1 Cycling Xian is an excellent city to explore by bike. Unfortunately, there aren't many places to rent them. The stretch of Yanta Road just southeast of the South Gate (marked on most tourist maps as the Xian Bird Market, which is just up the block) is the city's main bike market. With a little negotiation, you should be able to buy a serviceable bicycle for as little as 100 yuan - and sell it back for two thirds of that when you leave - saving on cab fares and giving you more freedom to explore. Don't forget to buy a lock (Xian Bike Market, Yanta Road, southeast of South Gate, outside the wall). 2 The City Wall While almost all Chinese cities were once surrounded by walls, those around Xian (built during the reign of the first Ming emperor in 1370-75) are the only ones to survive intact. Many ancient gates are well preserved, and visitors are welcome to walk or ride along the top of the walls. During festivals and holidays (such as the mid-autumn festival and lunar new year), the southern end of the wall becomes the place for fetes, fireworks and other festivities (entrance 10 yuan). 3 Da Ching Hwa Manchurian Cuisine While most people don't come to the capital of the Middle Kingdom's central reaches for the cuisine of China's far northeast, this Manchurian restaurant (located on a side street close to the South Gate of the city wall) is an amazing find. It's decorated with antique swords, bows, saddles and other artefacts, and the food is excellent. There is a wide variety of delicious dumplings served with a dizzying array of sauces, savoury clay pot casseroles and strange concoctions of fruits and bitter gourds. The restaurant also serves a strong, hot, white liquor, based on a family recipe. Don't be surprised if a waitress dressed as a Qing dynasty courtesan brings you an unordered dessert - these are free of charge. Do be surprised at your bill - a meal for four, including many shots of the mystery fire liquor, shouldn't come to more than 150 yuan (70 Wu Yuemiaomen, west of South Gate, inside wall; tel:  29 726 1618). 4 Great Goose Pagoda Built in the seventh century (and rebuilt during the Qing dynasty), this 65 metre pagoda is one of Xian's most popular attractions and commemorates the Tang dynasty monk Xuan Zang (600-664), who is credited with introducing Buddhism to China. Walk 100 metres or so along the compound's western wall to the Underground Temple, a network of dimly lit tunnels and caves that sprawls for more than a kilometre, and was used during the Cultural Revolution to hide religious artefacts from Red Guards. After the frenzy abated, someone hit on the idea of turning the place into a museum, and there's enough down there to keep you busy for at least an hour (Great Goose Pagoda, south of city wall: 25 yuan to enter grounds; an extra 20 yuan to go to the top of the pagoda. Underground Temple: 15 yuan; tel:  29 5531627). 5 Bell and Drum Towers Located almost at the centre of the walled city, the Bell and Drum Towers are another of Xian's must-sees. These were originally built about 1380, rebuilt during the Ming dynasty and renovated again in the 1980s. You can enter the towers via an underground passage from the street, which is lined with modern shops and malls (the one to the west is among the swankiest in Xian). 6 Muslim Quarter Every brick and stone in Xian's Muslim Quarter oozes with history, and many buildings date back to the 1500s. While most visitors stick to the southern end of the quarter, a stroll through the northern residential area is quiet and beautiful. Muslims and non-Muslims are welcome to visit the Great Mosque, which is among the largest in the country, and is built in a traditional Chinese style of platforms, pavilions and halls. Narrow alleys offer shopping bargains on goods from eastern China, as well as all points west along the Silk Road. The merchants aren't overly aggressive, but hard bargaining is the rule. The cuisines of Muslim China are well represented here - a favourite local snack is ba bao mei gua jer gao, a sticky, sweet cross between pudding and candy that's served on a stick. 7 Buying art A cultural crossroads, Xian is an excellent place to shop for art. Northeast of the main South Gate, Shu Yuan Men is also known as 'Calligraphy Street', and is home to a plethora of shops selling scrolls, paintings, brushes and various objets d'art. Even if you're not in an acquisitive mood, the ancient street is an excellent place to spend a few hours. Lesser known and to the north in the Muslim quarter, a small gallery called Xian Traditional Chinese Painting sells exquisite hand-painted scrolls in a restored Ming dynasty courtyard house. The structure, which is 500 years old, also serves as an artist's studio, and is well worth the visit for the art and architecture (144 Bei Yuan Men; tel:  29 723 2897). If you're feeling adventurous, there's an underground tunnel that stretches almost a kilometre, from the end of Shu Yuan Men, opposite the South Gate, to the Bell and Drum Towers. The old bomb shelter is sometimes closed because of flooding, but it's usually home to merchants plying their wares. 8 Banpo Museum The Chinese are fond of touting their 5,000-plus years of history - and, since the discovery of this ancient settlement in 1953, they've been able to prove it. The Banpo Museum is named after the developed agricultural society that existed in the area between 5,000BC and 4,000BC. Years of research have provided a glimpse into the world of the matriarchal clan community that inhabited the area long before Xian existed. The museum presents the most complete reconstruction of an agricultural neolithic settlement in the world (east bank of the Chan River, east of Xian; reachable by bus routes 11, 311 and 105; entrance: 20 yuan). 9 Qianling Tomb The dukes and emperors of ancient China shared with their Egyptian counterparts an obsession with death. The area around Xian is peppered with tombs and mausoleums. Of these, the Qianling Tomb (the joint final resting place of the emperor Gaozong and empress Wu Zeitan) is the best preserved. The tomb is so large it's referred to as a necropolis, or city of the dead (80km west of Xian on Liangshan Hill). Entrance: 31 yuan. 10 Terracotta Warrior Museum To understand just how seriously an emperor could take his final resting place, visit this recently unearthed site (it was discovered in 1974) of the world's longest-standing army: the famous Terracotta Warriors. Created to protect emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210BC) in the afterlife, the warriors occupy a series of pits covering more than 22,000 square metres. Each warrior is individually crafted, as are their horses and weapons. Being one of China's most visited sites, the Terracotta Warrior Museum is usually crowded, so try to visit on a weekday.