After downtown Xi’an hotel pickup, travel by air-conditioned vehicle to the UNESCO-listed Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum on the city’s outskirts.
On route, hear about the terracotta army, whose life-size warrior figurines were unearthed by local farmers in 1974. One of the world’s greatest archaeological finds, the army consists of more than 7,000 sculptures of soldiers, plus hundreds of horses and chariots, all crafted in about 210 BC and buried alongside China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, for the afterlife.
Head inside and admire the warriors, still in battle formations in earthen pits. Different pits contain different figures, from infantrymen to musicians, acrobats, and strongmen. In the main vault, the figures are ranked in 11 columns of officers, soldiers holding spears and swords, and others aboard chariots, all as if ready for battle.
If you wish, move on to view more of the museum's highlights, including ancient artifacts and a film about the mausoleum’s history.
Next, travel to a Xi’an arts and craft factory. Watch artisans carve miniaturized versions of the warriors, and opt to buy some as souvenirs (own expense). Then, after a restaurant lunch, head for Banpo Neolithic Village, an archaeological museum built on the site of prehistoric hamlets dating back about 6,000 years.
View the reconstructed, semi-subterranean houses of the ancient matriarchal communities, seeing how they were supported by timber poles under a thatched roof. Explore the displays of household and agricultural tools, and learn how the settlements were surrounded by a moat, with kilns and graveyards beyond.
After visiting the two museums, make a last stop to revive your tired feet with a foot massage. Sit back as a masseur performs a traditional Chinese massage and relish the sense of rejuvenation before your tour finishes at the original starting point.