Formerly a trading outpost on the fabled Silk Road, Dunhuang was once a cosmopolitan, exciting settlement that saw a steady flow of ideas, goods, and travelers through its dusty streets. Among some of the many innovations that once passed through this now unassuming, humble place were Buddhist scriptures; silk and tea headed for the west; and musical instruments, glass, and pottery.

After a series of ruinous invasions by nomadic tribes, as well as the increasing prominence of sea-borne trade routes, Dunhuang fell into a deep decline. Today, Dunhuang is known for its wealth of historical landmarks, some of which are 1,000 years old; highlights include the historic Mogao Grottoes, a priceless repository of Buddhist art; and the Dunhuang Museum, whose comprehensive exhibits explain in detail the history and lore of Dunhuang and its environs.


A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.

Dunhuang Museum

Visit the Dunhuang Museum to learn more about the history of the Mogao Grottoes from a local expert. View the museum’s collection of scrolls and sutras discovered in the caves.

Dunhuang Night Market

Wander through Dunhuang’s lively night market and old town, where the food stalls and shops are open late. Vendors who often look far more Middle Eastern than Chinese cook up spicy lamb kebabs and dishes with thick, hearty noodles over open braziers.

Gobi Camel Caravan

Travel by camel caravan into the dunes of the Gobi, where you’ll enjoy a feast of local specialties as the sun sets over the desert, then settle in around a bonfire to appreciate the silence of this vast landscape and a spectacular showing of stars.

Mingsha Dunes

Go sand tobogganing, paragliding or ride a camel in the Mingsha Dunes at the eastern border of the Gobi Desert. Explore Yueya Quan, a small crescent-shaped lake famous for its permanence in the desert, first recorded by travelers at least two thousand years ago.

Mogao Grottoes

Visit the Mogao Grottoes, one of the greatest archaeological treasures in Asia. Spend the day exploring the thousand year old site and its 492 caves, which contain ancient manuscripts, paintings, and some of the earliest Buddhist art in

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