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Home Travel in Gansu Lanzhou--The Capital City of Gansu Province
Lanzhou--The Capital City of Gansu Province
Travel in Gansu


Lanchow (lán zhōu 兰州) is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country. Lanzhou is home to 3,616,163 inhabitants at the 2010 census and 2,177,130 in the built-up area (urban) of 1,088 square kilometers.  


LanzhouLanzhou is abundant with tourist attractions. The Yellow River runs through the city, ensuring rich crops of many juicy and fragrant fruits. The city is also the transportation and telecommunication center of the region. Covering an area of 1631.6 square kilometers (629.96 square miles), Lanzhou used to be a key point on the ancient Silk Road. With mountains in the south and north of the city and the Yellow River flowing from the east to the west, Lanzhou is a beautiful modern city with both the grand beauty of northern cities and the prettiness of southern cities.


Originally in the territory of the Western Qiang peoples (xī qiāng mín zú 西羌民族), Lanzhou became part of the territory of the State of Qin in the 6th century BC. In 81 BC, under the Han dynasty (hàn cháo 汉朝) (206 BC–220 AD), It was taken from the Huns' Huandi Chanyu (xiōng nú dān yú 匈奴单于) and made the seat of Jincheng commandery, and later of the Jincheng county (jīn chéng jùn 金城郡). The city used to be called the Golden City (jīn chéng 金城), and since at least the first millennium BC it was a major link on the ancient Northern Silk Road (běi fāng sī chóu zhī lù 北方丝绸之路), and also an important historic Yellow River crossing site. To protect the city, the Great Wall of China was extended as far as Yumen (yù mén 玉门).

After the fall of the Han Dynasty, Lanzhou became the capital of a succession of tribal states. The city acquired its current nam in 1656, during the Qing Dynasty. When Gansu was made a separate province in 1666, Lanzhou became its capital.

LanzhouLanzhou was badly damaged during the Dungan revolt in 1864–1875. In the 1920s and 1930s it became a center of Soviet influence in northwestern China. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) Lanzhou, linked with Xi'an by highway in 1935, became the terminus of the 3,200 km (2,000 mi) Chinese-Soviet highway, used as a route for Soviet supplies destined for the Xi'an area. This highway remained the primary traffic route of northwestern China until the completion of the railway from Lanzhou to Urumqi (wū lǔ mù qí 乌鲁木齐), Xinjiang (xīn jiāng 新疆). During the war Lanzhou was heavily bombed by the Japanese.

Today, It is a hub of the Silk Road Tourism Ring, with Maiji Caves (mài jī shān shí kū 麦积山石窟) to the east, Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves (huáng hé bǐng líng qiān fó dòng xué 黄河炳灵千佛洞穴) to the west, Labrang Monastery (lā bo léng sì 拉卜楞寺) to the south and Dunhuang Mogao Caves (dūn huáng mò gāo kū 敦煌莫高窟) to the north.

Geographic Features

Lanzhou is situated on the upper reaches of the Yellow River where it emerges from the mountains and has been a center since early times, being at the southern end of the route leading via the Hexi Corridor (hé xī zǒu láng 河西走廊) across Central Asia. It commands the approaches to the ancient capital area of Chang'an (cháng ān 长安) in Shannxi province (shǎn xī shěng 陕西省) from both the west and the northwest, as well as the area of Qinghai Lake (qīng hǎi hú 青海湖) via the upper waters of the Yellow River and its tributaries.


Lanzhou is situated in the temperate zone and enjoys a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold and dry winters. Diurnal temperature ranges tend to be somewhat large due to the high elevation and aridity. The mean annual temperature is 9.8 °C (49.6 °F), while annual rainfall is 315 millimetres (12.4 in), almost all of which falls from May to October. The winters are so dry that snow is extremely rare.


Waterwheel Garden
LanzhouThe Waterwheel Garden, built in 1994, is located in the Binhe Middle Road (Binhe Zhong Lu bīn hé zhōng lù 滨河中路) in Lanzhou, Gansu Province. The garden covers an area of 1.45 hectares (3.58 acres) and is comprised of two waterwheels, a cofferdam, the recreation area and a house of water mill. The waterwheel invented by Duan Xu in the Ming Dynasty is the oldest one.

In the garden, tourists can experience crossing the river on a sheepskin raft, which is the most primeval ferrying tool in the northwest region of the Yellow River. A visit to the Waterwheel Garden will provide an insight into the irrigation tools of ancient times.

Location: No. 524, Binhe East Road in Lanzhou, Gansu Province.
Tel: 0931-8587111
Transportation: Taking bus No.140 and No.26 can get there
Opening Hours: 8:00am-18:00pm
Admission Fee: CNY10 (peak tourist season)
                        CNY5 (tourist off-season)

Zhongshan Bridge
LanzhouZhongshan Bridge, also called the first bridge over the Yellow River, lies at the foot of Bai Ta Mountain and in front of Jin Cheng Pass in Lanzhou city, the capital of Gansu Province.
Before Zhongshan Bridge was built there were many floating bridges over the Yellow River, but only one existed for a relatively long period. This bridge was called Zhen Yuan Floating Bridge and was made up of more than 20 ships, tied up by ropes and chains. It floated on the river in order to help people pass over, but it was neither solid nor safe enough. Almost every year floods destroyed the bridge or even killed people. Problem also arose in the winter, when ice would build up on the river, so the bridge would have to undergo the costly process of being disassembled and then re-built in the spring. Used for over 500 years, the Zhen Yuan Floating Bridges was finally retired in 1909, when an iron bridge was built. This new bridge is what we call the First Bridge over the Yellow River.

Location: lies at the foot of Bai Ta Mountain and in front of Jin Cheng Pass in Lanzhou city, the capital of Gansu Province.
Tel: 0930- 8812922
Transportation: Taking bus No. 2、4、6、9、13、15、101、102 and get off at stop Xi Guan Shi Zi Bei (xī guān shí zì běi 西关什字北)
Opening Hours: All day
Admission Fee: Free

White Pagoda Park
LanzhouLocated in the north of Lanzhou City, the White Pagoda Park owes its name to the amazing White Pagoda within it. With images of Buddha on its eight sides, the seven-story pagoda with a height of 17 meters (about 55.8 feet), is a pure white from top to bottom with the exception of the green top which greatly enhances the glamour of the whole building.

If one has an opportunity to visit this park, a climb to the top of pagoda should not be missed, as it affords a bird's eye view of the whole of Lanzhou City. One can also feast one's eyes on the magnificent view of White Pagoda Mountain with the Zhongshan Bridge at its foot. The way in which the bridge and mountain complement each other to form picturesque scene has meant that together they have become a symbol of Lanzhou City and very much a 'must see' for travelers.

Location: Binhe Middle Road in the north of Lanzhou City
Tel: 0931-8371462
Transportation: Taking Bus No. 2、112、113、131、136 to the gate of the park
Opening Hours: 6:00am-18:00pm
Admission Fee: Free
Best Tourism Season: Spring, Summer and Autumn

Five Springs Park
LanzhouThe five springs are not the only tourist magnet. This park is also a famous scenic religious spot. Wenchang Temple, Butterfly Pavilion, Golden Buddha Temple, Mahavira Hall, Wanyuan Pavilion, Thousand Buddha Temple, etc., are arranged along a passage on Five Springs Mountain. Corridors and stone steps, which add artistic atmosphere to the park, connect the buildings.

The natural beauty of the five springs is enhanced by verdant groves while the temples make it a famous religious destination. Five Springs Park not only offers visitors a place to relax, but also provides a place to learn about Buddhism.
Location: Binhe Middle Road in the north of Lanzhou City
Tel: 0931-8153128
Transportation: Taking Bus No. 8、18、71、78、106、101、102 or Tram No. 31、33、34 to Stop WuQuan Mountain (wǔ quán shān 五泉山)
Opening Hours: 6:00am-18:00pm
Admission Fee: CNY5


Gansu Cuisine  (gān sù cài 甘肃菜)
LanzhouLanzhou dishes are representative of Gansu cuisine which features the roasting, steaming, and braising of beef and mutton. Lanzhou people enjoy many tastes including salty, fresh, tart, and spicy. Gansu cuisine can be sampled at various hotels in Lanzhou. Typical dishes include Jincheng Baita, Jincheng Babao Melon Carving, Baihe Tao, and albino leeks with chicken and roasted pork.

Lanzhou Beef Noodles  (lán zhōu niú ròu miàn 兰州牛肉面)
LanzhouLanzhou Beef Noodles (Stretched Noodles) is the most famous local dish in Lanzhou. It is a typical style of Lanzhou Lamian (lán zhōu lā miàn 兰州拉面). It was first created during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875 - 1908), Qing Dynasty (1616 - 1911) and it is now popular all over China. This dish has five main features: clear soup, white radish, red pepper, green caraway and yellow noodles. The noodles can be wide or slim to meet different preferences.

Niang pi zi  (niàng pí zǐ  酿皮子)
LanzhouNiang pi zi cannot be missed among the local delicacies. Flour paste is steamed for 3 - 4 minutes, then cut into strips and served with mustard, garlic, sesame butter, chili oil, vinegar, and soy sauce.

This is a favorite among the locals and many of the tourists.


Situated in northwestern China, Lanzhou is the geographic center of the country. Though there are not many world famous scenic spots, most tourists choose the city as a stopover for its convenient transportation to the renowned tourist cities in western China.

By Air
Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (ZGC) is located about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the downtown area. More than 30 airlines connect Lanzhou to the outside world, with daily flights to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xi'an. The direct daily flights to and from Lhasa now is available and the whole flight lasts only 3.5 hours. Flights to major cities like Tianjin, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Kunming, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Jinan, Changsha, Haikou, Wuhan, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Zhuhai, Shenyang and international and regional flights to Okinawa, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also available from Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport.
It takes roughly an hour for the airport shuttle bus (at about 30 Yuan per person) to arrive at Lanzhou Eastern Hotel (No. 555, Tianshui Lu) at downtown. A taxi will cost about 140 Yuan.
Zhongchuan Airport Inquiring: 0931-8968160
Ticket Center Inquiry: 0931-8821964 (domestic) 0931-8828174 (international)
CAAC Ticket Center: No.258 Donggang Xi Lu

Lanzhou Railway Station is located in the south downtown. There are altogether 45 daily rail departures from Lanzhou, connecting Lanzhou to other cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Jinan, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xian, Xining, Urumqi and Hohhot. Express trains also run to Xining, Yumen, Zhangye, Pingliang and Golmud.
There are many ticket offices in the city but we recommend you buy your tickets from the ticket center at the railway station or from the ticket offices in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to avoid forged tickets.
Lanzhou Railway Station Inquiry: 0931-4922222

Lanzhou is the hub of the road transportation system in Gansu Province with Lanzhou East Bus Station and Lanzhou West Bus Station being the two largest. There are 750 buses to different places daily and the destinations are as far flung as Xinjiang, Baotou, Xining, Zhengzhou, Chengdu and Wenzhou. Generally, buses within the province leave in the morning and arrive in the afternoon. Lanzhou East Bus Station is located at No.170 Pingliang Lu. Buses No.141, 137, 75 and 6 depart from there and the bus stop is Qiche Dong Zhan (East Bus Station).
Lanzhou West Bus Station is located at No.486, Xijin Dong Lu. Buses No.1, 6, 11, 31, 32, 33, 41, 45, 50, 56, 58, 59, 106 and 107 are available and the bus stop is Xiao Xi Hu.
However, as Lanzhou is located in the east of Gansu Province, far from the tourist cities in the Hexi Corridor, like Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, so rail as apposed to road travel is often preferable. For the south of Gansu Province, like Sangke Prairie where no rail link is available, the bus is the only option.

Lanzhou offers more than 6,000 taxis. It costs 7 Yuan for the initial 3 kilometers (1.84miles) and 1.4 Yuan per km (0.62miles) thereafter. At night, it will cost passengers 1.6 Yuan per km. Negotiating a fixed fare is acceptable.

City Bus
The public transport system in Lanzhou is well developed, with 110 bus routes covering every corner of the city. There are buses and mini-buses at prices lower than other cities. The prices range from 0.5 Yuan to 2.5 Yuan. Usually, it will cost passengers 0.5 Yuan every five or fewer stops. The further you go the more you pay. Generally, the fare costs not more than 1.5 Yuan within downtown while it costs 2 Yuan to 2.5 Yuan to Xigu District. Usually, the minibus fare is 1 Yuan without regard for the number of stops.

By Water
As Lanzhou is the only provincial capital through which the Yellow River flows, rafts of both wood and sheepskin have been in use for a long time. The primitive sheepskin raft will give you a novel feeling of the Yellow River.


Resident Population: 3,616,163
Area: about 1631.6 square kilometers (about 630 square miles)
Zip code: 730000
Area Code: 0931

Money exchange is offered in any exchange counters of Banks of China in Lanzhou.
Gansu Branch of Bank of China: 525, Tianshui Nan Lu
Subbranch of Lanzhou Zhongxin of Bank of China: 618, Donggang Xi Lu

Toilet Facilities:
This can be a problem as the number of public toilets is far from adequate in Lanzhou. Therefore, shopping malls and restaurants may be the only choices. The cost will be no more than CNY0.5.

Post Office:
Lanzhou Post Office: 104, Minzhu Dong Lu

Internet Bar: If you want to get a glimpse of the popularity of the computer network in western China, internet bars around the city will demonstrate how successful the people of Lanzhou have been as they provide this service to local people as well as our welcome tourists. Internet bars are mainly scattered around colleges and in some commercial areas. We suggest that do not make payments through the internet in a bar.
We recommend a large internet bar named Luse Dongli Wangluo Huisuo which is opposite the government of Anning District.

In an Emergency:
Fire: 119
Police: 110
Ambulance: 120

The First Affiliated Hospital of Lanzhou Medical College
Address: 1, Donggang Xi Lu
Lanzhou First Aid Center
Address: 80, Cuiying Men

Drug Stores:
Luye Drug Store
Address: 182, Qin' an Lu
Zhongyou Drug Store (Wenhua Gong Branch)
Address: 16, Xijin Dong Lu
Lanzhou Donggang Drug Store (Dongxing Branch)
Address: 40, Pingliang Lu

Useful Numbers:
Telephone number inquiring: 114
Zip code inquiring: 184
Weather Forecast: 121
Tourist Complaint: 0931-8826860

Book Stores:
Lanzhou Xinhua Book Building: 89, Xijin Xi Lu
Lanzhou Xinhua Book Store: 10, Tongwei Lu

Famous Universities:
Lanzhou University: 222, Tianshui Nan Lu
Lanzhou University of Technology: 85, Langongping
Northwest Normal University: 967, Anning Dong Lu

Visitors interested in the local festivals and who do not mind the climate, go to Lanzhou in January, February, July or August for the following events.
Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County holds seven religious festivals annually, with the ones on the first moon and seventh moon being the most famous. The highlight of the 1st moon gathering is the Buddha Unfolding on the 13th day and the Yak Butter Sculpture exhibition on the 15th day. Tourists are welcome at these festivals.
Hua'er Folk Music Festival at Lanhua Mountain, Linxia County is held from the 1st to 6th of the 6th moon every year. Hua'er is a type of folk music. At the Hua'er Festival, Hua'er singers come from the neighboring areas and bring their talent into full play, singing impromptu song after song. This festival is of such importance that all the counties offer tour buses to the Hua'er performances.