Zhangye - 张掖

Review of

- Review updated on 21 septembre 2020

A few pictures of Zhangye

Introduction of Zhangye Danxia

Zhangye is a city located at the center of the Hexi corridor in the Gansu Province, and was in the past the only road connecting the center of the Chinese Empire to its western territories and Europe.

The trip on the road from Xining to Zhangye offers spectacular views : jagged or rounded mountains, sometimes peeled and covered by a brownish vegetal carpet, a little Tibetan temple nestled in a rocky wall, herds of yaks and sheep… However, no lunch possible along the way, in the absence of a single restaurant on the road. The journey from Xining to Zhangye takes about 6 hours with a private vehicle.

Located on the ancient Silk Road, Zhangye is an attraction worth visiting, thanks to its region filled with natural and cultural landscapes. If the ones in the city in itself aren’t extraordinary (pagoda, bell tower…) there is still one that is worth mentioning and visiting : the Dafo temple and its giant Buddha statue. The latter is the biggest reclined Buddha statue in China (35m) and was built near a thousand years ago in 1098. It is surrounded by several Arhat terra-cotta statues and frescoes dating back from the Qing dynasty. It is said that because he was so impressed by the Buddha statue and the prosperity of Zhangye, Marco Polo decided to live there for over a year.

Despite its long and fascinating history, the city of Zhangye could be considered as only the first stop on the road towards the real attraction of the region : the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. Registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010 and of a surface of about 740 square kilometers, it is an impressive park, with sandstone hills and the Rainbow Mountains, « rainbow » because of the variety of  their aligned colors.

It was 24 millions years ago that two tectonic plates were involved in a collision at this right spot, thus shaping the rugged landscape we know nowadays. The variety of colors is due to the weathering, to which were added wind and rain allowing the minerals to deposit in layers on the surface. Their changing colors can find its explanation on the variation of sunlight in the region.

Danxia is truly a unique spectacle on Earth, and is often called one of the most extraordinary natural landscapes that exists today (and one of the best destination of China).

Since 2014, three areas of the geological park are open to the public : the Zhangye Danxia main area (510 square kilometers on its own), the Binggou area (renowned of sunset) and the Sunan Danxia area.

Practical Information :

To reach Zhangye Danxia, you can take a shuttle bus at the Zhangye West Bus Station

for a price of 20¥/person (round trip). The last bus leaves the geological park at 6 pm (which would make you miss the sunset !). A taxi will cost around 200¥ for a round trip.

Opening hours : 6 am to 8 pm (May to October) and 7 am to 7 pm (November to April).

Admission fee : 75¥/person for Zhangye Danxia, 60¥/person for Binggou, half price for children between 1,20m and 1,50m tall, free for children under 1,20m.

Zhangye - 张掖 : visits around