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Explore Dunhuang ④ | Crescent Spring: An oasis in the desert

Editor's Note: The Sixth Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo is being 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. 

Thousands of tourists attended a live concert with yelling and cheering at the Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring scenic spot in Dunhuang, northwest China's Gansu Province on the evening of September 5, 2023.

Nestling between the tall sand dunes in Dunhuang, there is a little miracle—a Crescent Spring. This spring, which looks like a crescent moon, has existed for thousands of years and has never dried up.

The formation and continuous existence of the Crescent Spring are all related to its topography. The flowing water converges here along the terrain and overflows through a porous geological layer to form the Crescent Spring. Although it’s extremely dry here, with the annual evaporation being more than 60 times that of the annual precipitation, the stable water source ensures a sustainable water supply to the spring.

It’s also due to the low-lying terrain. Whenever there is a sandstorm, it forms an upward spiral air flow between the surroundings sand mountains, sending the sand at the foot back to the top of the sand mountain, saving the Crescent Spring from being swallowed by quicksand.

The place where the Crescent Spring hides is called the Mingsha (literally meaning singing sands) Mountain. As you walk through the quicksand or slide down a sand mountain, sometimes you can hear loud noises from beneath your feet. Hence the name “Mingsha Mountain”.

The ancient Silk Road once passed by the Crescent Spring and the Mingsha Mountain. Merchants and camel teams traveling between the East and the West used to rest here and replenish water. Today, Mingsha Mountain and the Crescent Spring have become a China's 5A tourist attraction and a romantic paradise for visitors. Many young people and couples will take wedding photos or Dunhuang style art photos at this place.

Add.: Mingshan Road, Dunhuang, Jiuquan City, Gansu Province (甘肃省酒泉市敦煌市鸣山路)

Opening hours: 6:00-19:30

Ticket price: 110 RMB

How to make a reservation?

Visitors can make a reservation on the official WeChat account of the Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring “鸣沙山月牙泉” (pinyin: ming sha shan yue ya quan). Due to the limited number of spaces, please make a reservation one day in advance. 

Reporter: Monica, Ariel

Video: wingheng

Poster: Mia

Editor: Olivia, Steven, Jerry

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