If you are planning Ningxia Tour, Zhongwei City(中卫), the second largest city after Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is highly recommended to be included on your Ningxia trip. Zhongwei is located 220 km southwest of Yinchuan, 290 km northeast of Lanzhou, 648km northwest of Xian and 749 km west of Taiyun. Zhongwei can be easily accessed by the above mentioned cities through long distance buses, trains and even flights as Zhongwei has a small airport.
Zhongwei is synonymous with a combination of Yellow River, desert, oasis and mountains, a view seldom seen in other places in China. The Yellow River winds past the city of Zhongwei with a length of 182 km. Zhongwei is on the southern edge of Tengger Desert ( Tenggeli Desert), one of the four largest deserts in China. The unique landscape attracts a consistent flow of visitors each year. The best season to visit Zhongwei falls on May Through early October.
How to visit Zhongwei in one day? The over 1000 yellow-colored taxis are the main transport for travelers inside or outside the city of Zhongwei. You may hire a taxi for about RMB 130 to transfer between the major attractions in Zhongwei for your day trip.
Follow me to have a day trip to Zhongqwwei. First drive 30 km to reach Tonghu Grassland (通湖草原), 30 km northwest of Zhongwei city proper. Tonghu Grassland is actually under the administration of Inner Mongolia. But this grassland is often incorporated into the tourist zone in Zhongwei and Tonghu Grassland is managed by the people from Zhongwei.
On the way from Zhongwei downtown to Tonghu Grassland, you will drive past a large natural salt lake. Jump off your car and enter the massive salt lake glistering under the sunshine, experiencing the natural treasure.
Tonghu Grassland is located in the heart of Tengger Desert, a great charm of desert, lake and grassland unparalled by other grasslands which may be either much larger or beautiful than Tonghu Grassland. Tonghu Grassland is an AAAA scenic area rated by National Tourism Bureau with good facilities and safety measures. Horse riding, camel riding, sand sliding are the main activities done by the visitors. Tonghu Grassland also offers Mongolian yurts for overnight to experience the Mongolian life.
Tonghu Grassland with Tonghu Lake and a backdrop of Tengger Desert. Entrance fee: RMB 60
Horse riding along a set horse riding route costs RMB 60
Camel riding on a fixed travel route costs RMB 60 per person
Staying overnight at a yurt is an interesting experience to feel the Mongolian life.
After visiting Tonghu Grassland, continue to drive about 20km to get to Shapotou, a desert playground ( entrance fee: RMB 100), a unique combined view of sand dune, Yellow River and lush farm fields. Shanpotou is located on the south edge of Tengger Desert and north of Yellow River. The “S” Yellow River” is a fascinating scene, sought after by tourists and photographers.
It seems Shaputou has been turned into an amusement park. In tourist high season, the park is packed with holiday makers engaged in various activities such as Hangglide (RMB100), zipline (RMB80), sand sliding (RMB30) and even bungee jump (RMB160). If you are not interested in the amusement park like activities, you may turn to a travel agency which organizes more challenging camel trek across Tengger Desert, Yellow River trek, drifting on Yellow River with a leather raft and so on to experience the massive desert and Yellow River.
Now return to the city proper of Zhongwei and visit the magnificent Gao Temple built in Ming Dynasty with a long history of over 600 years. Entrance fee: RMB 30. It used to a temple comprising three religions – Buddhism, Taoism and Confucius. Now Gao Temple has more Buddhist elements than those attached to Confucius and Taoism. The appeal of Gao Temple lies at its architecture – ornate stone and wood carving, and decorated elegant structures. Gao Temple is located between Zhongwei Railway Station (RMB30)
The delicate and ornate wood and stone buildings inside the temple are worth your half or one hour exploration.
The main building of Gao Temple.
The delicate and ornate architectures inside the temple, always arouse a great interest.
The Drum Tower in Gao Temple
Zhongwei is a neat and laid back city. Compact, Zhongwei is a walkable city with Drum Tower at the center of Zhongwei.
Walk along East Gulou Tower and turn right at the first cross, you will find a huge Mao Zedong Statue which is in front of Zhongwei Railway Station.
Opposite to the street with the huge Mao Zedong’s statue is an street rife with vendors and stalls.
Any questions, just drop a line.