If you are going to see the Dafosi Temple, don't miss the atmosphere of the streets along the nothern and western edge of the temple. Old buildings have been "built", but the effect here is good, with the eatern street (behind the Zhangye Hotel) pedestrianised.Many of the buildings are occupied by antique dealers and the usual purveyors of tourist...more
At the front of the Dafosi (reviewed separately) is the Earth Pagoda, an elegant Ming-era 33m high structure.Originally it was named the Amitabha Pagoda, and has eight small pagoda around the base, while each of the five sides of the main pagoda has niches with stone or bronze statues of Buddha at each level.more
It was during the 1411 reconstruction that the then emperor Zhuqizeng donated 6,000 manuscripts to the library of the temple, so setting the tradition for this temple to become one of the prime repositories of its kind in western China. In response the emperor's gracious donation, the provinciel governors of Shaanxi and gansu ordered the creation...more
The most significant site in Zhangye itself is the Dafosi or Big Buddha Temple, which is home to China’s largest reclining Buddha – 34 metres in length, almost as long as three articulated trucks. During 2005 and 2006, the complex is being renovated and during this renovation work, some of the movable statues are being kept in storage: in June...more
Originally built in 1507 during the Ming Dynasty, the Drum Tower – or Gulou – is the biggest in the Hexi Corridor. Until recently it was only protected at provincial level, so didn’t get the full landscaping and lighting treatment, and suffered the insult of having an advertising banner for a local baijiu brand; on 1st May, its status was raised to...more
Matisi is 70km southeast of Zhangye, reachable by taxi or by arranging a day trip with a travel agency in Zhangye. Unfortunately the only bus to Matisi from Zhangye leaves at 2pm and comes in to Zhangye in the morning. The tourism authorities have, in recent years, arranged a morning bus out to Matisi: ask at your hotel, but don't be surprised if...more
Right around the Drum Tower is a snack area, down a ramp into a giant tin roofed room filled with tables and ringed with food stalls. While I'm sure many restaraunts in town serve the local speciality it was so brilliant in this bizarre structure I just had to give them a plug. I never knew the name of the dish, just had someone describe it to me....more
In common with many Chinese towns that attract a few tourists, Zhangye has built a Food Street, using traditional wooden architecture that is attractive but completely out of character for this part of China. Still, if it's a choice between the grimy concrete and glass buildings and somewhere with a bit of style, obviously I'll choose the...more
1 Reviews and Opinions
In the north west quadrant of Zhangye is Marco Polo Street, a one kilometre stretch of sligtly bizarre architecture, depicting what the Chinese architects believe to look like an Italian street. It is classic case of Sino-kitsch, where a romanticised or idealised verion of some other culture is transplanted into provincial China and local people come to believe that this is "just like the original". The style of the buildings is barely skin deep and the architectural detailing is, as always, a wafer thin veneer stuck on boxy concrete buildings. A similar effect can be seen in a street in Baoji in Shaanxi. The desire to enrish Chinese provincial small cities with some form of classical Mediterranean styling remains a strong theme across China to this day. It's the reverse of the Chinatowns in the West, although in China you will not see many Westerners visiting these streets let alone living there.
Marco Polo street, however, has produced a lot of pavement cafes, although the ambinece of the Chinese version of this wonderful institution is marred by the use of the cheaperst variety of cheap plastic chairs and the presence of large screen TVs.
In the summer, this street is, however, one of the best places in Zhangye to sit out and enjoy a drink, and the street is lined with restaurants as well. There is not a lot beyond the Marco Polo statue halffway down though. Just one block east is the pedestrianised 'Food Street' with more traditional Chinese architecture, although the architecture and styling in that street is - in the context of a Hexi Corridor oasis town - almost as out of place as the mock-Italianate style here.
The Lanzhou to Urumqi Highway (#312) has made a major improvement on travel times and comfort for getting around Gansu.The road is complete from Lanzhou right the way through to within a short distance of Jiuquan, and from Zhangye to Jiayuguan is now just 4.5 hours. Note that this route is only two lanes, most of the way, but is a proper toll...more
The railways station is 20 minutes by car north of the city centre, and allow extra time in the rush hour. Many of the long-distance trains arrive late at night or in the early hours. There are always taxis waiting outside, so there is no problem getting into the city centre.It always proves difficult getting away from Zhangye by train, as they...more
I'm sure that describing Zhangye's main attraction as 'Off the Beaten Track' seems a bit inapprorpiate, but this tip is to get their early in the morning, when it opens at 7.30am (although you can slip in a little earlier).
Take your flask of tea or a coffee and just find somewhere quiet to sit and contemplate life. In the summer, the air is full of swooping swifts and swallows flitting around the trees and under the eaves. While this is normally a danger signal for the presence of mosquitos, I didn't see any at ground level.
The air ic clean, the place is calm and it is the perfect place to start the day....
Now I am in this city, surprise, very surprise to see this is a city of China. This city is beyond my expectation. I saw a clean beautiful city with very relax easy residents. They are not as "Chinese" as compare to other Chinese cities, I don't know why but I guess it was probably due to the earthquake not long ago that they are more towards life enjoying than only non-stop working. I saw many residents of old ages and young together placing their tents outside the open air to prevent the earthquake. Residents are trying to avoid staying on high floors just in case the quake comes. It's very different city and very relaxing attitude. This is so far the best place all the way from the Pakistanis border. Tourists must come here for sure, you won't regret.
Fondest memory: I arrived 2 days ago by 3rd Class Hard-Seater from Korla of Xinjiang 95yuan ticket took me 27 torturous hours but at least I saw some slight improves of the train system, slightly better than 2 years ago when I was on the same train 27 hours from Guilin to Xian. That time I wrote a complaint letter to the train attendant all about the bad things of litterings and smokings. This trip is so surprise to see the train has much much less litterings and same to smokers as well. I saw a smoker being penalized by the train attendant on the spot....hahaha, well done Chinese and keep on.