Linxia (临夏; Línxià) is a city in Gansu Province. It is the capital of the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture.
Colorful market town located in the mountains south of Lanzhou. Sometimes called the "Mecca of China," many consider it a main center of Hui Muslim culture in China. The city is known by locals as one of the most culturally diverse in China, shown visibly by the Tibetan stupas on the hills around the city.
Linxia is only accessible by road.
Most travelers are coming or going to Lanzhou, which is about three hours away. Buses run throughout the day and leave from Lanzhou's West Bus Station. Alternatively it shouldn't be too hard to arrange a private taxi to take you out here. Ask any of the people hanging around the bus station for a ride (updated August 2008).
From Lanzhou - Only Lanzhou Nanzhan (Lanzhou South Bus Terminal, near Lanzhou University of Technology shortly Li Gong Da) serves the buses to Linxia, Gannan (including Xiahe, Hezuo and Langmusi, etc.). 2/3 of the road Lanzhou-Linxia is highway, thus trip time shortened now, for about 2.5 hrs. Be careful to the people around you outside the gate of Lanzhou Nanzhan. Frequency: about every 30 minutes serves a bus to Linxia, starting 7am-5pm.
From Linxia - There are 2 bus stations in Linxia. One is called 汽车西站 (West Terminal), which is operated by state-owned trans company. The other is named 汽车南站 (South Terminal), operated by private sectors, i.e., individuals. Fares are almost the same.
From Xiahe - There are buses every hour morning until mid afternoon from Xiahe's bus station. They take 2 - 3 hours.
Usually, people in China like to take state-owned buses for their travel, maybe for the sake of safety.
The South Bus Station is at Jiefang Road.
Route times, updated 2016:
- Lanzhou - takes about 3 hours
- Menda Tianchi - takes about 4 hours
- Xiahe - takes about 2 hours
- Xining - takes about 5 hours
- Xunhua - takes about 4 hours
Linxia is small enough to walk to most of the attractions. As of 2016, foreigners can only live in two centrally located hotels, making walking even more convenient.
Taxi rides in the downtown area are 5 yuan a short ride (October 2016). Drivers will collect passengers along the way, but all pay individually.
There are short direct route taxis at the West Bus Station which take a fixed fare to visit some of the surrounding villages / sites. They leave when full.
"Red Garden" (红园) - a beautiful park set in Linxia's cultural downtown. Lovely temples with places to drink tea and have a meal in quiet grounds. The park connects the city square, from which you can follow the minarets of the numerous mosques in town including the beautiful Gong Bei Mausuleum (清真寺拱北）
"Gong Bei Mausoleum" (清真寺拱北）- Probably the largest of the many Mausoleums dotting downtown Linxia. Shares its street with four other mausuleums of a similar style. Try and dive into the side streets behind this mosque to get a feel of local life. Ask for directions from the Red Park.
Emperors Birthday Temple （万寿观）- The exact translation of this mountaintop temples name might not entice, but the views over Linxia are breathtaking. The temple looks down on the Red Park and Gong Bei Mosque with options to walk along the mountain peak for some distance. Standing in front of the West Bus Station (汽车西站）and looking towards the mountains, do not enter through the large and inviting gates but turn left and walk a few hundred meters, taking the first right towards the mountain. The temple stairs start at the end of this road, which for all intends and purposes looks like an access road.
Numerous mosques (qing zhen si) and Islamic mausoleums (gongbei) can be found throughout the city. One of the delights of this town is to experience the diversity - go for a walk!
Hike up the escarpment of the loess plateau north of town, to the pagoda of Wanshou Guan, a Taoist temple, for the great views of the Daxia River valley in which Linxia City is located.
Throughout town there are vendors that sell the skullcaps of the local Muslim Hui ethnic minority in a variety of styles.
- Antique Market (Along one of the main streets). Has real and fake antiques. The selection there includes locally made bronze teapots, Tibetan metal and leather products, and porcelains. A traditional local product are eyeglasses of peculiar style.
One product that travelers should NOT BUY are the furs. The skins of spotted leopards, an endangered species, appear on open display in the market. Leopard skins and other fur products have been poached in China or in neighboring countries. Asia's wildlife is quickly disappearing as China's appetite for illegal animal products increases. Please do not contribute to this crisis. International trade in products from endangered animal species is prohibited by the CITES convention, and an attempt to smuggle them into a country such as Australia may result in confiscation and heavy fines.
Most of the restaurants in town serve Islamic food.
Unlike eastern China, where people mostly eat bread in the form of steamed bread (mantou), baked bread products abound in Muslim-heavy western China, including Linxia.
- Longquan Wheaten Food Restaurant.
- Red Park Cafe (红园咖啡; Hóngyuán Kāfēi) (Near the Red Park). Coffee shop (in the western sense) with a sleek modern look serving coffee, tea, bubble tea, and waffles. Owned by an English-speaking foreigner who can be helpful in getting information around town (as of 2016 this coffee shop no longer exists. Five out of five taxi drivers had never heard of it)
Five one square (五一广场) - the main entertainment area in town. Has a large supermarket with a decent range of Western products. Many coffee shops and bars as well as a cinema and Ferris wheel. This is in the new part of town.
As of October 2016 there are only two hotels foreigners may stay at in Linxia. If you are travelling with a Chinese friend, ask them to book a room using their national ID card and sneak in after they have registered to get around this strange restriction.
"Linxia Hotel" (临夏饭店) is the better located of the two, positioned opposite the provincial government building. Doubles start from 168 / yuan / night in the old building. Clean and simple business accommodation. Walking distance from all the main attractions, as well as the West Bus Station.
The following information is useful only if you are accompanied by a Chinese person with national ID who can register for the rooms:
There are a couple small guesthouses right across from the main bus station. There are bargains here: as little as ¥30 for a couple with bathroom. Poke around and be sure to bargain.
- Shuiquan Hotel (Shuiquan Binguan) (Main crossroads, close to the main (southern) bus station). Double with en-suite: ¥70, double without bathroom ¥36 (summer 2006).
- Liujiaxia Reservoir on the Yellow River. Accessible by minibuses going to Lianhua Tai.
- Bingling Temple, by private boat from Lianhua Tai.