Muslim Quarter in Xian

Why is Xian Muslim Quarter So Special?

  1. The Xi’an Muslim Food Street is the collective name for a number of streets, including Beiyuanmen Street, North Guangji Street, Xiyangshi Street and Dapiyuan Street, and it has become a famous attraction of Xi’an for its profound Muslim cultural atmosphere.
  2. The Terracotta Warriors Museum will be definitely a must-to-see on your Xian travel plan. But one equally important thing to do  and you cannot afford to miss is to have a taste or glimpse of the exotic food on the streets in the Muslim community in Xian. These back streets are full of life with a rich strong feel of Islamic cultural vibe.

Brief Introduction of Muslim Quarter in Xian

The Xi’an Muslim Quarter, is a relatively large Muslim enclave in Xi’an City, China. The Xi’an Muslim Quarter is located inside the city wall of Xi’an and mainly consists the area bounded by the Xida Avenue, Beiyuan Gate, Hongbu Road, and Zaoci Street. Today, the quarter comprises four neighborhoods, Huajue Xiang, Hongbu Jie, Xuexi Xiang, and Sajin Qiao. According to demographic statistics in 2003, the Muslim population living in the quarter was 32,361, 49.8% of the total Muslim population in Xi’an city. In the past two decades, Xi’an Muslim Quarter has become a well-known tourism site which is famous for its culture and food.

History of Muslim Quarter in Xian

Xi’an was the starting point of the ancient Silk Road 1,000 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD). A number of merchants and overseas students from the Arabic countries and Persia went to Xi’an for business and studying since the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD); they settled down on the present Muslim Street, and they were called the Hui people by the locals. One generation after another, the descendants of the Hui ethnic people multiplied and lived on the street, and the number has now reached over 60,000.

Best Time to Go to Muslim Quarter in Xian

All year round. The peak season of traveling to Xi’an is in the spring and autumn. In summer the temperature is high with strong ultraviolet ray. It is easy to cause heat stroke under the blazing sun for quite a long time in outdoor, and sometimes it will rain, so tourists should watch the weather forecast in advance before visiting. What’s more, tourists need to put on sunscreen and try to avoid ultraviolet rays during the day time travel; Winter temperature is low, the wind is piercingly cold, only suitable for indoor attractions visiting.

Main Attractions of Muslim Quarter in Xian

Muslim food and souvenir market is another feature of the area. The Beiyuanmen Muslim Market located just to the north of the Drum Tower is a great choice after the sightseeing in the city center. About 500 meters (about 547 yards) in length from south to north, the street can be reached through the archway under the Drum Tower. This street is paved with dark colored stone with green trees providing heavy shade during summer; the buildings on both sides of the street are modeled on the styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Some of the constructions are restaurants; while others are stores. But here there is one thing in common: the owners are all Muslims.

Beiyuanmen Muslim Street has a long history. It is said that in olden days, foreign diplomatic envoys and merchants lived here and then they married and had children, so gradually the population increased. Today, most of the inhabitants here are the descendants of those immigrants. All the Muslims here are the pious and devout followers of Islam so they form a tight knit community, which maintains its own culture and traditions to this day even in such a modern society. People here are very familiar with each other because they were companions when they were children and then they grew to adults together and still then one after another they got married and had their own children. As time goes on, definitely they will become older and older or even pass by together.

Walking along this twisted, narrow street which is aligned with stores on both sides, you can see that Muslim men with white hats sit inside the stores and talk leisurely with each other. In front of the doors of some stores, old men with white beards sit on the cane chairs enjoying the tender touch of the sun and having fun with the little children running along the street. The main goods of these stores are authentic hand-making Muslim food which tastes very good. While still there are small stores selling the special local products of Shaanxi Province and yet others provide you with exquisite souvenirs.

Must-Try Dishes in Xi’an Muslim Quarter

One of the most famous dishes of Xi’an is the Roujiamo — marinated beef or lamb stuffed inside a freshly baked bun. Another traditional Uygur dish found here is the Crumbled Unleavened Bread in Mutton Stew (Yangrou Paomo) — pita bread soaked in lamb soup. You can find a variety of soups here with all kinds of meats in them, including sheep blood.

Then there’s the bean threads in Shaanxi flavoring and of course, the Xi’an dumplings. Xi’an is also known for its cold noodles, which can be made from rice or from flour. On this street there are dozens of noodle stalls, where you can ask for cold noodle dish — you won’t regret it!

 Roast beef, mutton or lamb is another snack that can make your mouth water. After broiling on a charcoal fire with some flavorings on the meat, it is ready for you to enjoy. While the most famous snack on this street is the steamed stuffed bun of Jiasan. The main ingredients of the steamed stuffed bun here are beef or mutton mixed with the soup decocted from the bones of sheep or cattle. 
There are also fruit pies made with persimmon here which are considered as the unique refreshment in Xi’an. These pies take the bright red, glittering and translucent persimmons from the Lintong District of Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province as the basic ingredients. 

How to get to Muslim Quarter in Xian

Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)

If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an in the fastest and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.

Independent Traveler

  • By Bus:
    1. Take bus No. 7, 15, 32, 205, 215, 221, 222, 251, 252, 612, 618 or Tourist Line 8 (No. 610) and get off at Zhonglou Xi (Bell Tower West) Station. Walk towards the Drum Tower and you will easily find the street behind the Drum Tower.

  •  Dang-dang Trolley Sightseeing Bus
    Dang-dang Trolley Sightseeing Bus has been put into use with one route for night tour and one route for food tour. The second route links Musilm Quarter and another famous local food court – Yongxingfang. Tourists who would like to taste the special local food can take this bus.

  • By Metro:
    Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Zhonglou (Bell Tower) Station. Get out from Exit B. Walk towards west for around 6 minutes and you can see the Drum Tower. The street is behind the Tower.

Useful Travel Tips

  1.  Practice your Chinese numbers before you visit the Muslim Quarter as not all vendors speak English. But the good thing is that they all have a calculator on hand.
  2. Give yourself about two hours to stroll through the several streets in the area.
  3. Put on comfortable walking shoes, take your camera and some money.
  4.  A good place for people watch, mixing with the locals and visitors alike. Day in day out, night in night out millions of people flood the Muslim Quarter each year.
  5. The best time to come here in a day is after the sunsets when the Muslim quarter sparkles with lights. But It will be very crowded, a bit noisy and a little bit chaotic but a lot of fun.
  6. Try a bite of some of the local food: the famous Xi’an Liangpi (cold skin noodles) , the lamb skewers, the cuttlefish, the yogurt, pomegranate juice and the list could be much longer.
  7. If you prefer a quiet place for a peaceful mind in this busy Muslim Community, you may go to the Xi’an old mosque known as the Great Mosque,  located right in the middle, behind a maze of small lanes and alleys and worth your visit.
  8. Beside eateries, the food streets also offer a couple of souvenirs stalls selling typical local products like tiger-head shoes, and don’t forget to bargain!

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Bella Ren/任新月