Yumenguan Pass of The Great Wall in Dunhuang

Why is Yumenguan Pass So Special?

Established in the Western Han Dynasty, Yumenguan (‘Jade Gate Pass’) served as a strategic fort along the ancient Silk Road. These two particular passes throughout the whole period of operation of the Silk Road were the only points to rest and replenish water supplies on a huge and most dangerous part of the caravan road that ran through the Gobi desert. Yumenguan Pass was a strategic pass on the ancient Silk Road. Yumen in Chinese means the jade of Gate. It was so named because the jade of Hotan in what is now Xinjiang region was transported to central China through this pass.

Where is Yumenguan Pass

Yumenguan Pass is situated in the western area of Dunhuang in Gansu Province, about 59 miles away from the downtown.

How to Get to Yumenguan Pass

Travel with China Dragon Tours (top recommended)

If you want to get rid of hustle of transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Yumenguan Pass with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on travel.

Independent Travel

For independent travelers you can 

there is no public buses heading for the spot. You may pay CNY 400 – 500 and charter a minibus to have a one-day west-line tour of Dunhuang. Besides Yumenguan Pass, you can also visit popular spots like the Western Thousand-Buddha Cave, Han Dynasty Great Wall, Hecang Fortress, and Yardang National Geopark.

Main Attractions in Yumenguan Pass

A Silk Road Trade Post

Yumen Pass is thought to once have been a key military and mercantile installation for their empire, where the Han traded for products such as jade and horses with the locals and traders who traveled from Central Asia. It is thought the fort helped to guard a market area. This lowland route was the main Silk Road trade and travel route in the Han Empire.


Since the pass was part of the Great Wall of China, the fortress was built on a cliff. Like all the watchtowers and forts along the whole length of the Wall, Yumenguan has a rectangular shape. The pass in its territory of total area of 600 km2, had a special road for horses, leading to the wall and also to several gates. Not far from the pass there are several flag towers used as warning beacons. This was the way the garrison often conveyed messages for help during the raids of the Huns.

Cultural Relics

The unique geographic position and functions of Yumenguan Pass endows it with special cultural significance in the long history with a lot of precious cultural relics, such as the inscribed bamboo slips, which illustrate the military issues, life, culture and diplomatic affairs at the frontier during the period of one hundred years or so of the Han Dynasty. In addition, there are famous poems describing Yumenguan, such as Cool Province Words (凉州词) by Wang Zhihuan (王之涣) of the Tang Dynasty.

Useful Travel Tips

  1. About 90 kilometers from Dunhuang to Yumenguan Pass connected by the desert road, the car basically can pass.
  2. A round trip taxi for four might cost 500 RMB. Be sure you arrange transportation back.

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Emily Wang/王海玲