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The Great Wall near Dunhuang

The Great Wall near Dunhuang

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Nov. 22, 2023
Dunhuang Han Great WallDunhuang's Han Great Wall

The Great Wall in the Hexi Corridor near Dunhuang in China's northern Gansu Province was built at a different time period than the rest of the Great Wall, and thus displays a different construction method and different historical context.

Why Visit?

The part of the Great Wall near Dunhuang was built in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) compared to most of the rest of the Great Wall which was (re-)built in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). This part of the wall was thus built over 1,000 years before many others.

Unlike the other parts of the wall that were built using bricks, this one was built using sand and weed, as well as straw and wood. It also offers the opportunity to visit Dunhuang's Gobi Desert, the third largest non-polar desert in the world.

Dunhuang's Location in China Map

When Was It Built?

The Great Wall near Dunhuang was originally built following an invasion by the Huns. The Western Han government's Wudi Emperor unsuccessfully negotiated a peace treaty with them, and strengthened their frontier through the building of this wall. This part of the wall is located on China's ancient Silk Road, meaning that many Middle Eastern and Asian traders and businessmen passed through here with their camels in later years.

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How Big Is It?

The surroundings around the Great Wall at Dunhuang are uniquely placed in Dunhuang's Gobi Desert, on the north of the mouth of a desert corridor flanked by tall mountains. 

This section of the Great Wall is 136 km (85 mi) long, and stretches from the Northern Lake to the east of Mamitu near Xinjiang.

On average each layer of the wall measures 12–15cm (4.7–5.9"), and the remains of the wall are 0.5–2m (1.6–6.6') high. The sections are broken up, and left standing in the vast desert making for very special surroundings.

What Should You Bring?

Summers are hot and dry around this part of the Great Wall, so ensure you are carrying water (which our tour guide can also help provide you with), adequate cover in terms of hats and sleeves if you burn easily, sunscreen, and good shoes as the area is sandy and not always perfectly flat. 

Outside of summer the temperature difference between day and night is large, so make sure you carry a coat for the evenings.

What Should You Know?

  • Transport: The site is not accessible by public transport. China Highlights uses high-quality air-conditioned private transport to make your 60 km (40 mi) trip there and back as effortless as possible. The Great Wall remains are located around 3.1 miles (or 5km) west of Yumenguan, the fort on Dunhuang's Great Wall.
  • Opening Times: 9am–5pm
  • Admission Price: 40 yuan
  • When to Visit: May to October is the most pleasant, with July and August the hottest months in this region. Click here to read more about the weather in Dunhuang.
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Our Great Wall Tours

To visit the Great Wall at Dunhuang, or fit it into your tour with everything else you want to see, all you have to do is contact us with the details.

Alternatively, these are some of our most popular pre-planned Great Wall tours.

Other Dunhuang Attractions

Further Reading

  • Click here to learn more about the Great Wall in our compilation of facts about the wall.
  • If you can't get enough of the Great Wall and its interesting history, we've compiled a summary for you to help you understand.
  • Can you actually see the Great Wall from space? We investigated.
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