Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang

Taklamakan Desert

Takla Makan Desert is China’s largest desert, which situated in the middle of Tarim Basin of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is the largest desert around China, as well as the second largest desert and the largest shifting sand desert all over the world. The desert stretches 1,000 kilometres long and 400 kilometres wide, covering an area of 330,000 square metres.

Why is Taklamakan Desert So Special?

Of all deserts around the world, Taklamakan Desert is one of the most mysterious and most charming ones. The centre of the desert falls into typical continental climate, with strong wind and sand, little precipitation and dramatic temperature variations. Seen from afar, sand dunes of diverse shapes look like dragons resting on the earth.

Main Attractions of Taklamakan Desert

In Uyghur, Ta Ke means mountain while La Ma Gan means the great desert; therefore, Taklamakan refers to the great desert at the foot of mountain. Taklamakan Desert is full of enigma and fantasy. Various forms of desert, anti-salt-and-akali-and-sand vegetation and plants, arid climate, lakes and oasis, especially Silk Road relics buried in the sand and ancient villages are all mysterious, awaiting exploration.

In the desert, two towering sand dunes, called Shengmu Shan, are visible. They are made of sedimentary rocks of red sandstone and of white plaster after outcropping. On it are the spectacular wind-erosion mushrooms.

At dawn, the temperature of sweltering Taklamakan Desert ranges from 70℃ to 80 ℃. Due to the glaring sands and rapid evaporation, everything before your eyes looks as if it were drifting all the time. However, the surroundings, along the banks of Hotan River, Tarim River, Yarkant River, and Qarqan River, grow with dense diversiform-leaved poplar and Chinese tamarisk, making the whole desert lively. Moreover, this Green Island of the Sand Sea sees lovely rabbits and birds, running brook, and abundant water resources and mineral resources beneath the sand bed.

How to get to Taklamakan Desert

Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)

If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to the Taklamakan Desert and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.

Independent Traveler

Take train to Urumqi then transferring to a train to Korla. 

Useful Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit 

From late October to mid November every year, it is the golden season to cross the Taklimakan Desert. In addition to the above advantages, the most important thing is that the leaves of Populus euphratica in the Tarim Basin become a golden color. 


Taklamakan desert falls into arid climate of warm temperate zone. In sweltering summer, the maximum temperature reaches 67.2℃, temperature difference between day and night being over 40℃. While the average annual precipitation is no more than 100 millimetres, with the lowest rainfall four to five millimeters, the annual evaporation is as high as 2,500 millimetres to 3,400 millimetres.

Things to Pack

1. Crossing the Taklimakan special line is a relatively expensive activity project. Secondly, different personal requirements such as having a guide will also lead to different levels of travel expenses.

2. The photographic equipment carried by individuals shall be well sand proof and earth proof, and the gap shall be sealed with transparent adhesive tape as much as possible.

3. In terms of food preparation, carry more fruits and vegetables. When crossing Taklimakan in autumn, you need to be prepared to keep warm. The temperature can sometimes reach 0 ℃.

Nearby Attractions