Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang
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Mogao Caves Facts

Location: 25 km (15.5miles) from downtown Dunhuang on the eastern slope of Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan)
When was the Mogao Caves built: in the year of 366 in Five Hus and Sixteen States (304 - 439)
Number of the caves: 735

Mogao Caves is a shrine of Buddhist art treasures. A network of plank reinforced roads plying north to south 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) long lead to the cave openings, which are stacked five stories high some reaching up to 50 meters (164 feet). By the way, Mogao means high up in the desert.

According to Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) records, a monk lived in Five Hus and Sixteen States had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started the caves construction work that spanned ten dynasties. Mogao Caves are commonly known as the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas.

Buddhist art has its origins in India. Mogao sculptors improvised where the rock surface did not work well under their chisels. They placed clay statues in front of the cave walls, carved relief murals as backdrops, and painted the sidewalls and ceilings with art decors. The largest statue is 34.5 meters (113 feet) high and the smallest a mere 2 centimeters (0.79inches) high.

The traveler will note traces of Indian Buddhist art in the earlier works. More recent works depict all walks of life and activities in a local setting. You will relive the daily routines and special events as captured by the artists while you are exploring the 735 caves. There are also ups and downs in the artistic quality over the centuries, depending on the fortunes of Buddhism with available art patronage. Artists in each dynasty painted with their distinctive palette. The visitor can tell the works in the Tang Dynasty from those in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279).

 For detailed information on Dynasties, please refer to History of China.

People believe it possible to fill 25 kilometers (15.5miles) of gallery space with the works of art from Mogao. There are 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages apart from artifacts. The Mogao Caves are a depository of historical and cultural exchanges over more than a thousand years between China and other nations.
Dunhuang Maogao Caves
Colorful Mural, Maogao Caves
Buddha Statues in Magao Caves
Buddha Statues in Magao Caves


1.The Digital Exhibition Center has been formally open to the public since August 1, 2014. Shuttle bus service is available between the caves and the Digital Exhibition Center. Visitors can enjoy two amazing movies 'A thousand Years of Mogao Caves' and 'Splendors of Buddha's Palace' at the digital exhibition center and then take the shuttle bus to visit the caves.
2. Within Mogao Caves, no photo! An electronic torch maybe necessary to see inside Mogao Caves.

Reservation Procedure

The total number of visitors is limited to 6,000 per day, so it is necessary to reserve a ticket in advance, especially during the peak season (May 1 to October 31). One can reserve a ticket online through the official website of Mogao Caves 30 days in advance. Unfortunately, the English version of the website hasn’t been ready.

From July 20, 2015, individual visitors who reserve the entrance tickets are required to provide their valid ID documents used for reservation to get their tickets. Foreign visitors can use their passports. All visitors should get tickets from the ticket office in downtown (No. 102, Building 15, North District of Yingbing Garden Community, East Yangguan Road; close to Yingbing Grand Hotel) or the ticket office in the Digital Exhibition Center.

Those who don't reserve the entrance tickets in advance can buy tickets at the above two ticket offices.

If visitors have any question, they can call (+86) 400-833-3715(7:00-00:00).

 Notice to visitors in July and August
Every year, supplementary tickets at the price of CNY 100 will be issued for odd-numbered days in July and even-numbered days in August. The limit for supplementary tickets is 12,000 per day. Different from regular tickets, they only allow visitors to visit four caves and the museums. The Digital Exhibition Center is excluded.

How to get to Mogao Caves

1. Take a bus from Dunhuang Railway Station to the caves directly. The bus also passes by Dunhuang Hotel and Silk Road Hotel.
2. Take a taxi to Mogao Caves and it takes about 30mins.
Mogao Caves Tickets
Apr. - Nov.: CNY 258 for foreign visitors
Dec. - Mar.: CNY 160 for foreign visitors

The admission fee includes Mogao Caves, Digital Exhibition Center, shuttle bus service between the Exhibition Center and the caves and foreign language interpreting service.
Opening Hours May - Oct.: 08:00 – 18:00
Nov. - Apr.: 09:00 – 17:30
Recommended Time for a Visit 3-5 hours

Read More: Top 10 China Tourist Places for Culture Lovers
- Last updated on Sep. 25, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on Mogao Caves
Asked by Charinthip from THAILAND | Sep. 24, 2023 08:25Reply
Open hours in Dec 2023
What is the open and close hours for the ticket offices in Dec 2023;
1) Mogao Grottoes Reservation and Ticket Center
2) Magao Caves Digital Exhibition Center

Can I buy a ticket in advance at both ticket offices?
Answers (1)
Answered by Olivia | Sep. 25, 2023 20:53

1. The ticket office opens from 08:40 to 15:00.
2. The scenic spot, including the digital center opens from 09:00 to 17:30.

The ticket office on the spot only sells the ticket of that day.
Asked by Thaveesak from THAILAND | Aug. 29, 2023 21:11Reply
we have only 1 day at Mogao, please suggest what cave number that we should see
Answers (1)
Answered by Fiona | Aug. 30, 2023 00:24

The most famous caves are open to tourists in turn each day, so I don't think you have many choices. Just go to those open on that day. As for other caves, you can visit them per your preference.
Asked by Daniel from SPAIN | Apr. 07, 2021 19:46Reply
languages guides in Mogao Grottoes
Hi, Lonelyplanets guide says Mogao Grottoes has guides in some languages. Somebody knows if spanish is available? Thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by Lucille | Apr. 18, 2021 20:23

Sorry, I didn't find the Spanish guide. You are suggested to consult the staff when you arriving there.
Asked by stilla tommaso carlo from ITALY | Nov. 02, 2019 03:10Reply
I heard that 5 caves of Mogao Grottoes have been opened to photographic, is it true?
Thanks in advance
Answers (2)
Answered by Pam from USA | Nov. 05, 2019 19:31

I haven't heard this news. Generally speaking, it is not allowed to take pictures to protect the mural.
Answered by Tommaso Stilla from ITALY | Nov. 07, 2019 00:59

"Mogao Caves open to photographers for the first time" based on the news.
Asked by Wichit from THAI | Oct. 12, 2019 22:57Reply
Do you write address in Chinese language in Dunhuang?
102 building 15 north district of yingbing garden east yangguan road
Answers (1)
Answered by Jenny from MALAYSIA | Oct. 14, 2019 20:27

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