Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

The Gobi

The Gobi reveals itself in pockets of amazing scenery, bridged by vast stretches of desolation where smartphone signals die and silence saturates. It can be daunting to be this far out in such harsh conditions, but this is where desert foliage shimmers in greens and golds, and where Tibetan lamas etched ancient messages on red rock cliffs. You’ll watch horses romp and gazelles sprint, hear goats and sheep cry, and commiserate with camels huddling in fierce winds that gather and roll across the steppe. At night galaxies erupt on the domed sky.

No wonder it's one of Mongolia's top-draw regions, promising colossal sand dunes, ice-filled canyons, dinosaur fossils, camel treks, and hospitable nomadic herders who will shower you with warmth, and more than a little milky tea. So choose one of those criss-crossed two-wheel tracks and follow it ever deeper into the mystery.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout The Gobi.