Top things to do

Top Choice Cave in Dūnhuáng

Mògāo Grottoes

The Mògāo Grottoes are considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. At its peak during the Tang dynasty (618–907), the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1400 monks and nuns, and…
Top Choice Chinese in Dūnhuáng

Zhāixīng Gé

Part of the Silk Road Dūnhuáng Hotel, this rooftop restaurant is ideal for a meal (the Western buffet breakfast is excellent) or a sundowner gazing out over the golden sand dunes. Dishes do not cost much more than p…
Oasis in Dūnhuáng

Singing Sands Dune

Six kilometres south of Dūnhuáng at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in most spectacular fashion. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it’s easy to see how Dūnhuáng gained its moniker ‘Shāzhōu’ (Town of …
Desert in Dūnhuáng

Yǎdān National Park

The weird, eroded desert landscape of Yǎdān National Park is 180km northwest of Dūnhuáng, in the middle of the Gobi Desert’s awesome nothingness. A former lake bed that eroded in spectacular fashion some 12,000 year…
Historic Site in Dūnhuáng

Jade Gate Pass

The Jade Gate Pass, 78km west of Dūnhuáng, was originally a military station. Together with Sun Pass, it formed part of the Han dynasty series of beacon towers that extended to the garrison town of Lóula’n in Xīnjiā…
Historic Site in Dūnhuáng

Sun Pass

This Han dynasty military post was one of the two most important gates marking the end of the Chinese empire along the ancient Silk Road. Today, a dusty museum chronicles some of the site's artefacts, but the real d…
Buddhist Site in Dūnhuáng

Yúlín Grottoes

About 180km south of Dūnhuáng, the 40-plus caves of the Yúlín Grottoes face each other across a narrow canyon. It’s intriguing to observe the original carved interior tunnels that formerly connected the caves. The i…
Market in Dūnhuáng

Shāzhōu Night Market

Extending from Yangguan Lu south to Xiyu, this market is both a place to eat and to socialise, night and day. Off Yanguang Donglu are dozens of well organised stalls with English signs: expect Sìchuān, Korean noodle…
Buddhist Site in Dūnhuáng

Western Thousand Buddha Caves

Located 35km west of Dūnhuáng, there are 16 caves hidden in the cliff face of the Dǎng Hé gorge, ranging from the Northern Wei to the Tang dynasties. Take an afternoon departure to witness a glorious desert sunset.
Theatre in Dūnhuáng

Dūnhuáng Goddess

An 80-minute acrobatic dramatisation of stories on the walls of the Mògāo Grottoes. It’s held at the Dūnhuáng Theatre; English subtitles are provided.