Top 10 Attractions in Alxa League, Top Things to Do in Alxa League

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On the west of Inner Mongolia lies Alxa League, also known as Alashan League.  It is one of the 12 prefecture-level divisions in the administrative area of Inner Mongolia. Alxa League is still a mysterious and massive place admired by many adventurous travelers.

Exploring Alxa League (Alashan League)  is quite challenging due to its huge landscape of desert, lakes and hills, the size of 16 “Beijing”! Unlike the grassland as the big draw in other places in Inner Mongolia, Alxa League is bestowed with unique natural landscapes –  massive deserts, diversifolius poplar forest, lonely gobi, sapphire lakes, Helanshan virgin forest.  Alxa League is also rife with historical relics and elements of ancient human civilizations.

I’ve collected top 10 attractions in Alxa League (Alashan League) based on the highlights in the three counties which comprise Alax League. The three counties are Alashan Zuoqi ( Alxa Left Banner ), Alashan Youqi ( Alxa Right Banner ) and Ejina Qi ( Ejina Banner ), which are also the largest oases  in Alxa League (Alashan).

Hopefully my Top 10 List will be of some use while planning your West Inner Mongolia Tour.

1. Tenggeli Desert (Tengger Desert|)腾格里沙漠
Tenggeli or Tengger Desert literally means “stretching into distance like the sky” in Mongolian. Running west to south from Alxa League to Gansu Province, the Tenggeli Desert is connected to the Helan Mountains on the West, goes over the Great Wall in the south and linked to the Yabulai Mountain in the west.

The desert has an area of 367,000 sq km that comprises sand dunes, lakes, hilly land flat ground. The desert has over 400 lakes.  The most famous lake is known as  Moon Lake, or Moon Lake Scenic Area. Moon Lake is nestled in the hinterland of Tenggeli Desert, Alxa Zuoqi. It is 70 kilometers southwest of Bayanhot Town. Moon Lake is a 5A-Level Scenic Area in China,a beautiful and magic natural freshwater lake with an area of three sq.kilometers.

Location: In the southeast of Alxa League, between Helanshan Mountain and Yabulan Mountain
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn; typical continental climate with little rain
How to get there: Drive from Zhongwei, Yinchuan or Bayanhot

Tenggeli Desert (Tengger Desert|)

Tenggeli Desert (Tengger Desert|)

2. Helanshan Mountain ( Ho-lan Mountains) 贺兰山
“Helan” literally mean “Fine Horse” in Mongolian. Helanshan Mountain runs over 220 km from north to south, from 20 to 40 km wide with average about 2000 meters in altitude. The mountain range runs north-south parallel to Yellow River and the semi-arid Ordos Plateau.

To its west are the desert regions of the Alxa Plateau. The Helan Range has evergreen conifer forests that supports endemic communities of plants and animals.

Location: Running from north to south between Alxa League and Ningxia Province
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Yinchuan or Bayanhot

Ho-lan Mountains

Ho-lan Mountains

3. Guangzong Temple 广宗寺
Also called South Temple, Guangzong Monastery is one of the most important lama shrines in Inner Mongolia, a place where the legendary Sixth Dalai Lama died. Guangzong Monastery is 23 kilometers southwest of Bayanhaote Town (Bayanhot), and 70 kilometers from Yinchuan.

Location: In a valley on the west of Helan Mountain,23km to southwest of Bayanhot.
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Yinchuan or Bayanhot

 Guangzong Temple

Guangzong Temple

4. Ejina Diversifolius Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve 额济纳胡杨林国家级自然保护区
It is one of the three largest poplar forests in the world with mesmerizing autumn scenes sought after by numerous tourists and photographers.

It is located about 23km to the east of  Dalaikubu Town, the seat of Ejina Qi ( Ejina Banner ), which are also the largest oases  in Alxa League (Alashan).

Entrance Fee: RMB170
Location: 23km to southwest of Bayanhot.
Best Visit Time: Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Ejina Diversifolius Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve

Ejina Diversifolius Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve

5. Juyanhai Lake (Juyan Lake) 居延海
Historically Juyanhai Lake was divided into East Juyan Lake and West Juyan Lake. The ancient Juyanhai Lake was fed by Ejina River. The grassland around the lake used to be lush wtih fertile land, one of the earliest cultivated area in China.

In 1960s, the lake was dried up and the dried river beds posed s great threat to Beijing and other cities by creating sandstorms. Great efforts have been made to save and protect the eco enviroment of Juyan Lake. The waters of Heihe River has been diverted to Juyan Lake. Now Juyan Lake has returned to its former charming. It is located 40km to the northwest of Dalaihubu Town, the capital of Ejina Banner.

Location: 40km to the north of Dalaikubu Town
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Juyanhai Lake

Juyanhai Lake

6. Black City Ruins 黑城遗址
The Black City Ruins is famous all over the world for the significant military passing along Silk Road in Han, Tang, Xixia and Yuan Dynasties. The city was originally built  in 1032. In 1372 the Ming soldiers took the city and he city was abandoned and left in ruins also due to water shortage.

The present remaining city wall was built in Yuan Dynasty ( 1271 1368).  It has a perimeter of  one kilometers, 434 meters from east west and 383 meters with the maximum height of 10 meters.

Entrance fee: RMB80
Location: 40km to the southeast  of Dalaikubu Town
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Black City Ruins

Black City Ruins

7. Ceke Port 策克口岸
It is the third largest overland port in Inner Mongolia as the outside door with rich mineral resources in Mongolia State. It is located 77 km to the north of Dalaikubu Town (Ejina Bnner).

Ceke Port opens four times a year – March (20 days), June (30 days), September (30 Days) and December (20 days).  Ceke Port becomes a big bazzar during the opening days.

Location: 77km to the southeast  of Dalaikubu Town
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Ceke Port

Ceke Port

8. Badain Jaran Desert 巴丹吉林沙漠
Badain Jaran covers an area of 49,000 sq. kilometers. It is the highest and most beautiful desert in the world spanning the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Ningxia.

The desert is also home to over 100 spring-fed lakes that lie between the dunes, some of which are fresh while others are salty. Badain Jaran Desert is well known for its queer peaks, singing sand, lakes, temples.

Location: North of Alxa Right Banner
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from  Dalaikubu or Bayanhot

Badain Jaran Desert

Badain Jaran Desert

Mandela Cliff Paintings 曼德拉山岩画
 The cliff paintings  are located in the Mandala Mountains on the Western edge of Badain Jaran Desert, 14km to the southwest of Mandela Town. Within an area of 18 square km, there are 6000 ancient cliff carvings scattered around, one of the treasure trove of the world most ancient art.

Mandela Mountain is located in Sumu, in Alxa Right Banner (Alxa Youqi) . The numerous cliff paintings on the mountain vividly have recorded the Alxa’ history,  culture and social development.

Location: 14 away from Sumu,  North of  Alxa Right Banner
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from  Sumu,  North of Alxa Right Banner

Mandela Cliff Paintings

Mandela Cliff Paintings

10. Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape 海森楚鲁怪石城
Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape is also known as Haisenchulu Wind-erosion Geomorphology Scenic Area. It is located about 200 kilometers to the northwest of Ekenhuduge Town, the capital of Alxa Right Banner.

Haisenchulu used to be a sea. Later the sea bed rised and was turned into land. The original rocks on the sea bed were eroded by the wind and rain for centuries have become the present shapes, dubbed as “the kingdom of Miraculous Stones”.

Location: 200 km to the northwest of  Ekenhuduge, Alxa Right Banner
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from  Ekenhuduge,  Alxa Right Banner

Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape

Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape

Further Reading

Mid-Inner Mongolia Tour
East Inner Mongolia Tour
Northeast Inner Mongolia Tour 
West Inner Mongolia Tour

Alashan Travel Guide
Bayanhot Travel Guide
Alxa Left Banner Travel Guide
Alxa Right Banner Travel Guide
Ejin Banner Travel Guide
Ceke Port, a land port
Dongfeng Space Flight City
Wuhai Travel Guide

Any questions, just drop a line. 

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