Gansu attractions

Top Choice Cave in Dunhuang

Mogao Grottoes

The Mogao Grottoes are considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. At its peak during the Tang dynasty (618–907), the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1400 monks and nuns, and…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Xiahe

Labrang Monastery

With its succession of squeaking prayer wheels (3km in total), hawks circling overhead and the throb of Tibetan longhorns resonating from the surrounding hills, Labrang is a monastery town unto itself. Many of the c…
Top Choice Fort in Jiayuguan

Jiāyùguān Fort

One of the classic images of western China, this fort once guarded the narrow pass between the snowcapped Qílián Shān peaks and the Hēi Shān (Black Mountains) of the Mǎzōng Shān range.Built in 1372, it was named the…
Top Choice Buddhist Site in Zhangye

Giant Buddha Temple

Originally dating to 1098 (Western Xia dynasty), this lovely temple contains an astonishing 35m-long sleeping Buddha – China’s largest of this variety and among the biggest wooden reclining Buddhas in Asia – surroun…
Cave in Southern Gansu

Bǐnglíng Sì

With its relative inaccessibility, Bǐnglíng Sì is one of the few Buddhist grottoes in China to have survived the tumultuous 20th century unscathed. Which is a good thing, as during a period spanning 1600 years, scul…
Caves in Tianshui

Maijishan Grottoes

Set among wild, green mountains southeast of Tianshui, the grottoes of Maijishan hold some of the most famous Buddhist rock carvings along the Silk Road. The cliff sides of Maijishan are covered with 221 caves holdi…
National Park in Zhangye

Zhāngyē Dānxiá National Geopark

The swirling orange, yellow, white and brown lunar landscape of this national park is the result of sandstone and mineral deposits that have eroded into odd shapes over the course of millennia. These 'rainbow mounta…
Oasis in Dunhuang

Singing Sands Dune

Six kilometres south of Dūnhuáng at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in most spectacular fashion. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it’s easy to see how Dūnhuáng gained its moniker ‘Shāzhōu’ (Town of …
Cave in Wuwei

Tiāntīshān Grottoes

It's hard to appreciate how massive the 15m-high Shakyamuni Buddha statue at Tiāntīshān Grottoes is until you are at its truck-sized feet and peering up at its outstretched hand emerging from the cliff face. These 1…
Desert in Dunhuang

Yǎdān National Park

The weird, eroded desert landscape of Yǎdān National Park is 180km northwest of Dūnhuáng, in the middle of the Gobi Desert’s awesome nothingness. A former lake bed that eroded in spectacular fashion some 12,000 year…