Dunhuang Travel Guide

Dunhuang Overview

Dunhuang is located very Western part of Hexi Corridor, it borders to Anxi to the East, Aksay to the South and Xinjiang to the North West. Total area is 31200 Square Km with 180,000 population.

Dunhuang was made a prefecture in 117 BC by Emperor Han Wudi, and was a major point of interchange between ancient China and Central Asia during the Han and Tang dynasties. Located in the western end of the Hexi Corridor near the historic junction of the Northern and Southern Silk Roads, it was a town of military importance. Its name is mentioned as part of the homeland of the Yuezhi or “Rouzhi” (nomadic people living in the Western Regions during the Han Dynasty ) in the Shiji (The Book of History), but this mention has also been identified with an unrelated toponym, Dunhong.

Early Buddhist monks accessed Dunhuang via the ancient Northern Silk Road, the northernmost route of about 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) in length, which connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an to the West over the Wushao Ling Pass to Wuwei and emerging in Kashgar. For centuries Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the West, and many pilgrims passed through the area, painting murals inside the Mogao Caves or “Caves of a Thousand Buddhas.” A small number of Christian artifacts have also been found in the caves (see Jesus Sutras), testimony to the wide variety of people who made their way along the silk road. Today, the site is an important tourist attraction and the subject of an ongoing archaeological project. A large number of manuscripts and artifacts retrieved at Dunhuang have been digitized and made publicly available via the International Dunhuang Project. Edges of the city are threatened with being engulfed by the expansion of the Kumtag Desert, which is resulting from longstanding overgrazing of surrounding lands.

Dunhuang is landlocked, and, surrounded by high mountains, has an arid, continental climate. The annual average temperature is 9.3 °C (48.7 °F), but ranges from 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) in July to – 9.3 °C (15 °F) in January. Dunhuang is extremely hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter. Only a marginal amount of precipitation falls, and even that is quickly dried by evaporation

Dunhuang City Center
Dunhuang’s city centre is relatively highly developed, including much commercial activity and many hotels. Bookshops and other souvenir shops sell materials relating to the Caves and the history of the region. The Dunhuang County Museum contains a number of Chinese and Tibetan items such as manuscripts, paintings, coins and statues. The Dong Dajie night market is held in the city centre, popular with tourists. Many souvenir items are sold, including such typical items as jade, jewelry, scrolls, hangings, small sculptures, and the like. A sizable number of members of China’s ethnic minorities engage in business at these markets. A Central Asian dessert or sweet is also sold, consisting of a large, sweet confection made with nuts and dried fruit, sliced into the portion desired by the customer.

Mogao Grottoes

mogao grottoes1
As an important strategic location on the Silk Road in the ancient times, the place Mogao Grottoes locates was not only a transfer station of east-west trade but also an intersection where oriental and western religions, cultures and knowledge met. Constructed on the bluff at the eastern foot of Mount Mingsha, Mogao Grottoes or Western Thousand Buddhas Caves, is among the Four Greatest Grottoes of China as well as the largest and most well-preserved treasure house of Buddhist culture and arts in the world.

Crescent lake

Crescent Moon Lake
Just like its name indicates, the Crescent Lake is in a natural shape of half-moon and had been commonly considered as one of the Eight Great Landscapes of Dunhuang together with the Echoing-Sand Mountain early in Western Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD).

Singing Sand dunes

Located on the Silk Road, the Echoing-Sand Mountain is known as one of the Eight Great Landscapes of Dunhuang and one of the Four Great Singing Sands of China. Completely piled by sands, the mountain stretches for 40 km in length and 20 km in width respectively, with the highest point reaching 250 meters. When there is wild wind, the sands will be blown up and make loud sound, while the sound sounds like being produced by some ancient musical instrument when blew by breeze, hence the name.

Shazhou Night Market

Dunhuang Shazhou Night Market is a night market held on the main thoroughfare, Dong Dajie, in the city centre of Dunhuang, popular with tourists during the summer months. Many souvenir items are sold, including such typical items as jade, jewelry, scrolls, hangings, small sculptures, leather shows puppets, coins, Tibetan horns and Buddha statues.