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; in those days, 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 the Qing Dynasty in 1656. Until the 19th century, Lanzhou was the primary point for crossing the Yellow River via a bridge made by chaining a flotilla of boats together with a road on top to cross on.
Lanzhou used to be one of the most polluted cities in China but the situation has improved.
- 1 Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport (LHW IATA) (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.
A single line shuttle bus (30 CNY per person) makes the trip to city in a bit more than one hour, and finally stops at the crossroads of TianShui South Road / DongGan West Road (天水南路、东岗西路).
A dedicated commuter train line connects the Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport and the Lanzhou Railway Station, with an intermediate stop at Lanzhou West Station. (Some trains from the airport terminate at Lanzhou West). The travel time from the airport to Lanzhou Railway Station is 50-55 min; as of 2015, there is approximately one train per hour in each direction. (Current schedule, in Chinese).
All long-distance trains nowadays use 2 Lanzhou West Railway Station, a huge modern building that from the street looks like a gigantic Walmart. From here, high-speed trains rush to Xining (1 h 15 min), Jiayuguan (4 h 30 min), Urumqi (12 h), Xian (4 h), Wuhan and Beijing.
Conventional trains still use the old Lanzhou Railway Station (Lanzhou Huoche Zhan) at the south end of Pingliang Lu at Tianshui Lu. This is also served by a few high-speed trains, and by the airport train.
The East Long-Distance Bus Station is on Pingliang Lu. Destinations include Dunhuang (24 hours), Guyuan (8), Jiayuguan (17), Pingliang (5), Tianshui (4), Urumqi (38), Xi'an (15), Yinchuan (12) and Zhangye (12).
The West Long-Distance Bus Station is on Xijin Xilu. Destinations include Linxia (3 hours), Liujiaxia (2), Xining (5) and Hezuo (5).
The South Long-Distance Bus Station serves Xiahe (6 hours).
The Metro runs east–west across the city, linking downtown with West Railway Station.
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. It also connects the train station to the starting point of the shuttle bus to the airport, here.
There's a city bike scheme, with pick-up / drop-off stations dotted around.
- 1 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.). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Silk Road history in one place. The museum is divided into two sections, natural resources and historic exhibits. It houses collections of various colour-painted potteries of Neolithic Age and treasures of ancient grottoes. It's also home to precious linen and silk fabrics, books, wooden and bronze vessels, bamboo writing-slips from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), frescoes and many other items. The 4-meter high Mammoth is a replica of one excavated from the Yellow River basin in 1973. There are also exhibits of rare modern animals, such as pandas, golden monkeys and red-crowned cranes.
The iconic exhibit is the Galloping Horse, excavated in 1969 in Wuwei County, Gansu Province. A horse gallops with long tail waving and head perking; three hooves are in the air, while the right hind hoof has alighted on the back of a small flying swallow. Bird and horse turn in surprise to try to see what's happening. A small replica from the gift shop is Y500. Free, but you need your passport to enter.
- 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.
- 2 Zhongshan ("Morning") Bridge (Zhongshan Qiao, 中山桥), Zhongshan Lu (Intersection of Nanbinhe Dong Lu & Zhongshan Lu). Always open. With a name like that, it ought to be a scenic arch on a willow-pattern plate. It's actually a sturdy metal trellis, which it needs to be to withstand the surging, foaming Yellow River, and it's far from pretty. When completed in 1909, it was the first permanent bridge across the river. Pedestrian only nowadays, it's the natural route to and viewpoint for White Pagoda Mountain.
- White Pagoda Mountain (Baitashan 白塔山). Park ranging over the wooded hillside north of the river, dotted with pagodas and shrines. Enter next to Zhongshan Bridge and wander uphill by any path, eventually to the White Pagoda Temple. (There's also a cable-car from south bank of the river.) Refurbished in 2013 yet the buildings look well-worn, several boarded-up; the "Jade Temple" compound is in the best condition. Free.
- White Cloud Temple (Baiyun Taoist Temple) is on the south river bank, Nanbinhe East Road, one block west of Zhongshan Bridge. It's much less touristy, a peaceful little compound, so the wear-and-tear on the buildings feels venerable rather than run-down. Free.
- Qiaomen Mosque (Bridge Gate Mosque, 桥门清真寺) is just south of the bridge.
- Xiguan Mosque is on Cuiyingmen, one block south of the Taoist Temple. Anywhere else, this would be a hard-hat zone, as (in 2018) the mosque compound is being rebuilt. But if you pick your way past blocks of cladding and piles of sand and trailing pipes and cables, the mosque itself remains open. It's quite a simple modern design.
- 3 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. Free.
- 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 Buddhism 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.
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. They are a specialty of the Muslim Hui ethnic group, and hence are a good option for those looking for halal food.
- Mazilu. Chain of restaurants specialising in Lanzhou niurou lamian
- Zheng Ning Road Night Market A street with plenty of food stalls in the evening. Seems it has replaced the old Hezheng Lu Night Market. The street is located between Qingyang Lu and Gannan Lu, about one km south from the big pedestrian street.
- UBC Coffee House (Shangdao Kafei Ting), Zhongshan Road (Opposite Shengli Binguan). For when you need a Western food break thats consistent wherever you are.
- Huanghe Beer
- Wuquanshan Beer
As located in buildings, with almost no signs or Chinese signs, hostels in Lanzhou are a little bit tricky to find.
- Lanzhou Dream Forest Hostel, very nice inside decoration but since 2017 they can no longer accept foreigners, unfortunately. So contact them to make sure you are allowed to stay or not, before you go because the location is away from city center.
- Lanzhou Ferry Hostel Opened in 2017, this small hostel run by a super friendly young guy named Whale, who speaks good English. The location is great : quite central but in a small quiet street, so no noisy. However the place is a bit hard to find. You can check the location on MAPS.ME, or booking.com where pictures helps to locate the entrance. Go to the end of the dead-end street, where you wouldn't believe it is here, go left when you cannot move forward, you are now in a small square surrounded by crapy-looking buildings. It is number 36, big metal door, ring on #103. But best is to contact Whale (+8617794268283) to explain or pick you up.
Dorm price : 40 to 50 Yuan.
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, ☏ , fax: .
- Lanshan Hotel (Lanshan Binguan) (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, ☏ , fax: .
- Friendship Hotel Lanzhou, 16 Xijin West Road West, ☏ , fax: .
- Ibis Peili Square (On Anning East Rd, first bend after river bridge). Good chain offering, 4 km from West railway station. B&B single US$ 40 or Y400.
- Lanzhou Legend Hotel (兰州飞天大酒店), 529 Tianshui S Road (Junction with Donggang W Rd), ☏ . 4 star with eating places & gym.
- 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.
- Jialeho Hotel (家乐活酒店 formerly Home Lohas Hotel), 123 Gannan Rd (near TianShui Nan Lu) / 甘南路123号, 近天水南路 (corner of Yizhichuan Rd, near jcn of Donggang W / Tianshui Nan), ☏ . Modern hotel, clean and functional for a reasonable price.
The Visa Extension Service is located in a big administrative building on the southwestern corner of Qingyang Lu & Jiuquan Lu, on the 4th Floor, easy to find, follow the VISA signs. You can search for "Min'an Mansion" on Google Maps to locate the building. Opened from 9:00 to 17:00. Friendly English-speaking staff. No need for photos & passport copies, they will take a digital photo. You just need a proof of lodging. Takes 3-4 working days.
- 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/
- 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: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/features/allfeatures/skype-access/
- Linxia - center for the Hui (Muslim Chinese) and Dongxiang (Muslim Mongol) minorities. 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 E||→ Tianshui → Xi'an|