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Getting There

The airport is 13km (8 miles) east of Dunhuang, just past the turnoff to the Mogao caves. Public buses (¥5) connect with flights, or you can try your luck bargaining with taxi drivers without meters, who should charge no more than ¥30 to the center of town. The most useful office of CAAC (8am-8pm) is by the Dunhuang Binguan at 12 Yangguan Dong Lu (tel. 0937/882-2389). Flights connect with Lanzhou (Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat), Ürumqi (daily), Xi'an (Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun), and Beijing (Tues, Fri, Sun). There are fewer flights in winter.

Dunhuang's tiny new railway station is 6 miles out of town (¥15-¥20 by taxi or ¥3 by local bus), and has year-round services to Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, and Xi'an, and summer services Turpan and Ürumqi. Coming to or from Beijing or Shanghai you'll still have to come via the old railhead 130km (81 miles; 2 hr.) away at Liuyuan. From Liuyuan station, you will have no trouble finding minibus drivers, who ask ¥30 for the ¥15 trip to Dunhuang. Taxis will make the trip in either direction for ¥120 or ¥30 per person if you share. If you are the last tourist around after a train pulls away, you can bargain hard as the station suffers from a glut of drivers. Buses for Liuyuan railway station leave regularly from Dunhuang's long-distance bus station (¥20). You can buy train tickets at either rail station, from the ticket office on Yangguan Zhong Lu, through your hotel or a travel agent.

The bus station is on Ming Shan Lu (tel. 0937/882-2174), diagonally opposite the Feitian Binguan. Daily buses connect with Jiayu Guan (383km/237 miles; 5 hr.) hourly from 8am; with Lanzhou at 11am and 2:40pm (1,148km; 16 hr.; sleeper bus; ¥226); with Golmud at 9am (524km/325 miles; 6 hr.); and with Xining at 12:30pm (1,067km/662 miles; 18 hr.; ¥182).

Getting Around

Taxis fill Dunhuang's narrow streets. Meters aren't commonly used and the rate should be ¥5 for a short ride or ¥10 for a longer one. Get around on foot, or hire a bike for ¥3 per hour, or ¥20 per full day. There are also a few bus routes, of which no. 3 running to the Singing Sand Mountains, the unnumbered airport (¥5), and train station (¥3) routes are the most useful. A new bus service (again unnumbered) runs from the Dunhuang Fandian near Charley Johng's cafe to the Mogao Caves for ¥8.

Tours

CITS is inside the compound of the Dunhuang Guoji Dajiudian at Ming Shan Lu 32 (tel. 0937/882-2474; www.dhcits.com; 8:30am-noon and 2:30-6pm), on the right as you enter.

Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- You can change cash and traveler's checks at the Bank of China (8:30am-5pm) at Yangguan Zhong Lu 13. There's also a 24-hour ATM here.

Internet Access -- Most of the backpacker cafes on Ming Shan Lu offer Internet access for ¥6 per hour, often giving 30 minutes free use if you eat there. There's a genuine 24-hour Internet cafe on the south side of Huangcheng Nan Lu, just east of Mingshan Lu.

Post Office -- The main post office (8:30am-7pm) is on the north side of Yangguan Zhong Lu, just west of the junction with Sha Zhou Lu.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.