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Dunhuang One Day Tour: Mogao Grottoes & Mingsha shan

Reading Guideline:

 Dunhuang Tour Itinerary

Dunhuang Tour: Mogao Grottoes- Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring

Itinerary: In this day tour, go to Mogao Grottoes in the morning, and Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring in the afternoon. Getting up at early morning, have breakfast and set off at about 08:00 to catch the first bus. Then have a tour in Mogao Grottoes, Last, after a tour in Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring, go back to hotel. From Mogao Grottoes to Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring, you could take a taxi from Mogao Grottoes to Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring; or you could go to back to downtown, have a lunch, and take No. 3 public bus to Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring; or you could walk to there, cause there is a hiking course of 2.5 kilometers.

Dunhuang Location: Dunhuang is located in the northwestern Gansu, close to Zhangye, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Dunhuang is one of the most places in Silk Road, and has kept great historical relics transporing along Ancient Silk Road.

Dunhuang Attractions & Dunhuang Highlights: Mogao Grottoes, Mingsha Shan, Crescent Spring, Yumen Pass, Great Wall of Han Dynasty and Dunhuang Yadan.

Dunhuang Weather: Dunhuang is cold in summer and frigid in winter. Best time to visit Dunhaung is from May to October.

Mogao Grottoes(08:30-14:00)

Mogao Grottoes Facts & Mogao Grottoes History

Mogao Grottoes, or  Mogao Caves(莫高窟) is a treasury of art with enormous pieces of precious art works, marked as a paradise of Buddhism art, and it has thousands of painted sculptures, and wall paintings covering an area of about 45,000 square meters.

Mogao Grottoes is first built at 4th century, and after hundreds of building, it has 735 caves, and becomes the biggest art center of Buddhism art in the world. Paintings in those caves are involved with various themes, like Buddhism music, dance, buildings, and transportation tool. Over 200 caves have paintings about music and instruments, most caves have paintings about dance. Still tens of thousands of historical relics are unearthed from the caves, like Buddhist scriptures, silk paintings, and embroidery. Mogao Grottoes  has great values like in Buddhism art, Buddhism research and Chinese buildings, and it was listed as World Cultural Heritage  in 1987.

Mogao Grottoes Travel Tips:

  • Mogao Grottoes opening hours: 08:00-18:00(1st May-31st October),  09:00-17:30(1st November-30th April)
  • Mogao Grottoes ticket: 200 yuan(1st May-31st October), 100 yuan(1st November-30th April), 20 yuan for English speaking tour guide. The entrance ticket covers digital exhibitions of 7 caves, a round trip by shuttle bus, and 8 caves and museum. In the off season, the ticket covers 12 caves, and visiting time is about 75 minutes. In the off season, if you are very interested in Mogao Grottoes, you could go to the Consulting near the parking lot of shuttle bus, you could buy a ticket to visit more caves. 200 yuan for 6 caves, and 150 for 4 caves, but the ticket-buying is only arranged in 13:00-13:00 and 14:00-14:30.
  • Ticket buying: ticket booking at www.mgk.org.cn is the only way to buy a ticket, and tourists could book a ticket at this website one month ahead and the website is available for booking from 08:00-22:00. Then take the order number and personal ID to Mogao Grottoes digital exhibition center to issue ticket.
  • Sightseeing routes: first Mogao Grottoes digital exhibition center, then Mogao Grottoes. Watch films about Mogao Grottoes for about 40 minutes, and take a shuttle bus to Mogao Grottoes, and the first bus leaves at 09:45.
  • Flashlight: bring a flashlight with cold light illumination. Inside Mogao Grottoes, each tour guide uses s flashlight for viewing, and you could bring one to have a better view.
  • No camera. Camera is not allowed to use inside Mogao Grottoes, for it may make damage to those relics.
  • No water. You shouldn’t drink water while visiting caves.

How to Get to Mogao Grottoes from Dunhuang

Mogao Grottoes is located in the southeast of Dunhuang, Gansu province, and about 25 kilometers away from the downtown, and Mogao Grottoes digital exhibition center is about 9 kilometers away from the downtown. Tourists could take a bus or take a taxi to Mogao Grottoes digital exhibition center first, then take a shuttle bus from the digital exhibition center to Mogao Grottoes.

  • Bus: take a bus at Dunhuang Hotel, Silu Yiyuan Hotel or Dunhuang Railway, and get off at Mogao Grottoes digital exhibition center , which costs about 5 yuan.
  • Taxi: taxi fare is about 20 yuan

Mingsha shan and Crescent Spring (15:00-19:00)

Mingsha shan Facts

Mingsha shan and Crescent Spring consists of two parts Mingshashan Mountain and Crescent Spring.  Mingshashan Mountain, also known as Singing Sand  Dune,  is dunes formed by fine sands, which can make sounds because of the working of sand grains and wind. The sands are in five colors, red, yellow, blue, white, and black, and the dunes are in various and fantastic shapes. Crescent Spring is an unique spring in the dessert, lying in a crescent shape, and it is 150 meters long, and 50 meters wide. The most amazing about this spring is that it doesn’t dry up for thousands of years, though it is surrounded by sands in all directions.

Mingsha shan and Crescent Spring Travel Tips:

  • Opening hours: 06:00-19:30。
  • Tour hours: 4-6 hours, and stay to watch sunset.
  • Ticket: 120 yuan for a ticket to get to Mingsha shan and Crescent Spring, 10 yuan for a single trip of sightseeing bus and 20 yuan for a round trip.100 yuan for camel trekking, 120—400 yuan for desert motorcycle, 300-600 yuan for desert off-road vehicle, while fares for glider and helicopter are different according to flight routes.
  • Highlights: climb the sand dunes, see the miraculous spring, enjoy desert sightseeing, watch sunset in the desert, and participate in some entertainment activities. Sunset-watching is highly recommended to you, and it won’t fail you in  giving an brand-new and breath-taking desert scenery.
  • Sightseeing route: Mingyue Square-Mount Mingsha shan-Tiebei Fish Square-Yuequan Pavilion-Crescent Spring;  you could change the route by adding some entertainment activities.
  • Sightseeing ways: to enjoy desert sightseeing, walk in the dessert, ride a camel, take a deert motorcycle or take a desert off-road vehicle; take a helicopter or a glider or climb the sand dune to catch a panoramic view of Crescent Spring.

How to Get to Mingsha shan  and Crescent Spring

Mingsha shan  and Crescent Spring is located in the south of Dunhuang, about 5 kilometers away from downtown.

  • Walking: there is a hiking path from Mogao Grottoes to Crescent Spring, about 2.5 kilomters.
  • Bus: take No. 3 public bus at Dunhuang Hotel or Dunhuang Bus Station and stop at the terminal stop, Mingsha shan bus stop(鸣沙山站).
  • Taxi: take a taxi from downtown to Crescent Spring and Singing Sand  Dune, and it costs about 15 yuan.


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