The historic Yellow River, considered by many to be the center of Chinese civilization and spiritual life has been the object of countless poets, writers, painters, and song writers for hundreds of years. The 3,395 mile long Yellow River is the second largest river in all China, second only to the Yangtze. More than 30 rivers and streams flow into the Yellow River which flows from the historic Kunlun Mountains in the Qinghai Province and all the way to Hekouzhen in Inner Mongolia. As the Yellow River is an important part of Chinese civilization, it comes as no surprise that there are many legends surrounding this place.
According to one legend, Chinese civilization began sometime during the Neolithic Age (7,000BC – 3,700 BC). Suiren-shi taught the Chinese how to make fire, Fu Hsi invented fishing, hunting, and trapping, and Shennong Shi taught the Chinese agriculture. These practices developed Chinese civilization along the Yellow River. This body of water has supported all of China for thousands of years.
Anyone taking a trip here will probably start in the Qinghai Province. The Qinghai, while not as densely populated as areas farther east, is still very diverse. Mongols, Tibetans, and Kazaks are some of the largest ethnic minorities that benefit not only from the Yellow River but also from mining and exports of coal, petroleum, and iron which are the leading natural resources. The legendary Mount Kunlun, like many areas along the Yellow River was object of legend and artistry. Certain parts of the Fengshen Yanyi was written around Mount Kunlun. The mountain itself rises 25,000 feet above sea level and is more than1,500 miles from east to west.
Both Tibet and India claim part of this vast mountain system and are just two of thousands of cultures that inhabit this magnificent continent. Religion is a large part of Tibet and India, with the dominant religions being Buddhism in Tibet, and Hinduism in India. Buddhism’s roots spring from Hinduism, so it is quite common to find temples where the teachings overlap, and people who closely follow both paths. Also of interest is the magnificent Longyang Gorge which is the site of a dam currently in the making. This spectacular gorge is proof of the power of nature as it was formed by a combination of plate tectonics and running water.
On day two, one would find themselves along the scenic Lanzhou region of the Gansu province. Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu and is a well-known Chinese city since ancient times. Lanzhou is rich in modern beauty and ancient cultural art. The Labrang Monastery and the Thousand Buddha Caves are just two high profile tourist sites along the Yellow River. The Labrang Monastery located in southern Lanzhou is one of the six largest temples of Tibetan Buddhism. Tourists and those interested in walking the Buddhist path may want to visit western Lanzhou. In western Lanzhou, are the Thousand Buddha Caves which was constructed long ago during the Jin Dynasty. The cave houses 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures, and over a thousand yards of murals. The caves themselves stretch about 600 feet, and house different artistic renderings of Buddha and his and in some cases her, various incarnations. Tourists wishing to see Lanzhou may be interested to know that temperatures are rather low in January and the region has no shortage of rain. May to October would be the best months to visit. Tourists can also do a good deal of business at the many shopping districts here.
Day three marks the end of the trip, but not before crossing the picturesque Ningxia Hui region which is home to brilliant contrast! Populated regions filled with water and lush greenery are seen almost alongside barren and uninhabited landscapes. Ningxia Hui is bordered on the south by Gansu, on the east by Shangxi, and the Inner Mongolian region located further north. The region of Ningxia Hui was home to the Tang and Han dynasties of ancient China. Yinchuan also known as Phoenix City is not only a prosperous city, but one housing many places of interest.
The city possesses an abundance of water and is known for its fish and rice. It is over 1,300 years old and has a diverse populous. Yinchuan is home to people of Han, Manchu, and Chaoxian descent just to name a few. The city has more than 60 sites of historical significance including the Chengtiansi Pagoda, a well-known piece of Buddhist architecture and the 1500-year-old Haibao Pagoda. The region is rich in history, cultural diversity, and unique local habits.
There are roughly 1,000 mosques in the Ningxia Hui region as Islam is the dominant religion in this area. The Nanguan Mosque is the most famous mosque in all Ningxia Hui. Places of interest not covered in this itinerary are the Hukou Waterfalls Yanan, the Iron Pagoda and Dragon Pavilion in Luoyang, as well as the Lake of Great Light in Shandong. Abundant in history, beauty, and legend, the Yellow River continues to nurture Chinese civilization in its vibrant glow to this day.
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