Hire a TAXI
Hire a TAXI is the most convenient way to travel around. The cost is CNY 450 for a day within 200 km, including highway tariff and parking. You could negotiate with every TAXI drive and pick one that make you feel the most comfortable.
During my trip, we had a great driver, he has a lot of knowledge about all the tourism attractions, familiar with the roads, a better car (SANTANA VISTA - the rest are the very first version SANTANA) with aircon. He is also very nice, humble, not demanding, and he recommend good restaurants and shops, never taking commissions.
Below is his contacts:
Mr. Fu Youjie 付有杰
mobile: 13830706887, 13830179912
License plate: 甘F-72410
- Family Travel
Go by plane!
If you, like most travellers, arrive to the Dunhuang area first by passing through Lanzhou city (capital of Gansu province), consider flying a plane to Dunhuang for the main sightseeing.
I went from Lanzhou to Dunhuang by car and took a plane on the way back. The difference is HUGE and can be boiled down to two factors:
1) Trip by car is loooong-- at least 6 hours; you could save a lot more time and energy for proper sightseeing if you go by plane, even if it is more costly.
2) The plane trip can in fact become a highlight of the trip in itself, especially if you come here in the winter. The snow-capped Black Mountains ("Hei Shan") are simply unforgettable. Look out for the vein-ike tributaries and be wowed by geographical formations that simply cannot be seen when you are on the ground!
Bus Dunhuang -- Jiayuguan takes about 5-6 hours depending on how much stopping the driver does along the way (toilet/meals). Our ride took 6, lunch break at Guazhou long-distance bus station -- do NOT pay to use the toilet there, the woman sitting there isn't collecting money for the toilet, but if you give her money she'll take it anyway!
- To Jiayuguan: 1010 and 1530; departures to Jiuquan (0800, 0830, 0930, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1830 and 2230) also pass by Jiayuguan. The 2230 departure to Jiuquan is a sleeper and about 20 RMB more expensive, the rest are seater buses.
- To Lanzhou (sleeper): 0830 and 1030; 227 RMB.
- To Xining: 1300 (seater 164.5 or sleeper 182 RMB).
- To Huatugou: 0830 (seater 92.5 RMB) and 2030 (sleeper 110 RMB).
- To Golmud: 0900 (seater 88.5 RMB) and 1930 (sleeper 98 RMB).
- To Liuyuan: 0730, 0830, 0930, 1100, 1230, 1400, 1600, 1720/1800 and 1900/1930; 20 RMB.
- To Hami (seater): 0800 and 1700; 70 RMB.
- To Urumqi (sleeper): 1800; 180 RMB.
- To Lhasa: 2100.
There's also a departure to Da Qaidam, but I don't remember the details.
There's a normal-priced supermarket opposite the long-distance bus station (beside Feitian Binguan) to stock up on water, snacks and other groceries.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Best Way to Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang Train Station
There's a green shuttle bus to Mogao Grottoes, passing by Dunhuang train station enroute. Starting point in Dunhuang city is beside Dunhuang Binguan. Fare Dunhuang city --> Dunhuang train station should be 5 RMB IIRC; Dunhuang train station --> Mogao Grottoes should be 3 RMB IIRC. Or perhaps it's the other way round! I took it for Mogao Grottoes --> Dunhuang city for the full fare of 8 RMB. There're 8 buses for both directions, frequency is approximately every half hour. Personally I think this's the best way to get to Mogao Grottoes.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Dunhuang Train Station
Dunhuang now has a working train station to call its own, though construction isn't all finished yet. It's 14h from Urumqi or Lanzhou and 24h from Xi'an. No necessity to go through Liuyuan train station if you're coming from any of those cities, Turpan or Jiayuguan etc.
The train from Urumqi had interesting designs on the hard sleeper window curtains, ours were of camels.
If you arrange for a vehicle pick-up from Dunhuang train station to Dunhuang city, it'll cost about 30 RMB. We paid about the same from Dunhuang train station to Mogao Grottoes.
- Budget Travel
Bike to Mogao Cave
I saw many westerners bike from Dunhuang city to Mogao Cave. I am not sure if it is an enjoable trip since it is biking on rocky desserts. But I think I should mention it since I saw quite a few people doing it.
Driver recommendation: Mr Huang Zebing
Strongly recommend Mr Huang Zebing: doesn't smoke, drives well (safe driver!) and overall very accommodating. Rate was 1500 RMB starting from pick-up at Liuyuan train station, 2 days in Dunhuang, drive to Jiayuguan and 1 day in Jiayuguan plus drop-off at Jiayuguan train station. We couldn't find a better rate than this and seriously, a smoke-free driver and clean car is really a god-send when you're in the car most of the time. The only thing is that he doesn't speak English much (only the barest) so you'll either have to bring your own translator or resort to charades/drawing. Or pay for me to go along ;)
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
New rail link to Dunhuang
The new rail line to Dunhuang from Jiayuguan will open on 1st April 2006, so providing direct trains to Dunhuang. It is expected that the current Jiayuguan - Beijing and Yumen - Lanzhou trains will then start/end at Dunhuang.
Getting to Dunhuang by air
Air ticket prices to Dunhuang are outrageosuly expensive. It is cheaper to fly to the USA, Singapore or anywhere in Europe from Beijing or Shanghai than to Dunhuang. Also, tickets to Dunhuang are almost never discounted (same situation with Urumqi, by the way), which is very frustrating. The authorities in Dunhuang are very unhappy with the air ticket pricing and hope that action will be taken soon.
Unfortunately, China Eastern has a virtual monopoly on flights in the area (toboth Dunhuang and Jiayuguan), so don't expect miracles with regard to the ticket prices. The good news is that most flights to and from the east coast and Lanzhou are operated by new Airbus A320s rather than the small Avro RJs that used to operate most Hexi Corridor flights (seems that most of the RJs are sitting awaiting a buyer at Lanzhou airport these days).
Dunhuang's new airport has recently opened, and is NOT the little adobe building shown in some VT members descriptions and photos. You do still have to walk to the aircraft though!
You can get away with a 20 minute check-in here.
The airport is 13km from Dunhuang to the east and takes about 20 minutes in a car. It is, however, very cloe to the Mogaoukou.
China Northwest Airlines
We did most of the way by bus through the Gobi Desert, but for long distances we took local flights, with the Northwest China Airlines company.
The planes were small, old and the service rather basic. All U got for snack was a dry cookie and an orange juice...
- Adventure Travel
Ride a camel
When U go to visit the Singing Sand Mountains you will have the chance to take a ride on one of these enormous camels.
Is just 10 minutes, more a chance for a photo than a real ride, but is funny to step on and lose your balance as the camel stands up! LOL
- Horse Riding
- Budget Travel
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