In the past, Dunhuang
I travelled to Dunhuang city at the beginning of August, just days after the opening of the high-speed train from Lanzhou to Dunhuang. But being a slow traveller, I went for the old overnight train. Arriving at the train station just a little outside of the city in the early morning, I could already feel the heat of the day awaiting me. For my stay in Dunhuang, I had chosen a little family hotel that greeted me with a hearty breakfast cooked by grandma.
Bus or Taxi – Both are Cheap and Easy
Dunhuang is a small city with a population of only about 187 000 and all the major tourist sites are very close to the city
First on my list was «Crescent Lake» and the «Singing Sand Dunes». Crescent Lake (月牙泉) is an oasis surrounded by the white Singing Sand Dunes (鸣沙山). Apparently, the dunes give a singing sound when the wind is blowing. The name dates back to the Ming Dynasty. As on the day of my visit, it was 38 degrees and no wind, I was not able to confirm the story. And I probably would not have heard the singing anyway with the tourist site being an amusement park with camel riding, quad car driving, helicopter flights and tobogganing.
But next to all those fun on the Singing Sand Dunes lies beautifully «Crescent Lake». There, you can feel like a movie star in a Chinese drama from the ancient dynasties.
The Thousand Buddha Grottoes
The following day, I went to Dunhuang’s most famous tourist site: The Mogao Caves. The Buddhist Grottoes are a system of 492 temples with stucco sculptured Buddhas. The Buddhas and caves are
I arrived at the site completely unprepared and was very lucky – tickets are limited for the site and the ones for the Chinese language were sold out for days in advance. For the English language, there were still spots left. The ticket included eight caves, one museum and three movies. So you can only really get a glimpse of the splendid caves that are protected from the air and public by
Young Travellers, Outdoor Travellers
Dunhuang feels different from many Chinese cities I have travelled to. Many young Chinese couples travel there individually – by car, train or plane. The camp outside in the desert and enjoy outdoor activities.
Places to visit in Dunhuang:
Mogao Caves (莫高窟): 25 km from the city centre. Go there by taxi or city bus. In peak season, it is recommended to pre-arrange tickets in order to guarantee entrance.
Crescent Lake (月牙泉) and Singing Sand Dunes (鸣沙山): Very close to the city centre. Go there by taxi or city bus nr. 3.
Night Market: Downtown. Streetfood and souvenirs such as dried fruits and nuts.
Green Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (清連素食): Downtown next to Night Market. Excellent vegetarian food.