Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. From Ulaanbaatar we will head west through the central region of Mongolia, past the fascinating Erdene Zuu monastery to the phenomenal natural beauty of the Orkhon Valley and the Tsenkher hot springs. We then make the stunning journey north to the remote and spectacular Khvsgl Lake before heading back towards the capital. The country is an overlander's paradise, with challenging roads, stunning scenery such as desolate rolling plains, glistening lakes and beautiful forests in which we can wild camp anywhere we like, and a unique and welcoming culture. From Ulaanbaatar we will journey through the hauntingly-beautiful and desolate plains of southern Mongolia, arriving at the bustling Chinese capital of Beijing, home to the famous Forbidden City and countless other highlights. From Beijing we will head to the old imperial summer retreat of Chengde before visiting the breathtaking Great Wall of China! We will move on to the phenomenal Buddha caves of Yungang and the Buddhist temples of Wutai Shang before arriving in the traditional old town of Pingyao. From there we will overland through the cave village of Lijiashan en route to the historic city of Xi'an, home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors! We will then head to the sacred Buddhist mountain of Wudang Shan en route to the mighty Yangtze River, and our ferry journey through the stunning area of the Three Gorges. In China's southern provinces we visit the incredible ancient Buddha caves of Dazu, the giant pandas in Chengdu, the collosal Great Buddha of Leshan and the phenomenal sacred mountain and golden temple of Emei Shan! Travelling through the breathtaking scenery of Yunnan province, we arrive in the atmospheric old town of Lijiang, visit the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge, and explore the ancient pagodas and Naxi culture of Dali before heading to the delightful city of Kunming. Join us on this unforgettable epic Asian overlanding experience!
Duration: 61 Days
Activities: Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves, Trekking
Guide (Language): english
Start City: Kunming, China
Guaranteed Departure: No
Physical Demand: Demanding
Trip Rating: 0%
Trip ID: 158302
End City: Ulaanbaatar,
|Duration: 61 Days||Guaranteed Departure: Yes|
|For lovers of: Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves, Trekking||Physical rating: Demanding|
|Accommodation standard: Budget%||Traveller Tour Rating: 0%|
|Your Guide: English speaking||Tour code: 158302|
|Starts: Kunming, China||Finishes: Ulaanbaatar,|
Border Information: if joining in Kunming, you will most likely enter China at Kunming Changshui International Airport (IATA code: KMG).
There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.
The rest of the day will be free to explore the city of Kunming, its museums and its parks.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kunming before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kunming.
In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Today our journey begins with a morning drive to the beautiful Naxi town of Dali, where we will stay for 2 nights.
Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
On the following day we will have a free day to fully explore the area and for optional activities such as some short treks in the nearby Cangshan mountains or hiring bicycles to ride around the Dali lake.
In Dali we stay in a friendly hostel or guesthouse with good facilities.
Today we drive further north through Yunnan province to the beautiful 'Old-China'-style town of Lijiang, the base for visiting the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
On the following 2 days we will have free time to explore the town of Lijiang and its surroundings. One very popular excursion here is to go on a 2 day/1 night trek along the high trail above the Tiger Leaping Gorge - this is by far the best way to see the gorge from some truly incredible vantage points, and we will have the opportunity to take this trek during our time here (staying in a local guesthouse on the trail on the first night and returning to Lijiang for the second). For those that don't want to do the full trek, your crew will also be able to arrange a trip to the low sections of the gorge, where there is a flat walkway to various viewpoints.
In Lijiang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Today we have a long drive north through stunning mountain scenery towards China's Sichuan province.
We will aim to wild camp en route near the town of Panzhihua tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.
Today we will continue our drive to the small town of Emei Shan.
Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.
On the following day we will have a full day to explore Emei Shan Mountain, one of the holiest sites in Chinese Buddhism and the site of hundreds of temples and an incredible golden statue of the deity known as Samantabhadra. It is possible to walk all the way up the stairs from the base of the mountain, joining the many pilgrims in their journey to the temple complex at the mountain summit, or take the cable car up instead!
In Emei Shan we will stay in a local guesthouse.
Today we continue our journey north to the town of Leshan to visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha - at 71m tall, this statue is the largest Buddha rock carving in the world!
After our visit we will continue to the incredible city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where we will stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city's parks, streets, and museums, see the New Global Business Centre (the world's largest building) and visit the fascinating and incredibly photogenic Jinli Old Town.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours (including a 2 hour visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha).
On the following day we will have an included visit to the fantastic Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. We'll then return to Chengdu for another free afternoon to further explore the city.
In Chengdu we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
From Chengdu we will continue to the small village of Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly-coloured freizes and carvings.
In Dazu we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Today we will drive on the Chongqing, where we will have time to explore the city and prepare for tomorrow's ferry cruise on the mighty Yangtze River!
We will most likely stay in a local hotel in Chongqing tonight, but on occasion our ferry may need to depart tonight, in which case we will have a spare day later in the trip that we can use at our discretion.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Today we embark on our Yangtze River Cruise. We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruiser. But this definitely doesn't mean slumming it, as most of the local ferries have now been upgraded to good quality accommodation and are often retired cruise boats. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.
The journey itself usually takes 3 days/3 nights and heads through some areas of stunning scenery, especially near the Three Gorges - the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid-like Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges at various points on the trip. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.
We will arrive in the city of Yichang and disembark our ferry to rejoin our truck and co-driver and have some free time to explore Yichang and the surrounding area.
We will most likely have an included visit to the incredible Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, on the last day
In Yichang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
This morning we will have some free time in Yichang or visit the Three Gorges Dam if we did not have time yesterday. After lunch we will drive to the town of Xiang Fan, en route to Wudang Shan.
In Xiang Fan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.
Today we will continue our journey with a drive to the beautiful Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve, the birthplace of the martial art of Taichi and the location of the filming of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. We will also try to stop at the Purple Cloud Monastery en route if time allows.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
On the following day we will have a full day to explore the mountain's sights, temples and martial arts schools.
In Wudang Shan we will stay in a local hotel.
Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon on arrival to explore the city of Xi'an, its famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.
In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).
Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'!
There will be a group meeting today at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.
This afternoon we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.
In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Today we will have a free day to explore the city of Xi'an, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.
Today we make our way to the city of Yan'an. Yan'an is famous for being the ending point for those on the 'Long March', and became the CCP headquarters for a brief period. During our time here we have an included visit to the Revolutionary museum and the CCP Headquarters site.
In Yan'an we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Today we continue our journey to visit the ancient village of Lijiashan, famed for settlement of cave dwellers and still home to more than 600 families.
In Lijiashan we will stay in a cave room, run by a local family and set up for guests.
Please note that some caves include a traditional 'Kang Stove bed'. The Kang bed is a hollow platform made from bricks that is used both as a bed and as a work area, these are common in remote villages in Northern China. In winter a coal fire can be lit under the bed, providing a huge amount of warmth day and night and it is very common for the whole family to sleep on one large bed. This means there may be times that members of the group may have to share 1 large bed with others in the group.
Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.
We will set off early this morning for an included visit to the Black Dragon Temple just outside of Lijiashan. We will then drive to China's best-preserved ancient walled town, Pingyao.
We will stay for 3 nights in Pingyao, giving us plenty of time to explore this ancient town and surrounding sites such as the Mian Shan Mountain Resort and the Zhangbi Underground City.
In Pingyao we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours.
This morning we continue to the stunning mountainous area known as Wutai Shan, one of the holiest sites of Chinese Buddhism and a major centre of pilgrimage in the country.
On the following day we will have a full day to explore the area and visit its incredible array of temples and religious sites.
In Wutai Shan we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours.
Today we will drive to the city of Datong. We will have an included visit to the incredible Hanging Monastery en route.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
On the following day we will head out of Datong in the truck on an included visit to the awe-inspiring Yungang Buddha Caves.
In Datong we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
This morning we will drive to one of the world's most incredible sights - the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China! We will have time this afternoon and the following morning to thoroughly explore and walk along the Great Wall.
In Jinshanling we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
This morning we will spend some more time exploring the Great Wall of China. We will then continue with a short drive to the city of Chengde.
Estimated Drive Time - 2 hours.
On the following day we will have a full day to explore the Puning Temple and the famous Imperial Summer Resort.
In Chengde we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Today we complete our journey to China's chaotic and evocative capital, Beijing!
Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.
On the following day we will head out on the Beijing metro to the city centre's famous Tiananmen Square, which we will walk through and then take a tour of the
In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK).
There will be a short group meeting today at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. The rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Beijing!
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Beijing before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Beijing.
In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Today we leave the Chinese capital behind us as we begin our overland journey towards Mongolia. Today will be a long drive day to reach the border town of Erlian.
We will either wild camp outside Erlian or stay in a basic local hotel, depending on weather conditions and group preferences.
Estimated Drive Time - 12 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Border information: Exit China at Erlian, enter Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud.
This morning we cross the border into Mongolia. Please be aware that border procedures can take around 5 hours here. Once we have made it into Mongolia we will continue our overland journey north.
We will aim to wild camp near the town of Sainshand tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
This morning we may have the opportunity to visit the Dechinchoinkhorlin Monastery in Sainshand before we continue our drive towards Ulaanbaatar (please note this is not always open for visitors).
We aim to wild camp near the town of Choir tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!
In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.
This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into peoples lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.
Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.
Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.
After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ögii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.
In Ögii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.
Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.
Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).
Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.
Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.
In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.
Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim!
We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.
The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.
After our visit we will wild camp nearby.
Please note that on occasion it is impossible to rech the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.
Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.
Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.
We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82°C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.
The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.
In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.
This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.
We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.
Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.
In Khorgo we will stay at a nearby ger camp.
This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.
We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.
Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route.
We hope to arrive at Mörön, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Khövsgöl Lake.
We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of Mörön.
This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Khövsgöl Lake.
Khövsgöl Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.
The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.
In Khövsgöl Lake we will stay at a ger camp.
We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.
We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of Mörön on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.
This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.
Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.
Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!
In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.
Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
Today is a free day to further explore the city of Ulaanbaatar.
Please note that if you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.
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Trip Name: Kunming to Ulaanbaatar
Duration: 61 Days
From Price: 3336
Trip Code: 158302
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