just one day). That means that our next opportunity for leisurely travel is nearly three months away!
However, not every destination requires a week to explore, and there are plenty of places that are near enough to make a weekend out of and be back in time for work on Monday. With high-speed and fast trains running nearly everywhere these days, it’s both cheap and affordable to travel to nearby provinces for a quick jaunt.
Foping – 43min
Ironically, it’s faster to get to Foping by train than it is to cross Xi’an in rush hour traffic. At just 43 minutes away from Xi’an, you can leave after work on a Friday and be in Foping for dinner. Located about halfway between Xi’an and Hanzhong, Foping is home to the Foping Nature Reserve, a home for pandas and golden monkeys. Lots of clean air and nature to walk around in. You can either stay in a hotel near the nature reserve or stay in Hanzhong and then make your way to Foping on one of your weekend days, spending the other at one of Hanzhong’s other attractions. If you do make it to Hanzhong, try the 热米皮, it’s a local specialty.
Yanan – 2hr16min
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the history of the Chinese Communist Party, then Yan’an is the place to visit. As the endpoint of the Long March and the former headquarters of the CCP, Yan’an is a city steeped in modern Chinese history. There are monuments and shows that fully display the revolutionary history of the city. You can also take a trip to the further past by visiting the Tomb of the Yellow Emperor, Chinese civilizations mythical founder. There are also plenty of natural parks and mountainous areas to visit, as well as the Hukou Waterfalls located on the Yellow River. One of the most popular local dishes is 洋芋擦擦, so be sure to try it if you make the trip.
Ankang – 2hr37min
Ankang, located about 200km to the south of Xi’an, is home to a huge number of national parks and scenic spots. Among these are Yinghui Lake, where you can take a spin around in a boat or kayak, and Yanxiang Cave, a 16km long cave system that allows you to explore the beauty of the underground. It is also home to the Qinling Four Seasons Ski Resort, and indoor skiing place that lets you ski anytime. Not the best skiing you can get in China, but still interesting.
Pingyao – 2hr45min
The first one on this list outside of Shaanxi, this city is located in the other Shanxi. Pingyao is most famous for its ancient city, which has largely been kept intact. There are plenty of old style attractions with in the ancient city, including temples, government offices, and a wide variety of other building kept intact for you to visit. One interesting museum to visit here is the Rishengchang Former Bank, which show the history of currency and banking in China. This little slice of history is especially beautiful in the winter when it snows and gives you a window into China’s ancient past. Some of Pingyao’s popular dishes include 水煎包, 红面糊糊, and 平遥牛肉.
Chengdu – 3hr17min
Of course, you can’t mention quick trips near Xi’an without mentioning Xi’an’s sister city in the southwest, Chengdu. With the shortest high-speed train clocking in at just 3hrs and 17mins, you can get to Chengdu so easily, it would be a shame not to go there. While you certainly can’t do everything that Chengdu has to offer in a single weekend, you can knock a few things off the list at a time, as Chengdu has a little bit for everyone. Pandas? Check. Historic Sites? Check. Delicious Food? Some of the best. Chengdu is a fantastic city to visit, whether you want a high speed tourist trip or a relaxing weekend of tea in the park, there is plenty to do to entertain yourself for several weekends of fun. Besides hot pot, for which the city is famous, you need to try the 麻婆豆腐 at 陈麻婆豆腐. They claim to be the originator of the dish and it’s really good.
We hope that you have a good time on your weekends away, and if you have a chance to get out, feel free to let us know how it went. Safe Travels!