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Getting There -- The airport is 15km (9 miles) northeast of downtown. A taxi there costs ¥25 ($3.25/£1.65), or you can take a shuttle bus for ¥9 ($1.15/60p) from the CAAC office at Xinhua Zhong Lu 4-3 (tel. 0937/628-8777; open 8:30am-5:30pm), about 90m (300 ft.) south of the main roundabout. Because all flights leave at 6pm, the airport shuttle departs from outside the CAAC office at 4:30pm. Jiayu Guan has daily connections with Lanzhou and Xi'an.

The railway station (tel. 0937/597-2512) is 4km (2 1/2 miles) southeast of the center of town. A taxi from the station should cost ¥10 ($1.30/65p). Heading west, your chances of obtaining a sleeper ticket are slim. Proceed through your hotel travel agent (around ¥30/$3.90/£1.95 commission), or buy a hard-seat ticket and try to upgrade. Heading east, things are a little easier; the N852 is a good option to Lanzhou (8:40pm; 10 hr.).

The bus station is on the southeast corner of Shengli Zhong Lu and Xin Xi Lu. Daily buses connect with Dunhuang at 9am, 10:30am, and 2:30pm (383km/237 miles; 5 hr.; ¥70/$9.10/£4.55). Sleeper buses for Lanzhou (765km/474 miles; 13 hr.; ¥150/$20/£9.75) leave at 2:30pm, 4:30pm, and 6:30pm. Bus insurance was once mandatory for those traveling east, although this ruling seems to have been relaxed and I wasn't asked for it once, nor did I meet any foreigners who were. Nevertheless, as the kind lady at China Life explained to me, "If you meet an accident you will be very happy [to have bus insurance]," which costs ¥40 ($5.20/£2.60) and will cover you to the tune of ¥240,000 ($31,200/£15,600). China Life (Zhongguo Renshou Baoxian Gongsi can be found just south of the Bank of China, at Xinhua Zhong Lu 36 (tel. 0937/626-1434). It's open weekdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6:30pm, weekends from 10am to 4pm.

Getting Around -- Santana taxis cost ¥7 (90¢/45p) for the first 3km (2 miles), ¥1.40 (20¢/10p) per kilometer thereafter, with a night surcharge of ¥1.40 (20¢/10p) from 10pm to 5am. Xiali taxis charge ¥6 (80¢/40p) for the first 3km (2 miles), and ¥1.20 (15¢/10p) per kilometer thereafter. Bus nos. 1 and 2 run from the railway station; both cost ¥1 (15¢/10p). With wide, tree-lined bicycle lanes, bikes are the best way to get around. The standard rate is ¥2 (25¢/15p) per hour, or ¥10 ($1.30/65p) per day.

Tours -- Jiayu Guan International Tours is run by the friendly Qin Jian. His office is on the second floor of Shengli Bei Lu 2 (tel. 0937/622-2586; fax 0937/622-6931; www.westtour.cc). Hours are from 8:30am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6:30pm. Rates for train tickets and tours are reasonable.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.