Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan)

Have you ever heard of a mountain that echoes to the sound of sand as you slide down its slopes? Can you image a perennially limpid lake in an area of desert sand? Here in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, you will have the chance to enjoy the wonderful spectacle of the Echoing-Sand Mountain.

Echoing-Sand Mountain, known as Mingsha Shan in Chinese, is five kilometers (about three miles) away from the city of Dunhuang. Seen from afar, the mountain is just like a golden dragon winding its way over the horizon. As you approach you become aware that the sand has many colors ranging from red to yellow, green, black and white. On days when a strong wind blows, the fast shifting sand roars; but when the wind is little more than a light breeze, the sand produces gentle, dulcet sounds akin to music. It is the same when you are sliding down the mountainside. At first, the sand under your feet just whispers; but the further you slide, the louder the sound until it reaches a crescendo like thunder or a drum beat. Some say that the sand is singing, while to others it is like an echo and this is how the mountain gets its name.

Echoing-Sand Mountain in Dunhuang Echoing-Sand Mountain
You may wonder why the sand makes these different sounds. There is a legend that says how, in ancient times, a general with many soldiers came here to fight in a war with their enemies. While they were engaged in a fierce battle, a great gust of wind buried all the warriors in the sand and the sand mountain was formed. As the battle was at its height, the soldiers continued to fight beneath the sand. Thus, the sound you hear is said to be the roar of the soldiers. However, the real cause is the friction and static created as the wind shifts the sand or you slip down the mountainside.

Encircled by the Echoing-Sand Mountain, there is Crescent Lake so called because of its shape. The water in the lake is so pure and sweet that it looks like an emerald set in the sand. Many of the visitors who have made their way down Echoing-Sand Mountain like to drink from the lake. According to historical record, the lake has been in existence for hundreds of years without ever being buried by the sand; it is really a geological wonder.
Riding Camels in the sand mountain
There is also a story about the lake. In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC- 24), a general called Li Guang, together with a group of soldiers, captured a powerful and swift horse from Dawan, a western state of China at that time. When passing the Echoing-Sand Mountain upon their return, the soldiers became too thirsty to continue their march. General Li drew his sword and thrust it into the side of the mountain causing water to spring forth and so formed the lake.

Today, the Echoing-Sand Mountain is listed as a key national scenic spot. It is possible to climb it on foot or, if you prefer, on the back of a camel. It is also possible to take a sand bath treatment. Your visit is complete as you appreciate the splendid environment consisting of golden sand, a wondrous mountain, a tranquil lake and a beautiful sunset.

How to get to Echoing-Sand Mountain

1. Take Dunhuang Bus No. 3 to Yueyaquan (Crescent Lake) and you will see the mountain.
2. Take a taxi from the downtown area to the scenic area, costing CNY 15 to 20.

Admission Fee:

Crescent Lake & Echoing-Sand Mountain:
May to October: CNY 110
November to April: CNY 55

Half price for children between 1.2 - 1.4 meters (3.9 and 4.6 feet);
Free for children below 1.2m.

 Visitors can visit Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake many times in three days since they buy the entrance tickets. Visitors who plan to make three-day multiple visits need to record their fingerprints together with their entrance tickets at the ticket barrier before they finish their first visit and leave. More importantly, those who enjoy free entries can't enjoy this policy.

Opening Hours: 05:00 to 20:30
 Please note that the opening hours may be adjusted according to the number of tourists.
Recommended Time for a Visit: Evening in summer (from June to August)
- Last modified on Dec. 10, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Echoing-Sand Mountain
Asked by Muhd Aiman Syakir bin Othman from MALAYSIA | Dec. 09, 2018 22:25Reply
How to get to Urumqi from Dunhuang by train?
would like to know the station names pls thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Vava from USA | Dec. 10, 2018 22:58

There is no direct train from Dunhuang to Urumqi. You need to first take a train from Dunhuang Railway Station to Jiayuguan Railway Station. Then transfer to Urumqi Railway Station.
Asked by Sam from USA | Jan. 18, 2018 09:38Reply
Can you sleep overnight at Echoing-Sand Mountain?
Answers (1)
Answered by Eglise from FRANCE | Jan. 18, 2018 21:47

No, you can’t do that. The scenic area will close at night. Besides, it’s too cold to spend night there.
Asked by soh from SINGAPORE | Aug. 28, 2017 08:52Reply
Is Nov a good time to visit Dunhuang?
I will visit the echoing sand mountain. Is it ok to visit during this time? How is the weather and what precaution to take? What is the best time? Will there be any sunlight so that I could take good photos?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mindy from MEXICO | Aug. 29, 2017 02:19

It will get cold there in Nov. and the lowest temperture may fall to -6C at late night. Anyway, there is large temperature gap between daytime and night, so it can be fine to visit the Echoing Sand Mountain. There will be many sunny days in Nov. so go in early afternoon. Then you will take some good photos.
Asked by JoChan from MALAYSIA | May. 19, 2016 08:03Reply
How do we get from Mogao Caves to Echoing Sand Dunes?
1. Are there any public transportation or do we need to take a taxi? And if we need to get a taxi, are taxis readily available at Mogao Caves? If we can take public transportation, what bus no. do we take?

2. Is the camel ride expensive? How do we avoid getting ripped off?

3. How do we get back from Echoing Sand Dunes to Shazhouyi International Youth Hostel?

Thank you in advance for answering my questions above!
Answers (1)
Answered by George from USA | May. 20, 2016 01:32

1. There is no direct bus. You are advised to take a taxi. The fare is around CNY 40-60. You can negotiate with the driver before getting into the taxi.
2. It costs around CNY 100 per hour. You can negotiate the fare before riding. Don't worry!
3. You can take a taxi for about CNY 10-15.
Asked by rachel from CHANGSHA | Apr. 22, 2016 04:41Reply
whats the best way to get from changsha to Gansu?!
nothing seems to come up when i search for it.
Answers (3)
Answered by Bruce | Apr. 23, 2016 02:35

Gansu is a province. Which city in it you are heading for? Take its capital city Lanzhou for example, you can take a flight, which takes about 2.5 hours and ticket fare for tomorrow is about CNY 1,000 for an economy class seat. You can laso take a train, which takes about 21.5 hours at least; ticket fare is CNY 399 for a middle berth hard sleeper and CNY 629 for a middle berth soft sleeper.
Answered by rachel from CHANGSHA | Apr. 23, 2016 03:20

thankyou!! we want to go to Dunhuang, to the Echoing sand mountain and the cresent oasis the trains didnt go direct so maybe flying would be best. can you recommend a good month to go?!
Answered by Bruce | Apr. 23, 2016 03:35

There is no direct flight between the two cities either and you can make a transfer at Lanzhou or Xi'an. May to September is good time to visit Dunhuang, when it is not cold and the scenery is beautiful. But I personally recommend you to avoid July and August, when is the summer holiday and the cost will be higher than usual.
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