Lanzhou is an industrial city of about three million people. It is located on the shores of the Yellow River and was a major stop on the Silk Road, where it was known as the Golden City. From the 5th to the 11th century the city was a major seat of Buddhist learning, and it acquired its present name during Qing Dynasty in 1656. Until 19th century, Lanzhou was the primary point in crossing the Yellow River via a bridge made by chaining a flotilla of boats together with a road on top to cross on.
Lanzhou is one of the most polluted cities in China, having had most if not all touristy areas knocked down and rebuilt. There is a lot of industry here, and reasonably remote but well paid teaching opportunities.
Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (IATA: LHW) is situated 75km from the city centre of Lanzhou. Daily flights to Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dunhuang, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jiayuguan, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Ürümqi, Wenzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi'an and Zhengzhou.
To get downtown will take about 1 hour by airport bus service. Buy a 30 rmb ticket to the left of the exit door of domestic arrivals. It will drop you downtown at Tianshui lu. Walk across the road to #1 bus stop close to Lanzhou university and 1 RMB fare on the bus will bring you uptown to the cheap hotels. You will also pass the return terminus for the airport bus, about 3 stops up from the airport drop stop. Returning to the airport from this terminus, you will be accosted by touts offering taxi rides. It can be possible to share a taxi for 40 rmb per head. But buses leave every hour, on the hour.
Lanzhou Huoche Zhan - southern end of Pingliang Lu at Tianshui Lu
Beijing via Hohhot and Datong
Beijing via Xi'an and Zhengzhou - takes about 25 hours
Chengdu - takes about 19 hours
Golmud via Xining - takes about 14 hours
Guangzhou - takes about 29 hours
Lhasa - takes about 30 hours
Shanghai via Xi'an and Zhengzhou - takes about 23 hours
Urumqi via Jiayuguan and Turpan - takes about 24 hours
Xian - takes about 9 hours
Xining - takes about 3-4 hours
East Long-Distance Bus Station
Location: Pingliang Lu
Dunhuang - takes about 24 hours
Guyuan - takes about 8 hours
Jiayuguan - takes about 17 hours
Pingliang - takes about 5 hours
Tianshui - takes about 4 hours
Urumqi* Dunhuang - takes about 38 hours
Xi'an - takes about 14-16 hours
Yinchuan - takes about 12 hours (edit : Jan 2013, takes 6 hours. Departure from the main long-distance bus station (长途车站; chángtú chēzhàn; Pingliang Lu) - one departure at 10AM)
Zhangye - takes about 12 hours
West Long-Distance Bus Station
Location: Xijin Xilu
Linxia - takes about 3 hours
Liujiaxia - takes about 2 hours
Xining - takes about 3.5 hours
Hezuo - takes about 5 hours
Xiahe - takes about 6 hours- from the SOUTH Bus Station, not the West [as of July 22 2008 this bus was not running, at the request of Police. Likely due to Tibetan protests. Check Thorn Tree forum for more details]
The #1 Bus is really useful getting around Lanzhou. It travels from Lanzhou Station to the Lanzhou Hotel, Qingyang Lu, Xihu Gongyuian Park, Qiliheqiao and ending at Lanzhou West Station.
Gansu Provincial Museum (甘肃省博物馆), XiJin Dong Lu (Take bus 1, 18, 31, 50, 53, 58, 59, 71 and get off at Qilihe Qiao Station. The museum can be found on the south side of the road.). 09:00-17:00 (Closed Monday). Silk Road history in one place. The museum is divided into two sections-natural resources and historic exhibits. It houses collections of various color-painted potteries of Neolithic Age and treasures of ancient grottoes. In addition, the museum is home to precious linen and silk fabrics, books, wooden and bronze vessels, a great many bamboo slips for writing from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), frescos and so many other items. A 4-meter-tall Mammoth fossil replica is stored in the museum whose remains were excavated from the Yellow River basin in 1973. Aside from the prehistoric presentations, there are also rare animal exhibits, such as pandas, golden monkeys and red -crowned cranes. The world-famous bronze Galloping Horse's Hoof Stepped on a Flying Swallow, also named as Galloping Horse, is a treasure of Gansu Provincial Museum. Excavated in 1969 in Wuwei County, Gansu Province, the piece depicts a vigorous horse with long tail waving and head perking. Its three hooves are in the air, galloping like lightening. What makes this sculpture amazing is the right back hoof of this galloping horse lands on the back of a small flying bird. The bird turns in surprise to look at the big creature on its back. At the same moment, the horse's head also turns slightly in attempt to know what has happened. The whole statue is honored as the mysterious and rare treasure in the history of Chinese ancient sculpture art. You need to show passport or Chinese id card at the street gate to get a free ticket to enter at the front door.Free. (36.066966,103.77462)
Green Corridor along Binhe Road. (滨河路绿色长廊)
Five-Spring Mountain (Wuquanshan Gongyuan). (五泉山) A jumble of a poor amusement park and some renovated temples.
White Pagoda Mountain (Baitashan). (白塔山) Yuan dynasty White Pagoda Temple overlooks the Yellow River.
Sun Yat-Sen Bridge (Zhongshan Qiao), Zhongshan Lu (Intersection of Nanbinhe Dong Lu & Zhongshan Lu). (中山桥) "First Bridge across the Yellow River". An old narrow ironwork bridge that holds important significance to Chinese people. Pedestrian only now in order to preserve the bridge.(36.063497,103.817106)
Waterwheel Garden, Nanbinhe Dong Lu. (水车博览园) Small park along the Yellow River housing impressive traditional waterwheels, originally used to irrigate farmland around Lanzhou.10RMB. (36.06315,103.845795)
Sculptures of the Mother River. (黄河母亲像)Gansu sculpture by the famous sculptor He E creation,6 meters long,2.2 meters wide,2.6 meters tall, weighing 40 tons, from "mother" and a "baby" of composition.
Gaolan Mountain. (皋兰山) Cool place to be when the summer heat kicks in.
Qiaomen Mosque. (桥门清真寺)
Tianfusha Palace. (天斧沙宫)
Bingling Si. (炳灵寺石窟) Cave grottoes and a boat ride, all in one trip.
Yantan Park (雁滩公园), . Since founding a state, here has built up to 20 km ring at the dam and 10 km asphalt road, and across the Yellow River tributary, the Yantan and urban integration. Later turned into parks, gardens lush forests, beautiful scenery, has built a pavilion, and the Yellow River scenery mutual authentic, very magnificent.
Solemn Temple (庄严寺). The great cause of thirteen years (617 years ), Xue Ju in Lanzhou later became the emperor, the solemn temple as the palace. Tang Pingdingxue cited later renamed the temple, by the gate, and QianDian rooms, the main hall, houdian constitute HHS falls. Original gate board, "Chi stately Temple" six characters, is the famous calligrapher Li Puguang the book, font bold. The main hall after a Buddism godness Guanyin wall murals, dignified and beautiful, wearing white, wanran such as yarn, Panicum Jingping, Cuise such as the new.
Walk across the Zhongshan Bridge for the night lights, people and the immense Yellow river.
Hezheng Lu Night Market, (Between Tiansuhi Lu and Pingliang Lu). A very authentic market from mid-afternoon onwards.free.
Sanfo, 1 Youshengnan Road, Jinshui District. The leading outdoor gear stores in China.
Xidan, (Off Zhangye Road). The main shopping district.
Street food at the Hezheng Lu Night Market
Lanzhou is famous for its beef noodle soup (Lanzhou niurou lamian). The noodles are always hand made, and the broth served hot and spicy with as much beef as you care to pay for.
Mazilu. Chain of restaurants specialising in Lanzhou niurou lamian
UBC Coffee House (Shangdao Kafei Ting), Zhongshan Road (Opposite Shengli Binguan). For when you need a Western food break thats consistent wherever you are.
The Blue Bottle Coffee (Lan Zun Kafei), Chengguang Qu, 138 Jinchang Bei Lu (North West of Dongfang Hong Guangcang), ☎ (86) 0931-8878784. 11am-11pm. A cozy little cafe serving very decent coffee in central Lanzhou. Coffee prices range from 18 to 32 RMB (September 2012).
Many of the cheap hotels on near the train station on Tianshui road (天水南路) do not accept foreigners, but some do, look around. Here's a couple to get you started.
Lanshan Hotel, (Opposite the train station). Pleasant enough rooms at decent prices. The fire escapes are locked. There is a public internet cafe in an adjoining building (ask at reception).Listed rates for doubles with en-suite ¥138 (can be bargained), double without bathroom ¥56 (summer 2006).
Jinjiang Sun Hotel, 589 Donggang West Road, Chengguan District, . A 4-star hotel business hotel. It has 236 guestrooms, meeting venues, business centre, restaurants, sauna and health club. Online reservation is accepted.
Linxia - center for the Hui (Muslim Chinese) and Dongxiang (Muslim Mongol) minorities, nicknamed "The Mecca of China". Numerous mosques and Islamic mausolea (gongbei), colorful markets and relaxing teahouses
Almost all hotel rooms have free internet in the form of an Ethernet cable. Sometimes the cable is sticking out of the wall. Sometimes you will find it in the drawer or the cupboard - plug in.
Although wireless networks are not common (ethernet based connections are much more common) there are a great many unsecured wireless networks in the city. For the most part downloads are unlimited for subscribers - so don't feel too bad if you help yourself.
You can also buy 3G internet USB modems from the major telcos. Expect Chinese language software simple enough for the English speaking to use.
Internet cafes exist thanks to online gaming. They are not particularly cheap, staff have extremely poor English and all applications will be in Chinese. Recommend plugging in your USB stick with Portable English applications on it: http://portableapps.com/