Alxa (Alashan) Travel Guide

Alashan Map

Alxa Facts

Chinese Name: 阿拉善 (ā lā shàn)
Population: 250,700
Area: 270,000 square kilometers (104,248 square miles)
Location: in the west of Inner Mongolia, north China
Administrative Division: 3 Banners (Alashan Left Qi, Alashan Right Qi, Ejina Qi)
Area Code: 0483
Zip Code: 750306
GDP (2019): CNY 29.53 billion (USD 4.28 billion)
Nationalities: Mongol, Han, Hui, Man

Highlighting Brightly Golden Populus Euphratica Forest

Alxa, also Alashan, is a prefecture in the westernmost end of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and neighbors Jiuquan, Zhangye and Wuwei in Gansu Province to the west. It is separated from Ningxia by Helan Mountain to the east, sharing a 733.48 kilometers (456 miles) boundary with Mongolia. Bayanhot is the administrative center. The Alxa tourism gives prominence to unique desert scenery, magnificent Gobi spectacle, splendid Ejina populus euphratica forest and bold Mongolian customs. The best time to visit Alxa is October when the populus euphratica forest becomes brightly golden and the Chinese largest automobile cross-country event organized by FBLIFE is held. This city is also the location of Dongfeng space city (Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center), one of the three largest manned space centers in the world. 

Alxa Attractions - Things to Do

Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve, Ejina
Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve, Ejina
Ejina Poplar Forest Postcard
Lies to the north of Alxa Right Banner in Inner Mongolia. It covers an area of 18,146 square miles and is the third largest desert in China and fourth in the world.
Endowed with beautiful and colorful views, Badain Jaran desert has cragged peaks, beautiful lakes, springs and temples. In the middle area of the desert are countless sand-echoing hills. Unlike other dry deserts, Badain Jaran Desert is dotted with over 140 crystal lakes. Most of these are saltwater lakes, but there are also many pure springs.

The mountains of Badain Jaran Desert have harder surfaces than those in other deserts. This provides an opportunity to explore the desert on wheels. An unforgettable experience is to drive an off-road vehicle at high speed on the wave-like sand mountains.
Helan Mountain is the largest north-south mountain range in northwestern China.
Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve, Ejina
Poplar Forest National Nature Reserve, Ejina
Lying in Alxa Left Banner in Inner Mongolia, Helan Mountain National Reserve covers a large area, 261 square miles, with the highest peak measuring 11,700 feet. It lies in the transitional zone between grassland and desert. Walk into the virgin forest of Helan Mountain, you will feel you are entering a natural "zoo" which is home to hundreds of wild animals such as musk deer, berghaan, foxes and dzeren. Standing on top of the mountain and having a vertical view, you will be dazzled by the vast green sea of trees and, at the same time, be astonished by this marvelous creation of nature. 
One of the three extensive poplar forests in the world has enthralling autumn scenes beloved by numerous tourists and photographers.

Virgin Forest in Helan Mountain

A perfect attraction combining natural forest landscapes and Buddhist temples, such as the Guangzong Temple and the Fuyin Temple.

Moon Lake in Tengger Desert

A leisure destination in the shape of the map of China with one kilometer (0.6 mile) long natural bathing beach and medicinal lake water.

How to Get to/around Alxa

Buses are the main vehicles in Alxa League. Recently, visitors have been able to take buses directly between Alxa and other cities in Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu, such as Hohhot, Lanzhou, and Yinchuan. In addition, visitors can also get in and out of the prefecture through the nearby airport. Alxa Right Banner is 520 kilometers (323 miles) from Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport, while Zuo Qi is only 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the Yinchuan Hedong Airport in Ningxia.


Alxa has a typical continental climate for its location in the hinterland of Asia remote from the moisture of the sea. Wind blowing with sand, rare rain and dry air are the main features of its weather. The winter is chilly and the summer is parched.
 When to Go: Summer is the best time to explore the scenic spots of Alxa around Helan Mountain, while the poplar forest in Ejiana Qi tinged with autumn red is also fascinating.
Note: Apart from the tourist necessities, such as sunglasses, sunblock, and clothes with long sleeves, visitors should also pay attention that not to shelter from the wind behind the lee slope of a dune. The correct action is to stand in front the dune behind camels.

Alxa Travel Tips

 Physical Features: Alxa is situated on the Inner Mongolian Plateau having an average altitude of 1000-1400 meters (3281-4593 feet) with its topography inclining from the higher north to the lower south. The Gobi Desert and desert grassland comprise the main landscape of this area.
 History: Historically, Alxa was a beautiful place with many mellow waters and grass although there are many deserts in this area too. It has been shielded for hundreds of years from sparseness by the forests in Helan Mountain, Heihe River and oases. In the 17th Century, a tribe of Mongolians, the Tuerhute, after much difficulty contrived to come back and settle in this area from Volga River region. From then on, Alashan was inhabited over generations.
 Special Local Products: cashmere, camel hair, curious stone carvings

- Last updated on Jun. 20, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Alxa / Alashan Travel
Asked by Nurul from MALAYSIA | Jul. 04, 2019 00:52Reply
Hi, May I know there is bus from Jiayuguan to Ejina Qi?
If yes, may I know the schedule and price. Thank you
Answers (2)
Answered by Phill from USA | Jul. 04, 2019 18:31

No, there is no direct bus between these two places. You can take taxi from Jiayuguan to Jiuquan firstly, then take bus at Jiuquan Coach Station to Ejina Qi. It departs from 8:30, 11:00 and 14:00 with CNY92.
Answered by Nurul from MALAYSIA | Jul. 04, 2019 23:40

hello Phill. well noted.thanks!😊
Asked by Henry from MALAYSIA | Jul. 04, 2018 18:37Reply
Did anyone ever travel from Yinchuan to Erjina ?
Is there any direct bus or night bus from Yinchuan in Ningxia ? Can anyone suggest the bus time please ?
I am looking for the overnight bus to Erjina ? Hope someone can help.
Answers (2)
Answered by Lora | Jul. 05, 2018 19:44

There is no direct bus between the two places. You can take a bus to Zuoqi, which takes about 40 minutes to get there. Then take a coach from Zuoqi, three coaches depart from 8:00 to 8:30 and the journey time is about 8 to 9 hours.
Answered by Henry from MALAYSIA | Jul. 08, 2018 19:51

Thank you very much
Asked by Yen from THAILAND | Jul. 01, 2018 22:51Reply
Bus schedule from Erjina qi back to Zhangye
Can you advise what is the bus schedule from Erjina qi to Zhangye ?
I plan to be there by mid of October. Is it a good time to see the autumn leave ?
Answers (4)
Answered by Fernando from SPAIN | Jul. 02, 2018 02:58

No direct buses operate between the two places. You need to take a bus from Erjina qi to Jiuquan and take a train from Jiuquan to Zhangye. Yes, it is a good time.
Answered by Yen from THAILAND | Jul. 02, 2018 05:38

Hello Sir,
One of my friend have been to this route last year. He informed that there is a but from Zhangye to Erjina qi at 10 am. daily. Is this route just discontinued this year ??

Do you know the bus time travel between Jiuquan to Erjina qi and back ??

Thanks in advance for your reply.
Answered by Fernando from SPAIN | Jul. 02, 2018 19:55

I’m sorry. I searched again and found that there is a bus departing from Erjina qi to Zhangye. The departure time is at 07:40 and the fare is about CNY 150. Hope you have a nice journey!
Answered by Yen from THAILAND | Jul. 02, 2018 21:46

Thanks so much for your help Fernando.
Asked by Julius from GERMANY | Jan. 09, 2018 17:46Reply
Day trip to the Desert from Zhangye
What is the best possibility to visit the Desert (some lakes and dunes for some real desert feeling) from Zhangye? Is it possible to do it as a day trip (e.g. taxi to badan jaran and than change to jeep or something) or are there even some guided tours from zhangye to the desert for a reasonable price?
Answers (1)
Answered by Phill from ITALY | Jan. 09, 2018 19:20

Yes, you can do a day trip. BTW, the fare of taxi & jeep is around 2,000RMB.
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