Of course, to travel to Inner Mongolia you have to leave the cities. In the fascinating nature you will discover the true charm of this unique region. Perhaps you can best understand the true allure of Inner Mongolia by organizing a first trip to two destinations, the Left Axis, which despite its name lies in the eastern part of the region, and the Right Axis, which lies to the west. Check SimplyYellowpages to learn more about provinces in northeast China.
The stretch between the two cities is a vast wilderness where you won’t even come across people, let alone houses or buildings. Such landscapes greet you as soon as you cross the city limits.
The area lies in the lap of nature, and the kings of the endless expanses are the wild horses, which are kept in huge herds. You will also see numerous camels that sometimes get in the way of the traffic. And don’t forget the hospitality in the inhabited areas.
Around Inner Mongolia
- Location: Northern China
- Area: approx. 1,183,000 km²
- Population: approx. 25 million (as of 2021)
- Capital: Hohhot
- Official language: Mongolian, Chinese
- Landscape: Grasslands, deserts, forests, mountains
- Known for: Nomadic culture, yurt, horse riding
- Popular attractions: Hohhot Old Town, Wudangzhao Monastery
- Ethnic groups: Han Chinese, Mongolians
- Economy: livestock, coal, agriculture
Sights in Inner Mongolia
- Hohhot: The capital of Inner Mongolia is a good base for traveling to the region and offers interesting cultural sites such as Dazhao Temple and Qingcheng Parkland.
- Hulunbuir Grasslands: These vast grasslands are known for their beauty and the opportunity to experience nomadic life. There are many yurts where visitors can stay overnight.
- Kubuqi Desert: The Kubuqi Desert is the seventh largest desert in China and offers stunning sand dunes for you to explore. There are also opportunities for sandboarding and camel trekking.
- Ordos: This city is known for the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, a historical and culturally significant place.
- Wudangzhao Monastery: Built in the 18th century, this Buddhist monastery is an important religious site in the region.
- Xilamuren Grasslands: Another impressive grassland with rich nomadic culture and picturesque scenery.
- Huitengxile Grasslands: A popular tourist destination with grassy plains, forests and lakes.
- Xiangshawan Ghost Town: An extraordinary desert landscape with strangely shaped sand dunes known as the “Ghost Town”.
- Dornod Mongolia: A region of great natural beauty, including Erenhot National Park and Huh Nuur National Park.
- Ulan Butong Steppes: A beautiful steppe landscape that extends over long distances and offers unique flora and fauna.
The 10 largest cities in Inner Mongolia
- Baotou – 1,900,373 inhabitants
- Hohhot – 1,497,110 inhabitants
- Chifeng – 902,285 inhabitants
- Tongliao – 540,338 inhabitants
- Ordos – 510,242 inhabitants
- Wuhai – 502,704 inhabitants
- Bayan Nur – 354,507 inhabitants
- Yakeshi – 338,275 inhabitants
- Zalantun – 338,275 inhabitants
- Hulun Buir – 327,384 inhabitants
A brief history of the place
Inner Mongolia is fascinating due to its particularly ancient history, whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Inner Mongolia is one of the oldest civilizations on earth and is rich in evidence of the world’s ancient civilizations, as evidenced by the stone paintings on Mount Mandela. They are believed to come from a number of migratory peoples who settled in the area thousands of years ago. Also known as the ‘Gallery of Ancient Art’, the fascinating site offers a delightful insight into the beauty of the region.
The route to Inner Mongolia
For example, to reach Inner Mongolia, you can start from the city of Yinchuan. The best way to get there is from Beijing. The flight lasts about three hours. Before you embark on the great adventure, you should also pay attention to Yinchuan. This place will definitely fascinate you with its futuristic architecture and innovative buildings.
The city is also famous for its research in various innovative fields, from genetics to computer software. If you want to travel to China or Inner Mongolia by car, you must apply for a special permit for traveling by car within China. An alternative would be to hire a professional English-speaking driver. This will save you a lot of trouble and allow you to enjoy the whole trip in peace.
Hospitality and sympathy
In general, the wilder and lesser-known areas for hikers hide the most hospitable and warm-hearted people. Inner Mongolia is no exception, as tourists can spend unforgettable moments with the locals themselves. Extremely friendly, with a lot of openness to new and unfamiliar things, the locals will certainly win your heart.
The residents show interest in every tourist who stays in their area, and the charm of contact with these people is enhanced by the fact that communication is impossible. With a few exceptions, none of the locals speak English or any other international language.
But the lack of verbal expression is easily replaced by warm gestures, extremely friendly facial expressions and extremely funny communication based on hand and foot movements. Food and drink is also a universal language and the locals are happy to provide you with the best of their cooking skills.
It is by far the paradise of foodies and those who like to indulge. For those who have a passion for these things, the experience with the locals will be unforgettable. One of the curiosities of the residents is their passion for selfies. So you’ll inevitably be asked to take selfies with people you’ve never met!
A paradisiacal landscape of desert, mountains and lakes
Similar to the motherland of Mongolia, this area is also characterized by large desert areas and can even boast the highest desert in the world. This is the Badain Jaran, located at an altitude of 1600 meters. In addition to this record, the desert also boasts the largest sand dunes in the world.
However, Badain Jaran is not an isolated case, as most cities in Inner Mongolia are practically surrounded by endless expanses of sand. The uniqueness of the Badain Jaran desert is that it is dotted with numerous small lakes that never dry out and in which there is a rich fish fauna, which is studied with interest by scientists.
The breathtaking panorama of the steep mountains, combined with the beauty of the huge dunes, forms an overwhelming ensemble. Equally impressive is the sculpture of Genghis Khan, which stands in the Geopark of the Alxa Desert.
The magic of the temples
The temples in the cities are also worth visiting because of their well-structured architecture.
For tourists with a passion for architecture and history, for example, the fantastic Guangzong Temple is just outside the city. This was built directly into the mountainside.
Photography is only allowed outside the shrine, but if you have reached this landmark and want to witness a wonderful sight, then you must definitely attend the ceremony inside the sacred building.
Here you will discover a special architectural world with imposing columns supporting high ceilings and colorfully painted beams. You will experience a world of piety where the inhabitants of the high mountains descend to bring donations to the monks.
The monks pray to music that is thousands of years old and, surrounded by thick clouds of incense, distribute food to the believers who come to pray. The inner walls of the temple are decorated with fabulous images of dragons, fiery creatures and snakes from ancient times.
History and mystery
It is not easy to reach certain attractions as sometimes you have to travel long distances to your desired destination. A typical feature of remote areas.
But the effort is often worth it, because just before Yinchuan you can discover the Xixia Imperial Tombs, an absolutely fascinating historical site. Several hundred tombs are scattered over a vast area of nearly 50 square kilometers, shrouded in mystery. There is no information about their age, but they can be linked to the 1000-year-old buildings in front of the mountain range.
Inner Mongolia also offers you the opportunity to visit a section of the Great Wall of China that only recently saw the light of day. It’s located east of Yinchuan (in Shuidonggou), and although it’s not as impressive as the section of the wall you can visit in Beijing, it’s worth the effort, if only because it’s not overrun with tourists.
This tourist attraction in Shuidonggou consists not only of a part of the wall, but also of an amusement park, which is very popular among local tourists. The tour of this park is by no means boring and takes you through a series of unique experiences.
It is a must to try all the attractions of this amusement park. You will receive a riding lesson and will be transferred from horseback to a boat to continue the journey on water. Once you’re back on land, you can hop on camel back.
There is also a crocodile farm that you can avoid if you don’t feel comfortable around meat-loving reptiles. On site you can also discover a series of labyrinths where you can buy souvenirs from the numerous stalls. The excursion lasts over three hours and is sure to be an unforgettable experience that you will be excited to share with friends.
Gastronomy in Inner Mongolia – a real adventure
When it comes to food, things get complicated because, for the linguistic reasons described above, no one understands your gastronomic desires.
But the adventure is worth it because there is an almost endless variety of extremely tasty menus. It also doesn’t compare to what you traditionally know as Chinese food. The combinations are truly unique and the flavors are incredible.
Let’s say you’re staying in a hotel and desperately need a hot coffee in the morning. Of course there is nothing like that there, but you can enjoy delicious camel milk. There are no sweets for breakfast, only savory dishes. In addition, you will most likely not know what exactly you are eating.
For those who want to try out their culinary skills, a visit to the hot pot restaurants is recommended. Here you can prepare your own menu and enjoy an extraordinary sauce made from many completely unknown ingredients.
In Alxa there are fantastic barbecue restaurants where you will choose blindly because the menu is only written in Mandarin. Apparently none of the restaurant staff speak English. Lovers of very spicy food will feel like they are in paradise here.
The past makes room for the future
The charm of Inner Mongolia is perhaps the archaic way of life of the locals and the uniqueness of the landscape, which has remained unchanged for thousands of years.
But Inner Mongolia has many surprises to offer and as a tourist you will always be amazed by the unique situations you encounter.
There will probably be situations where you want to pay for something with cash and then you will find that modern technologies have arrived even here in remote regions.
There is an app called WeChat, an alternative to classic social networks. You can use this to make payments or purchase products in China.