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Really Remote Lands: Northern China, Western Mongolia & Siberia

Adventure-seekers looking to get off the beaten path are in for a real treat with this 11-day journey through Northern China, Western Mongolia and Russia. Starting in China, you’ll venture on through both the Altai Mountains and the remote Gobi Desert into Mongolia, taking advantage of the recently opened border between the two countries. From the ancient Chinese city of Turpan, you’ll stop off at Qitai, Qinghe Xian, Hovd, Ulgi, and Lake Aya before eventually making it to Russian Siberia’s unofficial capital of Novosibirsk. The trip allows time to see the traditions of local people, and is perfect for those who love to venture through rocky deserts and tackle towering mountains.

Highlights   Pricing
  • See the incredible ancient Chinese city of Turpan in all its glory, including visits to the world famous Turpan Depression
  • Tackle the incredibly remote Western Gobi Desert and spend the night in yurts
  • Have a picnic lunch at the mountainous Lake Tolbo on the way to the Russian-Mongolian border
  • Cross the Russian-Mongolian border before venturing along the awe-inspiring Chuysky Tract
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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1

Commence the tour with a morning pick-up at the Urumqui Hotel, before heading off to see some of the major sites around Turpan, including the famous Turpan Depression, Emin Minaret Gaochang Ancient City, and the impressive Aydingkol Lake, at the bottom of Turpan Basin (the lowest point in the country). After a full day’s tour of this historic city, head back to the three-star hotel for your first night’s sleep of the trip.

Day 2

Another day dedicated to sightseeing around the ancient city of Turpan, one in which early settlement has been traced back as far as 6,000 years. After breakfast, take to the road to visit to one of the world’s historical wonders – the World Heritage Site of Jiaohe, an ancient settlement between two rivers perched on a cliff top above the valley. Continue to see the "1,000 Buddha" Cave Mountains Temple Bizalkik within 15 minutes from the city center, before heading back to the hotel.

Day 3

Take time for breakfast and check out of your hotel in Turpan; today is when the epic overland adventure really begins as you say goodbye to the city and head to the remote town of Qitai. The drive takes you past stunning scenery and through the majestic, snowcapped Tien Shan Mountains. Arrive in good time and check-in to your two-star hotel .

Day 4
Qinghe Xian

The 200-mile drive on day four is just as spectacular as yesterday’s, taking you from the town of Qitai to the more built-up Qinghe Xian. Journey through the Gurban-Yungut desert (Western Gobi) and stop off at the famous Multicolored Bay – an impressive area of land full of rocks of all shapes, sizes and colors. Check in to your two-star hotel for a well-earned rest.

Day 5

The route on day five takes you further into the wilderness in the incredibly remote Western Gobi Desert. Around half-way through the itinerary, and it’s time for your second country: Mongolia. After border formalities, head on to Uench/Bulgan where you’ll be spending the night in a traditional ‘yurt’ camp.

Day 6

Wake up and enjoy breakfast outside, surrounded by the remote desert landscape after a memorable night spent in the yurts. Pack up camp and head out of the Gobi desert towards the Mongolian Altai Mountains. The drive goes through one of the most sparsely populated regions of Mongolia, with the day’s final destination being the much more built-up Hovd, which has shops, restaurants and hotels.

Day 7

Hit the road again on the morning of day seven, this time heading north towards Ulgi, near the border with Russia. On the way to Ulgi, stop for lunch near the picturesque Lake Tolbo, which boasts clear and cold waters high up in the mountains. The night will be spent in a hotel in Ulgi, where there’s also chance for dinner and some free time.

Day 8
Chibit Settlement

Russia, the third and final country of this trip, will be reached today. After making your way to the border and completing all the crossing formalities, head on past the famous Chuysky Tract - once the main trade route of Russia and Mongolia and now one of the remotest areas of the country - and stop along the way for a scenic picnic lunch. Reach the mountainous settlement of Chibit and spend the night at an eco-camp.

Day 9
Lake Aya

Continue driving along the famous Chuysky Tract, passing stunning valleys and panoramic viewpoints with each turn. In the ancient times, the Chuysky Tract route was the path of Tatar-Mongolian forces led by Genghis Khan. This truly is one of the most spectacular roads in Russia, and the time spent travelling to Lake Aya on this ninth day is well worth it. Once you have reached the lake, have dinner and check into your three-star hotel.

Day 10

The morning trip will finally lead you to the end of the awe-inspiring Chuysky Tract and to the unofficial capital of Siberia – Novosibirsk. There’s time for sightseeing and free time for the rest of the day in what is Russia’s third-largest city (after Moscow and St. Petersburg). The city also offers far more comfort and convenience than many of the stops on this trip, and the night will be spent in the four-star Novosibirsk Hotel.

Day 11

After a week and a half of exploring this incredible part of the world, it’s time to say your goodbyes and head onwards. Take breakfast at the hotel and check out, before making your way to the airport (via private transportation) for your onwards flight. International connections go to Urumqi, Beijing, Hong Kong, Almaty, Astana, Tashkent, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Prague, as well as domestic departures to all over Russia.


Suggested Accommodations

Huozhou Hotel , Tuha Petroleum

Huozhou Hotel

Well-situated, the Huozhou Hotel is just minutes from the brand new Turpan Museum, a bustling bazaar next to the Qingnian Lu grape vine-covered promenade, and a row of small, typical Uyghur restaurants. The hotel offers 100 clean, spacious, newly-designed rooms, large bathrooms with rain showers and comfortable furnishing. The decor is muted, with dark-wood furnishings, playing up the hotel’s upscale, classy feel. In-room facilities include air conditioning, internet, and a hair dryer, but most rooms lack refrigerators. Building A provides guests with particularly exceptional views of the nearby lake. There is an on-site restaurant, business center, and lobby bar. The Huozhou is of the best offered accommodations in Turpan, and a perfectly charming place to rest between busy days of exploring the unparalleled beauty and cultural richness of this remote region in China.


Tuha Petroleum

This new hotel is the best the Turpan area has to offer. Well-situated, the hotel is just two minutes from a bustling market and walking distance to other attractions, including a museum and traditional shops. The highlight of the hotel is its location at the commercial heart of Turpan, a vibrant little town with much to offer. Spacious, comfortable rooms, WiFi, air conditioning and facilities including a covered pool and spa, bowling alley, karaoke, billiard tables, and more, are available to guests. Buffet breakfast is provided in the mornings to help guests start their day off well, while Chinese and Western cuisine are served up on-site for lunch and dinner. An on-site bar and lounge provides an ideal spot for guests to meet up with friends and colleagues for drinks after a long day of travel.  

Doubletree by Hilton , Marriott Hotel

Doubletree by Hilton

Doubletree by Hilton is a four-star hotel in Novosibirsk, ranking among the best places to stay in what is Russia’s third-largest city. The large, modern hotel is located right in the heart of the city, although the actual road is slightly quieter than the nearby busy streets. Doubletree is just a short walk away from the famous Opera Theatre, and also a handful of other major tourist attractions in Novosibirsk. Most of the rooms and suites here present excellent city views from the large windows, which also allow light to flood into the spacious rooms during the day. The range of double and twin rooms here come fully furnished with a long list of facilities including a 32-inch LCD TV, a mini-bar, a safe, air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. Those upgrading to a suite can enjoy the added luxury of a refrigerator, adjacent dining area, and additional queen-sized pull-out sofa. The on-site restaurant, Paris, serves a buffet breakfast every morning from 7am and stays open until late serving international food. The hotel also has a large swimming pool, fitness center and various  business facilities. 


Marriott Hotel

This luxurious five-star hotel was only opened in 2014, and now stands as one of the top places to stay in the central Russian city of Novosibirsk. Marriott really is a global name you can trust, and this Novosibirsk branch is no exception; expect a great location, stylish and spacious rooms and a whole host of onsite facilities and amenities. Located in the heart of the city, Marriott Hotel Novosibirsk is just steps away from the metro, shops and major attractions in the city such as the popular Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet. The hotel caters for many different types of guests, such as travelers making their way through Siberia on the train, and this is also a popular choice for business guests with its conference room facilities. In terms of leisure opportunities, Marriott Novosibirsk boasts an excellent rooftop bar with great views across what is Russia’s third-largest city. There’s also a large, all-day international restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast in the morning and a varied menu throughout the rest of the day.

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