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Yinchuan: need car+driver for 3 days

Siberia
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Yinchuan: need car+driver for 3 days

Trip: Yinchuan - Alxa Youqi (Baidan Jaran desert) - Yinchuan, April 27-29 (3 days)

Small car is OK. This trip to Alxa Youqi is on a normal highway, no driving inside the sand desert!

Please share contact details of drivers, or of local people who could help to find a driver.

English language is not necessary.

Thanks!

3 replies to this topic
Siberia
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1. Re: Yinchuan: need car+driver for 3 days

For the benefit of other travelers I answer my own post.

The cost for a driver with normal 4-door car from Yinchuan to Alxa Youqi (also called Alashan Youqi) and back is about 1600 RMB incl. everything and 2 days waiting time. The distance is about 600 km one-way, 6-8 hrs drive.

We did it this way: left Yinchuan early morning, drove until highway marker "km 247", which is a little before Alxa Youqi, e.g. 6-8 hrs drive from Yinchuan. Met there with a 4WD from the Baidan Jaran desert travel agent of our choice. Went into the desert by 4WD for 48 hrs, stayed 2 nights in different camps with Mongol herders. On day 3 around noon we met our driver again at "km 247", were back in Yinchuan same evening.

We did not need any foreigner permit. The travel agency said that the need for permits was just abolished a week ago. But it may well be that they just didn't care to get one, as they took us into the desert via a back door route where we never passed any checkpoint. They said this way it's considerably cheaper, compared to using the main route and paying the official entrance and 4WD fees. Couldn't verify the details, but they said the official price for 2 days in the desert is now 4000 RMB and we sure didn't pay that much.

A note on Baidan Jaran: while the desert is an expensive trip due to the unavoidable cost of hiring a 4WD, it is a truly incredible place. I've visited a lot of China's famous beauty spots, and this desert of sand mountains (rather than just "dunes") may well be the most beautiful of them all. It's somewhat like seeing, say, Zhangjiajie National Park for the first time, but without any other tourists around. Recommended for people who like beautiful vast landscapes with a sense of exploration. Try to avoid the official chinese tourist trail if you can, I'm sure closer to the main entrance they've set up some sort of desert playground like in Dunhuang. Rather go very deep into the desert, visit the improbable lakes, stay in simple Mongol camps, climb a sky-high sand mountain for an incredible sunset. You'll not forget that trip in a lifetime.

Beijing, China
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2. Re: Yinchuan: need car+driver for 3 days

Thanks for excellent post-trip report. Are you comfortable posting the travel agency's name or are you amenable to private message requests for same? Also, besides the cost of the first car, 4WD, and drivers, what additional costs for camps/food/misc did you encounter?

Siberia
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3. Re: Yinchuan: need car+driver for 3 days

As for the travel agent - pls PM if contact details are needed. No english spoken there, so if you don't know mandarin then use a chinese friend to negotiate. Or use text messages with google auto-translate. Now that you're familiar with the basic setup, that could be all you need.

Aside from the car and 4WD, your only cost is paying the Mongol herders for food and a basic room. Food was very good, if not to say excellent, at the places where we stayed. The price per night is rather high (150 RMB per person). We had agreed that price with the travel agency beforehand. The herders for sure tried to charge us more than that, but readily accepted our explanation that we had already agreed on a fixed price. You pay everything directly to the herders.

Other than that, no costs, and no place where you'd be able to spend any of your money. The foreigner permit used to cost 100-200 RMB per person, but - no permit, no pay.

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