Travel Guide Asia China Gansu Lanzhou



Food street

Food street

© heidigras

Polluted, dirty, crowded, and loud, Lanzhou (兰州) in Gansu can be a bit overwhelming on first impressions. This city is ranked in the top 30 most polluted cities in the world according to Blacksmith Institute. Although most tourists arrive in town and then try to leave right away, Lanzhou is worth a day. The city has an excellent provincial museum, several nice mosques and amazing noodle dishes!

Lanzhou historically has been a major crossing point over the Yellow River. Its location at the southern end of the Hexi Corridor made Lanzhou an important stopping point along the southern Silk Road. Although different groups ruled Lanzhou at different times, Chinese Dynasties were the main rulers and influencers of Lanzhou. Lanzhou was made into a provincial capital in the Qing Dynasty when Gansu was designated as its own province. Today Lanzhou is a center for heavy industry and oil production.



Sights and Activities

  • Gansu Provincial Museum (甘肃省博物馆) is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. This is one the best museums in China with great English translations. The exhibits cover everything from dinosaurs, with some stellar skeletons, to modern times and everything in between. One of the best pieces is a Roman Silver plate featuring Bachuss, from the 2nd century discovered outside Lanzhou.
  • White Cloud Temple (白云观) is a nice Taoist temple.
  • Lanshan Park (兰山公园) is a nice mountain range south of the city, and good way to spend a summer’s afternoon.
  • White Pagoda Hill (白塔山) is a great Yuan Dynasty pagoda located on the Yellow River.



Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.




Lanzhou has a moderate temperate climate and is very dry. June to September is summertime with average daytime temperatures between 24 °C and 28 °C and nights around 15 °C. Winters last from late November to early March, with daytime temperatures mostly between 2 °C and 8 °C and nights between -3 °C and -9 °C. Although there is some occasional snow or rain, winters are dry. Most of the rain falls during the summer season from May to September with August being the wettest month at around 80 mm.



Getting There

By Train

Lanzhou Train Station (兰州火车站) is a major gateway for reaching the east or west of China. There are several trains a day to all major cities in China and Gansu. Make sure to book your tickets in advance because trains sell out quickly. There are also several trains a day to Lhasa, depending on the time of the year.


  • The South Bus Station (汽车南站) is the most useful. It has several buses a day to Xiahe, Linxia, Zhangye, and one a day to Dunhuang.
  • The East Bus Station (汽车东站) is also an useful bus station. It has hourly buses to Pingliang and Tianshui. There are daily buses to Xi’an, Yinchuan and Guyuan.

As always remember that the bus system in China is expanding rapidly. Remember to double check bus schedules with other travelers or hotel staff to make sure you go to the right station.




  • Laomian is the main dish to eat in Lanzhou. These pulled noodles can be found at countless food stalls around the city.
  • KFC is available if you are craving some western food. There are several KFCs located on the main shopping street.





You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.


China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 36.061255
  • Longitude: 103.834377

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This is version 14. Last edited at 12:12 on Dec 10, 19 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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