Lying on China’s north border, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region spans a total area of 1.183 million square kilometers. It borders Heilongjiang, Jilin arid Liaoning in the east, neighbors Hebei, Shanxi and Shaanxi in the south, touches Ningxia and Gansu in the west, and is connected to Russia and Mongolia in the north, with a national boundary of 4,221 kilometers. Most parts of the region are plateaus that rise over 1,000 meters above sea level. The plateaus stretch 3,000 kilometers from northeast to southwest. There are also 880,000 square kilometers of grasslands, accounting for 21.7% of total grasslands across the country. Scattered around the region are meadow grasslands, typical grasslands, desert grasslands and steppe deserts, as well as alpine meadows, low wetland meadows and marsh grasslands. In the east are primitive forests on the Greater Hinggan Range, while in the west are vast deserts with the Ordos Plateau as the backbone. Beyond the plateau are the Hetao and Liaonen Plains formed by the Yellow and Liaohe Rivers. More than 1,000 rivers, big and small, run through and nourish the highlands, mountains and plains across the region.
There used to live a dozen ethnic minorities in ancient times. In the 12th Century, Genghis Khan united tribes all over the Mongolian Plateau and established a nomadic kingdom. During the Yuan Dynasty, the region was under the jurisdiction of the Central Secretariat and other ministries. In the second half of the 15th Century, Dayan Khan reunited the Mongolian Desert, and his grandson Altan Khan later controlled the western Inner Mongolia and established intimate political and economic relationship with the Ming Dynasty. Inner Mongolia was more close to the mainland during the Qing Dynasty. In the last century, Mongolian people were active in revolutionary movements, and have led to a road of regional ethnic autonomy, On May 1,1947, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was officially founded, putting an end to national separation and conflicts over centuries.
The region has a population of 23.94 million, which come from such 49 ethnic groups as the Han, Mongolian, Hui, Manchu, Daur, Ewenki and Orogen, Mongolian people make up the majority of local population. The lifestyles, traditional customs and modern achievements of local ethnic groups comprise colorful ethnic cultures, which set off with natural scenery.
Historically, peoples in the region led to a nomadic life, creating a rich and brilliant culture.
Tourist Attractions in Hulun Buir Scenic Area
Encompassing the Hulun Buir League, the scenic area spans the northern Great Hinggan Range. It borders Heilongjiang and Jilin Provinces in the east and faces Russia and Mongolia in the west. Inhabiting here are ethnic minorities like the Mongolian, Daur, Ewenki and Orogen, which enrich the region with strong ethnic charm. The area boasts dense forests and vast grasslands, of which the most famous are the Greater Hinggan Range Forest and the Hulun Buir Grassland.
Also called Dalai Lake, it is one of China’s five largest freshwater lakes. Located 45 kilometers east of Manzhouli, it spans an area of 2,339 square kilometers. The lake area boasts pleasant climate and natural scenery, making it an ideal summer resort. Tourists may also view birds and “carps jumping over dragon gate.’1 In addition, taking a sunbath on the beach, angling by the lake and boating on the lake are also popular pastimes. Tourists can also enjoy the All-Fish Banquet. It is an amazing experience to enjoy fishing under the ice in winter.
Huhur Grassland Tourist Area
Beside the Huhur Lake in the heart of Chen Barag Grassland, Hulun Buir, it spans about 20 square kilometers. Dotted on the grassland are rivers and lakes. In winter, the snow- carpeted grassland is imbued with a unique beauty. It is a typical destination of nomadic lifestyles in the Hulun Buir League.
Bayan Huxu Grassland Tourist Area
Located in southwestern Ewenki Banner in Hulun Buir, 39 kilometers away from Hailar, the tourist area covers five square kilometers. Amidst lush meadows and blooming flowers is flowing the Yimin River, beside which stands the Aobao Mountain. The grassland is dotted with Mongolian tents. Tourists can enjoy ethnic sports and ritual activities with nomadic families, as well as the sunrise and sunset on the grassland.
Phoenix Mountain Resort
Located in the southeast subsurb of Yakeshi, 8 kilometers from urban Hulun Buir and 87 kilometers from Hailar, the mountain resort spans 99 hectares and is dotted with many Euro- pean-style buildings and lodges. As an ideal place for sightseeing, vacation and enjoying forests and winter pastimes. It boasts complete facilities and can receive large travel groups and conferences.
Tourist Attractions in Horqin
Located in southeastern Inner Mongolia, Horqin consists of the Hinggan League and Tongliao City. Besides the vast West Liaohe Plain and rolling hills of the Greater Hinggan Range, there are also the Arxan Hot Springs, Horqin Grassland, deserts, forests and lakes. An area mainly inhabited by Mongolians, it boasts strong ethnic customs. It abounds in resources to develop hot spring travel, grassland customs tour, desert tour, lake tour, Liao culture archeological tour and mountain forest tour.
Temple of Genghis Khan
Garsan Grassland Holiday Village
It lies on the grassland on the northwest bank of the Qarsan Reservoir, not far away from such cities as Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian, Qiqihar and Zhalantun. In spring and summer, wild flowers bloom on the lush grassland. Besides modern recreational facilities, the holiday village also offers travel programs with grassland flavor like horse and camel riding and archery.
Arxan Hot Springs
There are 48 springs within a 800-meter expanse of the fault zone at the foot of the East Hill in Arxan, Hinggan League, which comprise a world-renowned hotspring clutster. The springs are divided into four sections by the temperature of water. Lying in the southernmost are cold springs, with a temperature of 3.4°C-4.5°C; Then are warm springs that range from 10.5°C to 29°C in temperature; Lying northwards are hot springs with temperatures from 31°C・47.4°C; The northernmost are also warm springs, with an average temperature of 20°C.
Daqing Valley Nature Reserve
Located in southwestern Tongliao, it is a state-class nature reserve that spans 8,100 hectares. There are still preserved primitive forest communicates, creating a real epitome of the landforms of the Horqin Grassland. Inside the valley are living 400 species of plants, in spite of the dry and hot weathers outside. With lush plants all year round, it is deemed as anatural botanic garden.
Jurh Grassland Tourist Area
Situated in northwestern Horqin Left-Ring Middle Banner, 86 kilometers from Horqin District, it is one of the earliest animal husbandry bases in Inner Mongolia. The grassland covers 12.3 hectares and boasts elegant environment, pleasant climate and convenient transportation, as well as unique Mongolia yurts. It has become an appealing destination for tourists.
Tourist Attractions in Chifeng
Located in eastern Inner Mongolia, it borders Beijing and Hebei. As an important birthplace of ethnic minorities in North China, it cultivated the well-known Hongshan Culture and Liao Culture, which then bestow on it with abundant historic heritages and unique ethnic customs. In addition, it abounds in natural tourism resources like grasslands, lakes, forests, mountains, deserts, glacier remains and hot springs. The main tourist attractions include the Darning Pagoda built in the Liao Dynasty, the. Upper and Central Capitals of the Liao Dynasty, the Hot Spring Bathing Field, the Huanggangliang Primitive Forests, the Yulongsha Lake Tourist Area, Dalinor, the Gongur Grassland Tourist Area, the Bayan Tai Grassland and the Hongshan Culture.
Built in 1035, it lies on a 6-meter-tall earthen mound outside the Central Capital of the Liao Dynasty. The octagonal brick pagoda has 13 stories, with a height of 74 meters. Its foundation is 34 meters in diameter, and each side extends for 14 meters. As the largest Liao pagoda in today’s China, it has been cited as a cultural site under state special protection.
Dalinor Nature Reserve
Located 50 kilometers west of Jingpeng Town in Hexigten Banner, Chifeng, it concentrates many lakes, wetlands, grasslands, deserts and dunes. There are living 134 species of birds, of which such 23 species as red-crowned cranes, white-naped cranes, whooper swans and bustards are under state-class protection. It also has 22 lakes, of which the largest is the Dali Lake in the shape of hippo. The lake looks like a pearl dotted on the grassland.
Hexigten Hot Spring and Huanggangliang Tourist Area
Located in northeastern Hexigten Banner in Chifeng, it is a tourist resort integrating recreation, vacation and sightseeing. It consists of the Reshuitang Hot Spring and Huanggangliang Forest Park. The exploration of the Reshuitang Hot Spring dates back nearly 1,000 years, and emperors of the Liao Dynasty often took bath there. In 1678, the 25th year during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, the emperor visited the hot spring, and the well where he took bath is still preserved. The Huanggangliang Forest Park concentrates landforms like forests, grasslands, meadows, deserts and hills. The Thirteen-Curve Scenic Area is an ideal place to escape from summer heat.
Tourist Attractions in Xilin Gol
Lying in the heart of Inner Mongolia, the world-renowned Xilin Gol Grassland borders Mongolia in the north and Hebei Province in the south. Besides boundless grasslands of typical Mongolian flavor, there are also natural landforms like deserts, lakes and volcanoes. A place mainly inhabited by Mongolians, it has preserved abundant historic relics.
Bayan Xil Ecological Tourist Area
Located 55 kilometers southeast ofXilinhot, itspans 3,730 square kilometers and abounds in well-preserved vegetation and wildlife resources, as well as distinctive natural and cultural sights. The famous scenic spots include the Zagstaizuor Natural Lake, Poplar and Birch Forest, Desert Spruce Forest, Hubuqila Gorge, volcanic terraces, grassland racecourses, wildlife parks and botanic gardens. In 1987, it was listed into the Biosphere Reserves by the UNESCO.
Xiritala Grassland Holiday Village
Located 15 kilometers southeast of Xilinhot in Xilin Gol League, it covers nine square kilometers. As a typical tourist destination on the Xilin Gol Grassland, it boasts lush grass and tranquil surroundings. Here, tourists can experience the special charm of grasslands. More than 50 Mongolian yurts are scattered around the tourist area, forming an imposing holiday village.
Tourist Attractions in Middle and Western Inner Mongolia
The triangle area encompassed by Hohhot, Baotou and Ordos abounds in natural tourism resources like deserts, grasslands and hills, as well as cultural sights like historic sites and monasteries with Mongolian flavor. Such renowned scenic spots as the Xilamuren, Gegentala and Huitengxil Grasslands, Wudang Monastery, Mausoleum of Genghis Khan and the Tomb of Zhaojun make the area a core tourist destination in Inner Mongolia.
Hohhot and Baotou
As the capital city of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Hohhot serves as the political, economic and cultural center of the region. First built in 1572, it has witnessed a history of over 400 years. There are many historic sites, including the Tomb of Zhaojun, the White Pagoda of the Liao Dynasty, the site of Dayao Culture, the Five-Pagoda Temple and the Dazhao Monastery.
Located in western Inner Mongolia, Baotou is reputed as the Thoroughfare between South and North and serves as an important distribution center for fur and grain. Local famous scenic spots include the Wudang Monastery, Meidai Monastery, Saihan Tai Tourist and Holiday Resort and Xilamuren Grassland Tourist Area.
Built in the Liao Dynasty, it lies at Baita Village, 17 kilometers east of downtown Hohhot. With a height of 55.5 meters, it is an seven-story octagonal structure laid with bricks and wood. The stone plaque inlaid on its front facade bears inscriptions translated as Tagoda Housing 10,000 volumes of Huayan Sutras.” The exterior is carved with statues of Buddha, Bodhisattva and Buddhist Guardians. As the most exquisite pagoda of the Liao Dynasty, it houses many inscriptions and steles in the Chinese, Khitan, Nuzhen, Mongolian, Tibetan and other languages.
Tomb of Zhaojun
Lying by the Dahei River, 9 kilometers south from downtown Hohhot, it is the tomb of Wang Zhaojun, an imperial concubine in the Han Dynasty. The tomb is a 33-meter-tall manmade earthen mound. In 33BC, Wang Zhaojun volunteered to marry the chief of the Hun tribe in the north. After her marriage, the Han and Hun people remained friendly relations for 60 years. It is said when all plants wither in late autumn, the grass on the tomb is still lush, hence its nickname Green Tomb.
Situated on the Dazhao Front Street in Yuquan District, Hohhot, it was erected in 1579 by the order of Altan Khan of the Mongolian tribe during the Ming Dynasty. Due to the 2.5- meter-tall silver statue of Buddha here, it is also called the Silver Buddha Temple. The third Dalai Lama from Tibet chaired the initiation ceremony of the silver Buddha. Among the religious and cultural relics housed here, the Silver Buddha, Carved Dragon and murals are called Three Wonders of the Dazhao Monastery. It is the oldest lamasery ever built in Inner Mongolia.
First built in 1585, it lies at the north end of Shitou Lane in Yuquan District, Hohhot. Its name derives from the instructor of the fourth Dalai Lama. The Sutra Hall boasts exquisite structure, and color painted gate and glazed brick walls set off with gilded decorations like the Wheel of the Law, deer, pillars and dragons. Flanked on both sides of the square in front of the Sutra Hall are pavilions and streets, as well as steles bearing inscriptions in four languages. A marble pagoda rises 15 meters in the east of the square, which is known as the largest lamasery pagoda in Inner Mongolia. Each year Buddhist rituals like Qiamu are held here.
Popularly called the Five-Pagoda Temple, it lies on the Wutasi Rear Street in Yuquan District, Hohhot. Built in 1727, the 5th year during Emperor Yongzheng’s reign of the Qing Dynasty, it rises 16.5 meters and consists of three parts: foundation, stand and top. On the top of the stand are five smaller towers that erect skywards. The entire pagoda is carved with 1,560 statues of Buddha, hence its nickname 1,000-Buddha Pagoda.
Located on the South Street in Hohhot, it is the largest and oldest mosque in the city. Built during Emperor Kangxi’s reign (1662-1723), it consists of the Holy Hall, the Lecture Hall and the Muslim Bathroom. During the Republic of China period (1912-1949), the 36-meter-high Moon-Observing Tower was constructed here. There are also preserved seven stone steles and 33 volumes of Korans in Arabic.
Inner Mongolia Racecourse
Located on the Hulun North Road in Hohhot, it is Asia’s largest racecourse. It consists of a standard loop track, a polo ground, a stunt arena and a steeplechase ground. The racecourse can accommodate 100,000 spectators. On the meadow in the east of the racecourse are Mongolian yurts, where tourists may enjoy local foods and ethnic art performances.
Xilamuren Grassland Tourist Area
Built in the Qing Dynasty, the Puhui Lamasery lies on the bank of the Xilamuren River, 80 kilometers north of Hohhot. Across the bridge on the river, one can reach the Dalebin Hill and enjoy the boundless grassland. Known as the biggest grassland tourist area in Inner Mongolia, it concentrates countless Mongolian yurts, where tourists can experience all varieties of ethnic activities.
Gegentala Grassland Tourist Center
Located 138 kilometers from Hohhot, it is a state 4A-grade scenic resort. Here, tourists can enjoy beautiful grasslands and experience local lifestyles by visiting herdsmen s families. In addition, one can ride horses or camels across the vast grassland, take Lele carts, practice archery and enjoy traditional Mongolian wrestling and horserace, as well as Mongolian songs and dances and bonfire parties.
Huitengxil Grassland Tourist Area
It lies on the Huitengxil Grassland in the Qahar Right Middle Banner of the Ulan Qab League, 135 kilometers from Hohhot. From May to September, the grassland is dotted with blooming flowers. As a volcanic landform, the area features an uneven terrain, and many lakes formed in the bottomland are inlaid like sapphires in the grassland. There are many Mongolian yurt holiday villages, where tourists can enjoy local food, performances and horse riding.
Located deep into the Wudang Valley in Yinshan Mountain of Baotou.it was built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1723) of the Qing Dynasty. Modeled after the Tashihunpo Monastery in Tibet, it has six halls, three mansions, a palace and 94 residential buildings for lamas. The monastery houses more than 1,500 Buddhist statues made of gold, silver, wood and clay. There are also many frescos that depict historic figures, ethnic customs, fairy tales, landscapes, birds and flowers, which are precious heritages for the research of ethnic history and culture.
Located in the Tumd Right Banner, Baotou, it was built in the Ming Dynasty by Allan Khan, the 47th’generation of descendant of Genghis Khan. It is the only city of the Jin State ever found in historical records, When Altan Khan introduced Tibetan Buddhism into Mongo- lian area, it served asra ritual site. The existing buildings include the Main Hall, Glazed Hall, Naiqiong Temple, Dalai Temple and Hall of Empress. As a symbol of national consolidation, the monastery has-been listed among cultural sites under special state protection.
Sounding Sand Bay
Located on the north end of the Hobq Desert in Dalad Banner, 45 kilometers from Baotou, the sand dune is 90 meters high and has a slope of 45 degrees. When sliding down the slope from the top, people will hear the sand produce a rumbling sound, a riddle of nature waiting to be uncovered. Besides sand sliding, tourists can ride camels and enjoy ethnic performances.
Mausoleum of Genghis Khan
Located in Ordos, it consists of three yurt-style buildings with glazed tiles, which are divided into six parts including the main hall, the east and west side halls, the east and west corridors and the rear hall. Each year, the descendants of Genghis Khan hold grand ceremonies there. Also, they irregularly present royal banquets of the Yuan Dynasty, as well as wedding demonstrations. In 2000, it was cited as a National 4A-Grade Tourist Resort.
Hasuhai Tourist & Holiday Village
Lying in the Tumd Left Banner, 73 kilometers away from Hohhot, Hasuhai Lake is reputed as the West Lake outside the Great Wall. The holiday village on the lakeside is an ideal place to enjoy grassland landscapes, modern recreation facilities, foods with local flavor and water entertainments. It has become an important tourist destination in western Inner Mongolia.
Tourist Attractions in Alxa
Situated on the westernmost Inner Mongolia, the tourist area consists of Alxa League and Wuhai City. It is famous for mysterious deserts. In addition, it also has natural wonders like the Yellow River and the Helan Mountain. Along with the worsening desertification, however, many historic relics have been buried underneath the deserts. The ancient Heicheng City hidden amidst dunes is the most mysterious tourist attraction in the area.
Site of Heicheng City
Lying on the east bank of the Ejin River in Alxa League, on the verge of the Badain Jaran Desert, it is the best-preserved ancient town along the Silk Road. It used to be the capital of the West Xia Kingdom founded by Dangxiang people. With a square layout, the city has two gates in the east and west, as well as a watchtower outside. A mosque with a dome-style roof stands alone in the southwest outside the city. The deserted zone, 40 kilometers in length and 25 kilometers in width, outside the city is called by local herdsmen as “secluded and mysterious black dune.”
Ice and Snow Tour
Route: Beijing — Hailar (Hoh Nur Grassland and Bayan Huxu Grassland) — Yakeshi (Phoenix Villa) — Beijing
Beijing — Ulanhot — Arxan
Horse Riding Tour
Route: Hohhot — Gegentala Grassland, Huitengxile Grassland and Xilamuren Grassland
Route: Beijing — Hohhot — ErenhotjuXilinhot — Hexigten Banner — Chifeng — Beijing
Route: Chifeng (Hongshan Dist.) — Ningcheng — Harqin Banner — Ongniud Banner — Bairin Right Banner — Bairin Left Banner — Ar Horqin Banner — lbngliao
Route: Beijing — Xilinhot — Bayan Xil Grassland — West Ujimqin Banner
Desert Exploration Tour
Route: Beijing — Hohhot (or Yinchuan) — Bayanhot — Alxa Right Banner — Badain Jaran Desert — Hohhot — Baotou — Sounding Sand Bay — Engbei — Hanggin Banner — Hobq Desert
Hot Spring Recreation & Holiday Tour
Route: Beijing — Chifeng — Ningcheng Hot Spring — Hexigten Hot Spring
Beijing — Ulanhot — Arxan
Tour of Hulun Buir
Route: Hailar — Hoh Nur Grassland — Manzhouli — Hulun Lake (Dalai Lake) — Bayan Huxu Grassland — Ewenki Banner — Hailar
Tour of Horqin
Route: Changchun — Horqin Left-Wing Rear Banner — Daqing Gully — TongliaojuMorinmiao Reservoir — Jurh Grassland — Holingol
Tour of Alxa
Route: Yinchuan — Bayanhot — Yanfu Temple — Prince Alxa’s Mansion — Virgin Forest in Mt. Helan — Badain Jaran Desert
Galas and Festivals
Venue: Ergun, Hulun Buir
Arxan Holy Water Festival
Venue: Hot spring, grasslands and forest area in Arxan, Hinggan League
Orogen Bonfire Festival
Time: June 18th
Venue: Orogen Autonomous Banner, Hulun Buir
China Mongolian Fashion Festival
Inner Mongolia International Grassland Culture Festival
Time: Late July
Horqin Grassland Horse Race Festival
Time: August 18th-20th
Venue: Jurh Grassland Tourist Area, Tongliao
Roast Lamb: As a traditional Mongolian dish, it uses grassland sheep weighting about 20 kilograms as raw materials. A skinned lamb is stuffed with scallion, ginger, red pepper and salt, and then roasted on the fire. Crisp and tasty, roast lamb is served on a wooden plate, sitting on its knees.
Mutton Eaten with Hands: The traditional Mongolian dish is distinctive in both cooking and eating. A lamb is dismantled into pieces, and then boiled in water without salt and other seasonings, so as to preserve its original flavor. The mutton is edible when its color has changed.
Oat Flour: Flour grinded from oats is rich in high protein, fat and trace elements like iron, calcium and phosphor. Oat flour can be made into different foods, such as noodles, steamed buns and rolls.
Koumiss: Called “Ariga” in Mongolian, this is a low-alcoholic drink fermented from mare’s milk. Fresh horse milk in leather bags is hanged in the sunshine. Each day people stir the milk with a stick several times to accelerate fermentation until it becomes transparent and acidic.
Milk Tea: A traditional Mongolian hot drink, it is made of fresh milk and brick tea. When drinking milk tea, people can add some salt, butter, fried rice and dairies. Milk tea has effects to warm the stomach, eliminate thirst and hunger and strengthen digestion.
There are many taboos involving fire, water and guest receptions in the lives of Mongolian people. Mongolians worship the god of fire and the god of stove. It is impolite to warm your feet and boots on the stove in the Mongolian tent. You’d better not stride or trample the stove, or rabble and plug into fire with knives. Water is apotheosized in Mongolian culture. It is forbidden to wash hands and dirty objects or bath in the rivers. Before entering the tent of Mongolian people, one shall not roll his sleeves up or the front of his garment into his waistband. It is impolite to bring in his whip. Instead, the whip shall be place outside the right of the entrance. Guests shall not sit in front of Buddhist inch inside the tent. In addition, it is impolite to step onto the doorsill, touch the head or beat dogs.