Gansu is a landlocked province in northwest China, 1500 km from Beijing and 2100 km from Shanghai. With an area of 453,700 square kilometers, Gansu is the seventh-largest province in China, but the population only has 25 million, and the economy of this province is not very developed.

Gansu is a long and narrow province that connects the Central Plains and Xinjiang from the southeast to the northwest, while the QinghaiTibet Plateau and the Mongolian steppe area on the north and south sides. Due to this unique geographical advantage, Gansu has historically been the most important part of the Silk Road in China and a place where many ethnic groups and cultures meet and communicate. Until today, Gansu is still the most convenient and best choice way to Xinjiang and Central Asia from China proper, for the New Eurasian Railway traverses the whole of Gansu.

Since there are many ethnic groups living here, Gansu is rich in cultural and historical attractions: you can see Buddhist temples and grottoes of the Han people, such as Mogao Grottoes, Binglingsi Temple, and Matisi Temple; For Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, here are Labrang Monastery and Langmusi Monastery; and you can also find Mongolian yurts and Muslim mosques in Gansu.

Besides, Gansu is located in an area where farming civilization and nomadic civilization meet, so it has always been the main battlefield for Han and nomadic people to compete with each other in history. Therefore, the Jiayuguan Pass, the last pass of the Great Wall, is also here. In addition to Jiayuguan, you can also find the ruins of older Han Dynasty passes, such as Yangguan pass and Yumenguan pass.

Due to the vast territory of Gansu, the various landforms here also leave rich natural landscapes for tourists to visit and explore. The Danxia landform in Zhangye, the Yardang landform, and the Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring in the desert in Dunhuang are all classic attractions that tourists must see. In addition, Gansu has a vast area of deserts, snow-capped mountains, and plateau grasslands.

As the capital of Gansu, Lanzhou is also a city that cannot be missed. This city, crossed by the Yellow River, which is the mother river of the Chinese nation, is famous all over China for its delicious cuisine. The local specialty beef noodles are known as one of the most delicious noodles in China.

Useful information

Area: 453,700 km²
Average annual temperature: 14 degrees
Geography: In the northern border between China and Mongolia. Generally, Gansu is very mountainous in the south and flat and desert in its northern part.
Population: 25,019,800 Inhabitants (2021)
Altitude: 1,600m
Ethnic minorities: Huis, Kazakhs, Uighurs, Mongols, and Tibetans
Economy: Agriculture, mineral resources, and industry

How to get to Gansu?

It is a really isolated and sparsely populated region compared to other provinces in China, so train journeys are relatively long. Most trains only stop in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu, and only a few trains provide serve the other small cities correctly and regularly.

If you are already in China, you can fly to Lanzhou from most major cities, such as a flight from Beijing or Shanghai. From Beijing to Lanzhou, flights take 2 hours 30 minutes, and from Shanghai, flights take 3 hours 10 minutes on average.

Another option to go to Gansu province is Dunhuang Airport, which is an important city in western Gansu. Dunhuang Airport is 13 km from the city center and serves flights from Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Lanzhou, and Urumqi.

Dunhuang also has a rail connection with Jiayuguan, Lanzhou, and Xi’an. The station is a little out of the way, 15 km from the center. Better to book a taxi or private car to get there.

Thanks to its unique geography and different minorities, Gansu benefits from renowned gastronomy different from other regions of China.

Among the famous local specialties:

Lanzhou beef noodles: Lanzhou beef noodles have the characteristics of “clear, white, red, green, yellow”. It’s beautiful colors and delicious flavor have won rave reviews from customers all over the world.

Niang Pizi: Niang Pizi is a specialty of Muslim China, made from flour. Niang Pizi is sold all year round in many restaurants, and its characteristics are light yellow color and clarity, supple eating, and tenacity, especially flavor.

Gray beans: Gray beans are one of the specific dishes of Lanzhou, a porridge-like food cooked with hemp-colored peas.

Beef pancake: Beef Pancake is a delicious Han snack originating from the court of the Tang Dynasty and has a history of 1,200 years.

You will find more detailed information on Chinese gastronomy on the page: Popular Chinese dishes.

The best time to organize a trip to Gansu runs from May to September, when the temperatures are more pleasant.

The average annual temperature for Gansu is 14° degrees with low annual rainfall. It is dry with an average of 275 days of sunshine per year and a humidity rate estimated at 47%. The highest average temperature is 28°C in July, and the lowest is 1°C in January.

See below the summary table of temperature and precipitation in Gansu.

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