Gansu Province Travel Guide
Provincial capital: Lanzhou
Population: 28 millions
Geological location: This Northwest China Province on the upper reaches of the Yellow River has an area of 455, 000 sq km inhabited by 23,450,000 people of Han, Hui, Tibetan, Mongol and eight other ethnic groups. The provincial capital is Lanzhou, Northwest China's largest industrial center situated on the western terminus of the Longhai Railway -- the country's major east-west trunk line.
Climate: Gansu has a temperate monsoon climate with the marked transitional characteristics of a continental climate. It has an annual temperature of 0°－15°C, with great difference between north and south, and an annual precipitation of 50-800 mm, decreasing from southeast to northwest.
Tourism resources: A relatively barren province in western China, Gansu has been on the very borders of "civilized" China. The westernmost point of the Great Wall officially ends here, at the fortifications of Jiayuguan. As a region of highly mixed nationalities and personalities, Gansu was often absorbed in infighting, especially during some of the darker days of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976 AD).
Yet it remains one of China's most interesting and colorful areas. The traders, traveling camel-hoof worn tracks, risked lives to bring into the country a more varied culture. Most of them traveled as far west as the Roman Empire, bringing back numerous exotica, including grapes, alfalfa, Buddhism, Western art forms and settlers.
Gansu is one of China's best locations for travelers who are interested in Chinese culture. The architectures are of various styles, from numerous Buddhist grottoes to bright green, onion domed mosques. Some travelers even spent days and nights exploring and observing the wonders of some well-preserved sights such as the grottoes at Dunhuang, Maijishan, Binglingsi and little Tibetan areas of Mati and Xiahe.
By air: The most convenient way to access Gansu Province is by plane, for, small as it is, travelers may land in three cities here, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, and Lanzhou. There are daily flights to Lanzhou from most major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xi'an. So long as one does not care too much about price, flying intraprovince is also a good choice.
By Train: For budget travelers, train is by far the best option for visiting almost all of the main sights in Gansu. The Liangyuguang-Urumqi train line, the backbone of China's east-west rail links, traverses the entire province and links all but one of the provinces highlights: Xiahe. Raillinks to the northwest from Lanzhou, will take you through Zhangye, Jiayuguan and Liuyuan (near Dunhuang), and then onwards into Xinjiang. Those coming into Gansu from Shaanxi to the east, will also pass through Tianshui on their way towards Lanzhou.
By Bus: Bus is the best way for travelers to reach the less accessible areas of the province, and is especially good for those heading southward towards Sichuan. Buses will take you to the wonders of the small Tibetan monastery town Xiahe, and from here bus is the way on to the quaint Langmusi and then on towards Sichuan's Songpan. Bus is also the best way to travel to Yinchuan (Ningxia Province) and Golmud (in Qinghai Province) from either Lanzhou or Zhangye.