Inner Mongolian road trip

Updated: 2014-08-27 09:51

By Matt Hodges(

Inner Mongolian road trip

The Euphrates Forest Nature Reserve at Ejina Banner in Alxa League is about a 10-hour drive from Baotou, with the picturesque Aolunbulage Grand Canyon about midway between the two. [Photo by Matt Hodges/]


Drive a Cadillac across the United States. Ride a beaten-up Royal Enfield around India. Take a Great Wall Haval-the top-selling SUV in China last year,to the sand-submerged citadels, parched forests and yurt-strewn grasslands of Inner Mongolia. 

Road trips come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re supposed to be done in the country you call home. This region offers rugged landscapes, centuries of history in the form of lamaseries and Mongolian traditions, modern-day cowboys on motorbikes and its own fairy tale Grand Canyon.

Called Aolunbulage, this winds for 5 km along the Yardang landform, about 300 km northwest of the capital of Alxa League in the far west of a region that often feels like a galaxy far, far away. Depending on the time of day, the chasm-like corridors of rock appear red, purple or yellow.

The Great Outdoors never looked so good.

It is 1,880 km one-way, or about 25 hours behind the wheel, from Shanghai to Baotou, the province’s largest city located west of center.

Route-wise, you can knock off the first 1,200 km to Beijing in 14 hours. That’s a lot of Celine Dion, so pack earplugs and headache tablets. More so if you make pit stops along the way in Suzhou, Nanjing and Jinan.

Once you have taken in the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and maybe some Peking Opera, it’s another eight hours along a northwesterly trajectory to Hohhot, the provincial capital of Inner Mongolia.




Inner Mongolian road trip

Inner Mongolian road trip

Scenery of Inner Mongolia's Hulun Buir 

Horses graze at Shandan Horse Ranch in Gansu 

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