Often, when Dunhuang is mentioned, a desolate desert landscape would comes to mind: boundless desert, the occasional oasis, tired camels, and so on. Dunhuang, referred as the Sand Oasis in ancient times, is a famous historical and cultural site in China and was once an important city along Silk Road, a bustling trade route which once linked China with India, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Dunhuang, situated in China’s northwestern Gansu province, at one time was a garrison town which served to protect the Silk Road and features one-of-a-kind Mogao Caves, mysterious Echoing-Sand Mountain, beautiful Crescent Lake, and the timeless Yumenguan Pass. These are all great reasons for you to pay a visit to this unique city: part of China, but a world away from fast-paced Beijing and Shanghai.
Dunhuang is a famous tourist city endowed with numerous historical and cultural sites, to which numerous travellers make their way each year.
What are the top things to see in Dunhuang?
Sliding down from the Echoing-sand Mountain
Sliding down from the Echoing-sand Mountain is something you won’t soon forget. Hundreds of travelers slide down from the top of Echoing-sand Mountain simultaneously and a thunder-like echo is quickly generated. The sound is loud enough that it can be heard in the town 5 kilometers away. As people slide down the mountain, the yellow sand can be seen flying every which-way. The experience is like no other.
Riding a Camel on the Echoing-sand Mountain
Riding a camel on the Echoing-sand Mountain is the most popular way for travelers to explore Echoing-sand Mountain and nearby Crescent Lake. Travelers go as a group, moving forward into the boundless dessert. On the top of Echoing-sand Mountain, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the Crescent Spring nearby.
Watch The Performance of Dunhuang Summer
Held in the Dunhuang Hotel, the Dunhuang Summer performance is really not to be missed on your journey. Taking the murals of Mogao Cave as its prototype, the Dunhuang Summer showcases the dance, clothes and musical styling of the different ethnic groups located along the ancient Silk Road.
Available Months: From June to October
Time: At 18:00-23:00
Visit the Mogao Cave
Mogao Cave is one of the four greatest caves in China, together with Yungang Grottoes in Datong in Shanxi Province, Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang in Henan and Maiji Mount Grottoes in Tianshui in Gansu.
The best time to visit Dunhuang is from May to October, so plan your travel schedule ahead accordingly. Dunhuang is situated in the inner part of China and it seldom rains all year round. The temperature varies dramatically between the day and the the night.
In spring, hot wind and sand storms are common, so if you travel Dunhuang during this time, please prepare ahead of time. What’s more, visitors are advised to avoid traveling Dunhuang in the Golden Week holiday of China, because many Chinese travelers also take this time to travel, possibly making your own trip more crowded. The Public Holidays of China 2014 is as follows.
Public Holidays of China 2014
New Year’s Day：1 January 2014
Spring Festival：30 January, 31 January 2014, 1 February 2014
Qing Ming Festival: 5 April 2014
May Day: May 1-May 3 2014
Dragon Boat Festival: 2 June 2014
Mid-Autumn Festival: 8 September 2014
National Day: 1 October 2014-7 October 2014
Dunhuang is known as a sparkling pearl embedded along the ancient Silk Road and has long been a refuge for weary travelers. Most visitors only stayed long enough to swap a camel and eat, while Dunhuang has much more than this for the travelers of today.
Dunhuang Mogao Cave, or the Thousand Buddha Grottos, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, is the most valuable cultural discovery in the 20th century. Dunhuang Mogao Cave is world renowned for its Buddhist murals, sculptures, and impressive library, and it is one of the three greatest Buddhist sculptural sites in all of China.
The caves feature a wide variety of art pieces, including wall and silk paintings, calligraphy, and embroidery. In all, some of the finest Buddhist art is featured in the caves from a period of over 1,000 years.
Snacks in Dunhuang are diverse, while noodles are predominant. The most famous local noodles in Dunhuang are Yellow Noodles and Niang Pi Zi Cold Noodles, both of which are full of distinctive folk flavor. As time goes by, Dunhuang Cuisine becomes more and more popular, which is elegant in taste, innovative in cooking methods, and distinctive in flavor. Now, Dunhuang cuisine has become one of the New Eight Cuisines in China, together with Jilin Cuisine, Hangzhou Cuisine, Shenyang Cuisine, Xian Cuisine, Shanghai Cuisine, Ningbo Cuisine and Shanxi Cuisine. What’s more, the fabulous Three Banquets in Dunhuang, namely Dunhuang Banquet, Dunhuang Dream Banquet and Duhuang Music and Dance Banquet are famous the world over.
Folk dance in Dunhuang is colorful and boisterous, which is particular true during the Spring Festival. Among the folk dances of Dunhuang, the dance style named Shehuo is the most famous. With Shehuo dance, all the drums beat rhythmically, colorful flags fly about and the citizens dance joyously, showcasing Dunhuang people’s delight for harvest and best wishes for the new year.
Dunhuang food is brimming with profound northwestern flavor. Just like people in other places of northwest area of China, people in Dunhuang is much particular about noodles, both in preparing elements and in eating methods. The most representative Dunhuang food are Cold Noodle, Yellow Noodles, Hand-made Noodles with Diced Meat etc.. To any travelers, their Dunhuang travel are incomplete if they missed tasting these must-eats.
Dunhuang food is brimming with the distinct flavors of northwestern China. Just like people in neighboring regions of China, people in Dunhuang are very particular about noodles, both in preparing elements and in the proper eating methods. The most ubiquitous Dunhuang dishes are Cold Noodle, Yellow Noodles, and Hand-made Noodles with Diced Meat.
Dunhuang Food-What to Eat in Dunhuang
Cold Noodle Niang Pi Zi
Dunhuang Cold Noodle is the most common snack in Dunhuang, and it is really a must-have along your Dunhuang tour. Dunhuang cold noodle is features unique cooking methods and a special local flavor. Served with other seasoning like vinegar, salt, garlic, sesame oil, cucumber and chili oil, the cold noodles are definitely worth trying.
Dunhuang Yellow Hand-pulled Noodle
Yellow Hand-pulled Noodle is another local-flavored food in Dunhuang. The yellow hand-pulled noodle is as thin as dragon whiskers and as long as golden threads, durable in flavor and palatable in taste. The preparing method of yellow noodle is much complicated and sophisticated, which could be deemed as a noodle-making art in China. The yellow hand-pulled noodle is usually served with soup or sauce with other vegetables, which tastes much more appetite.
Hand-made Noodles with Diced Meat
Hand-made Noodles with Diced Meat is much famous local food in Dunhuang. The hand-made noodles with diced meat is much particular about flour-mixing, noodle-slicing, soup-seasoning, ingredient-choosing, and meat-cooking. Each cooking step is much particular and sophisticated. The noodle must be rolled as thin as paper and sliced as thin as thread. The soup for eating this kind of noodle could be vegetable soup or meat soup, while the ingredients for the soup are all local specialties. Served with the diced meat, the noodles taste much more appetite.
Dunhuang, as a famous historical city, has a lot to offer those interested in its cultural treasures, while it also has much to offer for those interested in shopping. The most famous shopping place in Dunhuang is Shazhou market located in the Sunshine Middle Road. Other shopping centers like Feitian Shopping Mall, Tianma Shopping Mall and Jifangzhai Market, are all distributed in the downtown section of Dunhuang, which are all great getaway for shopping.
Dunhuang melon is the most famous local fruit in Dunhuang and is not to be missed. The Dunhuang melon is much bigger than ordinary watermelons. Even a small one could weight up to 10 kilograms, while larger ones weight up to 20 kilograms. Due to the unique soil conditions, Dunhuang melons taste much sweeter than the average watermelon found in the US.
Luminous Cup is another must-buy along your Dunhuang travel,. Luminous Cups produced in Dunhuang Crafts Factory are made from jade from Qilian Mountain and quite famous, which is usually used for drinking wine. In the dark, the cup still shines by reflecting moonlight, giving off a green or dull yellow hue.
Dates on the Echoing-sand Mountain
The dates on the echoing-sand mountain are famous for their large size, nutritional value, and medical applications. The dates on the echoing-sand mountain are usually dried dates or turned into wine.
Dunhuang Suoyang Medicine
Dunhuang Suoyang medicine is another one of the Eight Oddities of Dunhuang. Suoyang is a a special rare medicine growing in Dunhuang, which enjoys the reputation of the “Ginseng in the Desert”. It grows on the snow-covered Gobei desert and the place where it lives never freezes.
Dunhuang Luobuma Tea
The Dunhuang Luobuma Tea is one more of the Eight Oddities in Dunhuang. Dunhuang is located on the eastern edge of Luobu Lake, where large amount of Luobuma tea is produced. The Luobuma tea is of great medical value and highly favored among the locals.