Dunhuang Travel Guide

Dunhuang Travel Guide 2019/2020

Dunhuang is a popular tourist destination located in Gansu Province, also a famous historical city which has a glorious history of more than 2000 years. It was called as Sha Zhou (Town of Sand) because of its vast lands of gobi and desert. Around in 111 BCE, the great emperor of Hang Dynasty – Wudi established Dunhuang as the northwestern defensive city of Hexi Corridor to protect against the Xiongnu. Since then, Dunhuang had been played a very important role in the Chinese history. Its strategic location that being the gate to the western and northern regions made Dunhuang a trading center as well as an important meeting place for different culture. Tourists and caravans from China, Middle Asia, and Europe traveled to Dunhuang, or trade here. What followed were different culture and religion. This is the reason why you can find the murals about India, China, Greece and Islam.

Ancient time passed by, and left us glorious memory and relics. Today, Dunhuang is attractive destination in which you can explore the history and culture of ancient Silk Road, Buddhist religion, but also enjoy amazing gobi and desert landscape.

Why visit Dunhuang:

  • Silk Road journey - As an important stop along the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is the best place for you to explore the footprints of ancient trace of Silk Road. Ride a camel just like what the ancient travelers did, march forward on the desert. Isn’t it exciting?
  • Word Heritage Site Mogao Caves - the Mogao Caves recorded the 1600 years’ development of Chinese arts from ancient time. It is the treasure house of Buddhist arts, also a unique place of cross-culture.
  • Magnificent gobi and desert view - don’t have to go very far away, you can enjoy magnificent landscape of gobi and desert in Dunhuang.

Top Dunhuang Attractions

Travelers haver dozens of things to do in Dunhuang. As a historical city of China as well as an important culture and trade center along the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang has many magnificent historical sites, including the world heritage site Mogao Caves, West Thousands of Buddha Caves, Yumenguan Pass, Yangguan Pass, etc. The spectacular geography of gobi and desert creates many wonderful natural landscape, such as the strectching Mingsha Mountain, unique Crescent Lake, Yadang Landform, etc.

Mogao Caves
Mogao Caves

It is man-made wonder in the gobi desert, the brightest star on the ancient Silk Road, brilliant treasure of Buddhist arts... you can't help being marved by the fabulous artifacts, murals and sculptures...

Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Lake
Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Lake

Greatly different from other deserts, the Mingsha Mountain has sands which can sing, clean and sweet spring in the desert. Besides, it has been favored by travelers for more than two thousands year ...

Yadan Geopark
Yadan Geopark

Dunhuang Yadan National Geological Park presents an astonishing scene of Yardang landform. Quite spectacular with natural formation of the landscape will give you an unexpected shot...

Shazhou Night Market
Shazhou Night Market

Shazhou Night Market is on behalf of Dunhuang Nightlife. It is highly popular among the tourists all over the world with its featured local specialties as well as strong flavor of local culture...

Dunhuang Weather & When to Go

Dunhuang is situated in the interior region of China, and surrounded by Mountains. It features in temperate continental arid climate, with four different seasons, plenty of sunshine and little rainfall. The average temperature is 9.3℃. The maximum average temperature is 24.7℃ in July, and the minimum average temperature is - 9.3℃ in January. The precipitation is only 39.9mm in Dunhuang, and the most rainfall happens in summer. Usually, temperature here varies greatly between day and night.

Summer and autumn(May to Ocbober) are best season for travel Dunhuang, because there usually sand storm in spring. And it is too cold in winter. Whenever you are planning to visit Dunhuang, be fully prepared for the strong sunlight and wind.

Learn more about Dunhuang weather >>

Dunhuang Transportation


Dunhuang Airport is located 13km east from Dunhuang City. So far, it connects Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Xian, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan. Among all air lines, there are flight schedule between Dunhuang and other two cities (Lanzhou, Xian) all year around. Other line may stop operating in winter. Besides, daily schedules are not guaranteed. So you’d better check the schedule in advance.


Dunhuang has two train stations – Dunhuang Train Station and Liuyuan Train Station. Dunhuang Train Station is 12km from Dunhuang. There are trains from Lanzhou, Xian or Urumqi to Dunhuang Train Station, usually depart at later afternoon and arrive at Dunhuang in the morning. Liuyuan Train Station is 128km away from Dunhuang, far away but has more flexible destinations to connect, including Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Jinan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Lanzhou, etc.

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Dunhuang Accommodation

As one of the most popular travel destinations in China, Dunhuang welcomes your visit with many different standards of comfortable accommodation. But as a small inland city, the accommodation here is not as best as in developed cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. But still you can easily find a comfortable hotel to stay in. There are hotels ranging from budget 3 star hotels to luxury 5 star hotels. Most of hotels are situated in downtown area, and offer great facilities and pleasant service. The Mingsha Mountain area is also a great place for accommodation. But facilities there are not as great as in the city area.

Learn more about Dunhuang hotels >>

Useful Dunhuang Maps

Top help you learn better about Dunhuang's location, attractions, etc, we have collected following tourist maps which are latest, downloadable and printable. View more Dunhuang maps >>

Dunhuang Tourist Map

Dunhuang Tourist Map

Hand-Drawn Dunhuang Map

Hand-Drawn Dunhuang Map

Gansu Travel Map

Gansu Travel Map

Other Popular Destinations in China

China is vast and diverse. You can choose your favorite destination among more than 70 tourist destination and regions. Following are 4 popular destinations you may get interested in. Check all destinations in China

Dunhuang Travel Guide

Chinese Name: Dunhuang

Chinese Pinyin: Dūn Huáng

English IPA: /dun'hwɑ:ŋ/

Population: 187,500(2012)

Language: Mandarin

Tel Code: 0937

Zip Code: 736200

Time Zone: (UTC+8)

Plan Your Dunhuang Tour

Usually, 2~4 days are needed to explore highlights of Dunhuang. The world heritage site Mogao Cave and the stunning landscape of Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Lake are two Must- Go attractions both of which take a half day to visit. You can then spend one more day to explore the western region of Dunhuang which also has a lot of attractions, such as the ruin of Great Wall, Yumenguan Pass, Yadang Landform, etc. As for the downtown sites, if time allows, don't miss the Shazhou Night Market and Dunhuang Museum.

Some travelers usually travel Dunhuang with other destinations in Gansu, such as Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Lanzhou, etc. One can even travel from Dunhuang to Turpan, Urumqi of Xinjiang.

Recommended Tours

Bingling Temple
8 Days Gansu Highlights Tour

Lanzhou / Xiahe / Jiayuguan / Dunhuang


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