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Now the modern capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in remote northern China, near the steppes of Mongolia, Yinchuan also served as the capital of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227 AD), a period when most of China was under Song Dynasty sway. The Western Xia Tombs in Xixia Wangling National Park, 16 miles west of Yinchuan, is the chief historical attraction here. This vast imperial cemetery consists of nine royal tombs and 153 imperial court and family tombs, each a small city unto itself with walls, pavilions, turrets, and archways. In scale and opulence, the Western Xia Tombs rival the Ming Tombs of Beijing. Nearby, at the foot of ...

Now the modern capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in remote northern China, near the steppes of Mongolia, Yinchuan also served as the capital of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227 AD), a period when most of China was under Song Dynasty sway. The Western Xia Tombs in Xixia Wangling National Park, 16 miles west of Yinchuan, is the chief historical attraction here. This vast imperial cemetery consists of nine royal tombs and 153 imperial court and family tombs, each a small city unto itself with walls, pavilions, turrets, and archways. In scale and opulence, the Western Xia Tombs rival the Ming Tombs of Beijing. Nearby, at the foot of the Helan Mountains, which are decorated in engravings and petroglyphs, the new Yinchuan World Rock Art Museum (2008) houses engraved rock art from 31 countries. Another desert attraction is Shahu Lake, 35 miles north of the city, famed for its bird watching and sand sliding paths. The desert outpost of Yinchuan is now a city of one million. A third of the residents are of the Hui minority, descendants of Arab and Persian traders, who make Yinchuan an interesting mix of Chinese and Muslim cultures. Yinchuan's Old Town contains markets and shopping avenues (Xinhua Street) and a pagoda with a view (Chengtiansi, the West Pagoda), home to the Ningxia Provincial Museum. The North Pagoda (Haibso Ta) lies outside Old Town and dates from the 5th Century AD. Ruins of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty, 35 miles to the southwest, are unregulated and provide for utterly free wandering. Every August since 2000, Yinchuan has hosted the Internatinal Car and Motorcycle Festival, China's largest roundup of motorcycle riders (some 3,000 easy riders in attendance).

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: Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and is located in central China.
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The desert climate leaves Yinchuan dry most of the year. Spring is pleasant, except during dust storms, summers are scorching, and winters can be cold and windy.