Yinchuan is the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It is located in the heart of the Ningxia Plain, with Mt. Helan in the west and the Yellow River (Huanghe) in the east, between the rolling grasslands of Inner Mongolia to the east and the mountains and deserts of Gansu to the west. Ningxia is poor with its hostile climate and remote location. It would have been almost uninhabitable, but for the Yellow River (Huang he) and the irrigation channels built in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).It has developed its peculiar agriculture and been labeled as a land abound with food provisions. Yinchuan has a population of 910,000 and an area of 4,399 square kilometers and is 1,110 meters above sea level. Historically this city came to fame in the Western Xia Period (1038-1237 AD), when the founder of the kingdom, Li Yuanhao, established the city as his capital. The city is a pleasant area, with many green areas and a vibrant atmosphere. It is originally chosen as a capital because it was well protected by the Helan Mountain Range (Helan shan) to the north and well supplied by the Yellow River to the southeast. The royal mausoleum of the Western Xia State is historical evidence of the combination of the Chinese culture and the culture of the Western Region.
Yinchuan has convenient transportation. Air and rail lines from Yinchuan reach major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Van, Lanzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Urumqi. Telecommunications is under program control in downtown area. There are six star-rated hotels and 30 hotels that receive foreigners with a bedding capacity of 3,000.
Yinchuan is rapidly transforming itself into a center of economy, finance, trade, transportation, science, technology, culture, and tourism in the northwestern China. It is ready to welcome friends from all parts of the world. Nowadays the city has been enlarged a lot, with the New City (Xincheng), the industrialized section of the city spreading out to the east. It has little interest beyond holding the railway station and for its proximity to the airport. Xincheng (New City) is quite far from Laocheng (Old City). Laocheng to the west, is green and peaceful, containing all of the sights and the best hotels. Laocheng is not only of fresher atmosphere, and is but also of more proximity to the sights than Xincheng. The city's most interesting sight, the mysterious Xixia Wangling, or Mausoleums of the Western Xia, is some 20km outside the city.
Travelers, however, are not really here for the man-made sights, but for the remote beauty of a province that is little populated and certainly off the beaten track. Hiking in mountainous areas, camping in deep woods, riding over sand dunes and rafting the turbulent Yellow River are the ideal reasons for visiting this autonomous region. In summer the city is often filled with tourists and businessmen, so finding accommodation is sometimes troublesome. It is better to book ahead of your arrival.
Most of the food in Yinchuan is strongly Islamic influenced, since almost 30% of the population here is of the Muslim Hui Minority. Muslim restaurants and food stalls are found on almost every street. The most common dishes are of the lamb and beef variety, accompanied by dumplings and noodles, varieties of naan style bread, flagelliform nostoc and blended teas. These types of food are worth trying, not just for a cultural experience, but because their good taste and low price! It is also possible to try western food in Yinchuan, which is expensive and only in the top hotels. Seafood is also available, which is famous in Yinchuan, despite the long distance from the sea.
Places listed as major attractions include: Tombs of Western Xia Kings, Haibao Pagoda, Shahu Scenic Zone, Helan Mountain, Chengtian Temple Pagoda, Nanguan Mosque, and Twin Pagodas at Baisikou.