China // The Northwest //

Dunhuang and around

An oasis town surrounded by inhospitable desert, DUNHUANG (敦煌, dūnhuáng) has been a backpacker favourite for decades, with two main claims to fame. Colossal sand dunes – among the world’s largest, some of them hundreds of metres in height – rise along its southern flank, while the nearby Mogao Caves boast a veritable encyclopedia of Chinese artwork on their walls. The town has become something of a desert resort for visiting the latter, with inexpensive hotels, lots of English-language menus in the restaurants and friendly people.