This place was an important pass on the ancient Silk Road, where Zhang Qian once led camel caravans fully loaded with silk slowly heading west. It was also the western starting point of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty. Beyond Jiayuguan Pass was the vast Gobi Desert in ancient times, bidding farewell to the Central Plains and entering a barbaric land.
Today's Jiayuguan, a migrant city developed by the steel industry, has gathered people from Northeast China, Sichuan, Henan, Gansu and more, bringing endless vitality. Jiayuguan is rarely a major destination for a Gansu-Qinghai loop trip, mostly just a stopover between Dunhuang and Zhangye. The attractions in Jiayuguan are not many, mainly centered around the Jiayuguan Pass - including Jiayuguan Pass, Overhanging Great Wall, and the First Pier of the Great Wall. The First Pier is north of Jiayuguan city, while the Overhanging Great Wall and the Pass are west of the city.
Other worthwhile attractions are the magnificent Qiyi Glacier, mysterious Wei-Jin tomb murals, and the quite large wine cellars inside Xizhou Vineyard. Except the Pass, other attractions require chartered vehicles or trains to reach. Tickets can be purchased separately or in a combo package covering the Pass, Overhanging Wall and First Pier for 120 RMB (half price for students). The package is only sold at Jiayuguan Pass.
Dunhuang Tour • Silk Road International Tourism Festival
Every summer, Jiayuguan joins cities across Gansu Province in hosting the Dunhuang Journey Silk Road International Tourism Festival. The festival celebrates the region's history as a critical juncture on the ancient Silk Road trading route. Festivities kick off with a grand opening ceremony and gala. Other highlights include a tourism goods expo, auto rally race, cultural performances, and an arts festival inspired by Silk Road heritage. Visitors can browse fine silks, embroidered textiles, precious stones, handicrafts and more – relics of goods once transported through the area by camel caravans. Folk dances, music, and local opera bring the cosmopolitan cultures of the Silk Road to life. The lively celebrations offer a window into the enduring legacy of trade and intercultural exchange fostered by the Silk Road centuries ago. For modern-day travelers, the festival provides an opportunity to engage with and understand the rich history of the region along this iconic global trade route.
Silk Road • Great Wall (International) Music and Culture Festival
The Silk Road Great Wall Music Festival is now in its third year as westernmost music festival in China. Held annually in early August at Jiayuguan's China Peacock Garden, the event celebrates cultural exchange along the ancient Silk Road through the universal language of music. International and Chinese bands take the stage with live performances of rock, pop, and folk music. Other highlights include an Australian music Silk Road tour, a peacock-themed fashion show, exhibitions of modern Chinese artworks, and peacock-inspired films in 4D cinemas. Beyond the concerts, visitors can appreciate the natural beauty of Jiayuguan Pass set against the rugged backdrop of the Great Wall winding through the Hexi Corridor. For music lovers and culture enthusiasts alike, this youthful festival encapsulates both the historic legacy and cosmopolitan essence of the legendary Silk Road through spectacular scenery, evocative art, and boundary-crossing musical exchange.
Feeling the Four Seasons in the July 1st Glacier
Nestled in the snowy Qilian Mountains, Qiyi Glacier is the closest glacier to a city in all of Asia. In summer, cattle graze lazily in the foothills while meltwater tumbles down the glacier in thundering cascades. Yet as you ascend the icy tongue, the temperature plummets. Over the course of a single hike, you can traverse through all four seasons - from sunny warmth at the base to freezing windswept snowscapes atop the glacier. One moment, you’re shedding layers in bright sunshine, the next you’re hunkering down in swirling sleet. This abrupt change of climate zones makes Qiyi Glacier a one-of-a-kind adventure. As you traverse between balmy meadows and frigid icefields, listen for the deep rumbles of shifting glacier ice. At the summit, marvel at the glacier's alien, icy terrain before returning down to the welcoming green valley.
Best Travel TimeThe best travel time for Jiayuguan is from May to October. In spring (March May), the green here comes later than in other places, but the sky is clear and transparent; In summer (June August), the climate is cool, and there are also ticket discounts during the tourism festival; In autumn (September November), the East Lake Park in Jiayuguan is shrouded in colorful autumn colors. It is a perfect time to appreciate the sunrise and sunset of the Guancheng city, reflecting the ancient charm. In winter (December February), Jiayuguan is snowy and exceptionally cold, so it's best not to behave.
Medical treatmentHere is some information on medical facilities in Jiayuguan for an English travel website:Medical Care in JiayuguanJiayuguan has adequate medical facilities to handle minor injuries and ailments that may occur during travel.Jiagang Hospital is located at 18 Xiongguan West Road. Call 0937-6711120 for assistance. Jiayuguan First People's Hospital is centrally located at 26 Xinhua Middle Road. Take the #1 bus and get off at the Shi Yiyuan stop. Reach them at 0937-6202233.Jiayuguan Second People's Hospital is about 500 meters south down West Ring South Road and Jianshe West Road. Call 0937-6311120.It's recommended travelers carry international medical insurance. Hotels and tour agencies can help arrange transportation to clinics as needed. Take precautions and see a doctor promptly if you have any concerning symptoms. The dry climate in Jiayuguan can cause dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids.Let us know if you need any other Jiayuguan medical recommendations!
Packing List for Jiayuguan, China:
Documents: ID card, bank/ATM card (postal savings recommended), credit card, cash
Essentials: 29" suitcase, backpack (rain cover), daypack, raincoat, umbrella, water bottle, neck pillow, clothing
Gear: Phone, camera, tripod, chargers, power bank, flashlight
Toiletries: Skincare, cosmetics, sunscreen, face masks, lip balm, hair dryer, comb, tissues, wet wipes
Medicine: Altitude sickness meds, vitamins, glucose, laxative, cold/fever reducers, anti-inflammatories, bandages, motion sickness meds
Driving: GPS (or Baidu Maps app), dashcam, radar detector, tire pressure gauge, tow strap, multi-tool, vacuum/air pump
Camping: Tent, sleeping bag, tarp, inflatable pad, sheets, LED lantern
With proper documentation, gear, supplies and some Mandarin language ability, Jiayuguan's ancient Great Wall and desert scenery make for an incredible Chinese road trip destination.