Hohhot (呼和浩特; Hūhéhàotè) is the capital of Inner Mongolia, and part of a metropolitan area with a population of around 2.5 million.
Although Hohhot has only been the capital of Inner Mongolia since 1947, it has taken on the role with ease and with a rapidly growing population (currently at around 1.6 million) it has begun to challenge Baotou as the region's industrial and economic powerhouse. Despite only around 11% of the city's population are indigenous Mongols, Mongolian Buddhism (an offshoot of Tibetan Buddhism) still continues to thrive, and Mongolian culture is actively preserved. As a new capital, the city lacks an abundance of historical and tourist sites. However, it is still definitely worth visiting if in the area. The city is at its greenest and most pleasant in Spring and early Summer.
Because of the large Hui Muslim population, restaurants with a green or yellow sign are generally Halal and will not serve pork. Mentioning pork to the owner is considered a grave insult and should be avoided. Take the opportunity to sample the mutton dishes instead.
Hohhot Baita International Airport (IATA: HET) is Inner Mongolia's main airport. Located one hour outside of Hohhot, regular flights are available to Beijing, Chifeng, Guangzhou, Hailar, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin,Wuhan, Xian, and Xilinhot.
International flights are available to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Hohhot is connected to the following cities by rail: Baotou (2 hrs), Beijing (11 hrs), Datong (5 hrs), Erenhot (11 hrs), Yinchuan (10 hrs), Moscow and Ulaanbaatar.
The Beijing to Hohhot overnight train is K89. K89 departs at 21:00 and arrives at 07:20. The K90 from Hohhot to Beijing departs at 21:23 and arrives at 07:20 (cost is ~$24USD for a hard sleeper).
Train 6856 runs between Hohhot and Erlian. The train departs from Hohhot at 10:00 and arrives to Erlian at 19:26 (cost is around ~$9USD for a hard seat).
The long distance bus station is located next to main train station. Facing the station, it is on the left side of the square.
There are regular bus services to the following cities: Baotou (2 hrs), Beijing (8-11 hrs), Datong (4 hrs), Erlian (6-7 hrs, ¥88) and Dongsheng (3 hours).
Taxis start at ¥8 during the day (¥7.50 at night?) and are highly available throughout the day although they may be unresponsive to foreigners trying to hail them. Taxis are difficult to flag 14:00-15:00 as people go back to work as well as during early evening, or with foul weather. Many streets have regular traffic jams so be prepared to sit and watch the meter.
Busses run until 20:30 during the winter. English schedules are difficult to find.
Bicycles are by far the most convenient and common in the city. Be careful with the new/foreign traffic patterns. Left turns occur after straight traffic, typically bicycles turn left from the bicycle lane with auto traffic through intersections. Following local traffic is often the safest way to ride and will orient you to traffic patterns, customs, and flow. During peak hours, traffic police will dictate crossing times. Parking your bicycle is easy and convenient in the 'corral' spaces. Attendants will issue you and your bicycle matching 'sticks' and your bicycle will be generally safe while you shop or go to work. Rates are ¥0.5-2/day. Hours may vary.
Depending on construction levels, walking the city is very easy and common and is perhaps the best way to interact with locals. During peak hours, traffic police will dictate crossing times. Theft and molestation is generally not high in the city, however prudence should always be practiced. As a city spectacle, a smile will often turn obvious bewilderment of the passing people into delight. Try it out! ¥0.5-1 is a reasonable amount to offer beggars and the homeless, as well as empty plastic bottles.
- Da Zhao Temple (大召寺; Dàzhāosì), (A lot of buses from almost everywhere go here). The oldest Buddhist monastery in the city constructed in 1579. A 2.5 meter silver statue of Sakyamuni Buddha is among the temples most precious treasures. ¥30. edit
- Inner Mongolia Museum (内蒙古博物院; Nèiměnggǔ Bówùyuàn), (Take bus 3 from Xinhua Square, various other buses from elsewhere in town also go there). Exhibitions of the flora and fauna and history of (Inner) Mongolia from the stone age until modern times, as well as on minerals and mining, space exploration, and dinosaurs. Although not all captions are in English there is still a lot of information available and it's not difficult to understand the exhibitions. Free. edit
- Temple of the Five Pagodas (五塔寺; Wǔtǎsì), (About 20 minutes walk southeast of Da Zhao). An Indian style temple constructed in 1732. Famous for its frescos of 1,500 carved figures of Buddha, the inscription of the Diamond Sutra and an engraved Mongolian star chart. ¥35. edit
- The Great Mosque, (Walk north for about 10 minutes from Da Zhao along the main road, it's on the right side). The oldest and largest mosque in the city built in 1693 in Chinese style. Free. edit
- Tomb of Princess Zhaojun (昭君墓; Zhāojūnmù), (Take bus No. 6 from Da Zhao, switch to bus No. 44 that will take you there). The resting place of Han princess who voluntarily married a nomad Hun chief to secure peace. She is attributed with the ability to perform miracles. Also contains a small but interesting museum about the Huns including English captions. ¥65. edit
- Xilitu Zhao (席力图召; Xílìtúzhào), 112 Danan Street, Yuquan District (Opposite Da Zhao). The largest Buddhist temple in the city and main seat of Buddhism in Inner Mongolia. ¥30. edit
- Dazhao Temple Festivals. Songjing Da Fahui (8th-15th of the 1st and 6th lunar months), Songbalin (14th day of the 1st and 6th lunar months), Liang Dafo (15th day of the 1st and 6th lunar months), and Mani Hui (14th-17th day of eighth lunar month). edit
- Get to the mountains, (Take bus 54 north until it ends at the edge of town. This bus can be easily caught along the north side of Xinhua Square heading west). edit
- Wind Turbines. edit
- People's park, Zhongshan west road. You can drive a pedal boat (¥50/¥60 for 2-4 people) on one of the lakes, ride a giant wheel or just walk around in this very nice park. Parts are like an amusement park, other parts just like a normal park. No entrance fee for the park itself. edit
- Get to the Steppe or Desert. Many companies in town offer tours of the Mongolian Steppe, or of the desert nearby. However, many of them are known to give an at best decent experience: if for example an overnight stay in a yurt is promised, often you will get set up in a yurt-look alike tent. The rest of the promised "Mongol village" will often turn out to be other plastic tents and a restaurant that from lack of competition in the middle of nowhere will be able to set what prices they want on their bland dishes. However, if you do your research you are likely to get an amazing experience in reward! edit
- Hohhot Museum, Opposite Wan Da Guangchang, Xinhua Dajie. Opposite the Wan Da shopping centre (wan da guang chang) and up some steps is Hohhot's new and improved museum (bo wu guan). Now a little bit outside the centre of town, it's worth a look. Enjoy the dinosaur exhibit, or stroll through a number of the other halls here, which includes weapon exhibits, pottery, and so on. Wan Da shopping centre, opposite, also has a supermarket, specialty shops, and a bakery with Western treats. Bus 79 heading east from the centre of town, along Xin Hua Da Jie, will get you there, or you can try your luck with a taxi. It's possible to just walk east from Xin Hua square along Xin Hua Da Jie to get there - you'll get there eventually - but it's a couple of hours' walk, and the shops mostly repeat themselves after a little while. edit
- Amugulang Mongolian Restaurant, Mandu hai xi xiang (满都海西巷) (In the heart of Hohhot in the Mongolian/student area, near the west gate of the Inner Mongolia University and just south of Mandu Sea park.). 8am - late. Frequented by students of the nearby universities, this family run Mongolian restaurant serves delicious home-cooked Mongolian dishes such as Mongolian lamb and beef noodles, dumplings, milk tea and other traditional dishes. Great atmosphere and a good place to come and hear and meet young Mongolians passionate about their culture. Low. edit
- Bei Guo Zhi Chun (The Garden Restaurant). A greenhouse/warehouse turned into a massive eatery where plants are abundant as well as water features, indoor yurts, and private space. Great for parties or intimate dinners. The menu is very comprehensive. Tea is not free but is delicious. Wait staff is friendly and places orders via wireless PDAs so it may seem they are pushy. High. edit
- Zang Can Bar (Tibet Food Bar), (In the heart of the city, east side of Xinhua Square, look down the alley way south of the hotel, it is on the north side). A small Tibetan restaurant. Great food, atmosphere & jewelry. Private room can sit a dozen people. High. edit
- Xi Bei, (At the new stadium to the north of the city). The menu is very comprehensive. Tea is not free. The menu is in Chinese and English and meals are delivered via roller skate. Maybe some day they'll re-label the noodle appetizer currently called "Panda-crusted noodles." Plenty of private rooms available. Wait staff is friendly and places orders via wireless PDAs so it may seem they are pushy. High. edit
- Mongolian Food @ the Race Track. Meals served in traditional Mongolian style in your own private yurt. High. edit
- Fengwei Huoguo, (Just southwest of Xinhua Square, facing north with a large green sign). Seafood hotpot. Busy every night, for good reason. Medium. edit
- Shiao Hotel, (A large hotel along Zhongshan road, west of Victory shopping plaza, with a multi-colored deck at 22 stories with a large Eiffel Tower like radio tower atop it. Hard to miss.). Buffet closes at 9PM doors close at 9:30PM. Buffet overlooking all of Hohhot that rotates so you get the whole 360. Come early. It's under renovation right now, but you have about 10 minutes of a nice view before the security guard politely removes you. Press floor 22 in the elevator (April 2013) Buffet ¥50. edit
- Narenhan Mongolian Bar (那仁汗酒吧）, 乌兰察布路 (At the crossroads between Xingan nan lu and Wulanchabu Rd. Upstairs on 6th floor (use the lift).). Mongolian bar frequented by many Mongolians every night of the week. Great atmosphere with Mongolian bands performing traditional songs including throat singing. edit
- Victory supermarket, Xinhua square, nearby. Xinhua square (xinhua guangchang) is on the corner of Xinhua and Xilin Guole streets. Just north along Xilin Guole is a 6 storey shopping centre. The Victory supermarket is downstairs off the second main entrance along this road, and has lots of stuff, however there is also a food court on the 6th floor. Food is basic, but you can point and grunt at what you want, which is very useful. There are also a couple of pricier restaurants up here if you are keen. edit
- Anda Guesthouse, Qiaokao West Street, Saihan District (赛罕区桥靠西街; Sàihǎnqū Qiáokàoxījiē) (From the train station, take bus 2, 37 or 61, get off at Inner Mongolia Hospital (内蒙古医院)), ☎ +86 471 6918039 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Electric hob available for cooking, tea & coffee, light breakfast, train station pick-up, DVDs, internet (¥2 per half hour) and hot showers available without surcharge. This hostel also organizes authentic tours to the grasslands and desert. Dorms ¥60; doubles ¥180. edit
- Pinnacle Hotel, Zhao Wu Da Road, ☎ +86 471 4316688. edit
- Yunzhong Hotel Hohhot, 27 West Zhongshan Road, ☎ +86 471 6968822 (fax: +86 471 6962236). edit
- Binyue Hotel, 52 Zhaowuda Road, Saihan district, ☎ +86 471 6605588 (fax: +86 471 4310808), . Also contains a "youth hostel" but is more akin to a cheap hotel. Staff do not speak English. edit
- Inner Mongolia Hotel, West Wulanchabu Road, ☎ +86 471 6964233 (fax: +86 471 6961479). edit
- Inner Mongolia Jin Jiang International Hotel, 119 Hulun South Road, Saihan District, ☎ +86 21 61226688 Ext. 7800, . This five-star hotel in Hohhot brings guests to a new level of luxury, offering almost 1000 rooms with relaxing amenities, event venues and catering services, and recreational facilities. Official website accepts online reservations. edit
As a multi-ethnic city, Hohhot is peaceful. People in Hohhot are warm and kind-hearted. Several conflicts between Hans and Mongolians are reported, but these are extremely rare for sure.
Street crime was used to be a problem of Hohhot, but it has been improved in recent years. Despite that, to avoid walking alone at midnight is still necessary.
- The Grasslands. Mongolia's history is linked to its grasslands. Recommended places near Hohhot are: Xilamuren (80 km north), Huitengxile (120 km west) and Gegentela (150 km north).
For Gegentela take a bus from Hohhot to Wu4lan2hua1 （乌兰花, 2 hours approx). You can take the bus (30RMB) from the long distance bus station which is very close to the central train station in Hohhot. From here you can take a minibus (10RMB per person) or a taxi (60RMB) to Gegentela (30 minutes). The place where you will arrive in Gegentala is the Inner Mongolian equivalent of a holiday park (targeting Chinese tourists). At the park itself there are 3 classes of Yurt available to stay in. The highest two classes (around 700RMB and 600RMB per night) are concrete structures containing a double bed, table and chairs and a shower (shared toilets are available in a separate building). The lowest class of Yurt cost 380RMB per night and are more traditional fabric structures with bedding for at least four people to sleep on the floor and a small table but no showers. Cheaper sleeping options are offered by families living near to the park. Most of these families live in brick built houses but have traditional fabric Yurts available to rent. These Yurts are almost identical to the cheapest option at the park but are available from around 80RMB per night. Most of these small clusters of Yurts can be seen from the main road between Wulanhua and Gegentela, some are located a little further along this road.
Horse riding and Mongolian martial art shows (25 minutes, 20RMB per person) and traditional Mongolian singing and dancing performances (1 hour, 30 RMB per person) are available at the holiday park. Horse riding is offered at the holiday park and at many of the nearby families offering accommodation. Reasonably priced food (though more expensive than in Wulanhua itself) is available at the park's restaurants and is also offered by the neighbouring families.
To get to Xilamuren Grasslands you can easily ride a bus from the long distance bus station （汽车站), near the train station. It takes approximatively 2 hours and a half to get to Zhaohe (昭和) and will cost you 42RMB for a return trip. The bus stops at Wuchuan and will then get you to the small town of Zhaohe. If you show your ticket to the driver while entering the bus he will probably stop one kilometer before the town itself to drop you in front of a ranch. This isn't exactly what you might call wilderness but there are some concrete yurts here where you can stay in or have a lunch. They also offer horse rides (100RMB for 40minutes per person; bargain is possible) to wander around the immediate grasslands. The last bus coming back to Hohhot departs at 4:10pm in front of the ranch.