Arriving at Xi’an station, a man (I’ll call him P) approached me to ask if I need a car to go somewhere. I said no, that I would walk. After pressing me to find out where I was going, he pointed to my hotel and then asked if I want to go the Terracotta Army. He said he could take me there, wait for me, and bring me back for 400元, and that hotels would charge 500 or more. I said thank you, and asked him for his card.
Checking into my hotel, I asked about tours to the Terracotta Army. There were several at varying prices starting from 390. And these are fully guided tours, including ticket prices, not just lifts to the place and back. They recommended a full day tour for 490, which included a trip to the site of one of the “first villages” (allegedly 6000 years old – of course I disputed the date with the guide), and lunch! So in the end I was very pleased not to take P up on his offer.
The tour was supposed to be at 9am, but the tour guide was a little late, so I had just enough time to get checked-in to my room and freshened up, before boarding the bus.
Obviously, one way these tours must earn money is from commission of sales at the tourist shops, because each place we went to we were taken into a shop and given plenty of time to look around, and were encouraged to buy things through discounts. With hindsight I should have expected this, and if I had remembered what I had been told, I would have thought about some souvenirs that I wanted to buy. I decided instead once we were there, not to buy anything. I still have a long trip ahead, and I don’t want to weigh down my luggage!
After Banpo we looked around a factory where they create replicas of the terracotta warriors, along with some other interesting statues.
The tour included a very nice buffet lunch upstairs at the factory.