Kubuqi Desert (库布齐沙漠) is one of the most popular desert tourism destinations and it’s the 7th largest desert in China. Kubuqi means "string on a bow" in Mongolian. The bow is the winding Yellow River around Ordos, and the string is the golden sand belt. The expanding area of the Kubuqi Desert is nibbling away at the fertile Ordos Grassland. The typical grassland scenery of green grass, cows and sheep flocks has become rolling yellow sand, which makes visitors can not help but sigh about the vicissitudes of the world.
In Kubuqi, the first thing to see is a masterwork of human sand-fixing. The crisscross grass ridge is firmly pressed under the undulating dunes, spreading out a rare desert green! Kubuqi is a paradise for desert hikers. The vast desert landscape gives people a visceral shock, not to mention the unpredictable desert light, the “desert flowers” which are carved by the wind, the indescribable sunrise and sunset, as well as a mythical mirage. These unique beauties of the desert attract countless visitors from all over the world.
Desertification has always been a common environmental threat to the world. China is also facing the same problem. It has seriously affected one quarter of China's land area and caused a sharp decline in biodiversity. About 30 years ago, Kubuqi Desert in the western part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was a "desert sea of death" for even birds. The arid land stretches for thousands of miles. Sand control was imperative. Government, business groups and local people gathered together. For 30 years, we have been planting trees in the desert, which covers an area of more than 6,000 square kilometers, or eight times the size of Singapore. Under the joint efforts of local people, the area of desert oases has been increasing year by year, and the ecological environment there has been significantly improved. Biodiversity has also increased significantly, from around 100 species 30 years ago to more than 530 species now, and it has also attracted rare and protected animals to inhabit here.
Yellow river flows clear water, bare land turns green hills. Today, Kubuqi Desert has become a "Green Card" for China to reach out to the world. The miracle of desert turning into oasis in Kubuqi has made the whole world thumb up. As the only desert in the world that has been holistically governed, Kubuqi Desert has been identified by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) as the global desert ecological and economic demonstration area. TIME also praised “China's Greening of vast Kubuqi Desert is a Model for Land Restoration Projects Everywhere...”
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|Kubuqi Desert Attractions||Things to Do in Kubuqi Desert|
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The scenic spots developed in Kubuqi Desert are located in different corners of the desert. The desert landscape in each area is much the same. If your main purpose of coming to Kubuqi is to spend a relaxing family vacation, the national 5A level scenic area Xiangshawan will definitely be your first choice. And beyond that, there are desert oases in Qixing (Seven-star Lake) Scenic Area, grand desert canyon in Engebei Scenic Area, divine light and booming sand, night singing sand and other highlights waiting for you to explore.
Yemingsha (Night Singing Sand), located in the hinterland of Kubuqi Desert, is one of the world's largest singing sand belts. It is one of the best places to appreciate the authentic desert landscape in Kubuqi Desert, also famous for the roaring sound that is made by the sand when people do sand sliding in the silent night. Besides, Yemingsha Scenic Area is not only a mysterious natural wonder, but also a wonderful Desert Disneyland. The golden sand dunes, which are tens of meters high, stretch long and boundless, make the scenic area a perfect place to experience off-road safari in the desert. It’s a paradise for off-road enthusiasts and a great place to do cross-country events at all levels. There are also many other traditional desert activities for visitors to try, such as zip lining, camel riding, sand sliding, desert motorcycle surfing and so on.
Located in the east part of Kubuqi Desert, Resonant Dune Bay (响沙湾) is also called Yinken Dune Bay (银肯响沙). When the day is clear and the sand is dry, people slide down from the top of the sand dune, and they can hear the sound of the sand like beating drums or blowing trumpets. The whole dune is like a huge sand echo wall, hence the name of Resonant Dune Bay. Besides, the infrastructure and amusement facilities are complete in the scenic area, like Disneyland in the sand sea, which makes the place very suitable for children to play.
Qixing Lake Scenic Area (七星湖), located on the northern edge of Kubuqi Desert, is composed of seven desert lakes. The green ripples of the lake are quiet and beautiful. Zahan Daotu, Dongda Daotu and Da Daotu in the seven lakes are collectively referred to as Daotuhai. The three lakes are separated by sand mountains, and the air is clean, like three bright pearls paralleling in the vast Kubuqi Desert. Here you can take the boat and cruise on the desert lake, watch the hazy sunrise in the morning, enjoy the glowing sunset in the evening, experience the ethnic customs in the New Herdsmen Villages, taste delicious Mongolian snacks, immerse in the rich Mongolian culture and find the endless fun of returning to nature.
Engebei (恩格贝) is located in the north central part of Kubuqi Desert, between the Resonant Dune Bay and the Qixing Lake Scenic Area. Engebei is one of the starting points of the east desert hiking route. The most distinctive scenic spot in Engebei is the "River in the Desert" which is 3.5 kilometers long. Taking a boat or paddling along the sand dunes, visitors can directly enter into the heart of the desert. It is unique in the world. Besides, you can also enjoy the adventure and excitement of driving a desert off-road vehicle and taking a hot air balloon to have a great view of the magnificent desert scenery.
Yinkantara (银肯塔拉) is located in the northeast corner of Kubuqi Desert. The biggest highlight of the Yinkantara is the obo in the desert. Every year on the 23rd day of the seventh lunar month, a traditional sacrificial ceremony will be held here, and the night before is a sleepless night of chanting. Another highlight in Yinkantara is the nearly 302.5 KM long desert ropeway, which is said to have set a world record, hence the name Guinness Ropeway. In the Zhandanzhaosumu area where Yinkantara is located, there are two other scenic spots nearby, respectively called Desert Ogotai and Kubuqi Desert, and the amusement activities are similar to other scenic spots in the desert.
For hikers, Kubuqi Desert has gained quite a reputation in recent years. It all thanks to the well-established, nornal hiking route in Kubuqi Desert. In the golden autumn season (September and October), the west trekking route in Kubuqi Desert has already been full of popularity, attracting countless travelers who try to do desert hiking for the first time. Moreover, there are also some light hiking trails (several hours to half day) suitable for first-time hikers.
Rent a jeep and find an experienced driver to take you to the hinterland of the desert, crossing through the endless undulating dunes and feeling the thrill of driving up and down the over 10-meter golden dunes.
Riding a camel across the sandy desert is quite a special experience that you must try when visiting Kubuqi. Sitting between the humps, listening to the camel bells, looking at the vast desert, you can't stop marveling at the vicissitudes of this world.
Camp overnight in the desert would be the experience of a lifetime! When night falls, set up the camp and light up the fire at the hinterland of the desert. Start a bonfire party with BBQ dinner, play your favorite music and groove at will under the starry sky...
Walking into the hinterland of the desert, all you can see are the desolate, lonely, monotonous sand dunes. But that vigorous scenery in the poem “From wastes of sand one smoke plume rises sheer, Past the long river the round sun sinks low. ” has the power to capture people's minds. The color of the sky gets dark, and in the soft dusk, streaks of light shone on the horizon, turning the desert golden.
The scenery of Kubuqi Desert is magnificent. Although the wind is wild, the sand is overflowing, and the vegetation is sparse, but the desert is vast and boundless. Standing on a dune peak and looking far in the distance, the endless sand sea boils with the rolling heat wave. Press the shutter at the moment, it must be one of the most beautiful sights in life.
Of course, there are also plenty of desert-specific amusements to experience in Kubuqi Desert, like sand sliding, riding a camel and watching desert rallies, etc.
Top Recommended Kubuqi Desert Tours:
There are 3 trekking routes across the desert, the west hiking route, the south hiking route and the east hiking route, among which the east route is the most popular one. The best season for hiking is from September to October, followed by May to June (sandstorms are more frequent).
Kubuqi Desert is located in the northern part of the ridge line of the Ordos Plateau, part of Ike Zhaomeng Hang Banner, Dalad Banner and Jungar Banner in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. As the core scenic area of Kubuqi Desert, Xiangshawan (Resonant Dune Bay) and Yemingsha are the top choices for first time visitors. Visitors can get to Baotou or Ordos by train, flight or car first and then transfer to scenic areas in Kubuqi Desert by taxi, private car or bus.
The only and most recommended way to get to hinterland of Kubuqi Desert is by hiring a private car, which would also give you more control power over your journey. Yemingsha Scenic Area is located about 270 km (3.5~4hrs) west from Hohhot, 130 km (around 2hrs) southwest from Baotou and 180 km (around 2.5hrs) northwest from Ordos. Contact us to book a private car service >>
You can also get to the Xiangshawan Scenic Area from Baotou by private car or public transport, like taxis or coaches.
By car/taxi: The driving distance between Baotou and the Resonant Dune Bay is about 60 km, which takes about 1.5 hours by car/taxi.
By Coach: You can take a coach at Baotou East Long-distance Bus Station (包头长途汽车站东站) heading to Dongsheng, and get off at Xiangshawan Overpass (响沙湾立交桥), then walk 3 km to reach the Resonant Dune Bay Scenic Area.
There are also three ways to get from Ordos city to Xiangshawan, by hiring private cars, by taxis or by coaches.
By car/taxi: The driving distance between Ordos and the Xiangshawan Scenic Area is about 50 km, which takes about 1.5 hours by car/taxi.
By Coach: You can take a coach at Dongsheng Long-distance Bus Station (东胜区长途汽车站) heading to Baotou, and get off at Xiangshawan Overpass (响沙湾立交桥), then walk 3 km to reach the Xiangshawan (Resonant Dune Bay) Scenic Area.
The most convenient, relaxing and time-saving way to get around separated scenic areas in Kubuqi Desert is by hiring a car/jeep. In recent years, hiking across the desert is another popular way to conquer Kubuqi Desert.
The area of attractions in Kubuqi Desert are mostly large. So there are many ways to visit scenic spots in different scenic areas.
Kubuqi scenic area belongs to the desert climate area, spring (mid-April to the end of May) is windy and sandy, summer is sizzling, winter is freezing, only autumn has mild weather, which is the best season to travel in the desert. The best time to hike through Kubuqi Desert is in May, June, September and October. But if you go to the desert during rainy days or after rain, the dunes may not have resonant. So if you are attracted by the sound of sand, you should pay attention to the weather forecast.
Kubuqi Desert has a high temperature and dry climate, with 25 to 35 windy days a year. The main feature is that the temperature difference between day and night is large, generally up to about 10 degrees. No matter in spring, summer, autumn or winter, be sure to wear long sleeves and pants, outdoor clothes or hiking suits are preferable. Never wear jeans on a long walk, because jeans are easy to get wet when you sweat or if there is rain, which can affect the movement of the legs and become a burden during hiking. Visitors are recommended to wear a pair of deft and breathable high top suede shoes when walking in the desert in summer, so as to avoid sand getting into the shoes.
There are many scenic areas in Kubuqi Desert that provide accommodation, like the Xiangshawan (Resonant Dune Bay), the Qixing Lake Scenic Area, Yemingsha Scenic Area (夜鸣沙旅游区) and Shenguang Desert Scenic Area (神光大漠旅游区), etc. There are some high-end hotels with very good facilities, like the Lotus Hotel (莲花酒店) in the Resonant Dune Bay and Seven Star Lake Desert Hotel (七星湖沙漠酒店) in Qixing Lake Scenic Area where you can have a very comfortable and relaxing vacation. You may also try some special accommodation such as tents, yurts and local inns.
Check more about Where to Stay in Kubuqi Desert >>
For those who are interested in staying overnight in the desert, should be noted that there are limited hotel rooms in desert scenic areas. During the peak tourist season, visitors should book hotels in advance (0.5~1 month early). Moreover, if you have high requirements for living conditions, you can take a car and head to Baotou or Ordos (Dongsheng / Kangbashi) for accommodation.
1. Dressing: Most scenic spots are located in the desert area and belong to the continental arid climate. It is windy and sandy in spring. In summer and autumn, the sunlight is strong in the daytime and the temperature drops rapidly at night. So travelers should wear long sleeves and sweat absorption clothes when traveling in summer, and bring necessities like sun cream, lip balms, sunglasses and topees, etc. In autumn, you need to add extra clothes during the night to prevent yourself from catching a cold.
2. When riding an off-road vehicle in the desert to surf the sand sea, you should fasten your safety belt, hold the handrail tightly with both hands, look straight ahead as far as possible and listen to the driver's safety tips. Patients with serious heart disease and hypertension should not enter the desert blindly.
3. When you enter the desert area, you should drink enough water and eat more fruits. You are recommended to prepare some medicines, such as eye drops, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, carsickness medicine, cold medicine and medicine for gastrointestinal discomfort.
4. The diet of ethnic minority areas is mainly beef and mutton, and visitors should respect the customs and habits of the local minorities.
5. Sunrise and sunset photography in the desert is quite charming. Have your camera ready if you are planning to stay overnight in the desert, and pack them well when not in use to prevent sand from getting in and damaging the camera.
6. Environment Protection: Please protect dessert plants and save water. They play an important role in maintaining the desert ecology.
Kubuqi Desert, near Baotou and Ordos downtown areas, is the first choice for people who are visiting Inner Mongolia for the first time and interested to enjoy diverse scenery of grassland, sand land and desert. It is quite popular for travelers to spend 2 days or more exploring the authentic Yemingsha Scenic Area at the hinterland of Kubuqi with some cool hiking and off-road driving experiences. Besides, groups with children also like an 1~2 days fun tour to Xiangshawan (Resonant Dune Bay) for more activities fun.
Except for the outdoor enthusiasts who come to do desert hiking in Kubuqi, most first-time visitors to Inner Mongolia will spend 5~6 days and travel Kubuqi Desert together with other highlights in Hohhot, Baotou and Ordos, like famous grasslands (Huitengxile Grassland and Xilamuren Grassland), Buddhist temples (Dazhao, Wudangzhao...) and historical sites (Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, Zhaojun Tomb...).
Feel not enough? You can spend 5~6 days more in Hulunbuir to meet the most beautiful grassland in China, more primitive wetlands and forests, and visit Russian Nationality Villages, 4~5 days in Xilingol to discover the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site - Site of Xanadu, 4~5 days in Chifeng to explore Ulan Butong Grassland and more great sightseeing at Hexigten Global Geopark, etc. If you want to seek wilder and more authentic desert scenery and in-depth hiking challenge, you can also plan 3~8 days to Badain Jaran Desert at the western part of Inner Mongolia instead. Do you have your own preferences about Kubuqi Desert and Inner Mongolia? Please feel free to tell us your likes and let our experienced travel consultant customize a tour for you!
As Kubuqi Desert covers a quite large area and there are no direct trains or flights to get there, travelling with a professional travel agency is usually the best way to visit there. We China Discovery know Kubuqi Desert and Inner Mongolia a lot and we are experienced in organizing tours to this region. If you need any help, please feel free to contact us! Private car, local professional private guide and travel consultant... Everything is only for you and your group or family! The tour is customizable based on your interest, budget, plan and every special need!
Top 3 Kubuqi Desert tours chosen by most customers to explore Kubuqi Desert 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 / Yemingsha of Kubuqi Desert / Ordos
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