Except for the unforgettable grasslands, Inner Mongolia also has fascinating deserts. Compared with the simple and straightforward yearning for the grassland, people are often full of complex feelings towards the desert, both fear and longing. And that's why millions of people want to find out what it really is.
Four of the eight most famous deserts in China are in Inner Mongolia, making it one of the best places to explore the mysterious desert. There is the Badain Jaran Desert, which was selected as "The Most Beautiful Desert" by China National Geography; Kubuqi Desert, which is like a resonant bowstring of the Yellow River. Moreover, there is also the fourth largest Tengger Desert and the eighth largest Ulanbuh Desert, which once was the rich grassland in old times... Check details about the TOP 4 deserts in Inner Mongolia below and plan your own China Desert tour in 2022/2023!
Mysterious Pink Lake in Badain Jaran Desert ©sohu
Exciting Ride in Badain Jaran Desert ©时空永恒(成都) / mafengwo
• Location: Alxa Right Banner, Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
• Area of Desert: over 49,200 square kilometers
• Recommended Time of Visit: 1~6 Days
• Highlights: Bilutu Sand Peak (The Highest Sand Peak of the World); Miaohaizi & Badain Jaran Temple (The Forbidden City of Desert); Honghaizi (a pink desert lake shaped like the heart of earth)...
Towering sand peaks, mysterious resonant sands, pink lakes and solemn Buddhist temples, together forming the unique and charming Badain Jaran Desert (巴丹吉林沙漠). Here is not only the world's largest Resonant Sand Area, but also has the "World's Highest Desert Peak" Bilutu Sand Peak. Even the annual rainfall in this area is less than 40mm, there are more than 100 lakes with different colors scattered in the desert. This quiet, vigorous but colorful scenery makes tens of thousands of tourists from home and abroad visit here and cannot bear to leave.
Overnight Camping at Yemingsha Scenic Area ©sohu
Qixing Lake Scenic Area ©王龙 / meipian
• Location: Dalat Banner, Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
• Area of Desert: over 18,600 square kilometers
• Recommended Time of Visit: 0.5~8 Days
• Highlights: Yemingsha Scenic Area, Qixing Lake Scenic Area, Xiangshawan, Engebei...
The 700-mile Yellow River is the back of a bow and the east-stretch Kubuqi Desert (库布齐沙漠) is like a string, two together forming a huge golden bow. Thanks to its superior geographical location (near Baotou and Ordos City), the infrastructure construction of scenic areas in Kubuqi Desert has been perfect compared with scenic spots of other deserts, so it is also one of the first choices for visiting deserts for the first time. There are many scenic areas scattered in Kubuqi Desert, and the main highlights include Yemingsha Scenic Area, which is suitable for experiencing desert off-road driving and the Qixing Lake Scenic Area, which is being praised as the “Desert Oasis”, etc. If it is a family vacation trip or travel with children, you can choose to pay a visit to the most popular Xiangshawan Scenic Area, which has the most recreational facilities and the best infrastructure construction. It is also famous for its vast and large resonant sand belt.
Picturesque Moon Lake of Tengger Desert ©nmshuwai
Shapotou Desert Camel Riding ©鹭岛老兵 / meipian
• Location: It spans central Gansu, northern Ningxia and southwestern Alxa Left Banner of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
Area of Desert: over 36,700 square kilometers
Recommended Time of Visit: 4~5 Days
• Highlights: Shapotou, Moon Lake, Swan Lake, Tonghu Grassland...
Tengger means "sky" in Mongolian. The endless drift sand rolling and billowing like cloud layers in the boundless sky, the scenery is magnificent and refreshing. Tengger Desert (腾格里沙漠) spans Gansu and Inner Mongolia provinces. The highlight of Tengger Desert in Inner Mongolia is mainly the Swan Lake and Moon Lake, a pair of outstanding sister lakes in more than 190 lakes in the desert. The lakeside scenery is stunning, perfect for light hiking. Moreover, it is a paradise for watching birds every spring and autumn when the swans migrate. The starry night in the Tengger Desert is resplendent, which makes it the first choice for many outdoor and camping enthusiasts.
Ulanbuh Desert Sunset ©sohu
Wuhai Lake ©chinarun
• Location: Alxa League and Bayannur City, Inner Mongolia
• Area of Desert: over 10,000 square kilometers
• Recommended Time of Visit: 0.5~1 Days
Located in the west of Inner Mongolia, the east of Ningxia and the west bank of the Yellow River, Ulanbuh Desert (乌兰布和沙漠), covering an area of 14,000 square kilometers, stretches across Alxa League and Bayannur city. Historically, it was once a rich grassland with green shade. However, as time changes and the degradation of land, the current land types of Ulanbuh are mainly composed of sand dunes, wasteland, arable land and desert grassland.
In Mongolian, “Ulanbuh” means “the red bull”. As the name suggests, the sand takes on a reddish hue when the sun sets. Overlook from a distance, the view is quite grand and spectacular.
Besides Inner Mongolia, travelers may also find magnificent deserts in Xinjiang, Ningxia and Gansu in northwestern China. You can go to Dunhuang, climb Mingsha mountain and overlook the elegant crescent lake, take an adventure in Shapotou, Ningxia, or plan a tour to Xinjiang to admire the largest desert in China and the world's second-largest flow desert - Taklimakan Desert... Pack up your staff, find your heart and clean your soul to walk on a journey to mysterious deserts in 2022!
The Eight Deserts in China
Places to Visit in Inner Mongolia: Hohhot, Hulunbuir, Ordos, Baotou, Ulanqab, Badan Jaran, Ejina, Xilingol, Chifeng…
How to Get to Inner Mongolia: International and domestic flights to Hohhot, Hulunbuir…; Domestic flights to Xilingol, Chifeng…;High Speed Train to Hohhot, Ulanqab, Baotou, Ordos, Chifeng…; Drive to Badan Jaran, Ejina…
Best Time to Visit: April to October (especially from June to September for grasslands, June to October for deserts)
Inner Mongolia is so large and abundant with diverse distinct natural and cultural highlights, therefore, you can hardly discover all the bests in one single visit. It would take 3 days to more than 1 month for various needs. And your itinerary can be decided based on your trip length, interests and a major area of this vast destination.
A classic Inner Mongolia tour usually starts from Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia and most convenient traffic hub. Planning 3 days is popular for an essential discovery of Hohhot city highlights with surrounding grassland like Huitengxile or Xilamuren. 1-2 days extension to Kubuqi Desert in Ordos is also frequently chosen. And a 5-6 days trip including Hohhot, nearby grassland, Ulanqab volcanoes, Baotou and Ordos are the favorite one among travelers to discover grassland, desert, historical culture of Genghis Khan, Tibetan Buddhism, etc. in Inner Mongolia.
☛ 6 Days Inner Mongolia Bests Discovery Tour (Hohhot / Ulanqab / Huitengxile Grassland / Baotou / Kubuqi Desert / Ordos)
If you are interested in the most beautiful grassland, arrange 4-5 days to Hulunbuir to catch Hulunbuir Grassland and all the fabulous primitive nature and in-depth nomadic tribe culture highlights in Hailar, Ergun, Genhe and Manzhouli. If you have more time, add 2 more days to Arxan National Forest Park.
A middle and east Inner Mongolia discovery to Hohhot, Baotou, Ordos and Hulunbuir usually takes about 6-8 days, which helps you savor the top representative prairie sightseeing and culture of Inner Mongolia.
The west Inner Mongolia is favored for seeking wilder sightseeing and adventure. If you want to discover China’s most beautiful desert, a 2-4 days Badain Jaran Desert trip to the west Inner Mongolia is your best choice to go! Besides, the splendid Ejina Populus Euphratica Forest is quite hot for a 2-3 days’ photography tour in autumn. If you want a longer vacation, plan as many other visitors to discover Badain Jaran together with nearby hot and convenient destinations like Xining, Zhangye, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, etc. It usually needs 7 days for a Xining Zhangye Badain Jaran Desert trip.
Besides, it is also a great idea to extend to more popular destinations in China to appreciate more wonderful nature, culture, history and food of this vast country, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Xinjiang, Gansu, Tibet, Yangtze River, Yunnan, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, etc.
Have your own ideas of where and what to discover in Inner Mongolia? We China Discovery offers many popular and valuable private Inner Mongolia tour packages taking you to enjoy wonderful exploration of the best highlights of Hohhot, Hulunbuir, Ordos, Baotou, Ulanqab, Badain Jaran, Ejina, Chifeng, Xilingol, etc. And our professional travel team with experienced travel expert, local English-speaking travel guide and driver and non-smoking comfortable licensed private vehicle will help you throughout the trip from the planning, navigation, hotel arrangement and scenic spot visiting. So you will have the much better travel experience in the large and beautiful Inner Mongolia. You can check our tour packages to get some inspiration. All tours can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interests, budget and any other special need! Please feel free to contact us to customize your own Inner Mongolia trip or if you need any help!
Top 3 Inner Mongolia tours chosen by most customers to explore Inner Mongolia in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Hohhot / Huitengxile Grassland / Yemingsha of Kubuqi Desert / Hohhot
Hohhot / Ulanqab / Huitengxile Grassland / Hohhot / Baotou / Yemingsha of Kubuqi Desert / Ordos
Hohhot / Baotou / Kubuqi Desert / Hulunbuir / Shiwei / Hulunbuir
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.Customize a Trip