We have both the Rough Guide and the Lonely Planet guide to China. The main difference for Xian is that Lonely Planet says the Yang Ling Mausoleum is the second main attraction in Xian, whereas the Rough Guide doesn’t mention it at all! Strange.
It’s difficult to get out there through public transportation, so you usually have to go with a tour. Our hostel offers tours, but only if at least 3 people sign up. So Mike and I put a sign up sheet in our lobby to see if we could get other people to come with us. In the end, we had a total of 9 people on the tour today! Great way to meet people. Coincidentally, a guy we met at the Terracotta Army ended up at our hostel, so we spent another day with Alex, the philosophy student from Germany. We also met Chia from Taiwan, four girls from Belgium (2 of which were spending a year in Shanghai studying Chinese and Chinese medicine), and Peter from Wisconsin who spends 6 months of the year in Thailand (and looked to be close to 70).
The actual museums are really well maintained and the coolest part was they put glass over the excavation pit so you can get really up close and personal to the artifacts. Emperor Jingdi ruled during the Han Dynasty and the tomb is from around 130 BC. There are around 81 burial pits around the mausoleum. The pits are filled with small pottery figurines that could be used by the Emperor in his afterlife. These were much much smaller than the Terracotta soldiers and included soldiers, women, and eunuchs.
The museum and archaeology exhibit were both really interesting but quite small, so the entire walk through of both took only about 2 hours. It took an hour to drive out to the site, so I think all of us were expecting something more. The good thing about the attraction is that since it’s out of the way, there aren’t many tourists and you pretty much have the place to yourself.