Would you like to have budget tour to the one of the largest deserts which covers parts of Mongolia and China? Check our travel guide! Gobi is the most northerly located desert on Earth, from which the temperature prevails. We ourselves came in October with temperatures below 0 °.
How to get from Ulaanbaatar to Gobi dessert by bus
There are 3 ways to get to the Gobi Desert:
1. One of them is to buy a tour in Ulaanbaatar, which is offered by almost every hotel and several tourist companies. This option is the simplest and most comfortable, but also the most expensive.
2. Another option is to rent a car in Ulaanbaatar. We do not recommend this option, as renting a car without a driver is very expensive in Mongolia and roads in Gobi are not marked and sometimes dangerous. You can easily get lost or destroy a car.
3. Bus from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzagdad. The third option we have chosen is to take a bus to the city Dalanzagdad and find there a driver with an off-road vehicle in the city. Bus to Dalanzagdad leaves from Lavai bus station and we went there by taxi which cost around 20 000 MNT. The journey to Dalanzagdad lasted approximately 9 hours with stops for food and toilets (a classic style hole in the ground). Fortunately, a paved road leads to Dalanzagdad, so the road ran relatively quickly.
How to find a tour to Gobi in Dalanzagdad
Best things to see/do in Gobi dessert
1. Khongor sand dune
Khongor sand dune also called ”Khongoriin Els”, are the most important sand mass of Gobi Gurvan Saïkhan National Park. The road to the dune led through an infinitely long steppe that was bounded by rocks on one side. First, Batyk drove us to the stone paintings that wehe hidden on the top of one of the hills. The paintings are not marked so we had to search for them. But in the end we found them!
The journey to the highest dunes took about 4 hours of wild ride. Batyk drove us to the sand dunes as close as possible and the rest was up to us. The ascent was terribly demanding, with each step our feet plunged into the sand and went down a bit. It was terribly demotivating and we felt like we would never climb on the top. After about an hour of cursing and a few crises, we climbed the dune after all. The view was definitely worth the effort and was breathtaking! There was an endless steppe around the dune, many other smaller sand dunes, and huge mountains on the other side of the dune. The way down was also exciting, as we were taking too much sand into our shoes. Every time we felt the sand squeezing our toes, we had to stop and pour out the sand :D.
Where to overnight in Gobi desert
We stayed overnight in yurt that was located very close to the biggest sand dunes! Location of the yurt was perfect and cost 30 000 MNT. Our driver Batyk was sleeping with us inside because he cared for the fireplace heat in the yurt. The communication between us and our driver Batyk was very bad, because he knew only broken Russian and no word in English. Our vocabulary was very limited and in the tent we spoke to each other in the following style: Batyk: “warm” Tom: “warm” (in the morning we moved our communication to the next level and started to use the word cold :D). Before going to bed we went to see the night sky, which was perfect in the desert thanks to total darkness!
2. Flaming cliffs
Then we went to discover whole area. First we went through the upper part of Flaming cliffs, from which is the best view of the whole valley, and then we went down through the dried river steam and walked around the rest. Tip for you: the most beautiful are Flaming cliffs during the sunset.
3. Archery competition
Finally, Batyk prepared a bonus for us in the form of an archery competition in Dalanzagdad (on Sunday). We could try to stretch the bow and it was really demanding. The local people were very nice to us and gave us to try a Mongolian vodka, which was good and fine, and then the kumir milk drink, which was terribly disgusting and sour. We don’t understand how they can drink it 😀