Vacations to Barain Jaran, China

Spanning the provinces of Gansu, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, the Badain Jaran Desert is 19,000 square miles of nature at its spellbinding best. It is the third largest desert in China and the fourth largest in the world.

Here, the sand dunes rise higher than some of the tallest skyscrapers on the planet. The average height is a whopping 200m, but that’s small fry compared to the mighty Bilutu Dune, which clocks in at an altitude of more than 1,600m and ranks among the highest dunes in the world. If you enjoy a challenge, climb your way to the top and look down on the surrounding Badain Jaran. It’s one of the most magnificent views in all of China – a panorama of sandy peaks and lakes.

Yes, that’s right, the Badain Jaran desert has lakes. In fact, it has well over a hundred of them. They sit in the troughs between dunes, fed by underground springs. To make matters even more perplexing, some are freshwater, and some are incredibly saline, which is where the Badain Jaran gets its name from – Mongolian for ‘mysterious lakes’.

Scientists struggle to agree on how and why there are so many lakes in the Badain Jaran Desert. That’s not the only thing they debate either. As you wander the labyrinthine corridors of these mighty dunes you’ll begin to hear their eerie song. It’s like a low rumbling, an ominous warning to leave this maddening desert. How it occurs, no one really knows. It’s just part of the mystique of the sands.

Don’t let the odd nature of the desert perturb your expeditions. Carry on exploring and hunt down the beautiful Baidan Jaran Temple. Nicknamed the ‘Forbidden City’ it sits serenely overlooking a lake, with the mighty sand dunes for a backdrop, creating a magnificent sight in this mysterious place.

  • The third largest desert in China, fourth in the world

  • Home to the tallest sand dune in the world

  • Hear the desert sing as the wind whips over the dunes

  • Search the landscape for unexplained lakes and the Forbidden City

Senior Travel Designer
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I became fluent in Mandarin during my time living, studying and working in China. From there I travelled to every corner of China. Beijing is my favourite city, I love finding amazing places to eat and trying new dishes.

Badain Jaran trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas that include Badain Jaran. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we'll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we've created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777.

Map of Badain Jaran

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