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Explore Dunhuang ⑦ | Yardang National Geopark and bountiful ruins and relics

Editor's Note: The Sixth Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo was held in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu Province, from September 6 to 7, 2023. As a key pass along the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mogao Grottoes, the Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring Scenic Spot, and so on. Starting from September 4, GDToday will bring you an in-depth exploration of the city of Dunhuang.

In Gansu Province, there are thousands of mounds on the desolate Gobi Desert. Such a landform is called a Yardang.

Walking through the area, people can hear the eerie howling winds. They've not only given this place the name "The Place of Devils", but also carve the Yardang landform into different shapes. 

The Dunhuang Yardang is the largest in the Yardang landform community, boasting the most mature geological morphology and the most ornamental value found in the world so far. In 2001, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources, the predecessor of the Ministry of Natural Resources, approved the establishment of Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark.

Wind speeds in Dunhuang Yardang can reach up to Force 12. Sometimes as fast as the running speed of a cheetah, the fastest animal on land, and strong enough to lift a 10 meter high wave. These mounds, which were originally sediment layers at the bottom of the lake, are not strong enough to withstand the insistent winds. The sand and stones picked up by the wind are like weapons, hacking away the rock surface and carving out a variety of shapes, giving full play to the imagination.

For decades, Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark has attracted tens of thousands of adventurers from all over the world to admire the uncanny craftsmanship of nature. A bird's-eye view will reveal the regular layout of the mounds. They are all the same height and direction, and look like a great fleet sailing across the Gobi Desert. 

In addition to Yardang landform, Dunhuang is also dotted with bountiful ruins and relics, including Yumen Pass, the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty (202 BC - AD 220), the Hecang City Ruins, the Yangguan Ancient Site, the South Silk Road Ruins, the Tang Shouchang City Ruins, and the Han Wowa Pond Relics.

Yumen Pass, or Jade Gate, was built by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty as one of the two most important passes protecting Dunhuang from invasion from the west (the other pass is Yangguan Pass). During the Han Dynasty, it was also a pass through which the Silk Road passed, and was the one road connecting Central Asia with East Asia.

These passes, along with other sites along the Silk Road, were inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Add.: Mingshan Road, Dunhuang, Jiuquan City, Gansu Province (甘肃省酒泉市敦煌市西北180公里)

Opening hours: 6:30-18:30

Ticket price: 120 RMB

How to buy tickets?

Search the “游敦煌” Wechat mini program and click the Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark to book tickets.

Reporter: Monica, Ariel

Video: wingheng

Poster: Mia

Editor: Olivia, Steven, Jerry

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