Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, located in the northwest of China, is a loess plateau with the Yellow River running through the region. As a province that was granted autonomous status since 1958, Ningxia is well known for its Muslim Hui ethnicity, the dominant minority among the 35 Chinese ethnic groups found in the region. Most of the regional attractions either feature the land's theme of sand and water or showcase an outstanding Islamic cultural flavor. The following brings you the region's top most popular tourist attractions for your China tours.
1. Western Xia Mausoleum
The Western Xia Mausoleum is located on the eastern slope of the Helan Mountain, 30 kilometers west of Yinchuan City. Covering an area of 53 square kilometers, the mausoleum is one of the largest and best preserved imperial mausoleums in China.
Dubbed the "Eastern Pyramids," the Western Xia Mausoleum includes nine imperial mausoleums and 250 tombs of imperial relatives and officials.
Each main tomb has four corner towers and an array of watchtowers, pavilions housing stone tablets, a sacrificial hall and a coffin platform – most of which are now unrecognizable. Archaeologists believe that octagonal glazed-tile pagodas once stood by each tomb.
The tombs were originally created by the founder of the Western Xia Kingdom (1038-1237), Li Yuanhao, who built over 70 tombs – one for himself, some for his relatives and more to be left empty, presumably a decoy against theft.
In contrast to the wooden and stone structures of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasty imperial tombs, the Western Xia Tombs are made of earth and brick, reflecting the culture of the ancient western kingdom.
In recent years, scientific research and exploration have been conducted at the site in hopes of decoding the sudden disappearance of the Western Xia civilization. Western Xia Mausoleum is a must-see attractions if you have a Silk Road tour.
Admission: 60 yuan
Working Hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (April – October)
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (January – March, November – December)
How to get there: Take buses from South Gate Bus Station or North Gate Bus Station to get there for 8 Yuan; or take bus No. 1, 2, 4, 18 at downtown Yinchuan and get off at Yinchuan Railway Station, then hire a car to get there for 35 yuan.
2. Sand Lake
The Sand Lake, 56 kilometers northwest of Yinchuan, is one of the top resort lakes in China amidst elegant and unique natural landscapes. Tourists are offered a fabulous view of the tranquil desert and lake merging together.
Home to hundreds of species of birds, the lake has become a midway stop for migrating birds from Siberia, making it an ideal place for bird watching.
In 2007, the attraction was listed as one of the national 5A-level attractions by the National Tourism Administration, with nearly 790 thousand visitors annually.
Admission: 120 yuan
Working Hours: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
How to get there: Take shuttle buses to Sand Lake at the South Gate station to get there for 10 yuan.
If you have had Guilin tour, you may know the differences between Guilin and Ningxia.
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