Camel is one of the most popular icons of the Silk Road. It appears often in the post cards, covers of books, documentary films because it is the most important transportation tool for ancient traders and travelers to travel through the deserts along the Silk Road. They also rode camels through the desert of Mingsha Shan to Mogao Caves to admire the beautiful caves and murals. Today, the camel riding doesn’t sever as the major transportation tool any more, but become a popular way for tourists to enjoy the fabulous desert landscape in Dunhuang. It also helps you save time and energy.
Currently, only the Mingshashan & Crescent Lake Scenic Area provides camel riding program. Mingshashan & Crescent Lake is one of the Must-visit sites for any tour in Dunhuang. It is the best place in Dunhuang to explore stunning desert scenery and take part in exciting outdoor sand dunes activities, and camel riding is one of the popular activities. The camel riding site is located inside the scenic area, which means you have to purchase a ticket to get in the scenic area first if you want to ride camel. Entering the gate of the scenic area, and walk several minutes, you will find the place to ride camel easily. There are hundreds camels groveling on the open flat area at the foot of Mingshashan Mountain, waiting for tourists to ride.
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How to Get to Mingshashan & Crescent Lake
Mingshashan and Crescent Scenic Area is located at southern outskirt of Dunhuang city. It is only about 10 minutes’ driving from downtown area. You can get there by taxi or public buses. There is no direct bus between Mogao Caves and Mingshashan. You need to make transfer in Dunhuang city.
Kindly notice: some camping sites in Mingsha Shan Desert also provide camel riding, but only for tourists who take part in their desert camping packages.
Riding camel at Mingshanshan in Dunhuang
The Came Ride route starts from the foot of Mingshashan near the entrance of Mingshashan & Crescent Lake Scenic Area, goes up along the zigzag edges of sand dunes to reach the top of Mingshashan Mountain, then descend the mountain and finish the Mingshashan Mountain foot area near Crescent Lake, with a riding length around 3km (1.9mi). The round trip camel ride takes around 1.5 hours, including riding, sightseeing and optional activities. After reaching the top of Mingshashan, you will get off your camel and have about 30 minutes to enjoy desert views and take part in desert adventurous, such as Sand Sliding, Quad bikes, Motor Bikes, Sand SUV even a helicopter. These activities can also be enjoyed around the Crescent Lake. Please note you cannot choose to take only one-way ride.
Mingshashan Camel Ride is available all year around, usually starting before sunrise and closing around sunset. The actual operating hours are subject to change by seasons. You are suggested to ride camel and visit Mingshashan and Crescent Lake in early morning or late afternoon when the sunlights are not very strong and temperatures are lower.
The price of Mingshashan Camel Ride is ￥100 / per person / per camel all year around, excluding the entrance fee and other activities in Mingshashan & Crescent Lake Scenic Area. If you want to take camels to watch sunrise, you have to pay extra ￥10 . Plus the entrance fee which is ￥120 in peak season / ￥60 in off season, the total cost is ￥220 in peak season and 160 in off season. The camel keepers also provide photography service (with your device) which charges ￥20/per person.
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1. One adult ride one camel. Kids under 1.4 meters can share camel with adult with a supplement of ￥50; Seniors over 75 years old are not recommended to join in the camel ride.
2. The camels are equipped with a saddle-like rigging, covered by a rug, with a metal bar to hold on to during the riding. Be careful to keep balance when your camel stands and sits.
3. Camels are divided into groups; every group has 5 camels led by a camelman. Every camel has a number to match the ticket number. You and your family may be separated into different groups. If you are separated from your family, you can try to negotiate with the staff to arrange your family in same group, but it will not work every time.
4. The camelman usually cannot speak English. You can observe and follow the Chinese tourists’ doings. Don’t worry too much. The whole ride is easy and simple, as riding up to the mountain where stop around 30 minutes, then ride back.
5. The desert is always hot, windy and dry. Remember to bring sunscreen, sunproof wearings and lippie.
6. Bring a plastic bag to protect your camera from sands;
7. Sandproof shoe covers rental is available at the entrance area.
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Flat part of the camel ride
Little girl rode camel at Mingshashan
Camel ride ticket
Ascend Mingshashan Mountain
Ascend Mingshashan Mountain
Usually, 2~4 days are needed to explore highlights of Dunhuang. The world heritage site Mogao Caves and the stunning landscape of Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Lake are two Must- Go attractions which need a full day to visit. You can then spend one more day to explore the western region of Dunhuang to explore the history and Gobi landscape at the ruin of Great Wall, Yumenguan Pass, Yandan 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 and Kashgar of Xinjiang.
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