How to get to & around Dunhuang - Dunhuang Transportation 2021
As a fully developed travel destination in China, also a crucial transit station of the Ancient Silk Road that connected West and East, Dunhuang is easily visited by travelers by flight, train and bus. Here we have provided you with some more specific information about Dunhuang transportation including how to get to Dunhuang from other cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, etc. and how to get to the main attractions in Dunhuang such as Mogao Caves.
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Get to Dunhuang By Air
Dunhuang International Airport (敦煌国际机场) is about 13km to the east of Dunhuang downtown and 22km to the north of Mogao Grottoes. It now operates domestic flights between Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Lanzhou, Xian, Xining, Hong Kong, etc. but not all of them are open all year round. Some flights such as those to Beijing and Hong Kong are seasonal flights. From December 9, 2019 to February 24, 2020, direct flights to Siem Reap in Cambodia will be put into operation. Dunhuang Airport is expected to be built into a major international airport in Gansu Province.
If you want to go to Dunhuang City from the airport, you can take a bus (about 30 minutes) or a taxi (about ￥40).
Dunhuang International Airport
Get to Dunhuang By Train
People can get to Dunhuang through Dunhuang Railway Station, Liuyuan South Railway Station, or Liuyuan Railway Station. The former two are usually frequently used because they operate high-speed trains.
Dunhuang Railway Station (敦煌火车站)
Location: 217 Provincial Highway, Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Gansu (甘肃省酒泉敦煌市217省道)
Dunhuang Railway Station is about 12km to the east of downtown. It is built in 2006 and mainly serves Dunhuang Railway, which is the only tourism special line in Gansu Province. The railway station is simple but graceful, combining modern features with the characteristics of Han and Tang Dynasty. It facilities tourists a lot because it enables people to get there directly from Jiayuguan, Lanzhou, Zhangye, Urumqi, Xian, etc.
Dunhuang Railway Station
Liuyuan South Railway Station
Location: Liuyuan Town, Guazhou County, Jiuquan City, Gansu Province (甘肃省酒泉市瓜州县柳园镇)
Liuyuan South Railway Station is about 3km from Liuyuan downtown and 210km from Dunhuang downtown. It was built in 2009 as a connecting station on Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway. So it now only serves high-speed trains on this route. As of November, 2019, there are 12 trains passing through Liuyuan South Railway Station and all of them are running between Urumqi and Lanzhou or Xining. People who want to get to Xinjiang from Dunhuang need to take a train in Liuyuan.
Liuyuan South Railway Station
Dunhuang Train Schedules:
- Beijing to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Beijing
- Xian to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Xian
- Lanzhou to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Lanzhou
- Zhangye to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Zhangye
- Jiayuguan to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Jiayuguan
- Turpan to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Turpan
- Urumqi to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Urumqi
- Kashgar to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Kashgar
- Guazhou to Dunhuang
- Dunhuang to Guazhou
Get from Beijing to Dunhuang
Beijing is about 2214.6km (1736.1mi) to the east of Dunhuang. It is highly recommended to travel from Beijing to Dunhuang by plane because the train will take 35.5 hours.
From March 29 to October 26, there is one direct flight (3.5h) from Beijing Capital International Airport to Dunhuang International Airport. In other time during the year, you can take a connecting flight in Xian or Lanzhou. There are usually 3 - 7 choices a day and the total duration is about 6 - 13.5h.
Get from Shanghai to Dunhuang
Shanghai and Dunhuang, one in the southeast and the other in the northwest China, are 3115km (1935.6mi) apart. Unless you are interested in a 35.5-hour train trip, we would recommend you to get from Shanghai to Dunhuang by plane.
You can either take a seasonal stopover flight (6 - 9 hours) or a connecting flight (1 - 4 flights a day, 6.5 - 9 hours) via Xian. If time permits, you can spend some days in Xian and extend your Shanghai Dunhuang trip.
• Recommended Tour: 10 Days Legendary Silk Road Tour from Shanghai
Get from Xian to Dunhuang
Xian is 1720km (1068.7mi) to the southeast of Dunhuang. People can take it as a transfer city from other part of China to Dunhuang or start your Silk Road trip here.
There are usually 3-4 flights a day from Xian Xiangyang International Airport to Dunhuang International Airport. It will take about 2.5 hours. Direct train is also available but not recommended because at least 22 hours will be needed.
• Useful Links: Travel from Xian to Dunhuang
Get from Lanzhou to Dunhuang
Lanzhou and Dunhuang are both in Gansu Province. They are 1095km (680.4mi) apart. Both planes (2 hours) and trains (8.5 - 14.5 hours) are available.
Travelling by plane is still more recommended. There are 2 - 6 direct daily flights from Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport to Dunhuang International Airport and. As for the trains, as of November, 2019, there is one high-speed train and the other three are overnight trains.
• Useful Links: Get from Lanzhou to Dunhuang
Get from Zhangye to Dunhuang
Dunhuang and Zhangye are two of the most famous destinations on the ancient Silk Road. They are about 600km, 6 hours’ drive apart.
No direct flight is available and the long-distance bus will need about 10 hours, so neither way is suggested. The most suitable transportation method would be train. You can choose the high-speed train (about 4.5h) or normal train (6.5 - 7h) according to your travelling plan.
• Useful Links: Get from Zhangye to Dunhuang
• Recommended Tours: 5 Days Zhangye to Dunhuang Highlights Tour by Bullet Train | 6 Days Hexi Corridor Discovery Tour
Get from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang
Jiayuguan is very near to Dunhuang compared with the cities mentioned above. They are only 375km, 4 hours’ drive away.
Taking a train is the fastest way. Bullet trains only need about 2.5 hours and normal trains need 4 – 6 hours. Some travellers will also choose to take a bus because Dunhuang Bus Station is right in the downtown area. Taking a bus will need 4 – 5 hours.
• Useful Links: Get from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang
• Recommended Tours: 4 Days Jiayuguan Dunhuang Tour
Get from Dunhuang to Turpan
Turpan is a prefecture-level city in central Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is nearly 800 km, 9 hours’ drive to the northwest of Dunhuang.
Compared with complicated air transfer and long time driving, it is most recommended to travel by train. But you need to get to Liuyuan first, which is about 210km, 2h15min by car, and then take a high speed train (about 3.5h) or normal train (5.5 - 9h) to Turpan.
• Useful Links: Get from Dunhuang to Turpan
• Recommended Tours: 10 Days Classic Silk Road Tour (Xian/Dunhuang/Turpan/Kashgar)
Get from Dunhuang to Urumqi
Urumqi is the capital city and transportation hub of Xinjiang. It is about 1070km, 12 hours’ drive to the northwest of Dunhuang.
To take a train, you still need to get to Liuyuan (210km, 2h15min by car from Dunhuang) first. Then take the bullet train (4-4.5h) at Liuyuan South Railway Station or normal train (7-12.5h) at Liuyuan Railway Station. Bus and flight (no available direct flight) are not recommended because they are too time-consuming.
• Useful Links: Get from Dunhuang to Urumqi
• Recommended Tours: 12 Days Silk Road Tour (Beijing / Xian / Dunhuang / Turpan / Urumqi)
Get from Dunhuang to Kashgar
Kashgar, located in the southwest of Xinjiang, is about 2,250 km (1,398 mi), nearly 26 hours by car in the due west of Dunhuang.
Taking a flight would be the fastest way. But there is only connecting flights for your choice and it will take over 8 hours. The second option is to travel by train. There is only one train from Liuyuan Railway Station (210km, 2h15min by car from Dunhuang) to Kashgar and it needs 26 hours.
• Useful Links: Get from Dunhuang to Kashgar
• Recommended Tours: 11 Days Northwestern China Cultural Relic & Desert Landscape Tour
Getting Around Dunhuang
The most common way to get around Dunhuang is by bus or taxi. But if you want to get to some remote attractions such as Yandan National Geopark, you may need to rent a car.
How to Get to Mogao Caves
To get to Mogao Caves, you need to get to Magao Caves Digital Exhibition Center first. It is about 12km, 20 minutes’ drive from Dunhuang downtown and less than 5km from Dunhuang Railway Station and Dunhuang International Airport. After you arrive at the center and collect your ticket, you can take the free shuttle bus (about 20 minutes) to the Mogao Caves Scenic Area according to the scheduled time on the ticket.
How to Get to Yadan National Geopark
Yadan National Geopark is another highlight of Dunhuang but it is far away from the downtown area. It is about 180km, 2.5 hours’ drive from Dunhuang city by private car, about 3 hours by city bus. You can also take direct city bus from Dunhuang Hotel in downtown to Yardang National Geopark passing through Yumen Pass and Yangguan Pass on the way. There are about 3 buses departing in the morning and returning in the evening hours every day. You may view sunset in Yardang National Geopark if choose a late bus.
How to Get to Yulin Caves
Yulin Caves is called the Sister Grotto of Dunhuang Mogao Caves. It actually is not in Dunhuang, but in Guazhou County, about 180km to the east of Dunhuang. Many people will visit Yulin Caves on their driving way to Dunhuang from Jiayuguan.
For independent travelers, to get to Yulin Caves from Dunhuang, you need to take a train or bus to Guazhou first, which will need about 1.5 hours. Then you can take a taxi or pay for a charted vehicle to Yulin Caves which is about 70km away from Guazhou.
How to Plan a Dunhuang Tour
It usually takes at least 2 days to cover the main highlights in Dunhuang. Just like the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the 2000-year-old Mogao Grottoes is the essence in a Dunhuang trip. Here you can admire thousands of colorfully painted Buddhist statues and have an eye-feast on the exquisite mural paintings. After that, you can go to the Echoing Sand Mountains to have fun in the vast desert and find out why Crescent Lake has never dried up for so many years. On the next day, go explore the remote wild Gobi desert landscape and several legendary historical sites such as Yumen Pass (Jade Gate Pass) which used to be a military defensive pass as well as an important border for international trade along the ancient Silk Road, and Yadan National Geological Park which features Yardang landforms in distinct shapes as you can imagine like Mongolian Bao, Stone Bird, Peacock and others. If you have more days, you can take an in-depth Gansu tour to Lanzhou, Zhangye, Jiayuguan or travel a little farther to the beautiful Xian, Qinghai, Urumqi, and Kashgar.
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Mogao Caves No.45
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Guide for Dunhuang Mogao Caves
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