Dunhuang has a spectacular area of natural scenery: the Singing Sand (Mingsha) Mountains. The mountains are pale golden sand dunes dozens of meters high, covering an area roughly 40 km (25 mi) square.
Vistors can explore the sand dunes by camel, electric car, quad bike or by foot. Riding a camel on the desert of the Singing sand Mountains is a great experience. You can enjoy the beautiful wavy shapes of the smooth yellow dunes against the deep blue sky, and imagine you are traveling the ancient Silk Road. Step off the camel and listen for the singing of the sand.
There is archery and sand sledging available on one of the dunes. Crescent Spring is a must-see sight. The contrast of the blue Crescent Lake and lush vegetation with the golden sand is quite poetic.
How the Mingsha Sand Dunes were formed and what has brought about the phenomenon of the singing sand? So far, nobody has provided a satisfactory answer. According to some Japanese experts, there are probably ancient palaces under the dunes, while the Russians deem that quartz content in the sand is the main reason. Chinese scientists have carried out a study as to the cause of the singing sand for years and they believe that it is a phenomenon of resonance.
Legend has it that this area was a flourishing mountain called Qingshi Mountain (Bluestone Mountain) in ancient times. At the foot of the mountain, beside Crescent Lake, clustered many sacred temples. Operas were shown to worship the Temple God on each temple fair. However, the deafening sounds of celebration one year annoyed the sleeping Yellow Dragon Prince in a nearby desert. The prince was cruel, cranky and powerful. He used his magical power moved a huge volume of sand dunes into this area and buried all the people underground. Those souls often cry, beat drums and hit gongs to bemoan their misfortune. This is the legend of the singing sand.