Yinchuan (银川; Yínchuān) is the capital of Ningxia Autonomous Region. Located on the Yellow River, it was once the capital of the Western Xia kingdom, also called the Tangut Empire. The city has a population of around 750,000.
Nicknamed the Phoenix City, Yinchuan is a former Silk Road stop and now the rising capital of the Ningxia Autonomous Region. Being one of a very few parts of China where an ethnic minority (the Hui, Chinese Muslims) hold the power of governance, it is a treasure of Chinese-Muslim culture.
Yinchuan has two parts, the new city, with all of the industry, universities and colleges, is huddled around the main train station while the old city, the more livable of the two, lies 8 km to the east. Rapid growth from foreign investment grow has drawn these two distinct centers together.
Yinchuan used to serve as a trade route town that grew because of for convenient location between Western Chinese cities such as Urumqi and the Eastern ones such as Beijing and Shenyang.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Yinchuan Hedong International Airport (银川河东国际机场, INC IATA). This small airport 25 km southeast of Yinchuan has flights to Beijing, Chengdu, Dunhuang, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi'an, and Zhengzhou, as well as some less-major domestic destinations and a handful of international destinations.
Yinchuan is envisioned as being a high-speed rail hub, with three lines passing through or terminating at a new station which could be open as early as 2020. Until then, Yinchuan's relatively remote location makes rail access time-consuming.
- 2 Yinchuan Railway Station (银川火车站, Yínchuān Huǒchēzhàn). On Xingzhou Road in the New Town, this low-speed station serves destinations such as Baotou (8 hours), Beijing (19 hours), Guangzhou (46 hours), Hohhot (11 hours), Lanzhou (9 hours), Pingliang (11 hours), Shanghai (36 hours), Xi'an (15 hours), Xining (13 hours), and Zhongwei (3-4 hours).
- 3 Yinchuan Bus Station (银川客运总站), 189 Qinghe North Street, 清和北街189号. Yinchuan's main bus station is on Qinghe North Street.
- 4 Yinchuan Tourist Bus Station (银川旅游汽车站), 570 Qinghe North Street, 清和北街570号. Buses to most tourist destinations in northern Ningxia leave from a large bus station near the former North Gate.
- 5 Xinyue Square Tourist Bus Terminal (新月广场旅游总站). Public transit buses to Helan-shan, the Western Xia Mausoleums, and a few other destinations leave around 07:00-09:00 from this tiny bus station.
- 6 Airport buses leave across the square from the South Gate.
Buses ¥1-2, as far you can go. Also small buses, same prices, going longer distances. You can also use the back doors, tickets sold on bus. Ticket girl will ask you how far you wish to go, if you don't know she will tell you when to pay extra money.
- 1 Chengtian Temple Pagoda (承天寺塔, 西塔, West Pagoda), 121 Limin Street, Xingqing District (兴庆区利民街121号) (In the middle of Old Town; bus routes 17, 19, 23, 25, 32, 33, 40, 501 and 游4). 09:00-17:30, to 17:00 in winter. A nice, medium sized garden area with classic Chinese buildings/architecture. The tower dominates the garden and the view from the top is one of the best you will get of Yinchuan. entry ¥10, plus ¥20 if you want to climb to the top of the pagoda.
- 2 Haibao Pagoda (海宝塔, 北塔, North Pagoda), Minzu Street North, Xingqing District (兴庆区民族北街路) (In the north of the Old Town; bus routes 4, 30, 58 and 311), ☏ +86 951-5038042. 09:00-17:00, from 07:30 on the 1st and 15th of the month. Part of the Haibao Pagoda Temple (海宝塔寺). The pagoda has a murky history but is believed to have been built in the 5th century during the reign of Emperor Wulie of Xia. It was rebuilt twice during the 18th century due to damage caused by earthquakes. ¥10.
- 3 Xixia Wangling National Park (西夏王陵国家公园, Xīxià Wánglíng Guójiā Gōngyuán) (Buses leave Xinyue tourist bus terminal around 08:00-09:00, pass near Yinchuan Station about 30-40 minutes later (on Beijing Road), and arrive about half an hour after that. They return around 13:00-14:00. ¥8 each way.). Western Xia Tombs. There are 193 tombs of high officials of the Xia Kingdom, with the three largest (5 km apart) highlighted. ¥75, plus ¥20 for the park shuttle bus. The tourist bus conductor can sell you tickets for ¥85..
- Ningxia Great Wall (approx 60 km southwest of the New Town). This part of the wall is in various states of decay, but maintains some impressive examples ancient masonry. The site is undeveloped and you are free to wander about/climb on it as you like. Sections of the Ningxia Great Wall originate primarily from the Ming Dynasty. It is about 1 km in length, and continues up the mountains and further out in both directions. Well worth the trip, but be forwarned, brightly coloured clothes will attract flying grasshoppers! There is nothing else around (no people, shops, etc.)--its at the edge of the desert. Bring water.
- Public Bus, Departs: Alashun Hotel and New Town bus depot. 05:00-18:00. From in front of the Alashun Hotel or at the bus depot hidden away down the street from the train station in the New Town (what once was the bus station entrance hall is a furniature store, the main station entrance looks like a small shop but is in the same building next door). Public buses going there do not have numbers but are white with blue lettering and travel between Yinchuan and Zuoqi, get off at Sanguankou (the wall is clearly visible from the highway; in fact, the highway goes through the wall). Just wait on the road and flag down any bus you see headed towards town to return. The last returning bus passes the wall daily at 17:50 (be on the road a few minutes early), locals may stop and offer you a ride back to town if you are waiting on the main road. ¥12.
- Travel Agency Tours. ¥300.
- 4 Helan Mountain Rock Art (贺兰山岩画) (Tourist bus routes 2 (via Helanshan Suyukou, 6 km away) and 3 (via the China West film studio/theme park) leave from the Xinyue tourist bus terminal around 08:00-09:00, pass near Yinchuan Station 30-40 minutes later, and arrive after another hour. They return between 13:30 and 15:30, so visiting two of these attractions in one day is not possible by bus alone. ¥10 each way). These carvings were done by Chinese nomads some 10,000 years ago. They run the gamut from portraits and totems to scenes of hunting, grazing, war and dance. Many of the trails accessing the rock art were destroyed in a flood in 2016 and have not been rebuilt as of 2018, leaving some of the most famous parts inaccessible, but there is still a lot to see. A museum displays photos of similar ancient artwork worldwide. This area is popular with wild mountain sheep (岩羊). ¥60 plus ¥10 for the electric golf cart (mandatory).
- 5 [dead link] Helan Mountain National Forest Park (Suyukou) (贺兰山国家森林公园, 苏峪口) (Tourist bus route 2 leaves from the Xinyue tourist bus terminal around 08:00-09:00, passes near Yinchuan Station on Beijing Road 30-40 minutes later, and arrives after another hour. They return around 15:15-15:45. ¥10 each way), ☏ +86 951 2079103. This section of the Helan mountains features rugged rock ridges with a thick forest on one side. A concrete walkway hanging onto the cliff face ascends to the nearest peak in about 5.5 km. Near the entrance to this path, a network of trails accesses a lower ridge and some valleys and canyons. The ridge is also accessible by ropeway, and features two pagodas and a suspension bridge over a canyon. The bridge costs ¥30, or ¥50 with a "5D" film, and doesn't access any other trails or viewpoints. There are several basic hotels near the base of the ropeway, and a large artificial waterfall on the rock wall opposite. Maps are readily available, but do not generally include "you are here", and use terminology that differs from the signposts. ¥60 admission plus ¥20 park shuttle bus.
- 6 [formerly dead link] Shahu Lake (沙湖, Shāhú). A large, shallow lake that is in adjacent Shizuishan City, where it is also listed, the lake has sandy islands and tufts of grass growing out of it. Scenic but extremely overdeveloped in a few places (these places can be escaped). It takes about one hour to go there by bus, then an hour or two to see the scenery, or all day if you treat it like a picnic site or amusement park. Buses leave from the north gate tourist bus station regularly until about 10:30, and a one-way ticket costs ¥15. At Shahu it's easy to find a bus back to Yinchuan. ¥120 for entry plus the large, slow boat to access the main sand island, but there are a bewildering array of other ticket options available.
- 7 Ningxia Museum (宁夏博物馆), 6 People's Square Street East, Jinfeng District (金凤区人民广场东街6号) (Bus routes 1, 2, 33, 38, 301 and 509), ☏ +86 951 5085093, email@example.com. Tu-Su 09:00-16:50, closed on Mondays. Free.
- 8 Ningxia Museum of Science and Technology (宁夏科技馆), Intersection of Renmin Square Street West and Shanghai Street West, Jinfeng District (金凤区人民广场西街与上海西路交叉口) (Bus routes 1, 2, 13, 33, 38, 301 and 509), ☏ +86 951 5085123, firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 09ː00-17ː00, no tickets sold after 16ː00, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. ¥25.
- 9 Mingcui Lake National Wetland Park (鸣翠湖国家湿地公园), Zhangzheng Town, Xingqing District (兴庆区掌政镇) (take bus no. 601 (branch route) from outside the Yinchuan Bus Station), ☏ +86 951 6121966 (enquiries), +86 951 6121959 (ticket sales), email@example.com. 08:00-18:00 (April to October), 09:00-17:00 (November to March). ¥40 (entry ticket only), ¥68 (entry ticket plus ticket for sightseeing cart).
- Motorcycle Tourist Festival. Late June.
- The city. The best thing in Yinchuan is the people and the Hui neighbourhoods, so the best option is just to take a bus in any direction and getting down in a street market or in a park. It is also recommended to go to the main square in the night where there are dances and games.
- Hiking. Aside from the trails mentioned above under Helanshan Suyukou, other parts of the mountain offer hiking. In principle, there is a trail from Suyukou to the rock art area, although it is still closed due to flood damage as of fall 2018.
Eight Treasures Tea is a Muslim specialty and in good supply around Yinchuan. Wolfberries found in Yinchuan are said to be the best in the world.
- Xinhua Street (At the center of Old Town, along the walking mall and other large squares). The economic centre and shopping centre of Yinchuan with many large malls and department stores and all the large clothing chains (Nike, Disney, Jack Jones, etc.) Do not expect to bargain here.
- Emanuelle's. A wonderful ESL school, Christian bookstore, library, teahouse and restaurant run by one of China's top entrepreneurs. It provides a retreat from the chaos of the city and serves a variety of foreign foods. Recommended platters are the chicken curry and the beef with rice soup (which is Chinese food directed at Western tongues).
- 1 Uncle Robin's American Pizza, 中国宁夏回族自治区银川市，西夏区朔方路梧桐花园北门 1-13, ☏ +86-951-2035877, firstname.lastname@example.org. The only real American-style pizza in Yinchuan. Owned by Robin, a Korean-Chinese man, you can find authentic home pizza. The Meat Lovers, Vegetarian and Pepperoni pizzas are all full marks. The staff speak very good English here. It is also the only restaurant in town to find Dr. Pepper. They have two locations. One is in the Old City at #278 Beijing Dong Lu, near the International Hotel (but on the opposite side of the road). It's a very small place, easily missed. The other is in the Xi Xia District (西夏区) on Shuo Fang Lu (朔方路) at the north side of Wu Tong Hua Yuan (梧桐花园), between Ningxia University and the Northern Minorities University. They deliver in New Town and Old Town Areas. The Xi Xia District location offers espresso-based specialty coffee drinks. A pizza costs between ¥50 and ¥60 and serves two people (Pizza Hut size). A can of Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, or root beer costs ¥15.
- Napoli Italian Cuisine. A curious blend of western dishes and Chinese ingredients. Though it is well marketed the food in Napoli generally does not appeal to foreigners. If you are looking for something to remind you of home, you are better off finding an alternative.
- UBC Coffee House (Shangdao Kafeiting), 84 Zhongshan North Street, ☏ +86 13895316985. For when you need a Western food break.
- Lian Yuan Bar (La couple blocks south of Xixia District commercial center (look for the KFC sign)). A well decorated bar, and the best in New Town. The staff is very relaxed and friendly, and there are unobtrusive musical performances every night starting 8PM-9PM. The drinks here are a little more expensive than some other places.
- Fall in Love Bar & Marry Bar, Hubin East Street (near all the main hotels). Comfortable seating and a younger crowd, you can sit back with any of the local beers and relax.
- The King Divine Luck Club (Kadilong). Popular club featuring dancers and a very impressive layout. Booths and box seats have a higher minimum purchase.
- Baby Face. Popular club featuring dancers and a very impressive layout. Booths and box seats have a higher minimum purchase.
- Come Back. Although traditional western coffee is hard to come by, this drink chain (which can be found almost everywhere in Yinchuan) sells their version of a coffee drink that can be served hot or cold. While it is still not western style coffee, it is quite good, somewhat similar to Starbucks' caramel macchiato.
- Bob and Leo's BBQ, beijing luo (新城大众巷10号（新城电影院东侧的巷子向北100米）胖哥俩烤吧), ☏ +8613639519646. 17:00-01:00?. Bob and Leo (chubby and happy twins) have some of the best BBQ chicken in Yinchuan, if not China. They both speak English and are extremely friendly. It is an outdoor grill with great selections of mutton and fish as well as a selection of vegetables. Cheap beers and the occasional expat make it a must-visit. Open late or until you stop buying beers. inexpensive.
- Tongguan Live House 铜管现场酒吧, 地址：银川市西夏区801创意园内往东100米（北方民族大学对面） (when facing away from Beifang Minzu University east gate, walk east until you see a small electric gate on your right. Enter, you should see artwork on the walls on your left, make your first left and head straight about 100 meters. It's on your left again.), ☏ +86 138 9510 9556. Laid-back rock n’ roll student bar. Imported beers and spirits. Live bands and alternative music. Hao Ting Ting is the bartender and she is very friendly, open minded and speaks English. Just as likely to see teenaged art rockers and students as grisly punks and misguided foreigners. cheap.
- International Hotel, 25 Beihuan East Road, ☏ +86 951 6728688, fax: +86 951 6711808.
- HelanShan Hotel Yinchuan, 1 Shoufang Road, Xinshi District, ☏ +86 951 2077301, fax: +86 951 2077075.
- Kaida Hotel, ☏ +86 951 6021698.
- Ningxia Hotel, 3 Park Street, ☏ +86 951 5045131, fax: +86 951 5044338.
- Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan, 160 Beijing Middle Rd, Jinfeng District, ☏ +86 951 516 5888.