Cycling the entire stretch of the walls of Xi’an City is probably the most satisfying way to experience China’s ancient capital. It only takes about 2 hours to complete the 13km rectangular-shaped walled city on a regular medium speed bike. By cycling, I had maximum control of my pace, covering much ground without unnecessarily tiring myself as walking would have had. So yeah, I’m a huge endorser of bicycles!
Of course, I did not just speed down the cobbled path to make one complete round like a runner pushing for personal best. I took time to enjoy the ride. The ramparts and towers were great stopovers, be it for toilet breaks, rest, or simply for scenery viewing. Some had peek-worthy exhibits inside the halls. There was also a series of posts throughout the walls as I went along. They featured some of the city’s structures, persons and other sites of historical significance. It’s a bit too much though for those who do not want to miss anything. My head ached from information overload! After a few stops, and having religiously read the inscriptions, I simply took photos of all the remaining posts, and read them at another time.
The South Gate is the best place to begin and end the city wall tour if you want to cycle. Bicycles for rent can be found here so it is the more popular ascending point, and consequently the most crowded during the peak season. No worries if you begin your journey late in the afternoon. You still have a chance to complete the circuit because the South Gate is the last gate to receive bicycle returns. It closes at eight in the evening while all the other gates close at six. Some people walk on certain portions of the wall, while others ride the sightseeing battery car. Whichever way you wish to take the tour, just make sure to dedicate at least two hours and you won’t regret it. You’d barely even notice the time.
The City Wall Park, Defu Lane and Ancient Cultural Street of Shuyuanmen are three other places of interest near the South Gate. So you might want to check them out before or after you do the city wall tour.