An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Crescent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

Mingshashan Mountain / Echoing Sand Mountains & Yueyaguan / Cresent Moon Lake is located 6 km from Dunhuang city in Gansu, north-west China. This is one of the highlight if you are doing Silk Road China. The Chinese name for this oasis is called Yueyaguan/月牙泉 named in Qing Dynasty. If you look at the shape of the oasis, it is the shape of a half-moon.

1. (AAAAA) 5A Tourist Attraction

This is the 5A (AAAAA) tourist attraction.  What it means is this is the most important and best-maintained tourist attractions in China.  There are clean toilets at the visitor center, where you get your tickets.  The whole area in Crescent Moon Lake is incredibly well maintained and clean.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

2. How to survive in Mingsha Mountain (鳴沙山) Desert

When you come to this Mingsha Mountain, you need to know the weather here is super hot as it is in the desert.  The summer is super hot and the winter is super cold.  I was here at the summer and had prepared all my necessary gadget, such as long sleeves, wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, scarf, gloves to protect me from getting the heat stroke or sun burn.  Cover as much skin as possible with loose and lightweight clothing is the key.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

You can also get the sun protection items before entering to the tourist site at very cheap price.  Scarf, gloves, face mask etc are selling at very reasonable price.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

3. Rental Shoes Cover

Before entering this desert land, we rented the shoes cover which cost us RMB 15 (SGD 3) for unlimited hours.  The shoes cover is to protect any sands from going in your shoes.  If you are thinking bare foot in the desert sand, then be prepared to get burn by the hot sand.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

4. Activities in Mingsha Mountain & Crescent Moon Lake

There are several activities you can do here, such as camel ride, shooting arrows, grass skiing & sand sliding.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

5. Camel Ride Tips

Camel ride took us roughly one hours.  Be prepared to have done up all your sun protection.  Scarf is one of the key items to protect yourself as the winds is too strong for umbrella.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

Camel ride up and down to the dunes for an hour, pretty amazing  experience as it was my first experience on camel ride.  Camels are so tame as compared to the horses and walk with snail’s pace.  The camel ride is pretty easy to handle due to the slow motion. One tips I can share here is move your body according to the camel and you would feel more comfortable that way and not so sore especially at your thigh and butt area. One caution is when the camel stands up and sits down, you may feel like falling off so hold tight and you may tilt forward and backward.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

6. Signature Drink – Apricot Skin Tea

This is one of the must drink after your camel ride in Dunhuang. It consist of apricot skin, rock candy and water. The taste is sweet and a little sour, cost RMB 5 (SGD 1.00).  I was told the drinks can relieve summer-heat and refresh our lungs.  I enjoyed the drink very much, quench my thirst totally after the camel ride under the extreme hot sun.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

The fridge behind me show “Yogurt drinks” & “Apricot Peel Water”, it can be seen almost every corner in Dunhuang.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

7. Incredible View Atop of the Dunes

After the drinks, I decided to go up the sand dune.

Many people did not know the best view of Crescent Moon Lake / Yueyaquan, one needed to go up to the top of the sand dunes which is a grand challenge.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

8. Use Wooden Steps Up Mingshashan

There are few wooden stairs to go up the highest point.  It is easier if you step on the wooden steps and climb up the dunes.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

9. Try to walk on the sands without the wooden steps

Since I do not have a desert walking boots so it is super hard and needed so much energy to walk in the desert sands as my normal walking shoes did not provide stability and grip for scrambling up sand dune.  It was almost killing me after few steps on the desert sand, too hard to pull my feet out from the sand.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

I quit walking on the sand and went back to the wooden track.  Still the steep dune is not easy to conquer!  I was frequently catching my breath to move up.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

Finally I was at the top of the sand dune and the view looking down at Crescent Moon Lake/ Yueyaquan was just breathtaking.  Anyone who is consider fit should challenge yourself to go up and check up this incredible desert jewel.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

I was catching my breath when the above picture was taken.  Nearly fainted at the top as the slope is almost vertical.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

At the top the winds are super strong, my eyes and mouth and nose were filled with sands.  Now I know what a sand/dust storm is like, at least I experience the mini version of dust storm at the top.  No wonder the people in the desert wear in such way, long headscarf to cover their mouth and nose from the sand!

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

10. Listen to the Breeze at the top

While taking your breath, sit down at the top and close your eyes, listen to the breeze, the sands create gentle, melodic sounds like music; just like the name Mingshashan / Echoing Sand Mountains.  Make sure to close your mouth, else you will end up eating plenty of sands.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

Only the very fit and young person are able to make it to the top.  You didn’t see any golden age people at the top.  In fact I saw many people break down  in the middle and blocked the wooden track up.  Some even cried for help 🙂

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

11. How to Move down

It took me a while to find out how to go down as the slope is very steep.  The wooden track is only for way up not for going down.

After few steps down, I realised going down is super easy and fun!  So I started to run down the slope.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

12. Yueyaquan/Crescent Moon Lake at near

For someone who could not move up to the top of the sand dune to look down Yueyaquan/Crescent Moon Lake, they can walked near the lake and check it out.  The view is not as great compare to the top but then you are able to see the reflection of the temple which is located beside of Yueyaquan.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

13. Visit Before the Oasis Disappear

The lake has been shrinking since 1970’s and is now about a third of its original size. However, Chinese government has recently taken measures to preserve the site and restore the depth of the lake to previous level.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

Final Thoughts :

One of the must do thing in this Mingshashan Mountain & Cresent Moon Lake to go up to the top of the sand dunes.  It is not easy but if you are young or fit person, I strongly encourage you to go up to check out the breathtaking view of the oasis.  You get to see the entire site from the top.  It was super challenging even for people like me who workout 5 days a week.  Glad I did it and gotten this magnificent view of the oasis.

My second favorite was the camel ride in the desert.  It helps me to understand how tough ancient traders travel from one sand dunes to another in such harsh weather (super-duper hot, just like ants biting your skin!!) with very limited resources such as water and food.  Many went missing or die during the journey along Silk Road. Plenty of questions and thoughts during my one hour ride with the poor little camel.

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Cresent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉

 

 

60 Replies to “An Oasis in Silk Road : 13 Things you need to know before visiting Echoing Sand Mountains & Crescent Moon Lake 鸣沙山月牙泉”

    1. Dear Gigi,
      Thanks for your comment. Crescent moon lake/Yueyaquan is one of the iconic site along Silk Road China. The camel ride mark the highlight of Silk Road, well, pretending to be the ancient traders travelling from one place to another. 🙂 LOL with that headscarf covering the entire body.

    1. Dear Tara,
      Yes, it will be once in a life time thing for me too. This is one of the most important tourist site in Dunhuang China. Also graded with 5A (AAAAA) meaning most well maintained and best quality scenie area. The whole place are super clean!

  1. Wow, what a gorgeous and unique place to visit! I love the things to keep sand out of your shoes . . . I imagine that you’d have half the desert in there without them.

    1. Dear Ann,
      We rented the shoes cover just about USD 2.5 for unlimited hours. It cover up below knee level, very useful I find. No sands after few hours of walking in the desert sand dunes.

    1. Dear Corinne
      The oasis is disappearing these years but luckily the Chinese Government has taken action to prevent the oasis from drying up and maintained the water level. Certainly beautiful if you look from the top of Mingshashan mountain, climb up the sand dunes and look from the the top, you are able to see the whole area.

    1. Dear Crafts,

      One of the most memorable experience for me was the camel ride as it was my first. Didn’t expect it to be so tame and very easy to ride. Love the camel eyes lashes as they are super long!!

  2. Those shoe coverings are such a smart idea! And it’s always good to know where the clean restrooms are 🙂

    1. Dear Levy,
      The sand mountain is just great to explore. I have never tried any sand climbing so it was my first. Lots of fun and energy used to climb up. Use the wooden stairs as it is easier to go up.

    1. Dear Shannon,
      Truly an awesome adventure. Plenty of activities such as camel ride and also one of my favourite. Love these camels, super tame and pretty with very long eyes lashes. They are even tamer than the elephants.

  3. I think I am ready to go up to the top of sand dunes to see the beauty of the whole place. I have no doubt that this place is so beautiful.

  4. Wow, there really is a lake down there. What an amazing view. I think I won’t last a minute traveling on foot in the dessert too. LOL

    1. Dear Mattie,
      Glad to hear that you are planning your travel in Asia. Dunhuang Echoing Sand Mountains & Crescent Moon Lake is truly beautiful and an incredible site. The oasis surrounded by sand dunes was shrinking fast due to desertification, go fast before it get disappear.

  5. It looks like a nice place to visit together with your partner. It is such a nice experience exploring this place and I am so glad that you can go up to the sand dunes to see the whole beauty of its place.

    1. Dear Emma,
      This is an incredible place to visit, the land here is a little lower, so the altitude is fit for storing water. The falling sands from the surrounding dune would be sent back to the other side of the nearby Echoing-Sand Dune. Thus, this extraordinary earth movement keeps the sand dunes and lake eternally in a harmonious and almost paradoxical existence!

    1. Dear Blair,
      The heat is so insane. Super hot but then it is dry, not humid at all. There are strong winds too. Be prepared with all the desert survival kits, and you will be safe. Even you have forgotten things like scarf, hat, face mask or gloves, you can always get it from the stalls before entering the scenic site. These things are selling at very reasonable price and very affordable for foreigner, from (USD 2 to 5.00) only.

    1. Dear Czjai,
      The best spot once again is go up to the top of the sand dunes, super tough to climb up. But you will be rewarded with stunning view of the oasis and plenty of photo opportunities as the top has lesser peopel. Not many people can make it to the top. 🙂

  6. This place is so beautiful. As much as I am a beach person I have enjoyed my couple visits to the desserts as well. Seems like you had a great time.

    1. Dear Anvita,

      The Crescent Lake that is surrounded by the Echoing-Sand Mountain, the golden sand hill and blue water in the lake make a beautiful contrast. I agree just like beach walking but more challenging especially when you are climbing up the sand dunes.

  7. The silk shoe covers are a genius idea! I never would have though that those would be a necessity but it makes sense. I would love to visit there one day, it looks like you had a great time!

    1. Dear Nicole,

      You are totally right, the bright orange shoes cover are just brilliant. I love them. Just less than USD 2.5, my feets are covered and no sands went into my shoes when I was walking on the sand dunes. When you are thinking of climbing up of the highest point of the sand dunes, the more you needed a pair of these orange shoes cover. They do great!

    1. Dear Tara,

      One of my favorite activities would be the camel rides, it is super hot but then if you gotten all your sun proctection stuff, you can totally enjoy the 1 hour ride. Love it to the max. I felt like an ancient Chinese princess travelling along silk road to marry the Persian King. LOL 🙂

    1. Dear Lydia,

      Thanks for your comment. It is not a very great idea to wear super long dress as it is troublesome to climb up the sand dunes. But for the picture sake, I wore it with plenty of caution when I walked in order not to tripped. However it is very airy and cover my whole legs. 🙂

    1. Dear Hill,

      Thanks for your comment. The color for the orange shoes cover is very bright, not sure why this color is used but look good and useful on the sand dunes.

    1. Dear Queen,

      I love desert and seen different desert in the world, such as desert in Las Vegas with cactus plant. The sand desert is my first in Dunhuang. I like it when I see tourists around but when I explored deeper I get worried and scared as I don’t see anyone and I could lost myself ….Also the weather is just insane.

    1. Dear Garf,

      This would be one of the highlight in Silk Road Gansu Province. The golden sand hill and the blue lake cast a beautiful contrast in a harmonious existence. Just amazing to watch such natural wonder.

  8. This looks amazing! I didn’t have this on my bucket list before, but I definitely do now, and your tips were great! I’ll have to remember them!

    1. Dear Jennifer,
      Thanks for your comment. This is truly amazing especially if you look down, the crescent-shaped lake in an oasis! Words just can’t describe it, you needed to see it with your own eyes.

  9. This looks like it would be quite the experience and adventure. I would love to be able to go and see this oasis for myself.

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