Why Visit Dunhuang and Top Things to Do in Dunhuang

A “bright pearl” on the Silk Road, Dunhuang with Gobi desert, Mogao Grottoes, awe-inspiring desert landscapes, and millennium civilization along the Hexi Corridor is a highly recommended destination for all history and cultural fans, photography enthusiasts, and time-honored Buddhist treasures…


Dunhuang Ghost City
Dunhuang Ghost City

What is special about Dunhuang?

Dunhuang is not only a thousand-year-old city boasting more than 700 grottoes and 40,000 square meters of murals, but also an excellent recorder of history, the best protector of civilization, and the best witness of its glorious and prosperous times.

It occupies the pinnacle of China in terms of humanistic history, desert and art aesthetics.

The opening of Dongyi Dunhuang Hotels and Resorts and Dunhuang Villa make Dunhuang the most suitable place for “vacation” in northwest China.


5 Reasons to Visit Dunhuang


It will offer you the most magnificent border deserts.

Along the way from Yumen to Anxi, and from Xiaowan to Dunhuang lingers the heroic spirit of ancient generals and soldiers, and are also blessed with the endless deserts with sandstorms described in the ancient poems.


Thousands of years of Chinese civilization have been passed down here.

Buddhist culture, which had been snuffed out in the Central Plains during the Southern Dynasties (420-589), is perfectly preserved here.

In the past, there were frescoes of Flying Goddess, holy places for Taoist cultivation, and Buddhist grottoes. While now, some people are stationed in the border towns here, some are farming on the yellow sand, looking up to the previous civilization.


It offers the coolest immersive travel experience.

Play the goddess of “Dunhuang Flying Apsaras” in the Gobi desert by dressing the special costume to dig out the stories buried in the sand.

Experience the evolution of the Silk Road for thousands of years in the short 90-minute performance of See Dunhuang Again.


Wild luxury activities in desert hinterland are waiting for you to explore.

Walk with camels in the yellow desert, and look for traces of history in the reeds.

The undulating sand sea in the heart of the desert is even more golden under the sunshine. Experience the thrill of sand surfing, feast on a glamping meal, and escape to an area without light pollution where the sky are full of stars at night.


It provides a great culinary experience for meat-eaters.

Dubbed as the “Meat Eater’s Paradise” and the “Pasta World”, it is home to the unique food culture of Northwest territories. Immerse yourself in the world of Dunhuang pasta and mutton.


Things to Do in Dunhuang


Visit Yadan Devil’s City

Enjoy the sunset in no-man’s land

The regular tourism route to Dunhuang Devil’s City is the Northern Route by shuttle bus, while an exciting activity is to be a sunset chaser by taking an off-road vehicle deep into the Yadan Southern Route.

Hundreds of meters of no man’s land are devoid of life and water, and only the golden northwest Gobi comes into view at dusk.

Drive towards the setting sun, then stop at the best viewpoint, just 20km (12.5 miles) from Lop Nur No-Man’s Land. All you can see is the stark Yadan landscape and the white sand beneath your feet, with an eight-minute sunset in the distance.

The sky on the way back from Yadan to downtown Dunhuang is filled with bright stars and the Milky Way that cannot be seen in the city.


Explore the Thousand-year-old Mogao Grottoes

A must-see place for every Chinese expat

Mogao Grottoes carries the 1,500-year-old historical changes and artistic accumulation of China, and also witnesses the initial integration of eastern and western cultures. This “Cultural Temple” attracts countless people to make pilgrimages.

There are more than 2,000 ancient colored sculptures in the caves, 90 percent of which were restored during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912).

Note: You don’t have to worry about not understanding the culture here, and you can always communicate one-on-one with your personal guide to get the best explanation and experience.

However, Cave No. 45 still preserves the originally painted sculptures of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the most breathtaking masterpieces among the painted sculptures. The vivid shapes and expressions reflect the high aesthetic and sculptural skills of Tang artisans.


Experience Luxury Hotel Accommodation in the Desert

Dongyi Dunhuang Hotels and Resorts – Wild luxury design in desert

Inspired by the “earth wall” and “room for drying fruits” of traditional northwest folk houses, this hotel seems to be a native of this land.

Dunhuang Villa – In Singing Sand Dune & Crescent Lake Scenic Area

With the architectural style of the Han and Tang dynasties, the villa is integrated with the surrounding natural wonders of the desert, including Chinese & Western restaurants, shopping mall, theater, sauna, and amusement parks.


Glamping in Desert

Sand surfing in the desert hinterland and ATV sandboarding are rare experiences in urban areas.

Enjoy your glamping desert meal after nightfall, which is a feast of authentic Western food and traditional Chinese cuisine.

Later, the campfire will be lit, and you could savor the enjoyment by dancing in circles, holding hands with strangers.

At night, lie on the desert and watch the starry sky.


Admire Singing Sand Dune & Crescent Lake

Experience being a wild man in the middle of the desert

Ride a sand bike deep into the desert and enjoy the thrill of speed. Overlook the whole downtown Dunhuang, the slow movement of camel caravans and the golden sea of sand from the dune top.


Savor Delicious Food in Dunhuang

“Meat Eater’s Paradise”

  1. Pan-Fried Cumin Lamb Chops is one of the most mouthwatering dishes in Dunhuang, tasting tender and juicy, without any odor of mutton.
  2. Yellow Noodles with Donkey Meat is popular among both locals and tourists. With a thick sauce poured over the thin but chewy noodles, the delicacy is served with fresh shredded cucumber and slices of savory donkey meat.
  3. Apricot Peel Tea, a local drink, tastes sweet and sour with the fragrance of apricots. This beverage can be easily found at any barbecue or noodle shop in Dunhuang.

Watch a Silk Road Themed Show in Dunhuang

There are many Silk Road shows staged in Dunhuang to bring the rich legacy of Mogao Grottoes and Silk Road to life. Watching the shows is one of the best ways to delve into the city’s rich culture and history. Each show has its distinct features, offering spectacular visual effects, including the large-scale indoor play, the outdoor real-scene performance, cave-style immersive theater, and the show allowing audience to physically traverse different scenes.

Most popular Dunhuang Tours

3 Days Dunhuang In-depth Tour for Cultural and Natural Landscape

2 Days Dunhuang Classic Tour with Iconic Sites

Dunhuang Highlight Day Tour to Mogao Grottoes & Echo Sand Mountain