Situated in northwestern China, Lanzhou is the geographic center of the country. Though there are not many world famous scenic spots, most tourists choose the city as a stopover for its convenient transportation to the renowned tourist cities in western China.
Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (ZGC) is located about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the downtown area. More than 30 airlines connect Lanzhou to the outside world, with daily flights to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xi'an. The direct daily flights to and from Lhasa now is available and the whole flight lasts only 3.5 hours. Flights to major cities like Tianjin,Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Kunming, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Jinan, Changsha, Haikou, Wuhan, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Zhuhai, Shenyang and international and regional flights to Okinawa, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also available from Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport.
It takes roughly an hour for the airport shuttle bus (at about 30 Yuan per person) to arrive at Lanzhou Eastern Hotel (No. 555, Tianshui Lu) at downtown. A taxi will cost about 140 Yuan.
Zhongchuan Airport Inquiring: 0931-8968160
Lanzhou Railway Station is located in the south downtown. There are altogether 45 daily rail departures from Lanzhou, connecting Lanzhou to other cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Jinan, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xian, Xining, Urumqi and Hohhot. Express trains also run to Xining, Yumen, Zhangye, Pingliang and Golmud.
There are many ticket offices in the city but we recommend you buy your tickets from the ticket center at the railway station or from the ticket offices in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to avoid forged tickets.
Lanzhou Railway Station Inquiry: 0931-4922222
Lanzhou is the hub of the road transportation system in Gansu Province with Lanzhou East Bus Station and Lanzhou West Bus Station being the two largest. There are 750 buses to different places daily and the destinations are as far flung as Xinjiang, Baotou, Xining, Zhengzhou, Chengdu and Wenzhou. Generally, buses within the province leave in the morning and arrive in the afternoon. Lanzhou East Bus Station is located at No.170 Pingliang Lu. Buses No.141, 137, 75 and 6 depart from there and the bus stop is Qiche Dong Zhan (East Bus Station).
Lanzhou West Bus Station is located at No.486, Xijin Dong Lu. Buses No.1, 6, 11, 31, 32, 33, 41, 45, 50, 56, 58, 59, 106 and 107 are available and the bus stop is Xiao Xi Hu.
However, as Lanzhou is located in the east of Gansu Province, far from the tourist cities in the Hexi Corridor, like Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, so rail as apposed to road travel is often preferable. For the south of Gansu Province, like Sangke Prairie where no rail link is available, the bus is the only option.
Shopping in Lanzhou city
Lanzhou has a good selection of handicrafts and local specialties from all parts of Gansu Province. You can go to the Center Square, the commercial center in Tielu Xincun and the commercial center in Nanguan-Xiguan (the most important commercial district). Also worth mentioning is the commercial center on Xijin Road near the western railway station.
Chinese herbal medicines like aweto, astragalus, Chinese angelic Dong Quai, codonopsis pilosula, lily, sanpaotai tea, rose, wolfberry series are highly therapeutic and precious. For those interested in Chinese cultural and herbal medicines, those would be good choices
Yeguang (boulder) Cups, paper-cut designs, scent bags, Yellow River windmills, shadow puppets show and Taiping drums are very typical handicrafts in Gansu.
A yeguang (boulder) cup is made of jade stone from Qilian Mountain. Some are white with yellow and others are green. The cup is as thin as a piece of paper. The Chinese yeguang means it will illuminate at night. Actually, the cup cannot illuminate. It reflects the moonlight and looks like it is sending out mysterious colors.
A carved gourd, as the name suggests, is a gourd carved with landscapes, portraits, animals, calligraphy or poems, and then painted with ink. Big ones are of the size of a fist while small ones that of an egg. The gourd is smooth and yellowish white.
Terrine products are made of clay. They have a history of 6,000 to 10,000 years. There are more than 20 categories of terrines, ranging from pot, to kettle to hotpot. The largest is about 0.5m (1.6feet) and the smallest one is like a bowl. The best ones are produced in Agan Town and Leitanhe. Gourmets in China say terrine can preserve the original flavor of food much better than metal wares and clay is more stable than metal without chemical reactions. Also the clay absorbs heat evenly. Therefore, terrine is a must for boiling down Chinese herbal medicines as well as for some Chinese dishes.
The history of Lanzhou pebble carvings is short compared to that of terrine. Pebble is a kind of quartz with various colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, purple and grey. Pebbles are merged, carved and pasted in the shapes of monkey king, sleeping Buddha, cowboys, the god of longevity, lion, bulls, apes and elephants, etc.
Tao ink stone is one of three famous ink stones together with Duan ink stone in Guangdong and She ink stone in Anhui. This stone is taken from the bottom of quick water in the Tao River so the raw material is already precious. Meanwhile, the exquisite final products are made after the complicated process of 11 steps. The patterns are roughly divided into engraved ones and plain ones. The ink stone is green as jade and it has gained a high reputation since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Double-layered Vase made in Lanzhou is also unique. Its history dated back to the end of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This dainty vase goes through more than 20 processes and there are more than 80 kinds of handmade sculpts. The patterns range from flowers, animals, natural scenes and cultural essence of Mogao Grottoes, Maiji Grottoes and Labrang Monastery, full of local and ethnic features.
Sanpaotai, the most famous tea in Lanzhou, is made up of the spring tea, longan, date, apricot, preserved fruits, wolfberry, walnut, sesame, dried raisins, etc.
Honey Dew melon grown in Lanzhou is sweet and fragrant. It should not be missed on your tip to Lanzhou.
Besides, there are various kinds of fruits like Lanzhou Peach, Lanzhou Ruan'er Pear which you can not taste in other places.
Where to buy
Guwan Zihua Cheng (The City of Antique and Calligraphy and Paintings)
Location: Yantan, Lanzhou
This archaized architecture houses around 80 shops, offering antiques, calligraphies, paintings, the four treasures of the study (writing brush, ink stick, ink stone and paper), jade ware, jewelry, porcelain, copper ware, root carving, strange stones, old coins, stamps, etc.