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Guyuan Travel Guide

Guyuan Map

Chinese Name: 固原市 (gù yuán shì)

Population: 1,868,500  

Area: 16,783 square kilometers (6,480square miles) 

Nationalities: Hui, Han 

Administrative Division: 1 district (Yuanzhou); 4 counties (Xiji, Longde, Jingyuan, Pengyang) 

Useful Telephone Numbers:

Tourist Complaints: 0954-2032971
Weather Forecast: 121
Zip Code Inquiry: 184

Location: Guyuan lies in the south of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on the west bank of the upper reaches of the Qingshui River and northeast of the Liupan Mountains. The city is bordered by Zhongwei and Wuzhong in the north and by Gansu Province on the other three sides.

History: Old Guyuan sat at a vital pass in the east section of the ancient Silk Road. From long ago, it was a town of military importance connecting central Shaanxi to the western lands outside the Great Wall. In 114, the Han (206BC-220AD) Court established Gaoping Town, which is said to be the historical Guanyuan firmly recorded in history. By the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Guyuan had reached its zenith.    

Physical Features: Guyuan lies in the northwest edge of the Loess Plateau. Within the city, the Liupan Mountains zigzag north to south separating Guyuan into western and eastern parts. Most of the region is situated 1500-2000 meters (4921-6562 feet) above the sea level featuring undulant hills and gullies.   

Climate: Enjoying a temperate continental monsoon climate, the city has a lower temperature that varies greatly during a year. The climate (see below) features a cold spring and dry summer. The northern area is dry and abundant in warmth and sunshine, while the south is relatively wetter but warmth and sunshine are inadequate. The annual average temperature ranges between 5 and 7 degree centigrade (41-45 degree Fahrenheit).

When to Go: Summer is the most favorable for visiting due to the moderate temperature.  

Special Local Products: buckwheat, oat wine, pea, medlar

 Attractions:  
Liupan Mountains Tourist Zone: Lying in the south of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Liupan Mountain is also called Longshan Mountain. It is the boundary mountain of Longxi (Southeast part of Gansu Province) Loess Plateau and Shaanbei (Northern part of Shaanxi Province) Loess Plateau, and also the water-shed of Jinghe River and Weihe River. In successive dynasties, it was the connecting part of northern nomadic culture and central Chinese civilization, and also a stronghold of significant military importance.

Liupan Mountain, extending 149 miles from north to south, adds a piece of precious greenness on the loess plateau. Spanning across Longde, Guyuan and Jingyuan Counties, the mountain covers an area of 67,800 hectares, with seventy percent of which is covered by thick forest. Due to its nice native vegetation and biodiversity of species, it is famed as "Green Island" or "Wet Island". The land is the home to various plants and animals. There are 150 kinds of plants of high economic value, 213 kinds of vertebrates, 158 kinds of birds, and 905 kinds of insects. Amongst them, the leopard is under national first class protection.

Liupan Mountain embraces over 60 scenic spots distributed in six tourist landscapes: Erlong (Two Dragons) River, Laolong (Old Dragon) Pool, Liangdian Gorge, Guimen Guan (the Gate of Hell), Hehua (Lotus Flower) Garden and Baiyun (White Cloud) Mountain. The mountain is blessed with both the grandeur of northern scenery and the grace of southern vistas. In spring, the mountain is a pleasing flower world. In summer, it is a land free from the boiling weather. In autumn, the mountain is covered by a spectacle of shining golden colors, and the color changes into silver white when winter brings snows to it.

Liupan Mountain, besides its charming and beautiful landscapes, is largely endowed with Hui Culture. The unique architecture, food culture, and folk arts of Hui people make the mountain more attractive to visitors. It is no doubt a satisfactory place for sightseeing and scientific research. 

Admission Fee: CNY 65

Mount Sumeru Grottoes: Among the ten most famous grottoes in China, they are located 34 miles northwest of Guyuan City in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The grottoes were built during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and were subsequently enlarged during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618 – 906) Dynasties. They remain the largest Buddhist relics in the Guyuan area.

Mount Sumeru Grottoes houses about 150 caves arranged along eight Cliffside walls stretching for one mile. The grottoes feature eight scenic spots from north to south: Heishi Gou (Black Stone Channel), Sange Yao (Three Caves), Songshu Wa (Pine Hollow), Taohua Dong (Peach Blossom Cave), Xiangguo Temple, Yuanguang Temple, Zisun Palace and Big Buddha Tower. There are over 350 cliffside images including stone tablets, inscriptions, and mural paintings.

Unlike Longmen and Yungang Grottoes which were built in the high cliffs to offer visitors a panoramic view, Mount Sumeru Grottoes were built along the contour of the mountains. Some of the caves are hidden and some are visible and they all seem to come in endless variations. The grottoes tend to reflect the unique style of the epoch in which they were created. For example, the Buddha statues in the Northern Wei Dynasty retain the flavor of Indian Buddhism. The Sui’s Buddha statues are simple and pristine while the Tang’s sculpture achieve near perfection. The latter’s statues are full-size figures wearing luxurious attire reflecting the sophistication and quality of Tang Dynasty art.

Mount Sumeru Grottoes are a cultural icon and an important site for researching religious art.

Admission Fee: CNY 50

Travel Tips:
1. The distances from Guyuan to Lanzhou and from Guyuan to Yinchuan are nearly the same. The city is 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Lanzhou, about a 6 hour drive on national road. There is also a highway which would be faster but the national road condition is better. Yinchuan is about 330 kilometers (205 miles) from Guyuan, which will take three and a half hours by highway. 

2. Guyuan Bus Station stands to the entrance of the Damingcheng Highway. At the Yinchuan tourism bus station in Donghuan Bei Lu, there are buses shuttling between these two cities.