Your 5D4N Muslim-Friendly Itinerary To Lanzhou And Beyond


Ili •  Dec 17, 2019

As the capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou is a charming place filled with historical sites, beautiful landscapes and delicious local food. It has been a popular bucket list destination among many travellers and if you take a closer look at it, you’ll find that it deserves a place at the top of your list as well.  

Credit: GIPHY

Home to a large community of Muslims with over 4,000 mosques peppered across the province, Lanzhou is also a great jump-off point to visit other neighbouring cities like Zhangye, Dunhuang, Jiuquan and more - all of which sits on the ancient Silk Road of China, a network of trade routes that once connected the East and West. With an adventure of a lifetime waiting to be explored in the northwest of China, there’s no better time than now to start planning your next trip!

If you’ve decided on Lanzhou as your city of choice for your next getaway, you’ll be happy to know that AirAsia flies directly from Kuala Lumpur to Lanzhou 4 times weekly! Enjoy all-in one-way fares starting from RM229 for BIG Members and RM234 for non-members when you choose AirAsia for your Lanzhou experience. If you’re looking for some luxury, treat yourself to their comfortable Premium Flatbed from RM799 for BIG Members and RM804 for non-members. What makes booking with AirAsia even sweeter is a chance to win round-trip flight tickets to China! (Find more info about this at the bottom of the article). 

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Travelling to Lanzhou

Take a 5 hour direct flight on AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2) to Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport (LHW). Once arrived, take a shuttle bus to the city centre for about one hour and check into your accommodation. 

Getting around Lanzhou

Before we dive into the itinerary, let’s briefly cover the public transportation in Lanzhou: 

  • By bus: With several bus stations and over 100 routes reaching every corner of the city, you won’t have to worry about getting around to different attractions.
  • By train: Lanzhou Railway Station and West Railway Station are the two train stations in Lanzhou that connect to major travel cities in Gansu province like Beijing, Guangzhou, Zhangye and Dunhuang. 

Day 1

Savour Lanzhou’s iconic dish (1h)

  • The moment you reach the city, the first thing to do is have a hearty bowl of one of Lanzhou’s most famous local dishes - beef noodle soup!
  • Head to Mazi Lu, one of the city’s most famous beef noodle eateries since its opening in 1954 to enjoy an authentic bowl of halal Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles with tender slices of beef and freshly served radish.

Halal status: Muslim-owned

Opening hours: Open daily; 6.30AM-2.30PM

Address: 大众巷86号 (No. 86 Da Zhong Xiang)

Explore Waterwheel Expo Garden (1h)

Credit: AirAsia

  • Located at the west end of Binhe Road, make your way to Lanzhou’s uniquely designed water wheel in Waterwheel Expo Garden. 
  • Invented in the Ming-Dynasty, the waterwheel is one of the oldest irrigation tools along the coast of the Yellow River. Get up close to this amazing wooden structure and marvel at the sheer size of it! 
  • Besides the waterwheel, explore the vast area of the garden where it also houses a cofferdam, recreation area and a house of water mill.

Stroll along the banks of the Yellow River (2h)

  • Visit an iconic landmark of Lanzhou at the Yellow River, China’s second and Asia’s sixth longest river. Also known as Huang He, it is regarded as the mother of all rivers in China history as it has nurtured hundreds of towns, cities and civilizations on its banks. 
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that the river is caused by pollution - the yellow tint is actually dyed that colour from the rich loosened soil that flows through it. 

  • As you stroll along the banks of the Yellow River, catch a glimpse of the impressive granite-structure of the Yellow River Mother Sculpture.

  • Experience a one-of-a-kind activity in Lanzhou by going sheepskin rafting! Although there are more modern alternatives to travel, this is a traditional Gansu custom that’s been preserved and continued to this very day. 
  • Rent a raft from one of the vendors at ¥200 to ¥400 where a guide will raft you down the Yellow River. Along the cruise, make sure to keep an eye out for Lanzhou Water Mosque situated to your left. 

Cross the Zhongshan Bridge (30m)

  • As the first permanent bridge to be built across the Yellow River, the Zhongshan Bridge is another historical icon of Lanzhou. Before it was constructed, the structure was one of the only floating bridges that existed for a relatively long period of time.  
  • Snap a picture of the city’s most treasured relics by standing in the middle for a cool shot of the bridge. 

Visit the beautiful and historic Xiguan Mosque (1h)

  • Built in 1368, the Xiguan Mosque is also known as the Guest Mosque and is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in China.
  • Perform your prayers here alongside local Lanzhou Muslims and feel the sense of familiar community, and admire the Arabic-style dome and towering minarets.

White Pagoda Hill  (1h)

  • Explore the park that used to be ancient military fortress for an entrance fee of ¥6 at White Pagoda Hill located at the northern bank of the Yellow River.
  • As you wander around the area and enjoy the lush greenery, spot the seven-storey octagonal pagoda standing at 17 meters tall that’s decorated with eight carved figures of Buddhas with iron reins hanging under all corner of eaves. 
  • Once you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with a gorgeous panoramic city view of Lanzhou bathed in a lovely evening glow. 

Eat your way through Zhangnang Road Night Market (1h)

  • Fuel your hunger after a day’s worth of adventure at Zhangnang Road Night Market for the chance to taste a variety of local delicacies and flavours such as Niu Nai Lao Zao, a hot desert made out of milk, eggs, sugar and fermented glutinous rice. 
  • For the more adventurous eater, have a go at Fa Zi Mian Chang - a local halal delicacy of sausages made from diced up offal. 
  • While you explore the market’s lively narrow lanes for more treats, don’t be surprised if you happen to see a row of goat heads and organs being sold at the stalls as they’re a large part of the locals’ dietary staples!
  • #HHWTTip: You can identify Muslim stall owners through the traditional caps or headscarves that they wear.

Day 2: Dunhuang-bound 

  • After exploring the rich culture and history of Lanzhou, it’s time to trade the cityscape view of Gansu’s capital for Dunhuang’s wonderful natural landscapes.
  • Located on the ancient Silk Road, a trade route that linked the civilizations of China and the West, prepare to visit amazing attractions in a desert scenery which was once the most important pit stop between the East and West. 

Breakfast at Songshujia (1h)

  • Once you’ve checked out of your accommodation, have yourself one last hearty bowl of beef noodles at Songshujia. 

Halal status: Muslim-owned

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

Address: 白银路街道甘南路861号 (No. 861 Gan Nan Lu)

Board the train to Dunhuang 

  • There are 2 pairs of high speed trains that travel from Lanzhou to Dunhuang. Catch the earlier train in the morning from Lanzhou West Railway Station and get comfortable as you embark on the 8-hour journey.
  • Don’t miss the spectacular scenery transformation outside as the train cuts through the magnificent Gobi desert. 
  • As you arrive at night, check into your accommodation and get a good night’s rest for a fun-filled day tomorrow.

Day 3

Explore the ancient site of Mogao Caves (3.5h)

  • Kick start your Dunhuang adventure by visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site - Mogao Caves also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. Decorated with over 1,000 years of history, this noteworthy attraction is the largest treasure house of Bhuddist art.  
  • Out of the 429 caves on site, around 30 are open to the public for exploring. Make the most out of your visit here by taking a picture at one of the more popular cave temples, Cave 96.
  • The seven-storey red pagoda with intricate multi-tiered roofs is the perfect way to up your Instagram game!

  • Step into the caves where you can further admire enormous manuscripts, beautiful murals, coloured sculptures and ancient relics. History buff or not, the stunning sight of these historical artworks will amaze you to no end. Do note that photography is not allowed within the caves. 
  • After a thorough exploration of the site, head to Mogao Caves Digital Exhibition Center via shuttle bus and make a transfer to Mingsha Mountain.

Listen to the notes of Echoing Sand Mountains (2h)

  • Take on one of Dunhuang’s most popular attractions at Echoing Sand Mountains along the legendary Silk Road and get ready to explore the stunning desert scenery!
  • Slide down the slopes of the massive dunes with a sandboard for only ¥15 and listen to the echo of singing sands in the winds. Though the climb to the top may be sweaty business, the magnificent view of sand dunes and an endless stretch of desert is worth the effort.
  • You can also experience other cool sand activities like desert motorcycle riding and glider flying. 

Stroll around Crescent Lake (1.5h)

  • It isn’t very often that you get to see a desert oasis (except for in movies and music videos) but if you make your way down the sand dunes, you’ll find exactly just that! Famous for its shape of a crescent moon, Crescent Lake is another top Dunhuang highlight that is believed to have existed for almost 2,000 years. 
  • Take this chance to unwind from the adrenaline-filled sandboarding and stroll along the lake while you enjoy the view of the curious lake that glistens in the middle of the vast desert.   

Explore local flavours at Shazhou Night Market (1h)

  • For dinner, tuck into some Dunhuang flavours at Shazhou Night Market where you’ll find several Chinese-Muslim restaurants. 
  • As you finish up the last bit of your Dunhuang visit, get ready to greet another wonderful city of Gansu province - Zhangye. 

Day 4: Zhangye-bound

  • Check out of your accommodation and hop onto the train for Zhangye! 
  • As you leave behind the exciting city of Dunhuang with sand-filled adventures, you’re now entering the final leg of your trip in the laid back town of Zhangye situated in the middle of Hexi Corridor (a historical route in Gansu province).  
  • Once you’ve arrived in Zhangye, check into your hotel and head out to the city’s top tourist attraction, the Rainbow Mountains. 

Check out the Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye National Geopark (3.5h)

Credit: AirAsia

  • Soak in the breathtaking landscape of the Rainbow Mountains found within Zhangye National Geopark that’s been recognized by National Geographic as one of Asia’s top stunning natural wonders. This world-renowned park is a visual feast of colours that has been attracting both Chinese and international visitors for many years.

  • The swirls of orange, yellow and white across the mountainous range look like it’s straight out of a painting, which makes it an incredible photo to capture for your travel memories.
  • With five observation stops (all of which can be reached via hop-on, hop-off bus), you’ll have plenty of opportunities here to spice up your social feed.

Step into the wondrous Mati Si Temple (2h)

  • Take a trip back in time at Mati Si also known as ‘Horse’s Hoof Temple’. Legend has it that the name is drawn from a time when a winged horse with dragon scales descended from heaven and left a hoof print on the grounds where the temple was built.  
  • Watch your steps as you navigate the labyrinth of the temple complex through winding staircases, balconies and narrow passages. 
  • Don’t miss exploring Puguang Temple located within the area where you’ll find the aforementioned horse hoof imprint!

Day 5: Time to go home

Take a train back to Lanzhou (4h)

  • We’ve finally come to the end of our trip and it’s time to say goodbye to Gansu province.  
  • Get on board the train at Zhangye West Railway Station heading to Lanzhou West Railway Station. 

Shop for unique souvenirs (1h)

  • Squeeze in some time for shopping before catching your flight back home and get yourself some Lanzhou handicrafts and local specialties like Yeguang (night light) cups, carved gourds and paper-cut designs. 

Head home to Kuala Lumpur

  • From Lanzhou city, take the airport shuttle bus that directly drops you off at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport. 


Stand a chance to win a round-trip flight tickets to various destinations in China like Lanzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu, Quanzhou and Nanning! Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Record a video no shorter than 60 seconds and not more than five minutes with a focus on China’s culture and tourism. It can be filmed in Chinese, English or Bahasa Malaysia. 
  2. Submit your registration form on China Cultural Centre in Kuala Lumpur’s website and attach a Youtube link.
  3. Share the video on your Facebook.
  4. Like and tag @ChinaCulturalCentreInKualaLumpur along with the following hashtags: #乐游中国2019视频大赛  #CCCKLVideoContest2019  #VisitChina  #ChinaBeyondYourImagination

The giveaway ends January 9th, 2020 at 23.59 (GMT +8). Terms & conditions apply* Find out more information here!

So, for all those who are consumed by wanderlust, make your next adventure a unique experience by heading to Gansu province - a land that promises ancient Islamic history, majestic landscapes and train rides that journey through exciting cities with specialties of their own. Turn this dream into a reality by booking your ticket with AirAsia to get the best deals and live out an unforgettable trip. 

This article is brought to you by AirAsia.