Gansu Province: The Hidden Gem of China’s Northwest

Welcome to Gansu Province, a hidden gem nestled in the northwest region of China. With a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural scenery, and vibrant local life, Gansu offers an exciting mix of history, adventure, and relaxation for visitors and locals alike. So, let’s take a closer look at life in Gansu Province, China.

Language Spoken Mandarin Chinese
Ethnic Diversity Major ethnic groups include Han Chinese, Hui, and Tibetans
Major Cities Lanzhou, Tianshui, Baiyin, Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Pingliang, Qingyang, and Dingxi.
International Airports Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport, Jinchang Jinchuan Airport, and Jiayuguan Airport.
Famous for Mogao Caves, Jiayuguan Pass, Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark, Maiji Mountain Scenic Area, Bingling Temple Caves, Silk Road History and Culture, and more.

Gansu Province, China

Where is Gansu Province?

Gansu Province is situated in the middle of the Hexi Corridor, a narrow strip of land that connects China’s western and central regions. It borders Inner Mongolia to the north, Xinjiang to the west, Qinghai to the south, and Shaanxi to the east. With a land area of 454,000 square kilometers, Gansu is the 6th largest province in China.

The province is known for its diverse landscapes, including the Gobi desert, the Yellow River, and the Qilian Mountains. The Yellow River, known as China’s mother river, runs through the province for 1,200 kilometers, providing water for irrigation and a habitat for fish and wildlife.

Culture and History

Gansu Province has a rich cultural and historical heritage, dating back to the Silk Road era. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected China with the Mediterranean world, passing through Gansu Province. The province was a melting pot of cultures, where merchants, travelers, and monks from different countries and regions met and exchanged goods, ideas, and knowledge.

The Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most famous cultural landmarks in Gansu. The caves, located in Dunhuang city, contain a vast collection of Buddhist art and artifacts, dating from the 4th to the 14th century.

Gansu is also home to many ethnic minorities, including the Hui, Tibetans, Mongolians, and Uyghurs. Each group has its unique culture, customs, and traditions, adding to the province’s cultural diversity.

Food and Cuisine

Gansu cuisine is influenced by its location and history. The province is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, often featuring noodles, lamb, and beef. The most famous Gansu dish is Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup, a savory and aromatic noodle soup made with beef broth, hand-pulled noodles, and tender beef slices.

Another popular dish is Gansu-style roasted lamb, a specialty of the Muslim Hui ethnic group. The lamb is seasoned with cumin, chili, and other spices, then grilled until crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Things to do in Gansu Province

Gansu Province offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Nature lovers can explore the majestic Qilian Mountains, hike in the Zhangye Danxia Landform, or visit the Jiayuguan Pass, the western end of the Great Wall of China.

History buffs can delve into the province’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the Mogao Caves, the Maijishan Grottoes, or the Western Xia Tombs. Adrenaline junkies can go sandboarding in the Mingsha Sand Dunes or rafting in the Yellow River.

Local Life

Life in Gansu Province is vibrant and diverse. The province’s cities, such as Lanzhou, Tianshui, and Jiuquan, are modern and bustling, with skyscrapers, shopping malls, and nightlife. However, the rural areas still retain a traditional way of life, with farmers tending to their crops, herders grazing their livestock, and craftsmen making traditional handicrafts.

Mingsha mountain in Gansu Province

Best Places to Live in Gansu Province

Lanzhou City

Lanzhou is the capital city of Gansu Province and one of the largest cities in northwest China. It is a modern city with a rich history, offering a diverse range of amenities, including shopping malls, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Lanzhou is also known for its delicious Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup and scenic Yellow River Park.

Zhangye City

Zhangye is a city located in the center of Gansu Province, known for its stunning natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. The Zhangye Danxia Landform, a colorful rock formation, is a must-visit attraction for its unique beauty. Zhangye is also home to the Giant Buddha Temple, a 900-year-old temple featuring a 34-meter-high Buddha statue.

Dunhuang City

Dunhuang is a historic city located on the edge of the Gobi Desert, famous for its role in the Silk Road trade route. The Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit attraction for its impressive collection of Buddhist art and artifacts. Dunhuang is also home to the Mingsha Sand Dunes, where visitors can go sandboarding or take a camel ride.

Tianshui City

Tianshui is a city located in the southeastern part of Gansu Province, known for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The Maijishan Grottoes, a series of caves featuring Buddhist sculptures and murals, is a popular attraction. Tianshui is also home to the Fuxi Temple, a 2,000-year-old temple dedicated to the legendary Chinese emperor Fuxi.

Pingliang City

Pingliang is a city located in the northeastern part of Gansu Province, known for its beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage. The Kongtong Mountain, a sacred Taoist mountain, is a popular attraction for its stunning views and ancient temples. Pingliang is also home to the Qianfo Cave, a series of caves featuring Buddhist sculptures and murals.

Final Thoughts on Gansu

Gansu Province offers a unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and modern amenities that make it an attractive destination for visitors and a great place to live for locals. The province’s location in the middle of the Hexi Corridor, its diverse landscapes, and the legacy of the Silk Road trade route have contributed to its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its cuisine, art, and architecture. Whether you are a nature lover, history buff, or adrenaline junkie, Gansu has something to offer, from the colorful Zhangye Danxia Landform to the majestic Qilian Mountains and the Mogao Caves. With its vibrant cities and traditional rural areas, Gansu Province is a hidden gem that deserves to be explored and appreciated.

Tom Bogues

Tom is the Director of ESL Job Center. He has been working in the TEFL industry in one form or another since 2016 and is now using that experience to match quality teachers with quality schools across China.

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