Dunhuang: Sand, Camels, and Grottoes

The oasis town of Dunhuang is one of the most important stops on the Silk Road. It is the place where the road splits into the Northern Silk Road and the Southern Silk Road. It is also the first (or last, depending on your direction) major stop for ancient merchants.

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Camel Caravan at Minsha Shan

The above photo is from Minsha Shan, a sand dune park-type area in Dunhuang. Visitors can ride on camels, sled down the sand dunes, and visit theĀ fascinating Crescent Moon Springs, which is a small oasis in the middle of this desert. The spring has been providing water for the town for hundreds of years.

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The Crescent Moon Springs

But what Dunhuang is most famous for are the Mogao Grottoes, a series of caves that houses thousands of Buddhist art and sculpture. Photography is not allowed inside, so the most famous image of the grottoes is the facade.

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The Mogao Grottoes

Visitors are given a guide with the entrance fee, who takes them to visit around 8 caves. Be prepared for crowds, as this is the biggest attraction in Dunhuang. Also, since it’s outdoors, make sure to bring some sunblock and hat, as the sun is pretty strong. And since you’re in the middle of the Gobi Desert, it’s also hot and dry.

If anyone is interested in the Silk Road, Dunhuang is a must see.

Xinjiang’s Tianchi (Heavenly Lake)

Xinjiang’s Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) is quite heavenly don’t you think?

Tianchi, or “Heavenly Lake”

The lake is about 28 miles outside of Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Province. For those who don’t know where that is, imagine China’s shape as a giant rooster. Xinjiang would be the rooster’s backside. It’s the largest province in China, and was the entry point for the Silk Road for Eurasians.

Tianchi is surrounded by the Tian Shan (Heavenly Mountain) mountain range. That’s the mountains in the back. The lake is 6000 ft above sea level and about 1.9 square miles. You can take a boat cruise around the lake, and there’s even a monastery on it’s banks.

Damuo Monastery on the banks of Tianchi

Our 14 and 16 day Silk Road tours take you to see this beautiful lake, along with a plethora of other places. For more pictures of what you’d see, visit our Facebook.