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Tengger Desert & Ningxia Zhongwei Shapotou

The Tengger Desert is an arid natural region that covers about 36,700 km² and is mostly situated within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in China. It is the fourth largest desert in China and is expanding in size.

  • Type: Desert, Lake, Geologic Formations & Nature
  • Altitude: 1,200 ~ 1,400 meters above the sea level
  • Best Seasons: Spring, Summer and Autumn, especially from April to June and September and October
  • Recommended Visiting Time: 4~5 days
  • Opening Time: 8:30-17:30
  • Tickets: from CNY 100/pp.
  • Address: Spanningcentral Gansu, northern Ningxia and southwestern Alxa Left Banner of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region


Why Visit Tengger Desert

Tengger Desert is a highly sought-after tourist destination due to its stunning desert landscapes, which include never-ending sand dunes, shimmering lakes, and the ever-changing play of light and shadow cast by the sun. Adventure seekers are drawn to exhilarating activities such as sandboarding and desert crossing, while others prefer hiking, camel riding, camping, and sand sliding.


What to See and Do in Tengger Desert

Have fun in Zhongwei Shapotou Desert

Zhongwei Shapotou is renowned as one of China’s top five most beautiful deserts.

  • Ticket Price: CNY 100 per person during peak season from April to October; CNY 65 in the off-season from November to March.
  • Recommended Visiting Hours: 1-2 days

Nestled on the southeastern edge of the Tengger Desert, Zhongwei Shapotou is a bustling and sought-after destination. The name “Shapotou” refers to a towering sand mountain that rises over 100 meters high, formed by the collision of the rolling desert and the surging Yellow River. It is renowned as one of China’s top five most beautiful deserts, where visitors can indulge in various attractions like camel riding, sand surfing, desert hiking, and China’s largest natural sand skating ground.

Shapotou Sand Sliding Ningxia
Experience Sand Sliding in Shapotou

Experience Thrilling Desert Activities

Tengger Desert offers a wide range of desert activities. One of the most popular activities is sandboarding, which involves sliding down the sand dunes on a specially designed board. Visitors can rent boards and receive instruction from local guides.

Another popular activity is camel riding, which provides a unique perspective on the desert landscape. Visitors can choose from a variety of camel rides, including short rides and overnight treks.

Tengger Desert offers a range of hiking opportunities, from short nature walks to more challenging treks through the sand dunes. Visitors can explore the desert landscape and its unique flora and fauna, including rare desert plants and animals.

Other popular attractions in Tengger Desert

  • Moon Lake is a serene and picturesque lake situated in the heart of Tengger Desert, encompassed by soft and lofty sand dunes, giving visitors a sense of tranquility and calmness.
  • Swan Lake is another breathtaking lake nestled within Tengger Desert, best known for its perfect outlook showcasing crystal-clear waters, so transparent that visitors can see the bottom.
  • Tonghu Grassland, located on the outskirts of Tengger Desert, boasts a unique experience for visitors to relish, where they can stay in an authentic yurt, indulge in delectable traditional Mongolian cuisine, and immerse themselves in the rustic and raw beauty of the grassland.
Tengger Desert Moon Lake
Moon Lake

How to Get to and Get Around Tengger Desert?

People usually visit the Tengger Desert from Zhongwei City in Yinchuan City.

How to Reach Zhongwei City?

Zhongwei City has convenient transportation options, including an airport and a bullet train station, and is easily accessible by air, train, or car. Driving is also a viable option if you’re coming from nearby cities like Yinchuan City or Alxa Left Banner.

By Air:

Zhongwei Shapotou Airport offers flights to and from various destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Chongqing. The airport is approximately 23 kilometers away from Zhongwei Shapotou, and it takes around half an hour to reach the city by car. You can book a private car service for a hassle-free journey.

By Train:

Zhongwei South Railway Station provides direct bullet train connections to and from Yinchuan and other destinations. Yinchuan offers bullet train services from cities like Beijing, Xian, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou. Upon arriving at the railway station, you can easily find a taxi or arrange for a private car to reach Zhongwei Shapotou. It is advisable to book a private car service in advance to avoid any inconvenience.

How to Get around the desert?

Once you arrive in Tengger Desert, the best way to get around is by hiring a local guide or joining a tour group. This is because the desert can be dangerous and it is easy to get lost without proper guidance.


The Best Time to Visit Tengger Desert

To experience the best of Tengger Desert, plan your visit during spring, summer, or autumn, particularly from April to June and September to October. These seasons offer pleasant weather and mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploration. However, note that summers can be hot, while winters are cold, so it’s best to avoid the extreme seasons if you’re not comfortable with the weather.


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