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Gansu Transportation: How to Get to/around Gansu

Gansu is a province with a long history, numerous historical relics, and excellent natural scenery. Transportation is very convenient despite the large distances by air or by railway or by road when traveling in most parts of Gansu. In this article, we introduce how to get to and around Gansu.

Getting to Gansu by Air

There are about 10 airports in Gansu. The most useful airports for travelers include Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport, Dunhuang Mogao International Airport, and Zhangye Ganzhou Airport.

Lanzhou is the main transportation hub in Gansu Province. If you are planning a trip to Gansu, we recommend flying to Lanzhou first and then starting your Gansu trip there.

Flying to Lanzhou

  • Airport: Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport
  • Chinese: 兰州中川国际机场
  • Airport code: LHW
  • Location: 70 kilometers from the downtown area, about 1¼ hours' drive

Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport is most frequently used for flights to Gansu. It has 212 air routes.

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Over 100 cities have flights to Lanzhou including Beijing (2½ hours), Shanghai (3½ hours), Hangzhou (3 hours), Guangzhou or Shenzhen (3 hours), Urumqi (3 hours), Xiamen, Wuhan, Nanjing, Xi'an, Chengdu (2½ hours), and Guilin.

Flying to Dunhuang

Dunhuang Mogao Caves The Mogao Caves in Dunhuang
  • Airport: Dunhuang Mogao International Airport
  • Chinese: 敦煌莫高国际机场
  • Airport code: DNH
  • Location: 21 kilometers from the Mogao Caves, about 25 minutes' drive

Dunhuang Mogao International Airport has 19 air routes. 15 cities have flights to Dunhuang including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Xining, Lanzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Urumqi.

  • Beijing to Dunhuang: 3½ hours
  • Shanghai to Dunhuang: 6 hours (transit in Lanzhou)
  • Xi'an to Dunhuang: 2½ hours
  • Hangzhou to Dunhuang: 7 hours (transit in Lanzhou)
  • Urumqi to Dunhuang: 6 hours (transit in Lanzhou)
  • Xining to Dunhuang: 1½ hours
  • Lanzhou to Dunhuang: 2 hours

Flying to Zhangye

Zhangye Danxia Landform Beautiful Danxia landform in a sunny day

Beijing, Shanghai, Lanzhou, Guangzhou, and Xi'an have flights to Zhangye.

  • Beijing to Zhangye: 3 hours
  • Xi'an to Zhangye: 2 hours
  • Shanghai to Zhangye: 3½ hours
  • Lanzhou to Zhangye: 1 hour
  • Guangzhou to Zhangye: 5 hours (transit in Lanzhou)

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Getting to Gansu by Train

Gansu is an important railway corridor connecting east China and west China. So, the railway service is very advanced in most parts of Gansu.

Trains to Lanzhou

Lanzhou West Railway Station is the major high-speed railway station. It is located 6 kilometers (4 miles or about 20 minutes' drive) from downtown Lanzhou.

Bullet trains from Beijing (7–9 hours), Shanghai (10½–14 hours), Hangzhou (11½ hours), Guangzhou (10½-11½ hours), Xi'an (2½-3½ hours), Chengdu (7 hours), and many other cities stop there. You could change in Lanzhou for bullet trains to other Gansu cities.

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To Dunhuang

Dunhuang has a railway station — Dunhuang Railway Station, 19 kilometers from the Mogao Caves, or about 25 minutes' drive.

Xining has bullet trains to Dunhuang taking about 6 hours, and Lanzhou's daily bullet train takes 8 hours.

Other cities like Beijing, Hohhot, Xi'an, and Yinchuan just have normal overnight trains to Dunhuang.

To Zhangye

Zhangye has 7 railway stations. The major stations include Zhangye Railway Station and Zhangye West Railway Station.

Xining, Xi'an and Urumqi have bullet trains to Zhangye West Railway Station, taking about 2, 7½, and 7½ hours respectively.

Other cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan just have normal overnight trains to Zhangye, traveling about 19–30 hours.

How to Get around Gansu

Traveling by train and road are the main ways to get around Gansu.

High-speed trains travel between major tourist cities such as Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Zhangye, Jiayuguan, and Tianshui. Here we list the times to get between these cities by bullet train for reference:

  • Lanzhou ⇌ Zhangye: 4–4½ hours
  • Lanzhou ⇌ Dunhuang: 8½ hours
  • Lanzhou ⇌ Jiayuguan: 5½–6 hours
  • Lanzhou ⇌ Tianshui: 1½ hours
  • Zhangye ⇌ Dunhuang: 4–4½ hours
  • Zhangye ⇌ Jiayuguan: 1½ hours
  • Zhangye ⇌ Tianshui: 5½–6 hours
  • Dunhuang ⇌ Jiayuguan: 2½ hours

If you want to visit the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gannan, where you can experience Tibetan culture and enjoy plateau scenery, hiring a private car is the best choice, because there is no railway in Gannan.

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A private car with driver may be more convenient than rail travel between closer cities, e.g. Zhangye–Jiayuguan.

Tour Gansu with Us

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With rich experience in designing and arranging Gansu tours, our travel experts can help you with professional suggestions in selecting the best means of transportation and arranging itinerary to make your trip smooth and comfortable.

If you're ready to tell us your ideas for a Gansu tour or make an inquiry, contact us. 

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