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Zhangye

After a rainy day, one of the most colorful and eye-catching landscapes like the seven-color Danxia will appear in front of your eyes. On the observation decks, you will see beautiful views of the sunset over Ping Shan Lake Valley, and you can take a thousand unique photos of the sky above your head when you cross “Yixiantian”. The sculptures and caves embedded in the rugged mountains will make you feel the hard work of the ancient locals and the power of their beliefs. And at the end of the day, a visit to Ganzhou Market to taste Cuoyu noodles will be a perfect local experience.

Things to do +

Explore Ping Shan Lake Valley

Description:  It consists of the Chinese natural attraction closest to the urban side, which integrates natural wonders, exploration of the canyon and ethnic customs of the area. It has been praised as a phenomenon comparable to Grand Canyon and is known as a new discovery of the Silk Road.

Before starting the tour, the staff of the attraction will give brief explanations and recommendations about the place.

The canyon has three different routes that vary in duration, difficulty and points visited:

Route 1:  includes the 4 observation decks, where you can see the canyon’s landscape. It is the shortest route, however, it’s not recommended for old people or children. This is because it runs through a phenomenon called “yixiantian” (一线天), where the walls of two mountains are very close to each other and you can only see a thin line of the blue sky. This is why it is very difficult to walk in this area and it can be dangerous for old people or children.

Estimated visit time: 3-4 hours.

Route 2:  a little longer than the previous one, it also includes the 1-2-3-4 observation decks and instead of going through “Yixiantian”, it goes through a camel pass. Although it takes longer to do this route, it is safer and easier than the one above.

Estimated visit time: 4 hours.

Route 3: in this case, it includes the aforementioned decks and also the number 7 and another destination. For those who want to explore the canyon in-depth, this is the best option because you will be able to see all the possible landscapes. Also, it’s easy to make it due to its not mountainous roads.

Estimated visit time: 5-6 hours.

The ticket includes a bus tour that will take you to the first observation deck and pick you up at the last, to save time and energy.

Tickets to the valley: ¥90 per person (¥150 if the bus tour is included).

 

Experience and take pictures of Danxia landform

Description: This group of geographical features is amazing due to its large size, concentration, staggering shapes and very varied and striking colors, which include red, white and yellow, among others. All those characteristics create a nationally recognized landscape, to the point that in December 2018, it won the award of “China’s TOP20 Tourist Attractions”.

It has 5 different observation decks of which 4 will be seen in the normal visit and, depending on the entrance through which you enter, the order to visit the platforms will vary:

Yunhai observation deck (云海台):  it’s near the west gate, where you can see an incredible landscape and it will offer you the best resting place due to its size (the largest rest area of all). Also, this is where you will find booths to buy food and beverage.

Xianyuan observation deck (仙缘台):  Near the west entrance, there’s a lot of stairs to this platform, so it will take a bit more work to climb up to this one.

Hongxia observation deck (红霞台):  near the north gate, this is one of the smallest and recognized as the best of all. It is the best place to take a photo of the sunset, sunrise, or landscape after the rain. This is because, with the illumination of the sun, the colors that it reflects on the canyon are clearer and very varied. Here you will also see part of the Great Wall and the Silk Road.

Jingxiu observation deck (锦绣台): it is located near the north gate and is the smallest and simplest deck of all. Here, you will be able to see the so-called “Danxia Bacon” because of its light and orange colors.

The recommended and estimated time of visit is 2-3 hours.

Danxia landform ticket: the normal visit is ¥73 per person for 3 days, including a bus tour.         http://www.situlvyou.com/index.php?id=574&a=show&m=scenic

There is also another in-depth visit route to visit the rest of the points of the landform that make up the ¾ of the destination, such as Taohuagou (桃花沟), Aohe observation deck (敖河 where the bus tour does not pass through) and Wanxiangshilingu (万象士林谷, where the movie Detective Dee the 5th was shot). If you decide to buy the ticket for this in-depth visit, the estimated visit time will be more than 4 hours.

Ticket for Danxia landform: the in-depth visit must be in groups of more than 3 people. If the group is 3-5, the price is ¥328 per person, while if it is more than 6 people, it is ¥268 each.

For those who like adrenaline, you can try traveling on an air balloon or helicopter around the landform to see all the elevations and colors clearly. The price is ¥880 and ¥200 respectively.

Address: Linze County, Zhangye, Gansu, China.

 

▲▲Visit Matisi Caves

Description:  Matisi Caves are one of the most famous Buddhist caves in China. Located on Linsong Mountain, they include the North Temple, South Temple, Thousand Buddhas Cave, Golden Pagoda Temple, and Upper, Middle, and Lower Guanyin Caves. Because the rock walls are made of thick red sandstone and it is not convenient to carve on them, most of the sculptures are made of clay.

The sculptures and caves are carved into the steep mountainous walls, so you must climb them to see them and, once the peak is reached, you can enjoy far away landscape of Qilian Mountains.

Tickets: ¥74 each.

 

Try the typical dishes

Ganzhou Market: It is the most famous restaurant and booth market in Zhangye. Here you will find the most traditional and local dishes of the city, and the streets are decorated by red lanterns that are illuminated at night, creating a perfect environment for walking and enjoying the food.

Address: Jinmai Pedestrian St, Ganzhou District, Zhangye, Gansu, China.

How to get +

By train: Zhangye has several train stations, including Zhangye and Zhangye West. There is a tourist train line that runs from Lanzhou to Dunhuang, with stops in Zhangye and Jiayuguan. This is a good option for those who want to visit various destinations on Xibei route, since the connection between cities is usually very fast and convenient.

By plane: Zhangye has its own airport, called Zhangye Ganzhou Airport. There are direct flights, and otherwise, a stopover would be made at airports such as Lanzhou, where you can take a train (if you prefer) to go to Zhangye and see the landscape along the way. We recommend you take a flight since the landscape of the mountains that you will see when you are flying in the sky is recognized as unique and precious.

Travel tips +

Transport:

Public transport in Zhangye is not very comfortable and many points do not have stops, so it is better to rent a car with a driver for a tour that goes through all destinations, since the city is quite small. It is always important to remember to make the reservation on reliable websites or directly go to the drivers at the door of the train station and hire them. The price is around ¥150-400 per vehicle per day.

 

Clothing and snacks:

In destinations such as Ping Shan Lake Valley you have to walk a lot, so it is better to take sports shoes and snacks for the road because of the energy expenditure.

 

Weather:

It is recommended to go in fall due to the extreme temperatures in winter and summer in the northwest of China. But our advice is to bring everything you need in case the temperature differences between day and night are big.

Gastronomy +

Cuoyu Noodles (搓鱼面): this is a traditional dish exclusive to the city of Zhangye. The paste is thick in the middle and thin and pointed at the ends, like a small fish. It has a very good flavor and can be eaten either alone or with meat and vegetables.

Sauteed Bula (炒拔拉): it uses many parts of the body of lamb as an ingredient and is sauteed together with onion, noodles, peppers… For locals, this is considered a main dish and essential in their daily life.

Apricot Soft Drink: Being a destination on Xibei route, apricot soft drink is as well known in Zhangye as it is in the cities of Dunhuang and Jiayuguan. This drink made with dried apricot, medlar and hawthorn meat is one of the most refreshing and traditional in the area.

Saomian (臊面): they stand out for being bright, fine and refined noodles. It is a typical Zhangye dish, usually made with chicken, beef or pork soup to which pepper and ginger are added and it gives it a flavor similar to Chinese spicy soup. In addition, to this are added other types of complements such as fried striped tofu and cilantro.

Accommodation +

The Silk Road Travelers Hostel: it is a hostel close to Ganzhou district and Zhangye Danxia National Geopark.

Address:  Grain and Oil Purchase and Sale Companies in the Market, 734000 Zhangye, China.

You can make a reservation via Booking or Agoda.

Price per night of stay: ¥38-80 per person.

 

Qilian Pearl Hotel Zhangye: high-end hotel located near the outskirts of the city, away from the center.

Address:  North West Corner of Nº 312 Country Rd, North of 3rd Ring, Ganzhou District (Across of East Gate of Gan Zhou Fu), 734000 Zhangye, China.

Available on intermediaries such as Booking.

Price per night of stay: approximately ¥450.