When talking about Gansu, some people may only think of words like “remote,” “vast” and “impoverished.” However, in the eyes of expats, it has become a must-visit cyber-celebrity tourist attraction, a Shangri-La of sorts. After all, it has beat Kamakura in Japan and Raja Ampat in Indonesia to be rated as one of the top tourist attractions in Asia by Lonely Planet.
Gansu connects Shaanxi on the east, Xinjiang on the west, Sichuan and Qinghai on the south, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia on the north, and Mongolia on the northwest. With a long history and brilliant cultures, Gansu is abundantly endowed with cultural relics and natural scenery. Vast and graceful natural sceneries like endless desert and pure glacial landscapes present an impressive and breath-taking picture before your eyes.
Badain Jaran Desert
Though not located in Gansu, Badain Jaran Desert is close to Jiuquan, which is the first stop upon entering the desert.
This desert is home to some of the tallest stationary dunes on Earth, with some reaching a height of more than 500 meters, although most have a height of around 200 meters. Its tallest dune is also measured, from base to peak, as the world’s third-tallest dune and highest stationary dune in the world.
Wandering in the desert, you will hear the far-off sound of bells ringing, which emanates from the bells that are tied around the neck of camels. Looking afar, you will enjoy the beauty of loneliness and grandeur as described in one verse of a Chinese poem: “The lone smoke is rising erectly from the vast desert, the round sun is setting slowly over the long river.”
Shandan Military Horse Farm
Shandan Military Horse Farm, which is located in the middle of Hexi Corridor, Gansu Province, is one of the oldest and largest horse farms in the world. It covers a total area of about 2,200 square kilometers and can be traced back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 25).
As one of the most historical horse farms in China, the scenery of the Shandan Military Horse Farm is quite magnificent, where tourists can not only enjoy the vast grasslands and canola flower fields, but also experience the passion of galloping horses on the grasslands.
Apart from the thousands of galloping horses, the horse farm is also a paradise for photographers. Every summer when the canola blossoms, the place turns into a picturesque golden flower ocean.
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park
Located in the middle of the Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province’s Zhangye City, Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park has a spectacular Danxia landform area that covers about 500 square kilometers. It has 1,000 square mountain hills of unique shapes and colors.
The Danxia landform came into being around 2 million years ago. Zhangye Danxia is known for the unusual colors of its rocks, which are smooth, sharp and several hundred meters tall. It has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful landforms in China.
The view of the Danxia landform in Gansu’s Zhangye is so gorgeous and breathtaking that no words can match its beauty. You will be amazed by nature’s magical hands. Some mountains look like a watercolor painting while others like a Chinese brush drawing.
Maiji Mountain Grottoes
The Maiji Mountain Grottoes are a series of 194 caves cut into the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui, Gansu Province. Containing more than 7,000 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals, the Maiji Mountain Grottoes is honored as an “Oriental Sculpture Museum.”
Maiji Mountain Grottoes, as well as the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, Gansu, Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi, and the Longmen Grottoes in Henan were listed as the four most-important grottoes in China.
The Maiji Mountain Grottoes are distinct from the other three as they showcase exquisite sculptures and are known as the “Oriental Sculpture Museum” for their numerous grottoes, perfect statues and long history.