Dunhuang Culture Discovery
5-Day Dunhuang In-Depth Private Tour
This exclusive tour provides a multidimensional experience of the history and culture of Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves. Besides a cultural experience, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the austere scenery and landscapes.
- Grasp the opportunity to see the Mogao Caves, which might disappear in 50 years.
- Paint your exclusive mural on a mud slab that is made from the same materials as the Mogao Caves.
- Visit a unique section of the Great Wall that was built with plant stems and gravel.
- Explore Devil City (Yadan landscape) to witness a masterpiece that was created by wind and sand.
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
2.5 days in Xian
Helen helped with a quickly arranged Covid test at a local centre to smooth future travel. Next day was the Terracotta Warriors, Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Mosque. Amazing history and not too crowded with plenty of time to explore with excellent local restaurant for dumpling lunch . Helen went through loads of background info at each site adding to the experience and assisted with bartering at the markets. The final day required a late switch of museum and to the little wild goose pagoda which Helen organized efficiently and also played museum guide, I’m not sure what she doesn’t know about Chinese history. Helen was also helpful with our individual onward travel plan changes and our obsession with coffee. more
Your local tour guide will meet you in the arrivals hall of the airport or at the exit of the train station. After your guide meets you, he/she will escort you by private vehicle to your hotel. Have a good rest and be ready for the next day's adventure.
Shazhou Night Market is worth visiting to experience the local flavor of Dunhuang. If you want to get close to this city quickly, try some local snacks, such as yogurt and nangs (flatbread).
Dunhuang Hotel (4-star)
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel (5-star)
breakfast and lunch
Mogao Caves ticket booking:
In order to protect the fragile murals and paintings, the number of daily visitors to the Mogao Caves is restricted and your entrance ticket(s) must be reserved on the official website, which is in Chinese.
Tickets are difficult to get hold of, especially during the tourist peak season (July to October). Although we can guarantee tickets at least 5 days in advance, early booking is still recommended.
After breakfast, start to explore Dunhuang at the famous Mogao Caves. First, you will watch two movies to get a rough idea of the history of the Silk Road and the Mogao Caves. Then take the shuttle bus to the original cave area, where a professional expositor will lead you to visit seven caves.
After lunch, you will visit Dunhuang Museum. This museum has a great exhibition of the Silk Road culture, and it has duplicate caves with exquisite murals and statues that you can take photos of.
Tips to Tailor-Make Your Tour:
The Mogao Caves include 735 caves, and 40 to 60 caves are normally open to the public. A normal visit to the Mogao Caves includes seven caves but, if you would like to see some special caves, we can arrange for you to visit some that are not open to the general public.
These special caves are treasures — they contain important murals and statues, and have made a significant contribution to the study of human culture and art .
breakfast and lunch
After the previous day's study of culture, you can test yourself on what you have learnt.
After breakfast, you will visit the Dunhuang Research Academy, a place where you can sit down to listen to the story behind the murals and appreciate the painting skills.
Make your own mural: Choose one of the mural samples and copy it onto a mud slab, which is made from the same material as the Mogao Caves. Take your masterpiece home with you.
Enjoy an organic vegetarian lunch at the academy before continuing your journey to the desert with a visit to the Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Moon Spring. Ride a camel in the desert and imagine what it was like to ride across the desert 1,000 years ago.
Tip to tailor-make your tour:
It is beautiful to see the sunset in the desert in the late afternoon. If, however, you prefer to enjoy cool weather in the desert, you can adjust the visiting time to the morning.
breakfast & lunch
Witness the cultural relics and amazing landscapes near Dunhuang.
In the morning, you will be driven to the ruins of the ancient Great Wall of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). You will see that it was built using layers of desert plant stems and gravel, which is quite different from the bricks used in other sections of the Great Wall.
You will also have a chance to visit Yumen Pass ('Jade Gate Pass'), which was once used as one of the west gates out of China during the Han Dynasty. It has been badly damaged by the shifting sands but still highlights the splendor of this magnificent architectural structure.
In the afternoon, explore Devil City — Yadan National Geological Park. Devil City is famous for its nighttime sounds and vivid rocks in various shapes that look like animals or world-famous attractions. If you want, you can stay there until sunset.
Our Service Includes:
- One-to-one consultancy with our travel expert
- Versatile and knowledgeable local guides
- Your own chauffeur and comfortable vehicle
- Hand-picked hotels to suit your preferences
- Hotel buffet breakfasts and local restaurant lunches
- Entry to all attractions on the itinerary
- The booking of internal transportation per your preferences
- A 24/7 helpline while you are traveling
Transportation to and from Dunhuang
Domestic flights and trains have easy access to Dunhuang. There are daily flights between Dunhuang and the main cities in China, such as Xi'an, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Lanzhou. Please tell us your previous/next destination and we will help you to arrange the transportation.