Ningxia

Top things to do

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Helan Shan

Western Xia Tombs

Like giant beehives scattered on the arid eastern slope of the Helan mountains, the Xixia imperial tombs are Ningxia’s most celebrated sight. The earliest tombs were built a millennium ago by Li Yuanhao, founder...

Top ChoiceCave in Guyuan

Xūmí Shān

Cut honeycomb-like into five sandstone hills, 55km northwest of Guyuan, are 132 magnificent grottoes housing 300 Buddhist statues. They date back 1400 years, from the Northern Wei to the Sui and Tang dynasties,...

Top ChoiceChinese Islamic in Yinchuan

Tóng Xīn Chūn

Locals regard this unassuming decades-old establishment as one of the best places to try Ningxia cuisine, in particular, mutton. The bonus is that it's one of the few Hui shops in the city that strictly enforces...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Yinchuan

Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art

Located in a white, fashionably fluid-lined building between the Yellow River and paddy fields is Yinchuan MOCA, the premier museum for contemporary art in northwestern China. It's also the site of the Yinchuan...

Top ChoiceArchaeological Site in Helan Shan

Helan Shan Rock Carvings

The most significant sight in Helan Shan is these ancient rock carvings dating from 1000 to 10,000 years ago. Over 2000 pictographs depict animals, faces, hunting and copulation scenes, as well as inscriptions of...

Top ChoiceXinjiang in Guyuan

Laobaishi Flatbread and Stewed Meat

This three-storey establishment is famous for its pàomó – a Xi'an and Xinjiang delicacy of mutton (羊肉泡馍, yángròu pàomó) or beef (牛肉泡馍, niúròu pàomó) in an aromatic broth, served with unleavened flatbread. You eat...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Yinchuan

Ningxia Museum

This cavernous museum contains an extensive collection of rock art and Silk Road artefacts. The highlights are relics from the imperial tombs of the Xixia empire, including fascinating representations of the...

Top ChoiceFilm Location in Helan Shan

Western Film Studios

This wacky film studio is where famed Chinese movies like Red Sorghum and many Hong Kong classics by Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Tsui Hark were shot. If you're a Chinese-language film buff, you may...

Top ChoiceChinese Islamic in Zhongwei

Sulai Special Beef Bone

This cosy Hui restaurant specialises in stewed pork bone (牛骨头, niúgǔtou; catty ¥48). The bones are laden with meat and best eaten Genghis Khan–style – with your hands (you get gloves for that). There are a...

Temple in Zhongwei

Gao Temple

This is one of China's most extraordinary temples. The three faiths of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are revered here; it has an unusual roofline because its halls and shrines are stacked cluster by cluster...

Mosque in Tongxin

Great Mosque

Of all the mosques in Ningxia, the most hallowed is the Great Mosque. Dating back to the 14th century (although the present mosque was built in 1573 and then renovated in 1791), it was the only one of Ningxia’s...

Desert in Zhongwei

Shapotou

The desert playground of Shapotou, 17km west of Zhongwei, lies on the fringes of the Tengger Desert at the dramatic convergence of sand dunes, the Yellow River and lush farmlands. It’s based around the Shapotou...

Park in Guyuan

Liùpán Shān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán

Those on the trail of Genghis Khan will want to visit southern Ningxia’s Liùpán Shān, where some maintain the great man died in 1227. Legend attests that the Mongol emperor fell ill and came here to ingest...

National Park in Guyuan

Huǒ Shí Zhài

The centrepiece of this geopark is its Danxia landform, with its dramatic red rocks and steep cliffs. This is not the most impressive Danxia in China but it's attractive enough. Studded into cliff-faces are...

Park in Helan Shan

Suyukou National Forest Park

This park is a good place to start exploring Helan Shan. The 5km northbound trail is quite challenging in parts and takes you to the highest point in the park (just under 3000m above sea level). There are shorter...

Museum in Guyuan

Guyuan Museum

The collection of relics at this excellent museum features Neolithic pottery, lacquer coffin paintings from the Northern Wei dynasty, Tangut ceramics and Silk Road artefacts from Roman coins and Persian ewers to...

Buddhist Pagoda in Yinchuan

Haibao Pagoda

This fantastically well-preserved pagoda in the north of town is a beauty. Its cross-shaped (from above), straight-edged and tapering form was exquisitely built. The pagoda was damaged during the 2008 Sìchuan...

Chinese Islamic in Yinchuan

Xiānhè Lóu

This fantastic, cavernous place opens round the clock, serving both big spenders and budget seekers. You could splash out on the pricey fish dishes or the gorgeous kǎoyángpái (烤羊排, barbecued ribs; ¥110) from the...

Buddhist Site in Yinchuan

108 Stupas

This unusual arrangement of Tibetan-style Buddhist dagobas (stupas) is 83km south of Yinchuan, not far from the town of Qingtongxia (青铜峡). The 12 rows of (much renovated) brick vaselike structures date from the...

Peking Duck in Yinchuan

Quánjùdé

If you pine for Peking duck, Quánjùdé steps up to the plate. For ¥80 you get half a duck – a meal for one – served with cucumber, scallions and hoisin sauce. Purists maintain that the best Peking duck is served...