Zhangye became the garrison headquarters after General Huo established control of the Hexi Corridor. Originally known as Ganzhou, the town was part of the Western Xia dynasty until conquered by Kublai Khan in 1227. Although the city is not a tourist destination as such, it serves as good place to make stop when passing through the Hexi Corridor. Zhangye currently has a population of around 1,250,000. There are many Yugu in the city, a minority people only found in large numbers in Gansu.
Newly built airport 13km south of the city. Flights every day to/from Xi'an on either China Eastern (3x weekly) or Tianjin Airlines (4x weekly), four times weekly flights to/from Lanzhou on Tianjin Airlines and three flights per week from Guangzhou on China Eastern.
Xining - takes about 7 hours (¥77.5 Apr 2013). (AUG 2013: Bus leaves at 7.40am, 9am, 11.10am, 18:10. We had trouble getting tickets on the 11.10am as it was full 18hours in advance. We are warned that exact times can change on a weekly/monthly basis, so definitely book the day before and double check times).
West Bus Station (the biggest, most modern station - reachable by bus 3 or 4)
Zhangye Danxia Landscape - takes about 1.5 hours (¥10). Luggage storage available at the station.
Xining - takes about 7 hours (77.5 yuan Apr 2013). Apparently there is a 7am bus ONLY from the West station. More options from South.
Jiayuguan - bus at 9:30am (perhaps a better option than the awkwardly timed trains). 3.5-4hours, ¥52.
Da Fo Si, 大佛寺步行街, ☎ (0936)6933666, . (大佛寺), Giant Buddha Temple, biggest Chinese wooden indoor Reclining Buddha. 34.5m long, 7.5m high. This temple is the reputed birthplace for the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan. The entrance is off a pedestrian precinct to the west, opposite a square.
Blackwater National Site (黑水国遗址), . In the 12.5 km northwest of the Zhangye. 15 km long from north to south and 10 kilometres long from east to west, ancient cultural sites of the Neolithic period, a national key cultural relics protection units. Sites within the Han Dynasty tombs, about four square kilometres. Most of the tombs have been buried in sand, who have not traveled was buried by the desert, most of the liberation excavation.edit
Nanhu Park (南湖公园). Nanhu Park, also known as South Lake Ecological Botanical Garden, located in the south county, is the the Shandan experiment to promote flower species of new varieties of forestry demonstration garden, but it is also a set of historical and cultural landscape of the land and the natural landscape as one of the tour.edit
Mati Si Temple & mountain scenery. 65 kilometers south of the city proper, in the Sunan Yugu (Tibetan) Autonomous Prefecture, lies the Mati Temple, or Horse's Hoof Temple, (Mati Si). Besides the temple you can do a 2h horse tour passing a fantastic landscape (horse ride ¥150-¥200). Can be combined with Danxia Landscape if hiring a car and driver.edit
Zhangye Danxia Lanscape, (By bus from West Bus Station or private car). This is a small park about 40km from Zhangye where you can see a unique geological landscape, one of the highlights of the Gansu Province. The layers of multi-coloured rock in the mountains amid a green oasis basin are truly spectacular. When you visit you will be driven the viewing platforms by bus (running every 10-20 minutes), which you can hop-on and hop-off, taking your time to view and photograph the scenery. The platforms and roads are brand new (actually unfinished as of May 2014). Paying for the shuttle bus is unavoidable, but once inside the park you can walk between the stations. Note that there are TWO entrances into the park, the East and West Gates and shuttles to both gates - be careful, it can be unclear which shuttles go to which gate (unless you speak Chinese). The buses have a sign with the gate on them, perhaps learn the characters for East 东 and West 西. If you arrive by bus from Zhangye you will be dropped along the main road, a short 200m walk from the entrance. Be aware that the last bus back to Zhangye passes this junction between 6:20pm and 6:30pm, thereafter you are at the mercy of the waiting taxi drivers. Take the shuttle to the West Gate from the last viewing point no later than 6pm to make it back in time.¥40 Yuan entrance (¥20 + ¥20 mandatory shuttle + ¥10 each way for a bus from Zhangye. edit
Zhangye Wetland Museum, Bei Da Jie (Extreme northern end of this street). This is a fantastic newly opened musuem with a bit of everything in it. Set in beautiful wetlands and adjoining a national park, it is in a great setting. The museum has only a few signs and displays in English but it is full of hands on and interactive displays. Set up in separate halls, there are displays on the ancient history and impact of the Silk Road on this area, an environmental awareness educational display, natural habitat, flora and fauna displays and a large model of the current city with planned improvements. There are many large video displays of all shapes and sizes, including a 4D theatre.edit
Climb the wooden-tower pagoda/Mù Tǎ Sì (木塔寺) at Central Square/Zhōng Xīn Guǎng Chǎng,(中心广场), located in the central part of town off of Xianfu Jie, to get a 360 degree view of this interesting desert oasis city and the outlying areas, including the mountains sandwiching both sides of this corridor. Snow-capped Qilian Mountains are viewable on a clear day as late as May, and as early as September. A ticket costs 26 yuan, and it requires climbing up a series of steep stairs to get to the top.
Desert Park Shā Mò Gōng Yuán (沙漠公园) - If you're looking for a taste of desert life, then take the number 8 public bus (painted in Paris/Copper Green livery) to the southern part of town closer to the Qilian Mountains, where you'll be dropped off at the last stop (desert park). **During winter months the bus may not drop you off at the park, and a taxi arrangement from that stop is then required from the second to last stop to the park and then back again.** The ride takes about twenty-five to thirty minutes each way from the Drum Tower (about 50 meters north of the drum tower on the west side of the street, across from the public toilets and the park) and costs 3/yuan. As of this writing (May 2014) there is no entrance fee to the park, but that will soon change, as the park has upgraded its facilities, including a new gate with turnstiles. See fantastic shifting dunes that are as fun as they are tiresome to climb. You'd be hard pressed to find the variety of landscapes in such proximity that this place offers anywhere else. A really great and unique place to take photos, but be careful not to change your lenses at the risk of damaging your camera, as the tops of the sand dunes can be windy! **NOTE: BRING BOTTLED WATER AND SUNSCREEN WITH YOU! Buses return to town at different times, but depending on the season there is usually a bus heading back to town at 4:00pm. Check with your bus driver before getting off the bus about when the bus will return. Private taxis and vans are also available near the front entrance, but don't forget to bargain!
During the day, give Qing Ming Street a try (a pedestrian street leading north off Xianfu street).
At night, give Xiaochichang (Little Eat Market) a try, which is the outdoor area to the north and adjacent of the drum tower. There are a lot of outdoor food stalls, prices are reasonable though not super budget. There is also an indoor food court area slightly to the east of Dicos. The restaurant in the far right corner after walking in has a limited picture menu but prices are a little higher than other restaurants (though still cheap by Chinese standards). The dumpling restaurant in the far right corner has simple food very cheap (big dumpling soup for 10Y) and the owner was very helpful.
In the food alley Ming Qing Jie there is a friendly and good restaurant with tasty and inexespensive food.
The restaurant does'nt have a name in latin alphabet however, it is placed 20m circa from the gate, it is opposite a plant shop and it has blue chairs and black tables (2013 May). There is no english menu, but the owner was really helpful and proactive. Try the aubergine and pulled noodles!
(AUG 2013) If you are looking for a massive feast there is an all you can eat Hotpot restaurant on the Jinmai pedestrian street (where all the fancy clothes shops are). Like all the restaurants along that street they are on the second floor so are not obvious straight away. This one is above a store called "HLA" (about 50 metres down the street if you enter from the drum tower end opposite the construction bank. Yellow writing). The actual entrance is around the corner of the shop down a wide alley. its 48Y per person for a 2 hour all you can eat and drink session. The help-yourself buffet selection was very broad, seafood, meat, veg, tofu, noodles, beer and even cider! Friendly staff, no English spoken. We went at lunch time, I can't promise the deal is available in the evening too but it may be!
Unusually expensive and excellent coffee but nice environment and wi-fi available at UBC cafe in Oushi Je. To find: On second floor, no English sign outdoors,but it says COFFEE in large red letters outside. Close to intersection with main street (West street). There are some drinks cheaper than coffee, but it seems there may be a minimum order amount per person (30yuan).
There is a pedestrian street located one intersection west of the Drum Tower, and marked with a wooden Ming-Dynasty style archway street called, "Fang Gun Jie." It's a great place for street shopping during the day, and eating food at the end of the night. The intersection is located at Xi Da Jie and Xianfu Jie. During summer months, a beer garden of sorts set up at the end of the street, near the entrance of Ganquan Park, and all sorts of local inexpensive street foods are available.
**There is a cheaper coffee place not for from the end of Fang Gun Jie, if you turn left down the street toward Oushi Jie (heading toward the Marco Polo statue at the intersection). You have to look for it, but it will be on your left side. It's located closer to Fang Gun Jie and the beer garden, barbecue area, and a delicious, freshly made 12 Yuan cup of coffee is available there. The lady who runs the place uses a bunsen-burner style apparatus to make the coffee, and vacuum coffee maker which uses gravity to brew individual cups, and she'll do this in front of you. Cool experience, friendly owner, and worth it for the spectacle alone.
Zhangye Qicai Danxia International Youth Hostel (青年旅舍), 182 Huangcheng West Road (Take bus 4 from Xidajie towards the west. About 1.5 km past the West Bus Station - look for the YHA sign on a large arch (the second arch after a string of restaurants).), ☎ 0936-858891. Basic, but clean. Poor location, far away outside of the city center. Closing for winter between November and April (without any previous notice anywhere on internet). 40￥ dorm May 2014edit
Footprint International Youth Hostel, 89, Qingnian West Street, Zhangye 734000 (Take bus 1 from the train station to the city center. The hostel is very close to the drum tower. Take the street just north of the square with the drum tower and walk about 200-300m to the east. Once you get to the number 85, enter into the small side street, go up the stairs on the left. On the left on the ground floor is the hostel (it is a bit dark and difficult to find).). Great location in the city center next to the drum tower. Little English spoken. Good and clean facilities. 40￥ dorm December 2014. Open in winter.edit
Huayi Hotel (Huayi Binguan), East Street (East of Xiaochichang), ☎ +86 936 8242118. No English sign or English spoken but easy to find - opposite the pedestrian street, about 100m east of the Drum Tower. (Close to Dico's, next door to the China Construction Bank). It has two stone lions either side of a revolving doors. Twin rooms for 128 yuan (Oct 2013) with free (wired) internet, TV, a/c and private bathroom, 24hr hot water. The hot water works but takes 5 to 10 minutes to go from cold to hot. Closed as of April 2014. edit
Zhongguang Hotel (Zhongguang Zhaodaisuo), Second Floor establishment, Xianfu Street (On the south corner of Minsheng West Street), ☎ +86 936 5985449. edit