Dunhuang, Gansu Province (甘肃省敦煌市)
Explore west China on a camel. [Peter Parks/AFP/Betty Images]
Take advantage of the tourist activities at Mingsha Sand Dunes. You can paraglide over the sand dunes, race dune buggies, and pretend you're in a massive sandbox while sliding down the dunes and screaming at the top of your lungs.
Ride a camel. They're adorable creatures, even though getting on them is a bit terrifying at first.
Dunhuang is the home of the Mogao Grottoes, a treasure chest of Buddhist paintings and currently the site of a major international excavation.
The city is also a former trading hub on the Silk Road, so make sure you do some serious modern trading at Shazhou Night Market , which carries a wide selection of local crafts and souvenirs. Next to Shazhou vendors sell heaps of dried fruit and nuts, which make good desert day-trip snacks.
If you want something with more substance, Dunhuang cuisine revolves around wheat noodles and meat. Some staples include saozi noodles, stuffed bread with meat and mutton kebabs. The food pavilion next to the night market is the best place to sample a little bit of everything.
Shazhou Night Market, Shazhou Lu, Dunhuang. The night market runs from around 6 p.m. till midnight every day.