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)

 You may like: 15 Spectacular Natural Wonders of China
- Last updated on Sep. 28, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on Echoing-Sand Mountain
Asked by Thang s k from MALAYSIA | Sep. 27, 2023 23:09Reply
is may ok to visit
Answers (1)
Answered by Pepper | Sep. 28, 2023 00:06

Yes, it's a good month, neither too cold nor too hot.
Asked by Mei from SINGAPORE | Nov. 06, 2019 05:41Reply
What will one be able to do and see in mid to end December in Echoing sand mountain and Dunhuang?
Answers (1)
Answered by Gabriel from DENMARK | Nov. 07, 2019 23:57

Generally speaking, it will be ok for you to tour around these scenic areas at that time. As I know, you can go to the night markets and taste nice local foods after visiting. Have a nice journey!
Asked by ROCKIT | Sep. 26, 2019 20:12Reply
Recommend number of days/ nights to visit Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan) + Crescent Lake

Can you please advise the recommend number of days/ nights to visit Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan) + Crescent Lake?

Also, what are the travel options to get there from Jiuzhaigou Valley please?

Answers (1)
Answered by Sara from FRANCE | Sep. 29, 2019 00:44

Generally speaking, half of a day is enough to visit them. You can take bus back to Chengdu first, then take airplane to Dunhuang airport. And take shuttle bus to downtown, then you can take taxi to scenic area.
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.
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