Phone Coe: 0483
Postal Code: 750306
Area: 270,000 square kilometers (104,208 square miles)
Population: 231,334 (2010 statistics)
Nationality: Mongolian, Han, Hui, Manchu, Tibetan
Location: Alashan is located in westernmost Inner Mongolia. It neighbours Jiuquan, Zhangye, Jinchang, Wuwei and Baiyin cities of Gansu in the west, adjoins Bayannur, Wuhai and Erdos in the northeast. Mongolia lies at the north of the city. The longitude is between 97°10′E and 106°52′E, while the latitude is 37°21′to 42°47′N.
Physical Features: Alashan lies in the hinterland of the Asian Continent, surrounded by mountains and far away from the sea. The Gobi desert, mountains and low hills cover most of the land. The desert lies mainly in the north covering more than a third of the land. The Yellow River flows through the south of the region.
History: Alashan is the one of the birthplaces of mankind. Archeological discoveries confirm that human beings lived in the region during the Paleolithic Age. During the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages, nomadic tribes also lived there and left thousands of cliff paintings. Following the founding of PRC, the region was placed under the jurisdiction of Ningxia and subsequently that of Gansu Province. In 1979, Alashan became part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Attractions: Alashan boasts fantastic desert scenery, the graceful Helan Mountain, ancient cultural relics and the unique customs of the Mongolian people. In Alashan You Qi, the natural wonders include the world’s highest sand dune, the echoing sand and mirror-like desert lakes in the Badanjilin Desert. In the east of the Badanjilin Desert, the ancient cliff paintings in Mandela Mountain record the life as it was thousands years ago. Helan Mountain, Tenggeli Desert, Moon Lake, Swine Lake and Guangzong Temple are the most popular tourist spots in Alashan Zuo Qi. In the west of Alashan, Ejina Qi, the poplar forest, Ejina River and Yanju Sea show the pure beauty of nature. The site of Black City, although now in ruins, tells of the past glorious of the region.
Air: There is no airport in Alashan, but visitors can take a flight to Yinchuan, and then take a bus to Alashan.
Train: There are no trains to Alashan and the nearest rail links are at Jiuquan or Yinchuan from where it is possible to travel onwards by bus.
Bus: Buses are only means of public transport to Alashan. There are daily buses from Jiuquan to Ejina Qi, which depart at 07:30 and arrive at Ejina Qi in 6 hours.
Visitors can also take the bus from Yinchuan to Alashan Zuo Qi, which only takes about 2 hours.
There are daily buses between Alashan Zuo Qi and Ejina Qi, which depart at 07:00 and arrive at Ejina Qi in 10 hours.
Rent a Car: Traveling around Alashan in a private car or vehicle is the most convenient and flexible. The approximate cost for an SUV starting from Yinchuan is about CNY 2,000 for a round trip.
Others: Camels are the best means of transportation in deserts. The price for one camel is CNY 200 per day.
Weather: Alashan has a continental climate, which is dry and windy. Winter is cold and summer is hot. The temperature differs greatly between day and night. The annual temperature averages 6 °C (°F) to 8 °C (°F). January is the coldest month with the mean temperature of -9°C to -14°C, while July is the hottest month when the average temperature is 22°C – 26.4°C. The rainy season comes in July, August and September. Sandstorms hit the region in spring, between March and May.
The best time to visit Alashan is in autumn (especially in September and October).
Dining and Shopping
Mongolian food is the major food in Alashan, such as beef, mutton and dairy produce; especially the roasted mutton and milk tea are the most delicious local food. Many plants growing in deserts also become the local delicacy. Moreover, camel meat is also liked by the locals.
Wild mushrooms from Helan Mountain, Chinese herbal medicine such as desert cistanche and cynomorium from the desert, camel hair, and all kinds of handcrafts of the minority groups are the local products, which can be found in the shops on the Jilantai Road and Xinhua Street in Bayanhot.