For Solitude and Sand, Try Inner Mongolia

There are few places in the world as barren, empty and isolated as the western plains of Inner Mongoliawhich is precisely the region's draw. For a tourist who has seen it alland endured the throngs that pack most vacation spotsthe vast horizons of the northern steppe offer the perfect opportunity to get away from the familiar. Not to be confused with the independent country of Mongolia to the north, Inner Mongolia lies in a giant arc just beyond the Great Wall, stretching from Manchuria in the east all the way west to Xinjiangand occupying nearly one-eighth of China's land mass.

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