Usually when you think of China, you imagine giant metropolis-type cities with massive skyscrapers, and bustling crowds. However, China is a massive country that takes up nearly 10 million square kilometers. The China that you’ll find off the beaten path of Shanghai, and Beijing is truly breathtaking. The colorful Zhangye Danxia landforms of China are a remnant from the Cretaceous age. These fantastically colored mountains and cliffs are made of sandstone built up on a lime bed. These different colored sandstone layers were pressed together for many millions of years to create the Danxia landforms that we know and love.
China’s Danxia Landform Geological Park is a great place to view these stunning landscapes, while also learning the history behind these geological formations. The park is located in the Gansu province of north-central China. You’ll want to plan a few days for your visit, and be sure to stay as the sun begins to set. Twilight is supposed to be the best time to view the Danxia landforms, as the setting sun will cause the different layers of the landform to shine in brilliant hues.
China’s Zhangye Danxia landform is easy to access by plane from Xi’an via Lanzhou. You can also take the bus from Lanzhou, which will take approximately 11 hours. The bus from Wuwei is about 4 hours. Once you get there it’s easy to book a private car to take you to the landform, which should cost around 500 RMB per day. You can also choose to take the bus from the west station, which will take about 1.5 hours to reach the landform.
What to see in Zhangye
Luckily there are other sights to see while in Zhangye, which will make your trip very enjoyable. You won’t want to miss the Da Fo Si temple, which has the largest Chinese indoor reclining wooden buddha. It’s also known to be the birthplace of the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan.
Where to eat in Zhangye
If you’re looking for a cafe with wifi, try the UBC cafe in Oushi Je. It’s on the second floor, and says “COFFEE” in large red English letters. You can’t miss it.
At night, try heading out to the little eating marketing, “Xiaochichang” near the drum tower. There you will find lots of outdoor food stalls where the prices are reasonable.
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, there is an all you can eat hotpot restaurant on the Jinmai pedestrian street. It’s on the second floor of the HLA store. For only 48RMB per person you can enjoy all you can eat hotpot for two hours. Now, this is a deal that can’t be beat!
Where to stay in Zhangye
If you want to splurge, try the Huachen International Hotel, which has large rooms, and an excellent breakfast. After hiking around the Zhangye Danxia landform, you’ll want to come back to a relaxing room where you can de-stress, and prepare for another day of adventure.