China is home to the Badain Jaran Desert, a vast expanse of land that spans three provinces, namely Gansu, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia. With a total area of 49,000 square kilometers or 12,000,000 acres, the Badain Jaran Desert is the third-largest desert in China in terms of size. Situated on the Alxa Plateau, the desert sits at an elevation of approximately 1,200 meters or 3,900 feet above sea level and is classified as a subsection of the Gobi Desert.
One of the most notable features of the Badain Jaran Desert is its “five wonders.” These include the striking sandy peaks, the melodious singing dunes, the vibrant and colorful lakes, the crystal-clear springs, and the ancient temples that dot the landscape. The sand peaks in the desert can reach heights of between 200-500 meters, while the average altitude of the region ranges from 1,100 to 1,600 meters.
- Location: in the Alxa Plateau at about 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) above sea level and spans the provinces of Gansu, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia.
- Opening time: all year round.
- Ticket price: 160RMB per person.
- Time Needed: 2 days
- Best time to visit: May to October
What to See and Do in Badain Jaran Desert
1. Explore the Singing Dunes:
The Singing Dunes are one of the most famous landmarks in the Badain Jaran Desert. These sand dunes are known for the strange, eerie humming sound they make when the wind blows across them. Visitors can climb to the top of the dunes for stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
2. Marvel at the Sandy Peaks:
The sandy peaks of the Badain Jaran Desert are truly a sight to behold. These towering sand mountains can reach heights of up to 500 meters and are a unique feature of the desert landscape.
3. Explore Ancient Temples:
The Badain Jaran Desert is home to a number of ancient temples and ruins that offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural history. Some of the most popular include the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, and Badain Jaran Temple which is known as the “Forbidden City” of the Badain Jaran Desert.
4. Visit the Colorful Lakes:
The Badain Jaran Desert is home to a number of stunning lakes that are known for their vibrant colors. Some of the most popular include Yueya Lake, which is shaped like a crescent moon and surrounded by towering sand dunes, and Nuoer Lake, which is known for its brilliant blue-green hues.
5. Go Camel Trekking:
No trip to the desert is complete without a camel ride. Visitors can take a camel trek through the dunes to explore the stunning desert landscape and touch the authentic way of life in the region.
6. Experience Local Culture:
The Badain Jaran Desert is home to a number of ethnic minority groups, including the Mongolian and Tu people. Visitors can learn about their customs, traditions, and way of life by visiting local villages and attending cultural events.
Best Time to Visit Badain Jaran Desert
If you’re planning to visit the Badain Jaran Desert, the ideal time to go is between May and October. This period is characterized by warm and dry weather, making it the perfect time to explore the desert’s many attractions. During the day, temperatures typically range from 20°C to 30°C, providing a pleasant and comfortable environment for outdoor activities. At night, temperatures can drop to around 10°C, so it’s important to pack warm clothing to stay comfortable. Additionally, the desert tends to be less windy during this time of year, providing a more enjoyable experience for visitors.
Attractions nearby Badain Jaran Desert
- Temple Haizi (Su Min Jilin): Located in Inner Mongolia’s Alxa League Alxa Right Banner Badanjilin Desert Scenic Area, this ancient temple is steeped in history and culture. It’s a great place to learn about the local traditions and customs of the region.
- Badain Jaran Desert Lakes: The Badain Jaran Desert is home to 113 inland lakes, collectively known as the “thousands of lakes in the desert”. These lakes are a unique feature of the desert landscape, each with its own distinct formation and scenery. Exploring these lakes is a must-do activity for visitors to the area.
How to Get to Badain Jaran Desert?
If you’re planning to visit the Badain Jaran Desert, there are several ways to get there. One option is to arrive at either Lanzhou or Jinchang in Gansu Province or Alxa Left Banner in Inner Mongolia, and then take a long-distance bus to either Badain Jaran Town or Yabrai Town. From there, it’s recommended that you rent an SUV to explore the vast scenic area, as the desert is quite large.
If you’re looking for a convenient and efficient way to get to the Badain Jaran Desert, flying into the Alxa Right Banner Badain Jaran Airport (IATA: BHT) is an excellent option. This airport is situated about 90 km away, and it takes only about an hour to drive from the airport to the desert. This means you can quickly get to your destination and start exploring the wonders of the Badain Jaran Desert without any hassle.