Mingsha Shan and Crescent Moon Spring
You can hear gentle sounds that the faint breeze mixed with sand makes while traversing the mountain. Reminiscent of a soft melody or like the delicate song of the place. And it is this particular phenomenon that inspired the name “Echoing Sand Mountain”.
Public bus3 goes to Crescent Moon Lake, originating from Dunhuang, and as you get near, the majestic mountain on the horizon will wow you. A cab from town center to the scenic spot costs under RMB30. Admission tickets will set you back for RMB110 during the peak season (May to October) and off-season (November till April) sees price halved to RMB55. This ticket stays valid for 3 days but if you want to revisit, you have to record a finger impression and ticket number at the ticket selling booth on the first visit. The attraction opens at 05:00 and visitors are supposed to leave by 20:30. However, timings vary, depending on the crowd and may even be extended. The best time to go is in the early morning or evenings as it will be cooler and less crowded then. If you do go later in the day, it is recommended that you carry a parasol with you to take cover from the scorching heat in the open sand area. Wear tons of sunscreen because you do not want to get burnt and carry water bottles. Unless your shoes are sand-resistant go for the bright orange foot covers that are available on rent; the sand gets everywhere! Beware that this place is not wheelchair accessible.
For a unique fun experience, embark on a camel ride on the dunes to reach the attraction. With a distance of 3 miles from Dunhuang, the ride should cost about RMB100. Of course, it is not as exhilarating as sliding from on top of the mountain all the way down towards the sand dunes. Yes, the mountain has slides on it… which has an entry fee of approximately RMB15, but visitors will have to climb a set of stairs to the start of the slide. From the top, you get beautiful view of the oasis (great selfie ops!).
When you travel further across the sand dunes, you can visibly notice that the sand turns into different hues of so many colors, including black (surprisingly enough).
Activities like dune surfing, archery, helicopter rides to capture the whole scene from up the skies, gliding, kart-racing (which is like a small car with big wheels) and sand motorbikes are available for tourists. After a whole day of walking around and thrilling experiences you will need to fuel up. There are some great restaurants nearby serving very tasty noodles and even a vegan restaurant that serves fare delicious enough to tempt even the most devout carnivore. It is quite famous with the local monks there.
Evening times are absolutely magical since the sunset looks so mesmerizing. It brings out the romantic within and to share it with your loved one can give memories that will last forever.
The very delightful sight of Crescent Moon Lake has caught the attention of many tourists over the years. Its name is actually what describes it the best because it is in fact, curved in the shape of a new moon. There are various types of plants inside the spring like the reeds, chara plants, charophyte plants and eye grass plants. The lake is 218 m long from east to west, 54 m wide from north to south, and has an average water depth of about 5 m. When the sparkly clean water gets hit by the rays of the sun in the Gobi Desert, it is such an adoring site; like looking at a beautiful liquid form of a turquoise gem.
Crescent Lake area is located 5 km south of Dunhuang city. It is about 7 km south of Mingsha Mountain (Echoing Sand Mountain) to the north. It is recommended to plan a visit to both. Opening hours are from 05:00 to 20:30 but this can be stretched depending on the crowd. The cost of the ticket from May till Oct is RMB110 and from Nov till April it is RMB55. Price is halved for children between 3.9 and 4.6 feet. And totally free for kids under 3.9 ft. The ticket includes entry to the mountain area. Multiple entries are available for 3 days but know that you will need to register your fingerprints and tickets at the ticket barrier for this offer before you make an exit to your first visit! To enter, use shuttle bus services located at the left of the entrance, walk the main path along the lake or take the camel ride (RMB100) and enjoying the harmonious views from on top of it. Best times are evening or early in the morning; it is hot in the afternoon time. Wear sunscreen. Renting bright orange foot covers is also a good option as the sand gets everywhere and it will protect against the direct heat waves.
Silk Road has held so much significance for travelers for so many years. To experience what it must have been like to walk this path, come check out this spring. This popular attraction is rather a rare phenomenon, like fire and water coexisting so it is finding an oasis in the middle of the Gobi Desert. It is the last remaining one on the Silk Road that hasn’t dried out yet. Though it is at risk of disappearing as water levels have gone low. So make sure to plan a visit before it dehydrates completely!
Besides the lake, a pavilion has been built for visitors. There is a charge to climb up and take pictures, but most travelers feel that the sand dunes provide good enough photo ops. There are other things to do around the place like riding a sand board down the dunes, gliding, archery, grass skiing, renting your personal helicopters to view the whole panorama from above, motorcycling and even kart racing (small open car with big wheels).
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