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Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Tomb)
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Tomb)

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Tomb)

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Lintong, Xian, China

The Basics

Since archaeologists haven’t yet entered the tomb, visitors can only get a feel for its grandeur through the surrounding Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor site park. This complex comprises the tomb mound, a garden area, and, more importantly, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Just about every visitor to Xian comes to see the warriors, and just about every tour of the city includes a stop to see them. Not every tour, however, stops at the tomb itself, where you can climb to the top of the mound for views across the surrounding countryside and imagine what might lie below.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Qin Shihuang Mausoleum is a must-visit for history buffs.

  • Bring along some sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat if you plan to climb the burial mound.

  • Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.

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How to Get There

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is located about 22 miles (35 kilometers) east of Xian in the suburbs of Lintong County, easily accessible by public bus from Xian. Take either tourist line 5, which departs from the Xian Railway Station, or bus 307 from the south gate to Bing Ma Yong.

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When to Get There

Since the mausoleum doesn’t get as much visitor traffic as the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, plan to start with an early visit to the museum with a stop at the mausoleum after. Avoid visiting on Chinese national holidays.

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Why Hasn’t the Tomb Been Excavated?

While the tomb hasn’t been excavated, probes and geological surveys suggest the complex comprises an entire underground city, complete with a royal palace. Levels of mercury within the tomb are extremely high, and there is concern that opening the tomb could put the precious artifacts within at risk of damage. It’s unclear when—or if—China will ever allow a full excavation.

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