Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).
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!
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar 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 Ulaanbaatar.
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 people's lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.
Take a guided tour of the Gandan Monastery, the largest Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia
Visit the infamous Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, and explore the traditional clothes stalls and saddle markets within
Explore the incredible history of the country from the Neolithic era to the present day, at the National Museum of Mongolia
Head out for a cultural show or a performance from a traditional folk band, featuring the unique art of throat-singing
- Cost: USD 12
Visit the intriguing International Intellectual Museum, dedicated to puzzles and games made by local artists
- Cost: MNT 3000
Discover a remnant of Mongolia's imperial past at the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan
- Cost: MNT 6000
See the superb collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures at The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
- Cost: MNT 5000
Discover the unique showcase of religious art and learn about the Buddhist history of Mongolia at the Chojin Lama Temple Museum
- Cost: MNT 5000
Visit the Grand Chinggis Khan Square and see the statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, one of the leaders of the struggle for independence in the 1920s
- Cost: MNT
Climb to the Zaisan Memorial, an interesting remnant of Mongolia's communist past that affords incredible views over Ulaanbaatar
- Cost: MNT
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.
See the ancient Orkhon Inscriptions, two large monoliths with inscriptions in Old Turkic script
Explore the ruins of the 10th-century Kitan fortress of Khar Bukh Balgas, an interesting slice of Mongolia's pre-Genghis Khan history
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.
Visit the huge monastery of Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery to survive the purges of the 1930s
Learn all about Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire that once stood here, at the Kharkhorin Museum
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 reach 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.
Explore the stunning volcanic and forested landscapes of the Orkhon Valley and see Ulaan Tsutgalan, Mongolia's largest waterfall
Hike up through the forests to the beautiful Tuvkhon Monastery on the summit of Ulaan Uul mountain
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.
Walk around the surrounding valley and visit one of the local nomadic families to learn all about their way of life (if available)
Enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs
Head out horse riding through the incredible forest scenery surrounding Tsenkher (if helmets available)
- Cost: USD 32
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.
See the huge rock monolith of Taikhar Chuluu, covered in inscriptions in a myriad of different scripts dating from the 6th century to the modern era
See a variety of fascinating exhibits about the Mongolian way of life at the Arkhangai Aimag Museum in Tsetserleg (if time allows) - Cost: MNT 5000
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 Chuulut Canyon 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.
Explore the incredible volcanic landscape of Khorgo and Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake by foot
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.
Discover the mysterious ancient Deer Stones near Mörön, erected by Bronze Age nomads over 3000 years ago
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.
Walk through the beautiful area of Khövsgöl and try to meet the local Tsataan Reindeer Herders (if available)
Take a horse ride through the incredible Siberian forest scenery surrounding Khövsgöl Lake (if time allows)
- Cost: MNT 10000
We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulaanbaatar. 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.
Visit the Chinese-style Buddhist monastery of Amarbayasgalant near the Selenge River
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.
Today we will leave the Mongolian capital behind us as we begin our overland journey south towards the China border.
We aim to wild camp near the town of Sainshand tonight or perhaps if we have made good time we will camp closer to the border.
Estimated Drive Time - 7 - 8 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Border information: Exit Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud, enter China at Erlian.
Today we will drive to the border town of Zamyn-Uud and cross the border into China! Please be aware that the border procedures can take around 5 hours to complete. Once we have crossed into China we will most likely stay in a local hotel in Erlian (the town on the Chinese side of the border), or wild camp out of town.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
We will have a free day today whilst we wait for the border proceedings to be finalised. If it has been finalised earlier we may spend this night en route towards Beijing instead.
Tonight we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Today we have an early start and will have a long drive to China's capital, Beijing.
In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours.
Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK).
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 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.
Head out to see an acrobatic or martial arts show in Beijing, always an incredible mix of athleticism and choreography - Cost: CNY 250
Discover all about the varied and interesting history of China at the National Museum, with its huge collection of over a million artifacts - Cost: CNY
Explore the vast Temple of Heaven, once the site of an annual religious ceremony conducted by the Emporer to pray for a good harvest - Cost: CNY 10
Visit the beautiful Tibetan-style Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) in Beijing - Cost: CNY
See the iconic modern 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games
- Cost: CNY 50
Today 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 Forbidden City. We will then have a free afternoon to further explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.
Guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing
This morning we will start our journey with a drive to the city of Chengde.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
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.
Explore the incredible Imperial Summer Resort in Chengde, a vast park with a variety of gardens, pagodas, temples and palaces from various regions of China
See the beautiful Putuo Zongcheng Temple, modelled after the famous Potala Palace in Tibet - Cost: CNY 80
This morning we will have a short 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 to thoroughly explore and walk along the Great Wall.
In Jinshanling we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.
Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, one of the most spectacular stone sections of the wall
Today we will drive to the city of Datong in China's Shanxi province.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 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.
2 nights to explore Datong's Hanging Monastery and the stunning Yungang Caves
Explore the phenomenal site of the Yungang Caves, a network of 252 caves containing over 51,000 incredibly crafted sculptures of Buddha from the 5th and 6th centuries
Journey through the remarkable industrial heartland of the north, the powerhouse of modern China
- Cost: CNY 60
See the beautiful and ornate Nine Dragon Screen, a screen of glazed tiles depicting nine multi-coloured interweaving dragons - Cost: CNY 10
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. We will have an included visit to the incredible Hanging Monastery en route.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
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.
Explore the myriad of temples at Wutai Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism
We will then drive to China's best-preserved ancient walled town, Pingyao.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.
We will stay for 2 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.
Freely explore the old town of Pingyao, a well preserved walled city that offers a fantastic glimpse into 'Old China'
Visit the incredible Shuanglin Temple near Pingyao, with its 2000 colourful sculptures of various gods and warriors - Cost: CNY 25
Visit the 10th-century Zhenguo Temple, one of the oldest wooden buildings in China - Cost: CNY 25
Take a day trip to the photogenic Mian Shan Mountain Resort, and explore the incredible array of buildings and scenery there - Cost: CNY 160
Take a day trip out to the impressive Wang family compound and the Zhang Bi underground village near Pingyao - Cost: CNY 205
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. We will stop en route for an included visit to the Black Dragon Temple just outside of Lijiashan.
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 - 2-3 hours.
Visit the beautiful and ornate Black Dragon temple near Lijiashan
Stay overnight in a local guesthouse built into a cave, in the cliff-side village of Lijiashan
Today we make our way to the city of Yan'an.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
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.
Visit the Revolution Museum and the Yangjialing Headquarters site, the former headquarters of Mao Tse Tung's Communist Party during the revolution
Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city of Xi'an, it's 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 - 4-6 hours.
This morning 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. We will return to Xi'an for a free afternoon to further explore this diverse city.
Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife
Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China - Cost: CNY 30
Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures - Cost: CNY 90
Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset - Cost: CNY 40
Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world - Cost: CNY 80
Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China - Cost: CNY 30
Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties - Cost: CNY 80
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057 - Cost: CNY 50
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens - Cost: CNY
Border Information: if leaving in Xi'an, you will most likely exit China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Xi'an. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.