Things to do in Gansu - Gansu Attractions

Gansu may be wild and remote compared to Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, but it has plenty of historical interests. As the increasing of reaching flights and trains, there are more and more visitors attracted to Gansu's spectacular beauty. The Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang keeps the finest Buddhist art of sculptures, wall paintings, etc. Many highlights of ancient Silk Road are gathered in Gansu, from the largest sleeping Buddha in Zhangye to the Buddhist treasure Bingling Si. Tianshui, one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization, has another greatest Buddhist grottes - Maijishan. Far west is the splendid Jiayuguan Pass which is the symbolic end of the Great Wall of China. In the southern Gansu is the fascinating Buddhist center of Amdo Tibetan Region - Labrang Monastery

Gansu Tourist Map

  • Gansu Top Attractions
Mogao Grottoes

No.1 Mogao Grottoes

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 3 hours

Mogao Grottoes, also named “Thousands Buddha Caves”, is regarded as the most valuable discovery in 20th century. It is famed as the “Louvre of East”, which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues have been preserved very well. The history of Mogao Grottoes can be traced back to the “Five Hu-16 Kingdoms” period (CD304-439). Mogao Grottoes was constructed by the Prior Qin, and the subsequent dynasties rebuilt and enlarged the scope year by year. In the splendid caves, you will learn much about the evolution of China’s history. More Details about Mogao Grottoes

 Labrang Monastery

No.2 Labrang Monastery

Type: Buddhist Monastery

Recommended Length of Visit: half day

Built in 1709, Labrang Monastery is by far the largest and most influential monastery in Amdo Tibetan Region, also ranked as one of "Six Greatest Gelug School Monasteries". It is located in the western Labuleng Town.

Labrang Monastery is famous as "Word Tibetan University", because it has established a complete system of Buddhism study. There are six academies teaching different theories of Esoteric Buddhism and Exoteric Buddhism, also medicine, astronomy, etc. It takes about fifteen years to complete some of the studies. Labrang Monastery has now the largest number of monks outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region. You have chance to observe their daily living and study. If lucky, you will see the spectacular ceremony of Buddhism Debating. More Details about Labrang Monaster>>

Crescent Lake

No.3 Crescent Lake

Type: Lake, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Crescent Lake, located 5km southwest of Dunhuang City, is famous as one of the “Eight Scenes of Dunhuang”, and got its name due to its crescent shape. It is also known as the “first lake in the desert”. Surrounded by sand mountains from four directions, the Crescent Lake is a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architecture, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up. There was a legend said that Wuding Emperor of Han Dynasty was gifted a celestial horse in the Crescent Lake. More Details about Crescent Lake>>

Danxia Geopark

No.4 Zhangye Danxia Landform

Type: Geologic Formations, Nature & Parks

Recommended Length of Visit: half day

ome people believe that God overturned his palette, and the out-of-a-fairy-tail Zhangye Danxia Landform formed. While for naturalists, they praise the Danxia Landform as one of the greatest masterpiece of our Mother Nature. As for tourists, you really have to visit this incredible natural wonder, and if possible do some real photography here.Traveling in Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park is simply to views the splendid Danxia landscape from great high sightseeing platforms and hiking on the well-paved stop paths from one sightseeing platform to next. More Details about Zhangye Danxia Landform>>

Echoing Sand Mountains

No.5 Echoing Sand Mountains

Type: Desert

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Echoing Sand Mountains is a national scenic zone which is located 7km south from Dunhuang City. It covers around 200 square kilometers, stretching from the peak of Mogao Grottoes to the Danghe Dam with a long distance of 40km from east to west, and 20km from south to north. It is said, in the sunny days, the sand mountains echo like Orchestra music even if there is no wind. If you slide from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly. More Details about Echoing Sand Mountains>>

Jiayuguan Pass

No.6 Jiayuguan Pass

Type: Ancient Ruins, Sights & Landmarks

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

You must have heard of or even already visited the Great Wall of China - a walkable defensive wall of more than 8,000 kilometers which is connected by hundreds of passes. Well, the Jiayuguan Pass is the greatest, oldest and most legendary pass among all the passes along the Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass used to be the starting point of the ancient Great Wall built during Ming Dynasty. It was the most important military defensive project guarding the far northwestern area of China because of its strategic location at the narrowest point of the western section of the Hexi Corridor. More Details about Jiayuguan Pass>>

 Yumenguan

No.7 Yumenguan

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Yumenguan was built about 2000 years ago when the famous Wuding Emperor of Han Dynasty was on his throne for the purpose of military defense. In the Han Dynasty, the Huns were very powerful, and always invaded the territory of Han. Wuding ordered the famous general Huo Qubing(霍去病) strike back. And then Han built up a military base here. In the ancient time, Yumenguan is an important pass along the Silk Road which connected West and East.

Maijishan Grottoes

No.8 Maijishan Grottoes

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

The Maijishan Grottoes, together with Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes and Dunhuang Groggoes, are known as the "Four Greatest Grottoes in China." Caves were chiseled on a hill shaped like a stack of wheat. The ancient artisans carved more than 7800 Buddhist statues with different colors and size. The largest statue, Dongyan Giant Buddha, has a height of 15.8 meters.

 Matisi Temple

No.9 Matisi Temple

Type: Points of Interest & Landmarks, Nature & Parks

Recommended Length of Visit: 1 day

Matisi Temple is one famed Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist temple gathering grotto art, Buddhist culture as well as Yugu nationality folk custom. With kilometers of trails leading high ridges, it shows a wonderful viewpoint to overlook the Hexi Corridor. Mati Monastery is quite solemn and imposing and makes people acclaim as the wonder. Four wonders in Matisi Temple are green mountains, clear water, precipitous peaks and fantastic grottos. Among the four, fantastic grottos attract plentiful visitors. The whole Matisi Temple can be divided in some parts: Qianfo Grottos, North and South Matisi Temple, Linsong Waterfall, King Gesar Palace, Guanyin Grottos etc. More Details about Matisi Temple>>

Yardang National Geopark

No.10 Yardang National Geopark

Type: Geography Park

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Nature is the most magic things in the world. Come to Yardang to check out what the nature has done! You will see an endless Gobi with thousands of uniquely-shaped rock situating orderly. This unique landform was created by the sort part of the earth surface having being eroded by wind and rain, with the hard part of the rocks remaining in the desert. You will definitely be amazed by the shapes of rocks which get interesting names, such as "Mongolian Bao", "Camel", "Stone Bird", "Peacock", "The Golden Lion Welcoming His Guests" (Chinese: 金狮迎客), etc. More Details about Yardang National Geopark>>

 Yangguan Pass

No.11 Yangguan Pass

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Yangguan, built during Han Dynasty, was an important pass of the ancient Silk Road. “Persuade more to make a glass of wine-jun, West of Yang Guan reason people", the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei wrote, which makes Yangguan more and more famous and popular. For the advantageous geographic location, it had always been a town of great military importance as a natural defense for ancient China.

It is the gateway to the West Region, as well as the door to the South Silk Road. There is a Yangguan Museum where you can learn about its history, and experience the exact process of checking out customs in the ancient time. More Details about Jiayuguan Pass>>

Gansu Provincial Musuem

No.12 Gansu Provincial Museum

Type: History Museums 

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours 

Gansu Provincial Museum is a good place to learn local history and culture. It has more than 350,000 collections - 1. Fossils and biological specimens from the Cretaceous Period. 2. Ancient painted potteries from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age. 3. Bronze ware, ceramics from Shang and Zhou Dynasties. 4. Silk Road culture of Han and Tang Dynasties. 5. Porcelain, wood carving, silks and paintings of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. 

Don't miss Gansu Provincial Museum’s two best features: 1. Buddhism Culture Hall highlights the best presentation of Gansu Buddhist grottoes. 2. Pottery Culture Hall collects fancy potteries of different time. The most famous one is the Ma Ta Fei Yan (马踏飞燕, Horse Stepping on a Swallow).

White Pagoda Mountain (Baita)

No.13 White Pagoda Mountain (Baita)

Type: Mountains & Temple

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

White Pagoda Mountain (1720m) is located in the city, close to the Iron Bridge of Yellow River. The mountain is the highest spot of Lanzhou city, covered by luxuriant trees. You can hike up the staircases to the top of the mountain, which is an awesome experience. If you don't want to bear the walk, you can take the cable car (Y35 to go up, Y20 to come down). On the top of the hill is the White Pagoda built in Yuan Dynasty with Lamasery style. There are three other old temples in traditional Chinese style which give you a feel of history and local culture.

Binhe Park

No.13 Binhe Park

Type: Mountains & Temple

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Binhe Park is built along the Yellow River. The best features are the Yellow River Mother Statue and Ancient Waterwheels Park. 

Yellow River Mother Statue was sculptured by the famous artist Mrs. He'e. A child leans in the arms of mother. The mother stands for the Yellow River, and the child stands for the growing Chinese. From this statue, you can see how important the Yellow River is to China. The Ancient Waterwheels Park is themed by 12 large Yellow River waterwheels of different styles. Waterwheel is a special irrigation system in Gansu originated in Ming Dynasty.

 Shazhou Night Market

No.15 Shazhou Night Market

Type: Points of Interest & Landmarks, Sights & Landmarks

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Shazhou Night Market or Dunhuang Market is on behalf of Dunhuang Nightlife and regarded as a “nightlife landscape”. It is highly popular among the tourists all over the world with its featured local specialties as well as strong flavor of local culture. When the night falls, all the lights are lit. Tourists from different places gather here and walk into the crowd to explore something meeting their appetite. Delicious snacks include Dunhuang Rang Pi, Yellow Noodle, Dunhuang Saozimian, Jiangshumian, Barbecue, shish kebab, Haggis, Hu Lamb Pizza etc. More Details about Shazhou Night Market>>

Recommended Gansu Tours

Top 3 Gansu tours chosen by most customers to explore Gansu in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Taer Monastery Barbola
10 Days Qinghai & Gansu Highlights Tour

Xining - Tongren - Xiahe - Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang

Mogao Grottoes
9 Days Ancient Silk Road Treasure Tour

Tianshui - Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang

Xinjiang Tianchi Lake
11 Days Northwestern China Cultural Relic & Desert Landscape Tour

Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi - Kashgar

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