Top 10 Attractions in Alxa League (Tips, Photos & Map)

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Plan your Inner Mongolia tour? On the west of Inner Mongolia lies Alxa League (阿拉善盟), 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 travellers.

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.

The jurisdiction of Alxa League ( within the red line) Google Map

I’ve collected top 10 attractions ( the Top Things to Do ) in Alxa League ( Alashan) based on the highlights in the three counties which comprise Alax League. The three counties are Alashan Zuoqi ( 阿拉善左旗 Alxa Left Banner ), Alashan Youqi 阿拉善右旗 ( Alxa Right Banner ) and Ejina Qi 额济纳旗( Ejin Banner ).

To visit Alxa League ( Alashan) , it is better to grab some knowledge of these three counties and their seats or capitals. These three county seats are the convenient launching pads to delve into the historic sites and unique landscapes in the league.

Alashan Zuoqi 阿拉善左旗 (Alxa Left Banner ): Bayanhotezhen 巴彦浩特镇 ( the county seat )
Alashan Youqi 阿拉善右旗 ( Alxa Right Banner: Badan Jilin Zhen 巴丹吉林镇 (the county seat )
Ejina Qi 额济纳旗( Ejin Banner ):Dalai Kubu 达来库布镇 (Dalaikubuzhen) (the county seat )

The Location of Three County Seats in Alax League ( Google)

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

The Alxa League Major Attraction Map ( Google Map)

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 10 kilometers south of Bayanhaotenzhen ( 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 巴彦浩特

Tenggeli Desert (Tengger Desert|)
Tenggeli Desert (Tengger Desert|)

2. 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 巴彦浩特

 Guangzong Temple
Guangzong Temple

3. 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 巴彦浩特

Ho-lan Mountains
Ho-lan Mountains

4. Ejin Poplar Forest 额济纳胡杨林

Ejin Poplar Forest (Huyanglin Scenic Area) is one of the three largest poplar forests in the world with mesmerizing autumn scenes sought after by numerous tourists and photographers.

Check out my another article Ejina Euphrates Desert Poplar (Populus ) (Tips, Photos & Map) for more information.

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

Entrance Fee: RMB170
Location: 23km to southwest of Bayanhot 巴彦浩特
Best Visit Time: Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town 达来库布镇 of Ejin Banner

Ejina Diversifolius Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve
Huyanglin Scenic Area

5. Heicheng Historic Site 黑城遗址

The Heicheng Historic Site ( 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 location of Heicheng Historic Site

Check out my another article Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto) in Ejin Banner for more information.

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 达来库布镇
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Black City Ruins
Black City Ruins

6. 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 达来库布镇
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from Dalaikubu Town of Ejina Banner

Ceke Port
Ceke Port

7. 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.

Check out my another article A Glimpse of Badain Jaran Desert for more information.

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.

The desert officially open to the public tourism is called Badain Jaran Desert Tourism Area. It is located about 150km northeast of Badan Jilin Zhen ( the seat of Alxa Right Banner) and 450km west of Bayanhaotezhen, or Bayanhao Town ( the seat of Alxa Left Banner )

Location: North of Alxa Right Banner
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from  Dalaikubu 达来库布镇 or Bayanhot 巴彦浩特

Badain Jaran Desert
Badain Jaran Desert

8. Mandela Cliff Paintings 曼德拉山岩画

Mandela Yanhua ( Cliff Paintings) The cliff paintings  are located in the Mandala Mountains on the Western edge of Badain Jaran Desert, 14km to the southwest of Mandela Town and 208 km northeast of Badan Jilin Zhen. 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.

If you want to google the place “Mandela Cliff Paintings“, please google “Mandela Shanyan Huabaohu Management Station“, which is the name that the google identifies the place.

Mandela Yanhua ( Cliff Paintings) 208km northeast of Badan Jilin Zhen ( Google)

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

9. Haisen Chulu Scenic Area 海森楚鲁怪石城

Haisen Chulu Scenic Area (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”.

Haisen Chulu Scenic Area 180km northwest of Badan Jilin Zhen ( Google)

Location: 180 km to the northwest of  Badan Jilin Zhen 巴丹吉林镇, the seat of Alxa Right Banner
Best Visit Time: Summer and Autumn;
How to get there: Drive from  Badan Jilin Zhen 巴丹吉林镇 ,  the seat of Alxa Right Banner

Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape
Haisenchulu Wind-Eroded Landscape

10. 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 达来库布镇 of Ejina Banner

Juyanhai Lake
Juyanhai Lake

Tip:  Hassle-free Inner Mongolia  Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Inner Mongolia:

Inner Mongolia Tour
Mid-Inner Mongolia Tour (Hohhot, Baotou, Ordos)
East Inner Mongolia Tour (Xanadu,Wulan Butong, Xilinhot, Chifeng)
Northeast Inner Mongolia Tour (Hulunbuir)
West Inner Mongolia Tour (Alashan “Alxa” League)
Hohhot Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Hohhot
The Best Time to Visit Hohhot
Meidaizhao Temple
How to go to Hohhot from Beijing
Top Souvenirs in Hohhot
Hohhot Taxi: Hohhot Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Baotou Taxi: Baotou Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Ordos Taxi: Ordos taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
What to see in Hohhot, what to do in Hohhot

Top 10 Attractions in Alxa League
Heicheng Historic Site (Khara-Khoto) in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Guai Shu Lin in Ejin Banner, Inner Mongolia (Tips, Photos & Map)
Populus Forest in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Badain Jaran Desert (Tips, Photos & Map)

The Quiet Wusu Langzi Lake
Dujuan Lake in Aershan National Forest Park
Beihu Park Skyline at Night in Manzhouli
Architecture of Manzhouli

Sunrise Glow over Hulunbuir Grasslands.
Top 10 Places for Photography in Hulunbuir
Top 10 Attractions in Hulunbuir.
Road Trip from Ergun to Linjiang Village
Hulun Lake Travel Tips
World Anti-fascist War Hailar Memorial Park
Architecture of Manzhouli
Ergun Travel Guide
Aoluguya Travel Guide
Shiwei Travel Tips
How to visit Hulunbuir Grassland

Top 10 Attractions in Chifeng
Xanadu Sites Museum
Jinlianchuan Grassland
Wulan Butong Grassland
Asihatu Stone Forest
Gong Geer Grassland
Duolun Travel Guide
Xanadu Travel Guide – Shangdu Travel
How to visit Asihatu Stone Forest
Xi Wuzhumuqin Grassland

Any questions, just drop a line.

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