Squeezed 1600m up into a narrow valley along the Yellow River, and stretching out for nearly 30km east to west, gritty LANZHOU sits at the head of the Hexi Corridor, which means that almost everyone heading to Xinjiang from eastern China will pass through at some point. Many travellers break their journey here, but most head on before too long, thanks in no small part to Lanzhou’s awful air quality: the colossal assortment of factories and petroleum processing plants around the city, coupled with its location – hemmed in by large mountains – once earned it the unfortunate title of “World’s Most Polluted City”. Today, atrocious traffic means that the pollution shows little sign of abating.

However, the city itself is slowly becoming more attractive, especially with the tarting up of the Yellow River’s north bank. There are also a number of good day-trip possibilities, including the Bingling Caves, and Lanzhou forms the start or finish line for the fascinating Xiahe loop. Lastly, this is the best place in China to slurp down a bowl of Lanzhou beef noodles – a dish now available all around the country.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 Chinese street foods you need to try

7 Chinese street foods you need to try

Thanks to China’s sheer enormity, travelling through the country is as much a tastebud odyssey as it is a history lesson. And eating your way around the stre…

16 Feb 2018 • Aimee White insert_drive_file Article
20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

Shanghai has to be a contender for the buzziest city in Asia, a thriving business hub that's brashly modern yet wears its history on its sleeve. Dense with glit…

23 Oct 2017 • Simon Lewis insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right