Dunhuang is the top tourist city in China. Its incredible beauty is difficult to be described in words. Its key points of interest and natural sights are shockingly beautiful and capable of tugging at one's heart. The Pearl of the Silk Road, Dunhuang, opens her arms to welcome tourists from all over the world.
Top Things to Do in Dunhuang
Located 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang, Mogao Caves is regarded as the premier Buddhist spot in China, perhaps in the whole world. The artistic features of the treasured Buddhist murals represent perfectly the artistic style of the Northern Wei (386-543), Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties through the combination of the architecture, statues and murals in the caves. Presently, there are about ten caves and two exhibition centers open to the public, occasionally more during public holidays.
Five kilometers south of the city, Echoing-Sand Mountain is the accumulation of years of sand in the size of rice. Each time the wind blows, there is a sound from the mountain and when there is a breeze, the sound is like musical instruments, hence the name. The most marvelous experience is when after climbing to the top, although quite strenuous, one can slide down to the foot of the mountain, a wonderfully amusing experience!
Five kilometers southwest of the city, the Crescent Lake lies in the arms of Echoing-Sand Mountain, appearing clear and beautiful. The lake is crescent-shaped, hence the name. It's surrounded by quicksand. Although it's quite windy sometimes, the lake has never been covered by the sand. It's really a marvelous spectacle in the desert. Traveling to Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake is the second thing to do besides appreciating the Mogao Caves.
Located 70 kilometers (about 43.5 miles) southwest of the city, the Yangguan Pass is the gateway to the south western region on the way to the Silk Road. The beacon tower is all that remains of the Pass. Near the Yangguan Pass is Nanhu, a local grape producing area and Grape Gallery. Tourists can sit on the stone benches, sample the sweet grapes and wander through the gallery to learn about local folk-customs.
Situated 90 kilometers (about 55.9 miles) northwest of the city, the Yumen Pass was an important gateway to the western region in ancient times. Yumen Pass, Hecang Town and Han Great Wall (Han Dynasty), are the major sights in this area. Since the Yangguan Pass and the Yumen Pass are a distance from Dunhuang, one can have a feel for the desolation of western China. Yangguan Pass is relatively closer to the city and a comparatively smoother ride. Taxis can be hired for the hour drive and it is wise to stay away from minibuses, as the fare is greater.
More Attractions Ancient City of Dunhuang Movie Set
was originally designed for the setting of the historical film Dunhuang in 1987. Nowadays, it is the biggest set for shooting movies in northwest China. Dunhuang Museum
reflects the flourishing social development and cultural exchange between China and the West when this city was a major stop along the Silk Road. Western Thousand-Buddhas Cave
, situated 35 kilometers southwest of the city, on a cliff north of Danghe River, won its name due to its location in the western part of Mogao Caves. Most of the sixteen caves were excavated during the North Wei Dynasty (386-543). Approximately seven of the caves can not be reached, but tourists can observe them from a distance. White Horse Pagoda
established in 386, is two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) from the downtown area. It's the burial place of Kumarajiva, a master specializing in Buddhist Dharma's white horse.
Dunhuang Folk-Custom Museum is located inside Crescent Lake's scenic spot. Constructed in the traditional local architectural style, it presents the folk-customs of western China, including religion, everyday life, wedding custom, needlework, etc. Yardang National Geopark
has unique landscape formed by aeolian erosion. It is composed of various sculptures, and one may find numerous well known architectures here. It is situated 75 kilometers (about 46.6 miles) west of the Yumen Pass, taking approximately three hours to reach by taxi. Because of the eeriness of the sound of the wind blowing at night, the locals refer to it as Ghost Town. While traveling on this line, tourists should prepare enough food and water and bring along a hat and sunglasses. Cameras should also be protected from the strong sandstorms.