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Getting There

There are direct flights from most major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Taiyuan, and Xi'an. Discounts are usually available. The CAAC office (tel. 0951/691-3456) is located in the Taiyang Shen Jiudian on Beijing Lu. A bus costing ¥15 to Hedong Airport leaves from the intersection of Nanhuan Dong Lu and Bei Jie, south of Nan Men, 2 hours before flights for the 30-minute trip and buses meet every flight. A taxi into town costs about ¥60.

The railway station is in the new part of town, but there's a booking and ticket office just south of the Drum Tower at Gongnong Xiang 15. Major connections are with Beijing (K177/K178; 19 hr.) and Xi'an (K359 or 2586/7; 15 hr.). Trains connecting Hohhot and Lanzhou stop in Yinchuan (2635; 9 hr.).

The long-distance bus station is in the southeast corner of the old city on Shengli Bei Jie. Xi'an (720km/447 miles; 9 hr.; ¥169) is served by express buses which leave hourly from 7:30am to 8:30pm. Lanzhou buses leave every 45 minutes from 7:20am to 5:05pm (514km/320 miles; 5 hr.; ¥120). Two buses connect with Taiyuan (763km/474 miles; 10 hr.; ¥243); five express buses connect with Yan'an (449km/279 miles; 6 hr.; ¥136). Tickets can be bought up to 4 days in advance at the bus station.

Getting Around

Yinchuan has a new city (as of the 1960s) and an old city, and the distance between them is rapidly being filled with new developments, including the grand Ningxia Museum. The railway station is in the new city, but everything else the traveler would need or want is in the much more charming old city 10km (6 miles) to the east. Taxis wait in the parking lot at the railway station to transport passengers to the old city (around ¥20). Bus no. 1 goes from the railway station to the Nan Men Qichezhan (South Gate Bus Station) via Jiefang Jie, which runs east to west through the center of the old city; the fare is ¥3. Bus fare within the old city is ¥1. Taxi rates are ¥5 for the first 3km (2 miles), then between ¥1 and ¥1.40 per kilometer. Beyond 8km (5 miles), the rate is ¥1.50 per kilometer. Fares within the old town will rarely exceed ¥7. Tip: When negotiating trips to out-of-town sites, local residents calculate ¥1 per kilometer.

Tours -- Ningxia CITS, at Beijing Dong Lu 375 (tel. 0951/671-9792), arranges pricey tours to nearby sites, Zhongwei, and Shapotou.

Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- The Bank of China, at Jiefang Xi Jie 80, has a 24-hour ATM. Change traveler's checks and foreign currency at window 10. Bank hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm. For cash advances on credit cards, go to the second floor of the branch at Xinhua Dong Jie 5, which also has a 24-hour ATM and foreign exchange.

Internet Access -- There's a large Internet cafe, Hongma Wangba on Yuhuang Ge Nan Jie, just south of the Nanxun Dong Jie intersection. The cafe is open from 8am to midnight and charges ¥2 per hour.

Post Office -- The main post office (8am-6:30pm) is on the northwest corner of the Jiefang Xi Jie and Minzu Bei Jie intersection.

Visa Extensions -- The Exit-Entry Office of the PSB is at Beijing Dong Lu 472. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to noon and 2:30 to 6:30pm. The official processing time is 3 to 5 days, but it's usually done overnight.

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.