How to Get to Yulin Caves (Grottoes) in Gansu?
Yulin Caves - Sister Grotto of Dunhuang Mogao Caves
Except the very famous Dunhuang Mogao Caves, the largest and most abundant Buddhist art treasury in the world, there are many more Buddhist caves excavated and preserved in and around Dunhuang, along the ancient “Silk Road”.
The Yulin Caves, or Yulin Grottoes is a valuable and unique grotto nearby Dunhuang, but less known to foreign tourists. It remains similar content, artistic style and painting form as the Mogao Caves and also plays an important role in Dunhuang Caves art, so people regard it a “Sister Grotto of Mogao Cave”. Inside the 43 caves, there has lots of beautiful and well-stored mural paintings from different ancient dynasties and in diverse themes, some are even more delicate and richer that Mogao Caves', which significantly helps study and research on ancient social life and technology. The rare Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in "Water Moon" Form and Western Xia Dynasty frescoes are two of the best highlights within Yulin Caves.
Where is the Yulin Caves Located in China?
The Yulin Caves is located on two sides cliff along a long valley (Nanshan Valley) with Yulin Rive flowing through, about 70 km, 1 hour’s drive of south Guazhou County, Jiuyuan City, the northwest of Gansu, Northwestern China. It is nearly 180 km, east of Dunhuang City and 170 km, due east of Mogao Caves. Most people visit Yulin Caves on their driving to Dunhuang from Jiayuguan or from Dunhuang to Jiayuguan.
Yulin Caves Dunhuang Gansu Location Map
Most Popular Dunhuang Mogao Caves & Yulin Caves Tours:
How to Get to Yulin Caves from Dunhuang
Dunhuang City is situated approximately 120 km southwest of Guazhou, with approximately 1.5 hours to 2 hours’ car ride. And Yulin Caves is in remote south suburb area of Guazhou. So far, there is no train or bus straight reaching to Yulin Caves from Dunhuang. You can only choose from one of the two following ways for your Dunhuang Yulin tour.
Option 1 - By Public Transport
Step 1: Take Train or Bus from Dunhuang to Guazhou
▶ By Train: about 1 hour - 1.5 hours
There are more than 5 direct trains running from Dunhuang Railway Station (敦煌站) to Guazhou Railway Station (瓜州站) daily, including 2 fast-speed bullet trains (D trains) and several normal trains (K trains).
▶ By Bus: about 1.5 hours
Each day, Dunhuang Bus Station in downtown Dunhuang also runs more than 10 direct bus to Guazhou Bus Station. It takes nearly 1.5 hours.
Step 2: Transfer from Guazhou to Yulin Caves
You still need extra transfer from Guazhou Railway Station or Bus Station to 70 kms’ far Yulin Caves after arrival. If you are good at Chinese and communication with the locals, you may try to take a taxi (fare would be a little high) or pay for a charted vehicle.
Option 2 - By China Discovery’s Worry-free Private Transfer (Recommended)
Compared to complex, time and energy-consuming public transportation to Yulin Caves from Dunhuang, we highly recommend you to travel with China Discovery, use our worry-free transportation service and tour guide to fully focus on the sightseeing trip itself. It’s the fastest and most convenient way to get from Dunhuang to Yulin Caves. We can pick you up at your hotel, or railway station, airport, or any attraction and place you required in Dunhuang and then escort you all the way to visit Yulin Caves. From which, you save lots of time checking additional transfers and possible schedules, and enjoy clean, safe and comfort riding conditions.
How to Get to Yulin Caves from Jiayuguan
Yulin Caves is rightly located on the driving route between Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, which travelers could have a short layover to enjoy another gorgeous Buddhist art. Likewise, there is no direct train or bus you can take from Jiayuguan to Yulin Caves at present. Below are the two mainly used transportation.
Option 1: By Public Transportation - Time-Consuming
First, Take Train or Bus from Jiayuguan to Guazhou
【 By Train】: There are both bullet trains (around 2 hours) and ordinary trains (3 hours) running from Jiayuguan to Guazhou. Be aware that, the bullet trains starts from Jiayuguan South Railway Station (嘉峪关南站) while the normal trains depart from Jiayuguan Railway Station (嘉峪关站).
【By Bus】: About 4 buses are offered each day. The buses depart from Jiayuguan Long-distance Bus Station (嘉峪关长途汽车站) and arrive at Guazhou Bus Station (瓜州汽车站) after about 3 hours’ ride.
Then, you should take a taxi, or rent a car, or enjoy our convenient transfer to travel to Yulin Caves from Guazhou.
How to Get to Yulin Caves from Guazhou
Guazhou to Yulin Caves Transportation Map
Distance & Duration: about 70 km (44 mi), 1 hour by car
Available Transportation: Chartered Car, Private Car of China Discovery
Yulin Caves lies about 70km, south suburb of Guazhou County. If you already arrive in Guazhou, it’s quite simple and fast to go to the Yulin Caves, only 1 hour’s ride is needed then. Local charted vehicles are easily to be found in the small county, negotiate the price in advance and you may meet travel partners (only suggested for independent travelers who speaking Chinese well and have a good direction, plenty of time).
As mentioned above, travelling with China Discovery and enjoying private direct transfer is much convenient and recommended than spending time on finding possible methods on your own.
● Guazhou Railway Station to Yulin Caves: about 73 km, 1 hour and 15 minutes’ driving
How to Plan A Yulin Caves Tour
Due to its isolated location, travelers prefer to make a detour to Yulin Caves from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang, or have a Yulin Caves side trip from Dunhuang, rather than simply visit the spot alone. Typically, it takes 2 full days for a Dunhuang brief essence tour, 1 day for Yulin Caves and another day for top highlights in Jiayuguan.
Popular Travel Route One: Jiayuguan → Yulin Caves → Dunhuang
On the first day in Jiayuguan, you can visit Jiayuguan Fortress, and learn some interesting historical facts in the Great Wall Museum, later clime the Xuanbi Great Wall. Next day, drive from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang, and you can spend a couple of hours in Yulin Caves to appreciate the colorful ancient murals and view Buddhist sculptures from Tang Dynasty to Yuan Dynasty. After arrival in Dunhuang, relax yourself and taste delicious local food in Shazhou Night Market. The following two days are entirely for you to visit Mogao Caves,Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Lake, Yardang National Geopark, Yumen Pass and major Dunhuang spots and so on.
Popular Travel Route Two: Dunhuang → Yulin Caves → Dunhuang
Chinese culture fans can seize the opportunity to visit the two Buddhist caves together. After your arrival and check-in in Dunhuang, you can enjoy desert scenery in Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Lake from afternoon hours, experience camel riding, sand skiing and else exciting activities. On the second day, drive 2.5 hours to visit Yulin Caves and the nearby Suoyangcheng. The last day is for you to tour Mogao Caves, have more time to observe and know those remarkable Buddhist artworks.
Cave 55 in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes
Painting in Cave 25 of Yulin Caves
Travel Dunhuang & Yulin Caves with China Discovery
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