Have a chilly winter Christmas in and around Lanzhou.
Important—To board flights, check in to hotels, and enter ticketed areas during the trip you’ll need to show a green result on your Health Kit/健康宝 app.
Currently it is possible to travel in this area and return to Beijing without undergoing quarantine. Changes to regulations and restrictions could occur at any time, and we’ll keep you up to date about that.
Day One main activities
Fly to Lanzhou; visit the museum, ‘Great Iron Bridge’, mosque, and food street.
Day Two main activities
Hike in the Lanzhou Danxia Landform; visit a Hui area for hiking and a visit to the town mosque.
Day Three main activities
Cross the Yellow River by raft to get to the Stone Forest canyons for a 4-hour hike; visit a Ming Dynasty-era walled town.
Day Four main activities
Visit Bingling Temple; lunch in Lanzhou; fly back to Beijing.
Hiking in the Lanzhou Danxia Landform
Like the famous Zhangye Danxia Landform, the mountains here are striped with unusual colours.
Unlike the Zhangye Danxia Landform, this area is still undeveloped, which means we’re able to get up into the hills for a good long hike. (The local gossip is that the whole area is going to be developed as a park sooner or later.)
Our hike will take 4–5 hours, peaking at a high point that gives great views of the colours of the mountains.
Yellow River Stone Forest
The Yellow River Stone Forest is a protected scenic area sited on a bend in the Yellow River, and contains canyons lined with rock columns and tracks to lookout points atop sheer cliffs.
Our visit here includes about four hours of walking and hiking, a short ride on donkey carts, and perhaps a raft crossing of the Yellow River.
The entrance to the Stone Forest canyon is on the other side of the Yellow River. There's a road and bridge to cross over, but it's a bit of a detour. Usually there is an option to cross over on rafts that float on inflated pig-skins, and we’ll take that option if available!
Once we get on the right side of the river, we'll start walking up the canyon. It’s a flat walk in, with the sides of the canyon getting steeper and steeper. After walking about an hour into the canyon we'll start the climb to the cliff-top lookout points, following paved paths for about an hour.
On the way out of the canyon we’ll go in and out of a tunnel to visit another lookout point in an adjacent canyon, and we’ll also speed things up by hiring donkey carts to transport us back out to the river's edge.
Before we head back to Lanzhou we’ll visit a local restaurant for a simple meal.
One of the many Silk Road-related sites in Gansu, Bingling Temple is a collection of caves and cliffs filled with Buddhist carvings and sculptures that was recently only accessible by boat. The first caves date back to 420 AD, and more were being added as late as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD). The sculptures and artwork in the caves preserves a record of the different styles of artwork popular during the time of construction.
We’ll be crossing the river here, too. This time we’re not on the pig-skin rafts—we'll be on speedboats for 40 minutes, riding the river up to the temple.
We’ll do a walking tour the temples and caves, including a good look at the 27m tall Buddha carved into the cliffs..
Hiking in the Hui area
On the afternoon of the second day of the trip we’ll drive out to a hilly area on the west side of Lanzhou to take a look about a farming area and small town.
To get a good look at the countryside lifestyle here we’ll follow farmers trails through terraced fields in the hills, finishing with a visit to the town mosque.
Kids’ prices for the trip
Ages 7–11: ¥7,050
Ages 12–17: ¥7,300
Photos and trip reports: Lanzhou Danxia Landform, Yellow River Stone Forest, and Bingling Temple, Gansu Province (4 days)