Getting There

The airport is 75km (47 miles) to the north. China Eastern Airlines (tel. 0931/882-1964; 8am-8pm) has its main office opposite the JJ Sun Hotel. They can book tickets on any Chinese airline. Buses for the airport (1 hr.; ¥30) leave 2 hours before each flight. Alternatively a taxi costs around ¥120 on the meter.

Queues at the new railway station (tel. 0931/492-2222) in the south of town generally aren't too bad and given the number of trains that pass through Lanzhou you've got a good chance of securing a berth this way. Alternatively, sleeper tickets may also be purchased through your hotel for a commission. It's worth a shot to go directly here if you are hoping to head out of town quickly. If you don't want to queue, sleeper tickets may also be purchased through your hotel for a commission.

Trains originating in Lanzhou connect with Beijing (T76: 7:22pm, 20 hr.; K44: 4:03pm, 27 hr.), Shanghai (T118: 12:47am, 25 hr.), Ürumqi (T295: 4:01pm, 24 hr.), Xi'an (K120: 9:58pm, 10 hr.), Guangzhou (K228: 11:22pm, 36 hr.), Chengdu (K348: 4:27pm, 22 hr.), Pingliang (N906: 7:32pm, 12 hr.), Jiayuguan (N851: 8:50pm, 11 hr.), Xining (T207: 7:42am, 3 hr.; T209: 4:18pm), Golmud (T27: 4:11pm, 15 hr.), and Lhasa. The speediest connection with Yinchuan is the K916 at 10:21pm (9 hr.).

Lanzhou has a confusing and ever-growing number of bus stations, the most useful of which is the long-distance bus station at Pingliang Lu 133 (tel. 0931/456-2222). The station is a ten minute walk northwest of the railway station and has buses which connect with Xining (3 hr.; ¥56) every 45 minutes between 7:30am and 7:30pm. There is one sleeper bus to Xi'an every evening at 6:30pm (12 hr.; ¥172). A new bus station, just to the east of the train station, has a variety of long distance destinations, but at the time of writing foreigners were not allowed to take buses from here without Chinese insurance. Most regional bus services depart from the hectic South Bus Station (Nan Zhan) in the far southwest of town (tel. 0931/291-4066), a ¥10 taxi ride from the center. At the time of writing independent foreigner travelers weren't allowed to travel to Xia He, without prior arrangement, but when these routes open again be prepared for some aggressive touts; if you arrive with a long wait for a direct service, head to Linxia (or Hezuo) and change there -- don't believe a word the touts tell you about the availability of onward buses. Buses connect with Hezuo (258km/160 miles; 5 hr.; ¥46) every half-hour from 7am to 4pm; with Linxia (149km/92 miles; 4 hr.; ¥28) every 20 minutes from 7am to 6pm; and with Xining at 10am, 11am, and noon (there are more Xining services from the long-distance station). There are three direct buses per day to Xia He (256km/159 miles; 4 hr.; ¥46). The West Bus Station at Xijin Dong Lu 486 (tel. 0931/291-9537) has direct buses to Liujia Xia (2 hr.; ¥16) that run regularly between 7:20am and 6pm.

Getting Around

Green Santanas charge ¥7 for the first 3km (2 miles), then ¥1.40 per kilometer; add a night surcharge of ¥1.60 from 10pm to 5am. Buses start at ¥1, which is paid on boarding at the front of the bus. Bus no. 1 is useful; it starts at the railway station and passes the Bank of China, the JJ Sun Hotel, the Grand Soluxe, and the Friendship Hotel (opposite the Lanzhou Museum).

Tours -- Most hotels have tour desks which offer tours to Bingling Si. There are numerous branches of CITS, each accusing the others of being illegitimate. A helpful branch is located on the 11th floor of the Luyou Dasha, Nongmin Xiang (tel. 0931/883-5566).

Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- The Bank of China (Mon-Fri 8:30am-noon and 2:30-6pm) at Tianshui Lu 589 accepts traveler's checks and credit cards. To the left of the building, ATMs accept foreign cards. Another useful branch is on Qingyang Lu, just west of the Grand Soluxe Hotel.

Internet Access -- On Gannan Lu, a few minutes' walk west of the Tianshui Lu Bank of China, is a 24-hour Internet cafe that charges ¥2 to ¥3 per hour. Just south of Lanzhou University on the opposite side of Tianshui Nan Lu, E Hang Wang Lou offers a speedy connection for ¥2 per hour.

Post Office -- The post office (Minzhu Dong Lu 104; Mon-Fri 8am-7pm) is located on the corner of Minzhu Dong Lu and Pingliang Lu near the East Bus Station. There's another branch on Qingyang Lu, a little west of the Grand Soluxe Hotel, on the south side of the road.

Visa Extensions -- Visa extensions are processed promptly up to 2 weeks before the expiration date at a helpful PSB, just west of the city government building at Wudu Lu 310 (tel. 0931/871-8606; 8:30-11:30am and 2:30-5:30pm).

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.