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An oasis in the Hexi Corridor bearing many tales and holding endless treasures, most notably the Rainbow Mountains of China.

Zhangye lies in the heart of the Hexi Corridor, a crucial stretch of land running from the Yellow River all the way through Gansu into Central Asia. With the harsh Gobi Desert to the north and the extreme Tibetan Plateau to the South, this corridor of oases, trees, and valleys served as one of the most important trading routes of the Silk Road. It is no wonder this region is filled with historical sites, and have left a major imprint on rulers and explorers alike. It was here where Genghis Khan entered from Mongolia into China to form the largest empire the world has seen at that point. It was also here where Marco Polo spent at least a year during his travels, living amongst the people and recording their life.

Zhangye increasingly draws travelers throughout China for not only its cultural relics, but also the natural beauty that surrounds this region. In the midst of the city lies a vast desert of towering sand dunes, beckoning images of camel caravans winding through the dunes. Further afield, a multi-colored landscape 24-million years in the making takes shape, warranting the name of the Rainbow Mountains of China. Layers and layers of tilted and turn-over sandstones beds, each weathering into an assortment of colors. Imagination can run wild here with the weirdly shaped rocks, often taking on appearances of beasts and men. No doubt they bear many tales and witnessed many events along the history of the Silk Roads.

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How We Got Here

Zhangye is situated in the middle of the Hexi Corridor, in modern day Gansu Province. We arrived by overnight sleeper train.

The Highlight

Finding a vast stretch of endless sand dunes in the center of town was quite surprising. It was a blast exploring the dunes, imagining life on the Silk Road.

Our Treasure

Zhangye was our first venture into the Silk Roads back in 2016. The memory lives on as we joyfully ate delicious meals and wandered strange lands that seemed so far from Eastern China.

Explore More

     ➨  First Impressions in Tibet

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Its time to dust off your clothes and pour the sand out of your boots - the desert is ending. Looming ahead are the fertile plains of China, crossing rice fields and legendary mountains. 

There are multiple routes - one leads through the heart of China, starting in the ancient capital of Chang'an. another winds north towards Beijing, stopping in the region of Ningxia.


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