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7 Days Zhangye Danxia and Badain Jaran Desert Tour $1657

Photography of Wild China


Beautiful natural scenery can always make us relaxed, inspired and happy. If you are happened to be a photography lover, the nature is the best materials. In the northwestern China, there are two beautiful places - Qinghai and Gansu. Qinghai is famous for high plateau features, while Gansu is wild and diverse. This 7 Days Qinghai Gansu Tour is a top experience of landscape sightseeing, as well a big chance to bring your photography skills into play.

Highlights of this tour

  • Visit the largest beautiful salt lake in China - Qinghai Lake;
  • Driving through vast grasslands, farmlands, forests to Zhangye to see the unique rainbow mountains in Zhangye - Danxia Landform Geographical Park;
  • Take an adventure to the most scenic desert in China - Badain Jaran Desert.

Basic Trip Information

from $1657
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in 4-star hotel;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Xining - Zhangye - Badain Jaran Desert
Travel Length:
7 Days and 6 Nights
Tour Code:
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Any day you want

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Xining Arrival

Welcome to Xining (2,261m), Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Once morning arrival at Xining Caojiabao Airport/Train Station, your tour guide will meet you, and then escort you to check in to your hotel by a private vehicle.

In the afternoon, drive about 26km to visit the famous Taer Monastery (2,696m) which is the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master - Tsongkhapa who was the founder of Gelug (most important sect of Tibetan Buddhism). It is also famous as one of the6 monastery of Gelug. You must not miss the three bests of Taer Monastery which are murals, barbola and butter sculptures. After the monastery visit, drive back to Xining for accommodation.

Nightlife idea: go to enjoy a great dinner and stunning night view of Xining city on Pearl of Puning which is a 188 meters tall TV & Sightseeing tower alike Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

Taer Monastery
Day 2 Xining – Qinghai Lake - Chaka Town (B, L )

After breakfast, drive around 2.5 hours to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake (3,196m) from Xining via Huangyuan, Riyue Mountain, etc. You won't feel boring along the driving since fascinate scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds, clustered flocks and herds unfold like a photo gallery.

You will stop at the Erlangjian Scenic Area to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake stretches 105km at length, 63km at width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. Attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year, this plateau lake was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China's National Geographic. It is surrounded by harsh mountain ranges from outside. While on the foot of mountains are endless beautiful grassland and rapeseed flower lands which are connected to the lakeside. At the same time, Qinghai Lake is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site. There are many devoted Buddhists coming from afar to worship to Qinghai Lake each year.

Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: enjoying a scenic ship cruise on Qinghai Lake, which lasts about 50 minutes and costs RMB 150 / pp. Note: 1) this price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This boat cruise is only available during July ~ October.

Lastly, drive about 3 hours to Chaka Town (3,100m) for accommodation. The first half of the driving takes the beautiful lakeside roads while the second half takes you to go through and over high mountains and grasslands.

Useful Tips: 1) Qinghai Lake is famous as the Paradise of Migrant Bird. If you are planning a bird watching tour, you are suggested to visit the Bird Island during May and June; 2) From late July to early August is the best time to view the vast golden rape flower fields surrounding the Qinghai Lake; 3) If you are interested and time allows, you can take optional visiting to some interesting attractions along the driving to and back to Xining, such as Dangaer Ancient City, Riyue Mountain, Jinyintan Prairie, etc.

Qinghai Lake - Bird Island  Qinghai Lake Flower Qinghai Lake Blooming Rape Flowers
Day 3 Chaka Salt Lake - Xining (B, L )

If weather permits and you don't mind walking about 3km (1hr) to the sunrise location, you can get up early to watch the breathtaking sunrise (around 6am) at Chaka Salt Lake.

Lying in the conjunction of national road 109 and 315 and near Qinghai Lake, Chaka Salt Lake is one important courier station of ancient Silk Road. It was the only way to Tibet for businessmen and tourists in the history and referred as the Eastern Gate of Qaidam. You will enter the scenic area of Chaka Salt Lake by a scenic sightseeing train. Like a mirror of sky, Chaka Salt Lake is beyond everyone's imagination. Looking to the distance, you are unable to find the boundary between sky and lake and you cannot tell whether the sky is one part of lake or the lake is the supplement of sky. Wondering in the lake is like stepping into the world of salt, pure, picturesque and poetic. You could feast your eyes on the spectacular view on a sightseeing train which allows you to admire the moving stroll of sunset, evening glow and salty flowers.

After about 2 hours sightseeing at Chaka Salt Lake, take the sightseeing train to exit the scenic area and drive back to Xining. Accommodate at Xining.

Chaka Salt Lake
Day 4 Xining - High Speed Train to Zhangye (B, L )

After breakfast, you will take a morning high speed bullet train to Zhangye city in Gansu Province from Xining (about 2hrs). Enjoy the beautiful landscape along the road. After arrival at Zhangye West Railway Station, you will be met by local tour guide. Let's get ready for the trip!

In the afternoon, drive about an hour to visit the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park. The Danxia landform is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape which is formed from red-coloured sandstones and conglomerates. The one in Zhangye was formed in the pre-Jurassic Age. Thousands of mountains and stiffs stretch like the colorful sunset glow. The barren mountains are covered by a red grit rock stratum. At the same time, some surfaces of mountains appear other colors, such as white, yellow, etc, and form many irregular lines and blocks looking like some abstract oil paintings. There are four viewing decks for you to watch and shoot. You will visit one by one, and will be transferred by park buses from one deck to another.

After watching sunset at Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park, drive about 30km to Linze County for accommodation. Tomorrow morning, you are going to visit another Danxia Landform.

Useful Tips: 1) Pack with sun creams, sunglasses, protective clothing and hat to protect from strong sunlight in summer; 2) sunset is the best time for taking photos which happen around 19:00~20:00 in summer and 18:00~19:00 in winter.

Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography
Day 5 Binggou Danxia - Zhangye - Alashan Youqi (B, L)

After breakfast, you will go to visit Binggou Danxia Landform. Even though just being visited by fewer travelers, the Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area has its own featured charms. If the Linze Danxia Scenery is a visual feast of colors, then the Binggou Danxia is a great joy to find how the Mother Nature became a sculptor who sculptured the mountains to amazing different shapes, like grand palaces, long corridors, giant pillars, etc.

Finishing the tour at Binggou Danxia Landform Scenic Area, you will drive about 1.5 hours back to Zhangye City to visit the famous Giant Buddha Temple which is famous for having the largest indoor sleeping Buddha in Asia. This temple is a large complex with regal arrangements built in Xixia Dynasty(1098), and keeps many precious Buddhist scriptures and wall paintings. Its famous treasure is the Sleeping Buddha which is the centrally seated, symmetric buildings situate along the sides. The Buddha statue was carved by woods with a length of 34.5 meters, telling the story of Buddhas Nirvana. His ears are as big as the space which 4 adults can sit side by side.

After the temple visit, you will drive about 160 kilometers(2hrs) to Alashan Youqi, the largest town near Badain Jaran Desert in Inner Mongolia. Check in to your hotel.

The best time to visit Badain Jaran Desert: May to June and September to October is the best time to visit desert when it is neither too hot nor too cold, and most importantly there are not many tourists.

Binggou Danxia Landform Giant Buddha Temple
Day 6 Badain Jaran Desert Adventure (B, L)

After breakfast, drive from your hotel to the entrance area of the desert park to visit Badain Jaran Geopark Museum to learn some useful geography and cultural information about this China’s most beautiful desert, then shift to a desert SUV to start the thrilling and exciting Badain Jaran off-road adventure tour. As a vast desert covering over 45,000 square kilometers, Badain Jaran Desert’s highlight lakes and sand dunes can only be reached SUV unless you will have to trek several days through the desert.

The driving goes to Badain Jaran Temple in the deep desert where a Mongol yurt camp set up on the side of a lake, the place you will stay over the night. There are a lot of stops in the most beautiful points, such as Badain Lake, desert oasis, Genghis Khan Sand Carving, Temple Lake, etc. You will also go up to Bilutu which is the highest sand dunes in the world. You will reach at Badain Jaran Temple, known as the Forbidden City in the Desert, after about 4~5 hours driving. The rest time is free to explore the beauty of the desert till the sunset time.

Tonight you will accommodate in a Mongol yurt in the middle of the desert which is comfortable (for a yurt) with shower available but the toilet is basic and placed outside the camp.

What to Pack? - bring only necessary things to the desert, such as water, sunglasses, sunblocking cream, camera, dramamine (for possible carsickness during desert driving), etc. Take a towel, shower gel, shampoo if you want to take a shower. Your luggage can be remained in our car or hotel.

Badain Jaran Desert Badain Jaran Desert
Day 7 Badain Jaran Desert Departure (B, L)

Wake up at about 5:30~6.00 A.M in the morning, find a good sunrise location on the sand mountain to wait for the first ray of golden sunlight to shine on the stretches of desert.

After breakfast, you will go to visit Nuoertu Lake - the biggest lake in the desert and explore Baoritaolegai Sand Oasis - the best place to hear sand echoing before transferring back to the park entrance. You will exit the desert park around noon time. Enjoy lunch, then leave for next destination. (Departure tips: the nearest airport is Jinchang Airport where you can take flights to Xian, Lanzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, etc. If you want to transfer to Zhangye or other places in the region with our private car services, please contact your travel consultant in advance.)

Badain Jaran Desert

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