Mysterious and crude, Gansu Province has been listed as the best tourism destination in Asia by Lonely Planet. Synonymous with the Silk Road, the slender province of Gānsù (甘肃) flows east to west along the Héxī Corridor, the gap through which goods and ideas once streamed between China and Central Asia.
Gansu has an area of 454,000 square kilometres (175,000 sq mi), and the vast majority of its land is more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level. It lies between the Tibetan Plateau and the Loess PlateauThe Yellow River passes through the southern part of the province.
The constant flow of commerce left Buddhist statues, beacon towers, forts, chunks of the Great Wall and ancient trading towns in its wake. Gānsù offers an entrancingly rich cultural and geographic diversity.
Historians immerse themselves in Silk Road lore, art aficionados swoon before the wealth of Buddhist paintings and sculptures, while adventurers hike through desert rockland, ascend sand dunes and tread along high-mountain paths well worn by Tibetan nomads.
The ethnic diversity is equally astonishing: throughout the province, the local Hui Muslims act as though the Silk Road lives on; in Xiàhé and Lángmùsì a pronounced Tibetan disposition holds sway, while other minority groups such as the Bao’an and Dongxiang join in the colorful minority patchwork.
The Weather in Gansu
Gansu’s weather is one of the extremes. While more temperate in the southern part of the province, in the northwestern region around Dunhuang, the climate is extreme. This area begins the reaches of the Gobi Desert so you’ll experience extreme cold in the winters and heat in the summers in this arid landscape.
When to Go to Gansu
The most pleasant times of year are spring and fall when the temperatures don’t reach extreme points. We were there in late May and enjoyed cool evenings but very hot and dry days.
The Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye are Earth’s Paint Palette
The Rainbow Mountains of China within the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park are a geological wonder of the world. These famous Chinese mountains are known for their otherworldly colors that mimic a rainbow painted over the tops of rolling mountains.