I visited Xi’an recently and I hired Michael based on the reviews that I found here and I’m glad that I did. Michael was an excellent guide. He showed up on time to pick me up from the hotel and he came prepared with coffee, water, and an umbrella in case it rained. Michael’s English is excellent and he is extremely knowledgeable about the sights in Xi’an. First we went to visit the Terracotta Warriors and with his knowledge he really made things come alive. He was right there to guide me and to fill in all the details about China’s ancient past. We then went to lunch at a restaurant that is not a tourist spot and had some biang biang noodles which the area is famous for. They were excellent. On the way back he took me to see the Giant Pandas at a park that is also not frequented by tourists and was very peaceful. There were also some other animals to see. That wrapped up the first day.
On the second day we took a tour of the city. Again he was punctual and came prepared. We first went to the Shaanxi History Museum. Being a Sunday it was very crowded. There are some free tickets to be had but the line is very long so it is worth paying the 20 RMB to go in. Michael had me wait out of the rain while he used his tour guide pass to go in and buy my ticket. Without him the museum would have been interesting but he was also able to bring it alive with his knowledge. I was going to go to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda but since I have seen many Buddhist temples before he suggested we just do a quick drive by for pictures and he would take me to a Daoist temple. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda gets very busy and is very touristy. The Daoist temple is still in use and was very peaceful. Quite interesting as well and dedicated to the 8 immortals. After this Michael took me to the Muslim District for lunch. We went to a place for their soup dumplings which were very tasty and tried some street food as well. This is also a good place for shopping. We wrapped up the day by visiting the drum tower and then the city wall.
All of the above would make Michael a ‘very good’ tour guide and I would not hesitate to recommend him. I had a great time with him and really enjoyed learning more about the area. His prices are also extremely reasonable. What made Michael an ‘excellent’ tour guide is that it felt like I was hanging out with a good friend who was knowledgeable about the area not with a tour guide. We had great conversations and only did what I wanted to do. Nothing was pushed although he did make recommendations and I suggest you listen to them. I highly recommend him.