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Shopping in Lanzhou

In ancient times, Lanzhou was referred to as "Jingcheng" and was a booming commercial town along the Silk Road. Today, Lanzhou still features an impressive collection of handicrafts and local-made products. Shopping in Lanzhou will certainly not leave you disappointed. 

Lanzhou, as Gansu Province's capital, is a large city with many shopping options. The area is particularly good for cold weather gear, which can be bought at many of the shops that line the streets. The city is also a good place for those shopping for handicrafts. Along with the products that are popular throughout the province, including the Jiuguang luminous jade cups, jade carvings and silk carpets, Lanzhou has its own specialties that can be bought in many of the craft stores and stalls in the city. Particularly notable are the Jincheng babao melon-skin and pebble carvings, and Tao ink stones.

The city is a good place to find ancient memorabilia, and replicas of Silk Road paintings and murals, as well as beautiful copies of the Maiji Grottoes. Buddha heads abound. For everyday items, there are numerous department stores throughout the city. Near to the western train station is the Huangjin Shopping Center (Huangjin dasha).

Jincheng Babao Melon-skin Carving
The Jincheng Babao melon-skin carved bowls are a traditional product of the Lanzhou people. The bowls are made from a kind of melon native to Gansu province, the golden melon. The pulp of the melon is first removed, and then the skin is left to dry until hard. Craftsmen then carve pictures and patterns into the desiccated surface.

Stone Carvings

An interesting specialty to take away from Lanzhou is the colorful pebble carvings that can be found in art and craft stores throughout the city. The pebbles come from the bed of the Yellow River and are carved by local artisans. The carvings selected are mainly dependent on the original shapes of the stones, a kind of quartzite. Stones with beautiful natural colors and wonderful shapes are carefully selected. These stones are truly works of art worth owning.

Tao Ink Stone

Tao Ink Stone, Lanzhou Shopping, Lanzhou Travel GuideIf you are fascinated with Chinese calligraphy, the Tao ink stone of Lanzhou is not to be missed. It is acclaimed as one of the three best ink stones in China, along with the Duan ink stone of Guangdong Province and the Jiao ink stone of Anhui Province.

Lanzhou Carved Bottle Gourds

A small bottle gourd that grows in the Lanzhou area is carved with various pictures and patterns of human figures, flowers and birds. Traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting are shown on the gourds to include traditional contour sketching, touching, light-ink stroking and dyeing. The gourds are extremely popular souvenirs for visitors.

Multicolored Glass Vases

Glass vases are produced in many areas of China. Faced with such stiff competition, the Lanzhou Glassware factory has held a reputable position in domestic and overseas markets for a long time because of its ingenious designs, exquisite workmanship, and low prices. Multicolored glass vases are exported to many countries, including the U. S., Japan and Hong Kong. Many people buy the vases as gifts.

Yellow River Scree Carving

The Yellow River has for thousands of years washed over the broken stones (scree) deposited in the river bottom. These stones have an infinite variety of rich and colorful shapes. The skilled artisans engaged in stone carving at the Gansu Industrial Arts Factory use this rich natural resource to make a variety of useful and ornamental objects.

Baoan Broadsword

Baoan Broadswords, Lanzhou Shopping, Lanzhou Travel GuideThe Baoan broadsword is a traditional handicraft of the Baoan nationality. It is beautifully designed and balanced. In recent year these swords have been sold on the international market.

Recommended Shopping Places

Railway Bureau Area

On the northern side of the intersection is the Lanzhou Industrial and Trading Center; on the other side stands Minzhuxilu Department Store. Around these two buildings are many shops and Tielu Xincun Free Market, where agricultural products, vegetables, fruits, prepared food, clothing, farm by-products, and light industrial goods can be bought.

Gansu Cultural Relics Shop and Provincial Arts and Crafts Shop

Here you can buy carved ink slabs, luminous jade cups, and bottle gourds. The most beautiful of them are the replicas of Buddha's head using the original molds from Bingling Si.

South Pass Intersection Area

The major shopping district stretches north to Central Square where the office of the People's Government of Gansu Province is located, and then to the west toward Xiquan-shizi. Along this one-kilometer section is the old downtown area of Lanzhou, still the busiest shopping district of the city. Here can be found the largest bookstores, electronic equipment stores, grocers, and restaurants.

The Dingxi Nanlu Market
This market is open all week and worth visiting during the weekdays.