Shahu Lake

Shahu Lake

The site of Shahu Lake in the Ningxia region is not to be missed on a trip to western China. Also known as “Sand Lake”, this Shahu Lake is formed from a desert landscape and surrounded by marshlands. There been a lot of reconstruction of this site recently and it has become a popular site for adventure tourism, offering something for everyone.
Situated near the plains of Yinchuan in the northern part of the province, visitors to this site can enjoy a camel ride. Sand slides and other desert themed outdoor activities are also available. It serves as an ideal day trip while on a tour of Ningxia province. The spot of Shahu Lake has seen a rise in tourism in recent years, and popularity continues to grow as the infrastructure and transportation system improves throughout the region.
Sand Lake covers an area of around 45 sq. kilometres. Don’t miss the unique flora and fauna of the area, including red-crested cranes. There are almost 200 different kinds of birds in the area. What visitors find most endearing about Sand Lake is that it is a mix of a desert and water landscape. Shahu Lake is located about 60 kilometres from the city of Yinchuan in the north of the autonomous region.

Shizuishan City

Shizuishan

The city of Shizuishan is the second city of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It’s located on the west bank of the Yellow River and situated north of Yinchuan, towards the border to Inner Mongolia. Being near a desert, a river and mountains, Shizuishan has a temperate continental climate and a lot of it’s economy is driven by industry. There are numerous sites close-by including the famous Sand Lake, the rock carvings of Mount Helan, Shui Dong Gou as well as other Ming Dynasty Great Wall sites. This city along with Yinchuan serve as a great base for exploring the lesser-known parts of western China. It is also a gateway to the northwest region of Gansu province and the city of Kashgar.
Travellers are advised to travel to this region in the early autumn months when it isn’t too cold or hot. Shizuishan is located in the north of the Ningxia Autonomous Region, therefore it is subject to some desert storms and cold weather conditions in the evening; even during the summer months.

Shui Dong Gou

Shui Dong Gou

This is one of the oldest historical sites and discoveries in the Ningxia Autonomous Region. First uncovered by a French explorer in 1923, the site of Shui Dong Gou represents the times of the early stone age in China.
A visit to the Shui Dong Gou consists of a few stops. Beyond the entrance of the Shui Dong Gou site, visitors are taken into the museum for some history of the site and palaeolithic times. Following the museum is a short golf cart ride to a Ming Dynasty section of the Great Wall. This particular section of the wall looks practically untouched and a good opportunity to witness a preserved part of the wall far away from the Great Wall site in Beijing. There are two sides to the wall; divided into the Ningxia and Inner Mongolia side. Just past the Ming Dynasty Wall, visitors can take a small boat ride on the Yellow River. Donkey ad camel rides as well as zip-line tours are also available for tourists. The fortress at the end of the site was once used as a bunker by Chinese soldiers to defend the Great Wall.
Bordering Inner Mongolia and located about 25 kilometres from Yinchuan, Shui Dong Gou serves as a convenient day trip from the city.

Western Xia Tombs

Western Xia Tombs

This site is known as the Western Xia Tombs or Western Xia Mausoleum, which was founded during the time of the Kingdom of Western Xia, or the Tangut Empire from the year 1038 until 1227. This time period was named the Tangut Period after the Tangut people, a little-known nomadic group who occupied the region bordering Inner Mongolia when Genghis Khan and his Mongol Army ruled the area.
This historic attraction consists of nine mausoleums as well as 250 tombs. The tombs are of the places where they laid ruling officials and the royal families, while the mausoleums were reserved for the kings. Only one of the mausoleums has been extensively excavated and it was discovered that the mausoleum was constructed for the emperor Jingzong, in the beginning of the Western Xia Kingdom.
The area extends over 50 kilometres (about 36 miles) across the base of the Helan mountain range. It’s located approximately 40 kilometres west of the city of Yinchuan. The Western Xia Tombs site was first discovered in the 20th century by a German explorer.

Helanshan Mountain

Helanshan Mountain

In the area bordering Inner Mongolia and the autonomous region of Ningxia is the Helan mountain range. It is one of the more significant mountain ranges in northern China and offers great opportunities for adventure travel and hiking. Stretching from north to south, the Helanshan mountain extend over 200 kilometres with the highest peak at 3,556 metres. The closest cities to the mountain are Yinchuan and Shizuishan to the east.
The gorge on the northern part of the mountain, which served as a link between the north and south end, became home to a large concentration of rock art on Mount Helan. It’s historic aspects were mostly shaped by nomads passing through the Silk Road. Most of them are said to be mainly shamans and the art serves as a representation of the culture and customs of the time.
Helanshan Mountain was once a place of sacrifice and offering by the nomadic population. Some of the rock art dates back over 6,000 years and some of the art is estimated to date back 10,000 years. While the rock art is scattered along the mountain range of Helan, most of the carvings are in the Helankou or the “Helan Gorge” area.
There has been a recent rise in the interest of eastern wines grown from Ningxia grapes grown near the mountain.

Yinchuan City-2

Yinchuan City

Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia province. Located along the Yellow River, Yinchuan is a multicultural city with the predominant race being the Muslim Chinese Hui people. It was the capital city of the Western Xia Kingdom during the end of the first millennium. The city enjoys a relatively small population and while it is mostly industrial, there are a few sites to keep visitors passing through entertained for a day. Yinchuan also contributes a great deal to the agricultural and distribution industry in the region.
The city is divided into the New and Old Town. The railway station is located in the New Town, with most of the sites concentrated in the old part of the city. Enjoy wolfberries when they are in season. Popular sites, such as the Shahu Lake, is located about an hour from the city.
Ningxia is a small and uniquely-shaped province locked between Inner Mongolia to the north, Gansu to the west and Shaanxi province to the east. Ningxia was a part of Gansu province for centuries until becoming it’s individual province during the Republic of China. Thirty year later, Ningxia became China’s first autonomous region when it was renamed the “Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region” in 1958.

Zhongwei City

Zhongwei City

This city is situated in the west of the Ningxia Autonomous Region, just bordering Gansu province. It is home to the famous Gao Miao Temple. The newest site in the area are the sand slides and other forms of outdoor entertainment. Zhongwei has a population of just over 1 million inhabitants. The area is subject to a number of desert storms throughout the year, because it is located on the edge of the desert. The Yellow River flows through the city and the landscape is mostly made up on the Loess Highlands and mountains. It’s a few hours drive south from the capital of Yinchuan. Zhongwei’s main ethnic groups are the Hui, Han, as well as Mongolian nationalities.
Like other cities in the area, Zhongwei has a history which can be traced back about 30,000 years. Administration dates back to before the Qin Dynasty. It was given the name of Zhongwei (literally translated as “middle guard”) during the Ming Empire.
A visit to Zhongwei provides easy access to the Tennger Desert, where trips into the desert are available. The Zhongwei Railway Station connects people with numerous major cities in China.

Zhongwei Shapotou

Shapotou

Also known as the “Capital of Sand”, Shapotao is situated along the northern side of the Yellow River, this desert is approximately 12 kilometres (about 7 miles) from the Zhongwei city centre and around 150 kilometres from Ningxia’s capital city of Yinchuan. It borders the Tengger Desert and is one of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the country. It is a popular stop on any trip to northern China and Ningxia province.
Visitors can enjoy rafting along the river, sand sliding, camel riding, as well as a cableway slide. The sand slide is the longest in China, extending to about 1000 metres and the slope is 60 degrees. Some of the Ming Dynasty-era ruins of the Great Wall are around this area and the raft ride will take visitors to see this rare part of the wall. The cableway stretches over 820 metres and crosses a section of the Yellow River. It is the first cableway ever built which passes over a river.
This site is open daily to visitors and is particularly popular during the sunny summer months. An ideal day trip from Zhongwei or on a stop on the way to western China.

Gaomiao

Gao Miao

Located in the north of the city of Zhongwei, this is one of the more notable sites in the area. The name literally translates as “High Temple”. The temple has a mix of Daoist, Buddhist and Confucian influences and even some Christian themes thrown in. The temple is about 170 kilometres south of Yinchuan. The temple is mostly made of wood and originally built during the Ming Dynasty and reconstructed a few centuries later during the Qing Dynasty.
Gao Miao Temple consists of approximately 250 rooms in total with a variety of statues, towers and pavilions on site. Be sure to visit the Hell room, a quirky depiction of what Hell might look like. The room was once used as an underground hideaway during the revolution. There is a Jade Emperor, Gautama Buddha and a statue of the Holy Mother on the temple grounds.

108 Pagodas

108 Pagodas

Also known as the 108 Lamaist Stupas, this Buddhist site dates back to the 11th century. Most of the pagoda structures on the site are about 2.5 metres (8 feet) tall, with the tallest stupa standing at 3.35 metres (11 feet).
There are a few significant pagoda forests in China, including the Shaolin Temple near Luoyang and Lingyan Temple in Shandong province, and the 108 Stupas near Wuzhong is another to add to the list. This site shouldn’t be confused with the 108 Stupas in Bhutan. The pagodas are located in Qingtongxia, in close proximity to the city of Wuzhong.
The 108 Pagodas are located on the hills of Mount Xiakou. They stand at an elevation on the hill, forming a pyramid shape on the mountain with a garden at the base of the stupas. The tallest stupa rests at the top.
The site is Buddhist in origin. Legend has it that 108 warriors died on the site in battle and the pagodas were later built as a monument for them, with the tallest pagoda representing the commander in chief. Others speculate that the stupas are in fact a gravesite for monks.