Great sand dunes dominate the skyline of the Dunhuang oasis like a monochromatic mountain range. The town was long an important stop on the Silk Road, with its replenishing crescent lake, trading posts and Buddhist reliquaries at the Mogao caves. Housing thousands of Buddhist statues and intricately detailed murals, the grottoes were an impressive and colourful beacon for Buddhism centuries before the ancient route began to be dominated by Islam. It will remind you of the refined craftsmanship of past civilizations and the wealth, power and magnificence of Eastern religious thought. A sunrise dune walk, where the wind-whipping sands are renowned to ‘sing’, will conjure humbling thoughts too.