Inner Mongolia Travel Guide

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Inner Mongolia is the first region in China to achieve the status of an Autonomous Ethnic Region. With a total area of 1.18 million square kilometers, it is situated in Northern China, bordering Russia and Mongolia (Outer Mongolia). It is also the longest provincial region in China, with a total length of more than 2,500 kilometers from west to east.

The Mongol People were a nomadic tribe in ancient China. They hunted and grazed on the vast Mongolian grasslands. Before the 12th Century, people in this region were under the cruel reign of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), and they were devastated by the frequent warfare between different tribes, so they hungered for a unified and peaceful life. Genghis Khan is the one who ended their suffering and built a united country, and an empire including much of China, and so the history of China went into a new dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). There are museums to commemorate this great hero.

Mongolian yurtMongolian yurt

The particularity of its geographical position has endowed Inner Mongolia with rich tourist resources. Located at an average height of over 1,000 meters above sea level, Inner Mongolia is fascinating for its unique natural landscape. In the west, vast deserts extend throughout the area. There are famous deserts like Badanjilin Desert, Tenger Desert and Resonant Sand Bay (Xiang Sha Wan). Some famous lakes are located in the northwest, such as Hulun Lake and Lake Bell. There are large areas of grassland and desert all over the region. The grassland in the north is among the best in China. There are also vast plains and grasslands in the east. For tourists who have lived for a long time in cities, it would be an especially wonderful thing to enjoy the prairie landscape there. The clear and bright sky, the extensive and magnificent grassland, the fresh air and the flocks of cattle and sheep present tourists with a refreshing scene.

Enjoy the most representative festival of Inner Mongolia, Nadam Festival, with China Highlights on a Nadam Festival Tour

Horse racng during the Nadam Festival

The ethnic customs of the Mongols adds a pure and natural charm to the grassland of Inner Mongolia. The Nadam Festival and Mongolian yurts (round, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed tents) are the highlights of their customs. Horse racing, wrestling and archery are the main sporting traditions of Mongols, and the Nadam Festival, which is usually held during August, is the best occasion for tourists to witness these unique customs. Mongols are hospitable to visitors, thus making a visit to a Mongolian family would be a great opportunity for tourists to experience Mongolian customs at their most original.

Travel Tips

On seeing flocks and herds on the grassland, you'd better go round to stay away from them, because it is considered as an offense to the owner for walking through the flocks and herds.

Taking a Family visit. Go to your seat in the Mongolian yurt from the left-hand side of the stove, and sit on the west or north side. Don't sit on the east, which is the place of the host's living room. You can sit on the ground without taking off your shoes. Don't sit on the saddle back board.

When visiting a Mongolian family, visitors will be served with a bowl of milk tea, and you should take it with your both hands or just the right hand, but don't take the tea with your left hand, which is considered as a bad manner. If you don't want to drink any more tea, knock the bowl with your spoon, and the host may know what you mean.

It is also a traditional way for Mongols to serve guests with liquor, which is a way to express their respect towards the guests. Usually the host with pour the liquor in a silver bowl or a golden bowl, or ox horn. Holding the bowl of liquor and a hada (a piece of silk used as a greeting gift) on his hands, the host will serve his guests with some liquor. What's more, the family will propose a toast to the guests by singing and dancing. The guests should take the bowl of liquor quickly, and it is rude to reject drinking the liquor. However, if you are not good at drinking, you can just take a sip of it. Anyway, drinking the liquor means you accept the pure kindness of the host.

Presenting hada is a necessary way for Mongols to show their greetings to the guests. When presenting hada, they will sing a song of blessing, and give guests hada with their both hands. The guest should stand up to receive hada, facing the host. Gratitude should be expressed to the host by the guest through making the move of crossing the hands before the chest.

Mongols consider water as the spirit of purity. So tourist should avoid washing hands, clothes in the river. Don’t throw any dirty thing into the river. Mongols live in the grassland, grazing their herbs near rivers, and they cannot live without water, that’s why they are used to saving water and keeping water clean.

Recommended Itinerary

Day 1

the hulun buir grassland

Take a tour to Huitengxile Grassland and Plain pasturing area.

Huitengxile grassland: The grassland is dotted with more than 90 natural lakes, and some erect cliffs and pure, cascading spring are distributed here.

Day 2

Horse Riding on the plain, to explore the grassland and ethnic custom.

Day 3

Visit Dazhao Lamasery and Inner Mongolia Museum

Dazhao Lamasery: The Lamasery boasts a large collection of religious and cultural relics, among which the silver statue of Buddha, dragon sculpture and frescos are the most cherished treasures.

Inner Mongolia Museum:The museum is renowned for its extensive collection of massive dinosaurs, mastodons, and many other kinds of fossilized remains from the Mesozoic period that have attracted global attention.

Day 4

From Hohhot to Erdos, take a tour to Xiangshawan/Resonant Sand Bay and try Camel Riding in the desert.

Xiangshawan/Resonant Sand Bay: Shaxiangwan Tourist Area is featured by its amazing desert landscape and the whispering sand dunes.

Day 5

From Erdos to Baotou, visit Genghis Khan's Mausoleum.

Genghis Khan's Mausoleum: A place for tourists to worship the great hero, Genghis Khan, of the Yuan Dynasty(1206-1370).

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Hi, I'm Candice Song
I updated this article on February 27, 2014
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