Zhangye (张掖; Zhāngyè) is a city in Gansu Province with striking and beautiful mountain scenery nearby.
As for most Chinese cities, the name "Zhangye" is somewhat ambiguous since it can refer either to the city itself or to the prefecture with that city at its center. Wikivoyage has a separate article for Minle, a suburb which is in the prefecture but not in the city.
Zhangye became the garrison headquarters after General Huo established control of the Hexi Corridor. Formerly known as Ganzhou, the town was part of the Western Xia dynasty until it was conquered by Kublai Khan in 1227. Although the city is not a tourist destination as such, it serves as good place to make stop when passing through the Hexi Corridor. Zhangye has a population of around 1.2 million (2010), of whom 260,000 are urban residents. In addition to Han Chinese, the city is also home to members of the minority Yugu people, who live only in Gansu.
- 1 Zhangye Ganzhou Airport (张掖甘州机场, YZY IATA). Opened in 2011, this airport 13 km south of the city has flights to/from Xi'an, Lanzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, and a few other major domestic airports as of June 2018. However, many of these flights make stops en route, operate only on specific days, and do not operate over the winter.
Zhangye has frequent high-speed rail connections from Lanzhou via Xining, both of which have much larger airports than Zhangye's. These airports are likely to be more convenient for many visitors.
- 2 Zhangye West Railway Station (张掖西站) (in the southwest of town, accessed via bus routes "New 1" or 22 (¥1).). This high-speed station has D-train service to destinations such as Urumqi (8.5-9.5 hr, ¥401.5), Xining (2 hr, ¥91.5), Lanzhou (3-3.5 hr, ¥149.5), and Xi'an (6.5-7 hr, ¥324).
- 3 Zhangye Station (张掖站) (At the end of Zhanghuo Gonglu, 6.5 km northeast of the central part of town. Bus No.1 runs from the train station to the centre of town (Drum Tower) and costs ¥1 (correct change only). Taxis will charge a set fee to the city of ¥12-15 and will be unlikely to use their meters.). Approximately 49 passenger train services use this station daily to destinations as far off as Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Urumqi and Lanzhou. However obtaining a ticket on long-distance through trains can be difficult, often requiring travellers buy a ticket to Lanzhou first. There is a railway ticket office downtown in Marco Polo Street, for a ¥5 surcharge, negating having to travel out to the station.
- 4 Zhangye Bus Station (张掖汽车站, West Bus Station), 381 West Ring Road, Ganzhou District (甘州区西环路381号), ☏ . Zhangye Qicai Danxia takes about 1.5 hr (¥10), Zhangye Binggou Danxia takes 1.5-2 hr (¥12), Xining takes about 7 hr (¥65).
- 5 Zhangye East Bus Station (张掖汽车东站), 122 East Ring Road (东环路122号), ☏ . Wuwei takes about 3-6 hr, Lanzhou takes about 11 hr. Yinchuan
- 6 Zhangye South Bus Station (张掖汽车南站), 478 South Ring Road (南环路478号). Dunhuang takes about 12 hr, Jiayuguan takes about 4 hr, Lanzhou takes about 10 hr, Mati Si takes 2-3 hr, and Xining takes about 12 hr.
Take bus No.3 to the West bus station, take bus No. 1 to the train station Bus fares are ¥1 - correct change only.
By private car or bus
You can book a private car via a travel agency or at the reception of most hotels. A trip to Mati Si + Daxia Landscape cost ¥500.
- 1 Da Fo Si, 大佛寺步行街, ☏ . (大佛寺), Giant Buddha Temple, biggest Chinese wooden indoor Reclining Buddha. 34.5 m long, 7.5 m high. This temple is the reputed birthplace for the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan. ¥41/ ¥21.
- 2 Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Qicai Danxia) (张掖丹霞国家地质公园 (七彩丹霞)) (By bus from West bus Station), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 0530-1900 summer months. Also known in English as the Rainbow Mountains this is a small park about 40 km from Zhangye where you can see a unique geological landscape. The layers of multi-coloured rock in the mountains amid a green oasis basin is truly spectacular. When you visit you will be driven to four viewing platform areas by bus, where you can get off and take your time to view and photograph the scenery. It is one of the highlights of Gansu province. It's possible to re-enter the park the next morning before 08:00 for only the cost of the park shuttle bus, if you register your fingerprints at a scanner at one of the stops. One hotel near the West entrance takes foreigners -- the other hotel and restaurant owners know which one that is.
There is a private bus company that operates from the West Bus Station that will drop you off at the north entrance of the park for 15Rmb (as of Jun 2019). The bus operates between 0730-1730. A taxi will cost about 100Rmb, one way, from Zhangye city center to the park... if you can get the driver to use their meter. As stated above, the park is fairly small, three hours is more than enough time to see it thoroughly. It's well worth the trip if you are in the region. ¥55 entrance fee + ¥20 bus fee.
- Blackwater National site (黑水国遗址). In the 12.5 km northwest of the Zhangye. 15 km long from north to south and 10 km long from east to west, ancient cultural sites of the Neolithic period, a national key cultural relics protection units. Sites within the Han Dynasty tombs, about 4 km². Most of the tombs have been buried in sand, who have not traveled was buried by the desert, most of the liberation excavation.
- Nanhu Park (南湖公园). Nanhu Park, also known as South Lake Ecological Botanical Garden, located in the south county, is the Shandan experiment to promote flower species of new varieties of forestry demonstration garden, but it is also a set of historical and cultural landscape of the land and the natural landscape as one of the tour.
- 3 Mati Si Temple & mountain scenery (马蹄寺). 08:00-18:00. 65 km south of the city proper, in the Sunan Yugu (Tibetan) Autonomous Prefecture, lies Mati Temple, or Horse's Hoof Temple (Mati Si). Temples and grottoes are carved into the side of a cliff in several zones spread over several kilometres. Several of these can be visited and climbed through, in some cases through tight vertical passageways using small footholds and handholds. Most of the statues were heavily damaged in the 1960s, but the buildings and passageways are in good shape. Besides the temple you can do a 2-hr horse tour passing a fantastic landscape (horse ride ¥150-200) or hike. ¥73.
- 4 Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Binggou Danxia) (张掖丹霞国家地质公园 (冰沟丹霞))) (Bus from West Bus Station, ¥12 (passes several blocks from Qicai Danxia west entrance)). Less colourful than the more famous Qicai Danxia, this one features columns of red rock (with some white bands), in two valleys. There's a network of trails accessing viewpoints in and around two different valleys. ¥40 entry + ¥20 bus fee.
- 5 Pingshanhu Grand Canyon (平山湖大峡谷) (bus at 09:45 from the East bus station, or hire a car). More rock-based scenery. About 60 km northeast of Zhangye, this area supposedly resembles the Grand Canyon in Arizona. ¥100 Entry + ¥30 bus.
- Swim in Hei river
During the day, give Qing Ming Street a try and during the night, give Xiaochichang (Little Eat Market) a try.
- Huayi Hotel (Huayi Binguan), East Street (East of Xiaochichang (Close to Dico's, next door to the China Construction Bank)), ☏ . No English sign or English spoken but easy to find - opposite the pedestrian street, about 100 m east of the Drum Tower. It has two stone lions on either side of a revolving door. Twin rooms for ¥128 with free (wired) internet, TV, a/c and private bathroom, 24-hr hot water.
- Zhongguang Hotel (Zhongguang Zhaodaisuo), Second Floor establishment, Xianfu Street (On the south corner of Minsheng West Street), ☏ .
- 1 Zhangye Qicai Danxia International Youth Hostel (张掖七彩丹霞国际青年旅舍), No.182 HuanChengXi Road GanZhou District, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Dorm ¥50.
- Honghao Hotel (Honghao Binguan), 11 Xianfu Street, ☏ .
- Jindu Hotel (Jindu Binguan), 19 East Street, ☏ , fax: .
- Holiday Inn Express, 184 W. Huancheng Rd. New, clean, comfortable, western chain hotel. It's kind of isolated and there is not much within walking distance. The #4 bus has a stop immediately in front of the hotel that can take you to the city center. It was about 130Rmb or $20usd per night (Jun 2019).
- Zhangye Hotel (Zhangye Binguan), ☏ , fax: .
- Huachen International Hotel (Huachen Guomao Binguan), ☏ , fax: .
- Minle, in Zhangye Prefecture
- Mati Temple - in the Tibetan town of Mati, more caves carved into a cliff.
- Qilian mountains
- Zhangye Danxia Landscape - 1-1½ hr by bus from the West Station.