Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is one the most sparsely populated, dry and impoverished provinces in China and is located in what is often referred to as China’s “wild west”. The region is mostly desert apart from the more fruitful areas benefiting from the natural irrigation of the Yellow River, such as Ningxia’s capital city Yinchuan. Although this region’s natural landscape is rather monotone and sparse, the area does have its fair share of historical and cultural sites. However, in a quite random twist of fate, Ningxia has been blessed with one of the most spectacular natural desert oasis in China, which has since become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region.
56km from Yinchuan City, the scenic area of Shahu (literally meaning ‘sand lake’) stretches across a total expanse of 80.10 square kilometers. With a total water surface of 45 square kilometers and a desert occupying an expanse of 22.5 kilometres, it is easy to be mislead into thinking that this may be the prefect get away for a calm, back-to-nature holiday. Besides the rare birds and lotus root ponds it’s not. Sand Lake is comparable to a massive amusement park, light on the rides and heavy on water and desert activities. First time visitors to a desert can ride a camel for a mere 20 RMB across a range of sand dunes, while the more adventurous can rent jeeps or motorbikes and race across the sandy plains. Another fun, attraction are the sand slides (30 RMB), which take you down a fairly steep slope.
Sand Lake’s main attraction though is its range of water activities set around a backdrop of sandy dunes. Tourists can glide along the lake in a parachute (150 RMB) strapped to a speed boat, which although lasting under a minute, is a thrilling experience nonetheless. Speed boats and water scooters can be rented out which allow tourists (accompanied by an instructor) to explore the flora and fauna of the lake. If you’re seeking more adrenalin then perhaps a flight in one of the tiny, not-so-robust looking water planes will suffice. Beware however that only people weighing under 90kg are permitted to take this ride.
Meanwhile, the resort also offers some on-land activities, the scariest one being the bungee-jump ride that straps you into a two-seater ball and catapults you way up into the sky within a fraction of the second. This one’s not for the faint-hearted. There’s also no shortage of restaurants or tourist shops within Sand Lake’s grounds and over-night accommodation is also an option. However, a one day-trip should be enough to squeeze in all the fun sights.
Name: Sand Lake Scenic Area (沙湖旅游景区)View In Map
Address: Shahu Lake, Pingluo County, Shizuishan, Ningxia
Opening Hours: 8:00am-6:00pm
Entrance fee: 60 RMB (rides cost extra)
1) The entrance fee of Sand Lake is 50% off this year from the normal price of 60 RMB. The deadline for this offer has not been confirmed.
2) The best time to visit Sand Lake is late Spring or early Summer. All activities on the lake and beach will stop at the end of November when the lake starts to freeze.
3) The parachute ride is only available throughout the Summer.
4) A trip on a boat costs 60 RMB and the catamaran costs 100 RMB.
5) When visiting Sand Lake in summer make sure to bring sun block and a hat with you as it is extremely easy to burn under the harsh desert sun.
6) Also make sure to bring enough money if you plan on taking most of the rides. Since the entrance fee only covers entry into the resort, you will have to pay for each ride separately thereafter.
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Keywords: what to do in Yinchuan Shahu Lake Yinchuan where to go in Ningxia Shahu Yinchuan Sand lake scenic area Yinchuan desert lake Ningxia
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