Baotou, known in China as ‘City of Steel in the Gobi’, is in the west of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Its Mongolian name means ‘place with deer’, hence its Chinese nickname Lucheng (‘Deer City’).
Similar to many other cities of Inner Mongolia, Baotou is a gateway to a number of plateau grasslands and wetlands. In addition, Baotou has a few majestic but peaceful Buddhism temples, historical Great Wall sections and plentiful opportunities for industry visits.
Scroll down to find out interesting facts about Baotou, the best times to visit, top things to do, and other travel tips.
Basic Facts about Baotou
- Baotou is the largest city in Inner Mongolia by urban population (2 million). The population of Baotou Prefecture is around 2.7 million.
- It is China’s largest source of minerals, the world’s No. 1 source of rare-earth metals (used in electronics), and one of the important industrial bases of China.
- Baotou Prefecture covers an area of 27,691 square kilometers (10,676 square miles) — roughly the size of Massachusetts or Wales.
- Baotou has a 214-kilometer (133-mile) stretch of the Yellow River running through the prefecture.
- Records of human settlement can be traced back to almost 5,000 years ago.
- In 1809, Baotou was recognized as a town, and it became a city in 1953, when it was known for steel production. Now it’s also known for processing rare-earth minerals.
Baotou Weather — Best Times to Visit
Baotou has a semi-arid continental climate, with short hot summers, long frozen winters, and large temperature differences seasonally and between day and night.
The annual average temperature range is -19–-6°C (-2–21°F) in January to 19–32 (66–90°F) in July.
Best Times to Visit
The optimum time to visit is from summer to early autumn (June to October), when the weather is the most pleasant, and the grasslands are in the best condition.
4 Top Things to Do in Baotou
1. Be Like a Herdsman on the Vast Grasslands
The best way to experience Mongolian traditional customs is to ride a horse in the vast grassland, stay in a Mongolian yurt, drink a bowl of kumis (fermented equine milk), enjoy a meal of roasted mutton, and join in a bonfire party. All these will get you closer to the life and culture of Mongolian herdsmen.
Baotou boasts a number of great grasslands. Saihantala Ecological Park, the only wetland grassland in an urban area of China, is the place the enjoy the lush plants and play with deer. Xilamuren Grassland is the most popular one, due to its convenience from Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia.
2. Appreciate the Tibetan Culture of Baotou
Wudangzhao Lamasery, 70 km (44 miles) northeast of Baotou, is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan Lamasery in Inner Mongolia.
Meidaizhao Lamasery is unique in layout, as it is more like a walled city, with temples, royal palaces and city gates.
Both are important centers for spreading Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia and are of great importance for the study of the history, religion, and arts of Inner Mongolia.
3. Discover the Oldest Great Wall
During the Warring States Period (475–221 BC), King Wuling of Zhao (r. 325–299 BC) built a section of “Great Wall”, which remains in Baotou as the oldest Great Wall section in China.
In addition, a section of the Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC), when the Great Wall was actually first formed by linking up previously-made sections of defensive wall, lies in Baotou and stretches for around 120 kilometers (75 miles). The beacon towers and ruins of the wall can still be seen from a distance.
Even if you have already visited Great Wall sections in or near Beijing, you should still take a visit to see the oldest Wall, trace its history back to over 2,000 years ago, and find the differences.
A Section of the Great Wall of the Zhao
4. Learn about China’s Modern Industry
Baotou is known for the steel industry and its factory visits.
Baotou Iron and Steel Group offers an insightful view into the recovery, growth, and rise of China's Modern Steel Industry. Their educational factory tour is especially popular among young students.
Attractions near Baotou
- Resonant Sand Bay, 54 km (34 miles) south of Baotou City, offers you the unique experience of hearing the desert sing! The reason for this natural phenomenon is still a mystery to the world. Various exciting desert activities like camel riding, sand sliding, paragliding, karting, etc. are waiting for you there.
- Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baotou City, is a sacred place where Mongolian people gather to commemorate and offer sacrifices to the legendary hero, Genghis Khan, the establisher of the Mongol Empire.
Getting to Baotou
Baotou Erliban Airport, the second largest airport in Inner Mongolia, is 17 km (10 miles) away from downtown areas. The airport serves Baotou with flights to major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Shenyang, Guangzhou, and Chengdu.
Airport express buses run between the airport and Header Hotel Baotou. Or you could take a private airport transfer for a worry-free journey.
The two main railway stations in the city are: Baotou Railway Station in Kundulun District and Baotou East Railway Station in Donghe District. The distance between the two stations is 16 kilometers (10 miles).
From Baotou to Beijing, bullet train services are available to both stations taking around 3½ hours. Other cities reachable by bullet trains include Hohhot, Zhangjiakou, Datong, Taiyuan, and Zhengzhou.
Baotou offers plentiful choices of international standard hotels in the city: the Shangri-La Hotel Baotou, Marriott Hotel, Pullman Baotou, etc.
When traveling to the grassland areas, staying in a Mongolian Yurt is an experience that cannot be missed. Contact us for if you are looking for a high-quality yurt experience in Baotou.
Plan a Baotou Tour
You’ll need 2–3 days to explore the main attractions of Baotou and its nearby sights.
Starting a tour from Hohhot is popular due to more flight/train options and its convenience to reach the Xilamuren Grassland (only 1½ hours’ drive). Below is a very classic Baotou tour for inspiration.
Day 1: Arrive in Hohhot
Arrive in Hohhot with a private transfer to your hotel.
Day 2: Hohhot to Baotou
Your Hohhot city tour would typically include Inner Mongolia Museum and Zhaojun Tomb.
Then drive around 2½ hours to Xilamuren Grassland in Baotou and join in the bonfire party in the evening. Stay overnight in a Mongolian yurt.
Day 3: Baotou
Grassland activities in the morning include horse riding and a nomad family visit.
Then, drive around 3½ hours to Baotou city.
Day 4: Baotou
A full-day Baotou city tour would visit Wudangzhao Lamasery and the Ancient Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty.
Day 5: Depart from Baotou
Our private guide and driver would see you off at the airport or train station. Or you could continue your tour to Ordos for desert experiences at Resonant Sand Bay and a historical tour of the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan.
Touring Baotou with China Highlights
If you would like to inquire about or modify the sample tour or an extended tour including Ordos, or any other bespoke options, feel free to contact our Baotou expert for a worry-free customized tour.
Here are our most popular Inner Mongolia tours for inspiration: