Lanzhou has a good selection of handicrafts and local specialties from all parts of Gansu Province. You can go to the Center Square, the commercial center in Tielu Xincun and the commercial center in Nanguan-Xiguan (the most important commercial district). Also worth mentioning is the commercial center on Xijin Road near the western railway station.
Chinese herbal medicines like aweto, astragalus, Chinese angelic Dong Quai, codonopsis pilosula, lily, sanpaotai tea, rose, wolfberry series are highly therapeutic and precious. For those interested in Chinese cultural and herbal medicines, those would be good choices
Yeguang (boulder) Cups, paper-cut designs, scent bags, Yellow River windmills, shadow puppets show and Taiping drums are very typical handicrafts in Gansu.
A yeguang (boulder) cup is made of jade stone from Qilian Mountain. Some are white with yellow and others are green. The cup is as thin as a piece of paper. The Chinese yeguang means it will illuminate at night. Actually, the cup cannot illuminate. It reflects the moonlight and looks like it is sending out mysterious colors.
A carved gourd, as the name suggests, is a gourd carved with landscapes, portraits, animals, calligraphy or poems, and then painted with ink. Big ones are of the size of a fist while small ones that of an egg. The gourd is smooth and yellowish white.
Terrine products are made of clay. They have a history of 6,000 to 10,000 years. There are more than 20 categories of terrines, ranging from pot, to kettle to hotpot. The largest is about 0.5 meter (1.6f eet) and the smallest one is like a bowl. The best ones are produced in Agan Town and Leitanhe. Gourmets in China say terrine can preserve the original flavor of food much better than metal wares and clay is more stable than metal without chemical reactions. Also the clay absorbs heat evenly. Therefore, terrine is a must for boiling down Chinese herbal medicines as well as for some Chinese dishes.
The history of Lanzhou pebble carvings is short compared to that of terrine. Pebble is a kind of quartz with various colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, purple and grey. Pebbles are merged, carved and pasted in the shapes of monkey king, sleeping Buddha, cowboys, the god of longevity, lion, bulls, apes and elephants, etc.
Tao ink stone is one of three famous ink stones together with Duan ink stone in Guangdong and She ink stone in Anhui. This stone is taken from the bottom of quick water in the Tao River so the raw material is already precious. Meanwhile, the exquisite final products are made after the complicated process of 11 steps. The patterns are roughly divided into engraved ones and plain ones. The ink stone is green as jade and it has gained a high reputation since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Double-layered Vase made in Lanzhou is also unique. Its history dated back to the end of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This dainty vase goes through more than 20 processes and there are more than 80 kinds of handmade sculpts. The patterns range from flowers, animals, natural scenes and cultural essence of Mogao Grottoes, Maiji Grottoes and Labrang Monastery, full of local and ethnic features.
Sanpaotai, the most famous tea in local, is made up of the spring tea, longan, date, apricot, preserved fruits, wolfberry, walnut, sesame, dried raisins, etc.
Honey Dew melon grown in there is sweet and fragrant. It should not be missed on your tip to Lanzhou.
Besides, there are various kinds of fruits like Lanzhou Peach, Lanzhou Ruan'er Pear which you can not taste in other places.
Where to Buy
Guwan Zihua Cheng (The City of Antique and Calligraphy and Paintings)
Location: Yantan, Lanzhou
This archaized architecture houses around 80 shops, offering antiques, calligraphies, paintings, the four treasures of the study (writing brush, ink stick, ink stone and paper), jade ware, jewelry, porcelain, copper ware, root carving, strange stones, old coins, stamps, etc.
Gansu Antique Shop
Location: No. 3 Xijin Xi Lu
Gansu Art Service Store
Location: No. 267 Donggang Xi Lu
Gansu Cuibao Zhai
Location: No. 263 Donggang Xi Lu
Gansu Overseas Tourist Department Store
Location: No.288 Donggang Xi Lu
Location: No.22 Qingyang Lu
For daily wares:
Lanzhou Minbai Department Store
Location: No. 7 Minzhu Lu
Shiji Chuntian Department Store
Location: Century Square (Shiji Guangchang), Nanguan Shizi (Nanguan crossing)
Lanzhou Guofang Baisheng Shopping Center
Location: -1/F to 5/F, International Exhibition Center, Dongfanghong Square, Chengguan District
Beijing Hualian Supermarket
Anning Store: No.53, Anning Xi Lu, Anning District
Xigu Store: No.1-2, Xigu Huayuan (garden) Xiaoqu, Xigu District
Beijing Hualian Hongxing Store
Location: East to the Railway Station, Chengguan District
Lanzhou Department Store
Location: No.275 Qingyang Lu
Tianma Department Store
Location: No.361 Tianshui Lu
Guanghui Market, at No.749 Nanchang Road, Chengguan District
Yantan Market, at No.1105 Yanxi Road, Chengguan District