Things to Do in Dunhuang & Top Dunhuang Attractions

Never worry about finding no places to go in Dunhuang. Dunhuang has been a tourists site for more than one thousand years. In the ancient times, many poets, artists, scholars came to visit Dunhuang for its spectacular Buddhism culture and magic desert and Gobi views, which spread Dunhuang's name to the whole world. Here you will see the largest grottoes in China and the famous Flying Heaven in the grottoes, the mysterious Crescent Lake and Echoing Sand Mountains, the ruin of ancient Great Wall, famous pass along the Silk Road, Yardang National Geopark...Many interesting activities are organized all the year around, such as Temple Fair, Silk Road Festival, desert campingetc.

Dunhuang Travel Map

Mogao Grottoes

No.1 Mogao Grottoes

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 3 hours

Mogao Grottoes (Mogao Caves), also named “Thousand Buddha Caves”, is regarded as the most valuable discovery in the 20th century. It is famed as the “Louvre of East”, which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues are preserved very well. The history of Mogao Grottoes can be traced back to the “Five Hu-16 Kingdoms” period (A.D.304 - 439). Mogao Grottoes was constructed by the Prior Qin, and the subsequent dynasties rebuilt and enlarged its scope year by year. In the splendid caves, you will learn much about the evolution of China’s history.

In 2014, the Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center opened to the public, and today serves as a part of Mogao Grottoes. Here you can watch some well-produced documentary movies about the history, culture, arts and other facts of Mogao Grottoes. You will find them very helpful when you see the real grottoes. Tourists who go to the grottoes need to come to the exhibition center first for the ticket and then take a free interzonal bus to the scenic spot. More Details about Mogao Grottoes>>

Crescent Lake

No.2 Crescent Lake

Type: Lake, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Crescent Lake, located 5.3km southwest of Dunhuang City, got its name due to its crescent shape. It is one of the famous “Eight Scenes of Dunhuang” and known as the “first lake in the desert”. Surrounded by sand mountains in four directions, the Crescent Lake is a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architectures, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up. Legend has it that Wudi Emperor of Han Dynasty was gifted a celestial horse in the Crescent Lake. More Details about Crescent Lake>>

Echoing Sand Mountains

No.3 Echoing Sand Mountains

Type: Desert

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Echoing Sand Mountains is a national scenic zone located 5.3km to the south of Dunhuang City. It covers an area around 200 square kilometers, stretching from the peak of Mogao Grottoes to the Danghe Dam with a long distance of 40km from east to west, and 20km from south to north. It is said, on sunny days, the sand mountains echo like orchestra music even if there is no wind. If you slide down from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly. More Details about Echoing Sand Mountains>>

Yangguan Pass

No.4 Yangguan Pass

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 3 hours

Yangguan, built during the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - A.D. 220), was an important pass of the ancient Silk Road. “I invite you to drink a cup of wine again; West of the Yangguan Pass no more friends will be seen." Most Chinese people know Yangguan from this poem written by the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei. The poem also shows that outside Yangguan, you will reach the western regions.

For its advantageous geographic location, it had always been a town of great military importance as a natural defense for ancient China. There is a Yangguan Musuem where you can learn about its history, and experience the exact process of checking out customs in the ancient times. More Details about Yangguan Pass>>


No.5 Yumenguan

Type: Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 1~2 hours

Yumenguan was built about 2000 years ago for military defense purpose when the famous Wudi Emperor of the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - A.D. 220) was on his throne. At that time, the Huns were very powerful and always invaded the territory of Han. So Wudi ordered the young but capable general Huo Qubing(霍去病) to strike back. And then Han built up a military base here. In the ancient times, Yumenguan is an important pass along the Silk Road which connected West and East. More Details about Yumenguan>>

Yardang National Geopark

No.6 Yardang National Geopark

Type: Geography Park

Recommended Length of Visit: 2~3 hours

Nature is the most magical thing in the world. Come to Yardang and check out what the nature has done! You will see an endless Gobi with thousands of uniquely-shaped rocks situating orderly. The soft part of the earth surface is eroded by wind and rain, while the hard part of the rocks remain in the desert. You will definitely be amazed by the shapes of the rocks. Some of them have interesting names, such as "Mongolian Yurt", "Camel", "Stone Bird", "Peacock", "The Golden Lion Welcoming His Guests" (Chinese: 金狮迎客), etc. More Details about Yardang National Geopark>>

Shazhou Night Market

No.7 Shazhou Night Market

Type: Points of Interest & Landmarks, Sights & Landmarks

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Shazhou Night Market or Dunhuang Market, located in Dunhuang downtown, is a place on behalf of the nightlife in Dunhuang. It is highly popular among the tourists all over the world with its featured local specialties as well as strong flavor of local culture. When the night falls with all lights on, tourists from different places gather here and walk into the crowd to explore something meeting their appetite. Delicious snacks include Dunhuang Rang Pi, Yellow Noodle, Dunhuang Saozimian, Jiangshumian, Barbecue, shish kebab, Haggis, Hu Lamb Pizza etc. More Details about Shazhou Night Market>>

 Shazhou Night Market

No.8 Dunhuang Museum

Type: History Museums

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Dunhuang Museum is only about 2.5km to the south of Dunhuang downtown and free to the public. Is there any place better than a museum to know the history of the city? What's more, because of the important role of Dunhung in ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang Museum is not only about Dunhuang, but also a good place to know the Silk Road that once connented the West with the East. Another highlight of the museum is that people can see a replication of part of the Mogao Caves here and feel free to take photos. More Details about Dunhuang Museum>>

 Shazhou Night Market

No.9 Great Wall of Han Dynasty

Type: Sights & Landmarks, Historic Sites, Architectural Buildings

Recommended Length of Visit: 1 hour

The Great Wall of Han Dynasty in Dunhuang was built in Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - A.D. 8) more than 2,000 years ago. It is a huge accomplishment built over 1,300 years earlier than the Ming Dynasty Great Walls. As a defense system in Northwestern China, the Great Walls succeeded in guarding the frontier areas, cultivating farmlands, and offering a stable environment for the opening and development of ancient “Silk Road”. The entity has gone with the time mostly, but its historical influence long lives. More Details about Great Wall of Han Dynasty>>

Recommended Dunhuang Tours

Top 3 Dunhuang tours chosen by most customers to explore Dunhuang in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Echoing Sand Mountains
4 Days Classic Dunhuang Tour (with More Free Time)


Crescent Lake Never Dry Up
2 Days Dunhuang Short Stay Tour (Classic Itinerary, Money-saving, Flexible)


Yulin Grottoes (No. 3 Cave)
4 Days Jiayuguan Dunhuang Tour (Silk Road Short Break)

Jiayuguan / Dunhuang

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