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Lanzhou (兰州; Lánzhōu) is the capital of Gansu province



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.

Get in

By plane

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.

By train

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

By bus

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
  • 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 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]

Get around

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. 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). (中山桥)
  • 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)
  • 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.


  • 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

Other options:

  • UBC Coffee House (Shangdao Kafei Ting), Zhongshan Road (Opposite Shengli Binguan). For when you need a Western food break thats consistent wherever you are.
  • Amazon (Yamaxun Yidali Xicanba), 61 Jiuquan Road (South of Nanguan Shizi), 0931-8455899 English speaking. 11:00-23:00. Best pizza in Lanzhou also offers delivery.


  • Huanghe Beer
  • Wuquanshan Beer



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.

  • Yingbin Hotel (Yingbin Fandian), 35 Tianshui Road, +86 931 8886552 (fax: +86 931 8886776).
  • 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).


  • Lanzhou Hotel, 434 West Donggang Road, +86 931 8416321 (fax: +86 931 8418608).
  • Friendship Hotel Lanzhou, 16 Xijin West Road West, +86 931 2333051 (fax: +86 931 2330304).


  • Lanzhou Legend Hotel, 599 Tianshui Road, +86 931 8882876 (fax: +86 931 8887876).
  • Jinjiang Sun Hotel, 589 Donggang West Road, Chengguan District, [1]. A 4-star hotel business hotel. It has 236 guestrooms, meeting venues, business centre, restaurants, sauna and health club. Online reservation is accepted.

Get out

  • 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
  • Sichuan Back Entrance Route - south via Xiahe, Hezuo and on past Langmusi into Sichuan province
  • Bingling Temple

Routes through Lanzhou
END  W noframe E  TianshuiXian

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  • 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:
  • If all else fails, keep Skype open. Skype have done deals with many ISPs. And you can use Skype to make a wireless Internet connection. See this article for more detail: