Badain Jaran Desert Tour, China Private Tour

From Badain Jaran to Lhasa


  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours
12 Days
2 Flights
Not Child Friendly

This is a fascinating private tour to some of China’s least traveled regions. The trip begins with a thrilling ride through the mysterious sand dunes of the Badain Jaran desert. Dotted with thousands of crystal-clear lakes locked amidst some of the world’s highest sand dunes, Badain Jaran desert features a landscape like non-other. Drive out of the desert and continue through Qinghai Province, part of historical Tibet, and today home to diverse ethnic groups of distinct traditions and religions. After touring Qinghai, hop onboard the Sky Train, a true engineering feat ascending along the Tibetan Plateau all the way to Lhasa. End the trip with few days of exploring some of the most revered sites to Tibetan Buddhism and meeting the Tibetan people and culture up-close.

Recommended dates to travel from Badain Jaran desert to Lhasa are June to September. However, July and August might be a bit more crowded (please refer to the Chinese national holidays’ list below, during which these rates might not apply).




  • Dinner

Land in Beijing, the Chinese capital city. Meet the guide, and drive to the city center. The drive from the airport tells the story of China's swift transition from classic socialism to a nearly free-market economy and the social changes that followed such transition. From the suburbs, where luxurious and spacious residential complexes have been built to accommodate those who were quick to take advantage of the arrival of capitalism, the urban landscape gradually changes to old-style communist residential blocks, and then again, once arriving at the heart of the city, luxurious high-risers accommodate the offices of the world's leading companies and best-known brands. Depending on the time of arrival, a first orientation tour might be possible, followed by a welcome dinner- a chance to indulge in authentic Chinese cuisine. Revert then to the hotel for a first night in China.


  • Breakfast

This morning drive back to Beijing airport for the flight to the small town of Zhangye, an important trade post on the ancient Silk Road. From the airport, drive to the reclining Buddha temple, dating back to the Western Xia Dynasty of the 11th century. Apart from the impressive 34-meter (112 feet) Buddha statue, the temple features a fascinating exhibition of religious artifacts that have been recovered from archaeological digs in the region. In the afternoon, visit Zhangye National Wetland Park. Zhangye is nestled at the heart of the Hexi Corridor, perched amid the Qilian Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau to the south, and the vast, arid Gobi Desert to the north. The Black River, running through the small town, is one of the very few water sources along the ancient Silk Road. The river fan, north of Zhangye, is a rare spot for migrating birds and waterfowl to nest. The park, stretched over 41 square kilometers (over 10 thousand acres), is home to 195 species of plants and 116 species of fauna. Walk through the unique park, considered the most beautiful wetland park in mainland China, before a stroll along the lively night street, where city dwellers come to enjoy dinner served at small restaurants and food stalls.


  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After breakfast at the hotel, depart Zhangye for the drive to Badain Jaran. Badain Jaran desert is home to the world's highest sand dunes, rising some 500 meters (1,640 feet) and featuring unparalleled landscapes. Surprisingly, this seemingly endless sea of sands extending to the horizon is dotted with nothing but beautiful blue lakes. No one knows for certain what the source of these lakes is, but it is assumed the water comes all the way from the Qilian Mountains through underground rivers. The challenging off-road drive through the dunes and among the lakes leads to Soumin Jaran, a beautiful lake with a typical Mongolian-style temple perched by it. Visit the temple, now inhabited by only one monk, and enjoy a walk along the lakeshore. Overnight in a very basic guesthouse at Soumin Jaran.


  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Leave Soumin Jaran and drive to the top of one of the highest dunes in the area for a spectacular view over lakes and breathtaking dunes, beautifully shaped by the elements. From here, take a two-and-a-half-hour hike to Nuritu Lake. After a quick lunch, take to the vehicles to drive out of the Badain Jaran desert. En route, pause by the wall of singing sand, and those brave enough can have a quick dip at Bor Tulguu Lake. Leave the dunes and stop at the small local museum to learn more about Badain Jaran desert and its unique ecosystem. After two days of driving through the dunes, back on solid asphalt, reach the small settlement of Alxa Youqi. Here say farewell to the 4WD drivers and drive back to Zhangye, arriving in town late in the evening.


  • Breakfast

Leave Zhangye and head to Bing Guo. Located at the foot of the Qilian Mountains, the park consists of marvelous sandstone formations. Take a short hike down the main valley and climb up to an observation point for a breathtaking view over the beautiful formations shaped over the years by wind and water. Back in the vehicle, continue to Dan Xia, a spectacular mountain with somewhat psychedelic patterns of colors in the rock, made by various minerals deposited in the rich soil. Drive back to Zhangye to board a Bullet Train to Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. Arrive in Xining late at night, and drive directly to the hotel.


  • Breakfast

Today, take an excursion out of Xining to the Canbula National Forest Park, featuring impressive rock and land formations with snow-capped peaks at the backdrop. The road leading to the park crosses a bridge over the Yellow River, commonly referred to as the cradle of Chinese civilization. Once at the park, take a beautiful hike down the Nanzong Valley to Liujia Gorge, through birch forests, and along formidable red sandstone cliffs. In the late afternoon, drive back to Xining. If time permits, stop for a walk in one of the several towns where the Muslim Hui people reside. Overnight in Xining.


  • Breakfast

With an early start of the day, go to the city's main square to see the crowds taking their morning exercises. Some are groups of Tibetans dancing to traditional and modern music, while others are individuals mastering their t'ai chi technique. Walk to the city's food market to stock up on fruit and snacks for the train ride later in the day. Before leaving Xining, stop at one of the city's largest mosques. Showing a combination of traditional Muslim and Chinese architecture, the mosque is located at the edge of the wide extent of the Chinese Sunni people. Originally constructed during the 14th century, the buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Continue to the train station for an unforgettable ride on the Sky Train to Lhasa. This ambitious project, undertaken by the Chinese government, is the world's highest railway and a true triumph for mankind, overcoming many natural and mechanical obstacles during its construction. Overnight aboard the train.


  • Dinner

Reach Lhasa in the early afternoon and drive directly to the hotel to rest after the 24-hour train ride. At nearly 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level, the air in Lhasa is very thin. For those who need some time to acclimatize, a free afternoon at the hotel is offered. Those with enough stamina are welcome to join the guide and walk to the bustling Barkhor- a circular street around Tibet's holiest temple. Join the commotion of many hundreds of pilgrims taking the kora along busy market stalls before entering the Jokhang. Built in the 7th
century by Songtsen Gampo, the founder of the Tibetan Empire, and to a large extent, the nation's forefather, this ancient temple houses the Jowo Rinpoche, the most revered Buddha image for the people of Tibet.


  • Breakfast

Today explore Lhasa's most prominent sites and temples, beginning with a morning visit to Norbulingka. Built in 1775, this was the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas from the time of its construction until the present Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959. With its vast, well-maintained gardens, and the light breeze blowing from the lake right at the center of the vast complex, this is a perfect refuge from the heat of the city in summer. Proceed to the Potala Palace with its whitewashed fortified walls, formidable protection from both invaders and earthquakes. The massive palace stretches for some 140,000 square meters (nearly 35 acres) on top of a hill looking over the entire Lhasa Valley. The Potala features more than 1000 shrines, the tombs of most of the Dalai Lamas, and an excellent display of Tibetan and Buddhist art and workmanship. Leave the palace and head to Sera Monastery, one of the three prominent colleges of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. At the center of this large complex of shrines, temples, and study halls, Tibetan monks conduct elaborate theological debates. The ceremonial practices involved with these debates, dozens of them taking place simultaneously, stage a mesmerizing sight. After attending the debates, revert to the hotel for a second night in Lhasa.


  • Breakfast

Leave Lhasa for a drive along the Kyi River Valley. En route, pause at a sacred site where Tibetan families give a 'water burial' to children who have passed away. Continue driving to Gamba La pass at 4,800 meters (15,748 feet) above sea level for a view over the crystal blue Yamdrok Lake, one of Tibet's most sacred lakes. From here, descend back to the Kyi Valley, heading towards Tsedang and straight to Yumbulakhang Palace, believed to be the palace of the first king of Tibet and the first building ever to have been built in its territory. With very few written records about the palace, which now functions as a monastery of the Gelugpa sect, it is assumed that its construction started in the 2nd century BC. It was severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution but was reconstructed in 1983 to its current state. The palace offers a great view over the Yarlung Valley and the traditional villages dotting it. Late in the afternoon, arrive in the small town of Tsedang and set here in a simple hotel for the night.


  • Dinner

Take the short drive from Tsedang to Samye Monastery. This is the first ever Buddhist monastery built in Tibet, with its construction assumed to have begun in 775 AD. The five-story monastery is built in the form of a mandala and is an important pilgrimage site for Tibetans from all over the country. Leave Samye and drive along the Yarlung River, which, when flows into India, is known as the Brahmaputra. Back in the vehicle, drive to Lhasa's airport for an afternoon flight to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing rather late in the evening and head to the hotel by the airport for the last night in China.


  • Breakfast

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Beijing airport for the international flight out of China.

Loading map...

Dates & Pricing

16th June, 2025–27th June, 2025

  • $3,391 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $631 Single Room Supplement

Badain Jaran to Lhasa private tour rates are quoted in US Dollars and are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.

Note: This Vietnam private tour rates are valid all year round, but are not valid for tours that occur (in whole, or in part) during Chinese national holidays:
New Year (1-3 Jan 2025)
Chinese Spring Festival (28 Jan-03 Feb 2025)
Qingming Festival (4-6 Apr 2025)
Labor Day Holiday (1-3 May 2025)
Dragon Boat Festival (30 May-02 Jun 2025)
Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day (1-8 Oct 2025)

Trips@Asia reserves the right to change China private tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Prices are based on twin share occupancy.

Rates for private groups of 2 travelers and above:
2 travelers- US$4,590/ person
4 travelers- US$3,782/ person

Additional Information

  • 2 domestic flights Beijing/Zhangye-Lhasa/Beijing
  • Accommodation at hotels selected including breakfast
  • Bullet train Zhangye-Xining by 1st class
  • Soft-sleeper (4-berth) compartment for Sky train Xining-Lhasa
  • Transfer by private A/C vehicle (except transportation in Badain Jaran- no A/C)
  • 4WD for 2 days in Badain Jaran Desert
  • Meals as indicated in the program
  • English speaking guide for each area as per program
  • Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program
  • Badain Jaran desert travel permit
  • Tibet travel permit

Granting travel permits to both Badain Jaran and Tibet are at the absolute discretion of the Chinese Government, and might be declined at any time without prior notice.

  • International travel to and from China
  • Travel insurance
  • PCR/COVID tests, or any tests that might be required for international or domestic travel
  • Expenses that might incur due to the results of COVID tests before, during or after the tour
  • Chinese tourist visa
  • Excess luggage
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not clearly mentioned in the program

  • Beijing – Park Plaza Wangfujing Hotel 4-star
  • Zhangye – Dinghe International Hotel 4-star
  • Badain Jaran - Local simple guesthouse
  • Xining – Enraton International Hotel 4-star
  • Lhasa – Four Points by Sheraton 4-star
  • Tsedang – Tsedang Hotel 4-star
  • Beijing at the end of the trip – Crowne Plaza Beijing International Airport 5*

Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.

More tours of this type

Northern Vietnam Highlights Vietnam Private Tour

10 Days In Northern Vietnam

  • Overland Tours
  • Autumn Tours
Tibet Private Tour Nepal Private Tour China Prvate Tour Tashilumphu

13 Days In China & Nepal

  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours
Silk Road Adventure China Private Tour

11 Days In Xinjiang, China

  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours

More tours in these destinations

Tibet Private Tour Nepal Private Tour China Prvate Tour Tashilumphu

13 Days In China & Nepal

  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours
China Culinary Tour China Food Tour China Private Tour

14 Days In China

  • Food Tours
  • Summer Tours
Grand Tribal Tour China Vietnam Laos private Tour

17 Days In China, Vietnam & Laos

  • Winter Tours
China National Parks 2022 China Private Tour

15 Days In China

  • Walking Tours
  • Autumn Tours


designed to put you in center & customizable to your needs!