The town is near a small salty lake called Gaz Hure Hu. In the low hills near town, if you go wandering, you can see oil derricks, as oil is the economic mainstay of the area, and perhaps small black pools of thick tar seeping to the surface.
Huatugou is a small oil-drilling town at 38°08'60"N, 90°52'00"E and 2,859 m. Perhaps there was more of a boom time in years past or hope of a boom yet to come, because many three-story concrete buildings stand empty. The town is near a small salty lake called Gaz Hure Hu. In the low hills near town, if you go wandering, you can see oil derricks, as oil is the economic mainstay of the area, and perhaps small black pools of thick tar seeping to the surface.
Important! Huatugou is a closed town. A closed town means that foreign visitors are not allowed to travel to or through the town without first getting a permit from the Aliens Entry and Exit Administration (AEEA) office of the PSB station in the town from which they will be traveling to the closed town.
Getting an Alien Travel Permit (ATP) is usually a straightforward process. All cities and most towns of any size have an AEEA office inside a central PSB (public security bureau or police) station. The AEEA office is also where you would go to get your visa extended.
The AEEA officers are usually friendly and usually know a bit of English. Let the AEEA officer know you want to go to Huatugou on your way to Xinjiang. An ATP costs Y50 . You get a folded form about the size of your passport;The permitted destinations written inside in Chinese only.
In Golmud, the bus station will not sell you a ticket to Huatugou unless you have an ATP. Similarly, the bus station in Dunhuang will not sell you a ticket to Huatugou unless you have an ATP. (Dunhuang is not itself a closed town, but the route to Dunhuang goes through a number of closed towns.) Some travelers have reported success in flagging down the bus just after it left the station and paying the fare on board without having a permit. There are several checkpoints on route, but travelers report that buses are rarely stopped.
Lodging staff in closed towns are required to report foreign guests. This seems to be generally overlooked in a transit hub like Huatugou, but you'll likely be reported if you stay in any other town in the area or if you stay in Huatugou for more than a day. If an official finds someone without a permit, travelers report they usually claim ignorance of the rules and are usually scolded and then restricted to their lodging and closely watched by hotel staff until they get on the next bus out of town. If you are belligerent with the officer, or if s/he has had a bad day for some other reason, you may be required to take a bus back in the direction from which you came.
A small airport exists for those working in the oil industry. There are direct flights to and from Golmud and Dunhuang starting at around ¥600.
the bus station is in the main road
- Bus from Golmud - takes 6-7 hours, departs from golmud at 12:00, foreigners need an Alien Travel Permit that you can get in the psb
- Bus from Dunhuang - there is a bus from Dunhuang - but, the bus station in Dunhuang will not sell you a ticket to Huatugou unless you have an ATP, You can't get this permit in Dunhuang because its in another province, so you have to
do the ride to the psb in golmud, and from there to take the bus to Huatugou. (as to April 2011)
- 1 Huatugou Railway Station (花土沟站). The Golmud-Korla Railway was completed in 2020 making it possible to reach Huatugou by train for the first time. Passenger trains from Golmud run only about once every 3 or 4 days. The journey time is about 5 hours and the fare is ¥64.50 for a hard seat or ¥123.50 for a hard sleeper. Unfortunately, as of March 2021, there are still no passenger trains to or from destinations west of Huatugou, although there are trains running from Korla to Ruoqiang, so it's probably only a matter of time before train services are extended to cover the full length of the line.
Just two hotels are allowed to accommodate foreigners in the town. One is in the budget price range, and the other in the middle price range.
There are many other places to stay, some cheap and some expensive, but if you are a foreigner, they probably won't let you sleep there and just will call the PSB.
South Silk roadEdit
Twice daily minibuses run the 65 km in 1.5-2 hours for Y15 between Huatugou and Shimiankuang (石绵矿 literally: asbestos mine), a tiny worker hamlet north of a large surface-level asbestos mine.
The first is at 9:00 (Beijing Time), from the main road in front of the bus station.