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Overview

The remote, impoverished province of Ningxia in northwest China has lured visitors primarily because of two attractions: the tombs of the shadowy Xi Xia Dynasty (1038-1227 AD) and the natural wonders of the Helan Mountains. Recently Ningxia has made a big splash as a wine-producing region, hailed as China's Bordeaux, its Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignon's having competed well in blind tastings with their French counterparts. The capital, Yinchuan, with many of its two million residents members of the Hui minority, is a pleasant desert oasis in the Yellow River basin, and hosts China's largest motorcycle festival each summer. Yinchuan contains ...

The remote, impoverished province of Ningxia in northwest China has lured visitors primarily because of two attractions: the tombs of the shadowy Xi Xia Dynasty (1038-1227 AD) and the natural wonders of the Helan Mountains. Recently Ningxia has made a big splash as a wine-producing region, hailed as China's Bordeaux, its Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignon's having competed well in blind tastings with their French counterparts. The capital, Yinchuan, with many of its two million residents members of the Hui minority, is a pleasant desert oasis in the Yellow River basin, and hosts China's largest motorcycle festival each summer. Yinchuan contains Islamic mosques, ancient pagodas (worth climbing to the top), and a museum of Xi Xia relics, with the impressive ruins of the Western Xia Tombs nearby. For most visitors, Yinchuan is the gateway to Shahu Lake (famed for its swans and red-crested cranes, camel rides and sand-sliding activities) and the Helan Mountains. The petroglyphs and rock carvings of the Helan Mountains, created 3,000-10,000 years ago, can be glimpsed on hikes and viewed in the new Yinchuan World Rock Art Museum at the foot of the mountain range. On the east side of the Helan Mountains are the world-class vineyards, where international wineries have partnered with local vintners under such Chinese brands as Helan Qingue, Silver Heights, Yuma and Xi Xia King. The fine wines can take the edge off time spent in the nearby coal-mining city of Shizuishan, once described as the best location on Earth to make a film about the end of the world.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China located in the northwest part of the country.
  • Language: Mandarin, Ningxia and dialects
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Temperatures soar in summer, making late spring and early autumn the most comfortable times to explore this arid region.