This three-week-long trip takes you from Beijing to China’s Wild West, where you can ride horses across Mongolian grasslands, or soak up Uyghur culture in Xinjiang.
Before setting out, get a taster of northwestern China in Beijing’s Muslim quarter, where street hawkers sell delicious skewers of barbecued lamb.
Cycle around Datong’s rebuilt city walls, then bus out to giant Buddhist sculptures at the Yungang caves, and the gravity-defying Hanging Temple.
Use pleasant Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, for exploring the never-ending grasslands to the north, galloping across the plains on a tiny steed.
See the mighty Yellow River flowing smoothly between desert dunes at this tiny, remote resort town in up-country rural Ningxia – a spellbinding sight.
Slurp down outstanding beef noodles at this former garrison town along the fabled Silk Road, the gateway to China’s Muslim northwest.
The fortress at the Great Wall’s western extremity, over 2000km from Beijing, impressive for its mighty defences yet dwarfed by the stark desert scenery.
Ride a camel across 300m-high dunes outside this small city, then explore the marvellous galleries of ancient Buddhist sculptures at the Mogao caves.
Small, relaxed oasis town, with a main street shaded by grape trellises and a surrounding desert packed with historical relics from its former Silk Road heyday.
Frontier city where Chinese, Uyghur and Central Asian cultures mix: don’t miss the astonishing Sunday Bazaar, crammed with metalwork, spices and livestock traders.