Xi'an is a vibrant, busy, modern Chinese town. It certainly isn’t pretty and it has a reputation as a bad place for pick pockets, but I thought it had a good feeling about it and I never felt unsafe.
This area is famous for its dumplings and you must try them if you are in the area. I would suggest a lung (a steamer) of big pork, ginger and spring onion ones. I used to eat these almost every day for 6 months and I never got tired of them. Be careful though, if you get addicted I haven’t been able to find them anywhere outside this region.
The biggest problem with Xi'an is trying to get train tickets, so this should be the first thing you do when you arrive. There is a foreigners department upstairs in the station and I would suggest you start there and keep your fingers crossed they don’t send you back down to the madness below!