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Inner Mongolia Travel Guide: An Ultimate Guide with All Things to Know

A vast and fascinating land with some of the greatest grasslands on Earth, Inner Mongolia stands as a captivating travel destination. This ultimate Inner Mongolia Travel Guide is to help you plan your perfect trip to Inner Mongolia, with all essential information and travel tips covered.

The expansive grasslands are the undoubted stars in the region. The Badain Jaran Desert with some of the world’s tallest dunes and hidden lakes will wow all its travelers. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan will offer a profound look into Mongolian history. The Russian ethnic towns along the borderlines along with the stunning Ergun River will allow you a visual feast as well as a unique cultural experience…

Though eye-catching, these are not the things that will impress you the most in Inner Mongolia. That will be the many small moments you’ll experience here – receiving a welcome ceremony from locals, riding a horse across the grasslands, witnessing stunning sunrises, trying thrilling desert activities, living like a local nomad, feeding the animals, staying in a yurt, etc.

Inner Mongolia Nadam Fair

Chinese: 内蒙古 nèi měng gǔ

Location: Northern Border Region of China

Population (urban area): 24,012,000

Inner Mongolia Fast Facts

  • Chinese Name: 内蒙古 (nèi měng gǔ)
  • Location: In the northern borderlands of China
  • Capital: Hohhot
  • Area: About 1.18 million square kilometers
  • Population: Near 24 million
  • Features: An autonomous ethnic region and the third-largest province in China; has an elongated terrain, spanning over 2400 kilometers east to west; borders multiple provinces in China and neighbors Mongolia and Russia on the north; boasts extensive borderlines of about 4263
  • Elevation: Averagely over 1,000 meters above sea level.
  • Top Grasslands: Hulunbuir Grassland, Xilamuren Grassland, Huitengxile Grassland, Xilingol Grassland…
  • Top Deserts: Badain Jaran Desert, Tengger Desert, Kubuqi Desert…

Top Destinations in Inner Mongolia

Whether you seek immersion in vast expanses of grasslands, traditional ethnic customs, tranquil wetlands, wild deserts, or brilliant cultural and historical attractions, Inner Mongolia will cater to your desires. Below are some of the best travel destinations you can’t miss during your trip to Inner Mongolia, offering the best attractions and experiences of this region.

Popular Tourist Attractions in Inner Mongolia

Ergun Wetland
One of the largest and best-preserved wetlands in China, Ergun Wetland is known as the premier wetland in Asia. It offers different charms in different seasons. Visitors can boat through the wetlands to observe various migratory birds.
Ejina Populus Euphratica Forest
Located in Alxa League, it is a hot destination in autumn when the area turns into a golden ocean. Visitors can walk into the forest to explore the ruins of the ancient Blackwater City - the most mysterious ancient city in China.
Shiwei Russian Ethnic Township
A unique Russian ethnic township in Hulunbuir, Shiwei is impressive for its rich Russian ethnic culture and lifestyle experiences. You can enjoy a rare chance to live in a Russian-style log house.
Aoluguya Reindeer Village
A place where you can look into the unique daily life of the Aoluguya Ewenki people, who are the only tribe still raising reindeer and maintaining hunting activities. You can not only feed the reindeer up close but also learn about their hunting culture and explore their unique dwellings.
Xilingol Grassland
It is one of China's four major grasslands which hosts the lively Nadam Fair annually. The grassland allows visitors to taste authentic Mongolian cuisine, and take part in many Mongolian sports and bonfire parties.
Tengger Desert
Located at the border of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, Tengger Desert is the fourth-largest desert in China. It encompasses various terrains and offers great opportunities for desert exploration, camping, sunrise and sunset viewing, camel riding, etc.
Hulun Lake
This largest lake in Inner Mongolia is the cradle of various nomadic ethnicities. Thanks to its contribution to maintaining local ecological balance, it is hailed as “the Perl on the Grassland”, and was included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2002.

Top Things to Do in Inner Mongolia

The vast Inner Mongolia has numerous cultural and natural experiences to offer. Here are some highly recommended ones:

Grassland Adventure:

Enjoy memorable grassland adventures on vast Hulunbuir Grassland, Xilingol Grassland, Huitengxile Grassland, etc. Try horseback riding, stay in a traditional Mongolian yurt, take part in the Nadam Festivals to watch traditional sports like horse racing, wrestling, and archery, or challenge the thrilling grassland sliding in certain areas… There is never a shortage of adventures when on an Inner Mongolia tour.

Desert Exploration:

A desert exploration in the Tengger Desert, Kubuqi Desert, or Badain Jaran Desert will reward you with a lifetime adventure. Desert off-roading, camel riding, sandboarding, desert camping, desert hiking, stargazing… all thrilling and exciting desert adventurous activities can be expected here.

Experience Authentic Mongolian Ethnic Culture:

If you want to experience the real authentic Mongolian-style life and culture, the best way is to visit a local village and live in a Mongolian yurt on the grassland with a nomadic family. Then, you’ll have great chances to participate in many of their works and activities. You can learn to construct a traditional Mongolian yurt, feed the animals, milk cows, and make dairy products. Or, enjoy your time by taking part in the campfire party on the grassland and watching traditional Mongolian performances.

Explore Ergun Wetland and Forests in the Greater Khingan Range:

Being hailed as the “Number One Wetland in Asia”, the Ergun Wetland is a typical woody wetland where winding rivers, dense vegetation, shrubs,  grass meadows coexist. This ecological tableau makes it a paradise for migratory birds. Visitors can follow a professional guide to hike through the wetland and observe the beautiful creatures in the area up close.

The primeval forests in the Greater Khingan Range are the birthplace of many hunting tribes. A hiking here will allow you a deep exploration of various precious tree species and diverse wildlife.

Encounter the Ultimate Autumn Beauty at Populus Euphratica Forest

In each autumn, the Populus Euphratica Forest in Ejina Banner will turn into a golden ocean, making it a paradise for photography and nature enthusiasts.

Visit Historical and Cultural Sites

Scattered around the vast Inner Mongolia are many historical and cultural sites, offering in-depth insights into the glorious history of the Mongol Empire and the heroic legends of the grassland tribes. Some of the top historical attractions in Inner Mongolia include Dazhao Temple, Wudangzhao Monastery, Zhaojun Tomb, the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, etc.

Top Inner Mongolia tours including classic experiences:

How Many Days to Plan for an Inner Mongolia Tour

2-3 Days – Explore Hohhot & Nearby Grasslands

For people with limited time, they can join in a short 2-3 days Inner Mongolia Tour to Hohhot, visit top cultural and historical attractions before heading to a nearby grassland or desert for adventure.

Recommended 2-3 Days Inner Mongolia Tours:

4-6 Days – Explore Hohhot, Baotou, and Other Central Destinations

4-6 days will allow you a deeper exploration of the natural and cultural highlights of central parts. Hohho and Baotou has multiple historical attractions for you to gain insights into the deep history of Inner Mongolia. Besides the cultural exploration, you can also seek adventure in the surrounding grasslands or the Kubuqi Desert.

Recommended Inner Mongolia Tours to Central Areas:

4-6 Days – Explore Eastern Parts Like Hulunbuir, Ergun, Manzhouli

In the eastern part, you can expect the most authentic grassland natural and cultural experiences in Hulunbuir, stunning wetland scenery and biodiversity in Ergun, and Russian-style towns and international landmarks in the border areas of Manzhouli.

Recommended Inner Mongolia Tours to Eastern Parts:

4-7 Days – Enjoy Desert Adventure in the Western Area

An adventure to the western part of Inner Mongolia will focus on the wild deserts, like the Tengger Desert or the Badain Jaran Desert. The duration can vary based on your specific destinations and preferred activities.

Recommended Inner Mongolia Desert Adventures:

  • 4 Days Ejina Populus Euphratica Forest Tour
  • 3 Days Badain Jaran Desert Tour: Yurt Camp & Jeep Safari

10+ Days for a Balanced Experience

The long-term itinerary will allow you a comprehensive experience covering grasslands, deserts, local life, and cultural and historical sites. You can enjoy a leisurely trip to explore the best natural landscapes and cultural richness of Inner Mongolia. If you like, feel free to contact our travel consultants to customize your private Inner Mongolia tours based on your preferences and schedule.

Accommodations in Inner Mongolia

On an Inner Mongolia travel, visitors can expect a variety of accommodation options, from unique Mongolian yurts and Russia-style wooden houses to luxury and international brand hotels. Below are some of the most recommended types:

  • Mongolian yurt on grasslands: A common option in the grassland area; with different yurt types available, from luxurious to basics; most yurts with no private bathroom, but public bathrooms are available.
  • Russian-style wooden houses: Mostly available in China-Russia border areas like Manzhouli and Ergun; features unique architectural style and decoration, and exotic atmosphere.
  • Luxury hotels with standard facilities: Easily to find in urban areas of major cities like Hohhot and Baotou; both international brands and local high-end hotels are available.
  • Others: Homestays are common when visiting small villages or towns; clean and economical budget hotels are easy to find in both city areas and small towns; specialty accommodations are available in certain tourist attractions, like the Lotus Hotel in Xiangshawan.

Inner Mongolia Weather and Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Inner Mongolia is between June and September when temperatures are pleasantly warm across the land. This makes exploring the lush grasslands, vibrant deserts, dense forests, and historical sites in the city areas more enjoyable and comfortable.

September to October is also a good time to travel to Inner Mongolia if you plan to encounter golden poplar forests in Arxan or the Greater Khingan Range. And the daytime during this period is still cool and pleasant.

Though April to June may see large temperature fluctuations between day and night, it is a great time to witness the revival of grasslands and see the grasslands being dotted with blooming flowers.

Generally, Inner Mongolia experiences distinct seasons, featuring long, harsh winters and short, warm summers. Spring is when strong winds frequently occur, and autumn is the transitional season when temperatures can drop rapidly. Sunshine is abundant throughout the year. Due to its geographical location and terrain, the precipitation is overall low, and most rainfall occurs in the summer months. Other seasons are relatively dry.

Inner Mongolia Transportation: How to Get to and Travel Around

How to Get to

By air

Flying is the most recommended option for long-distance travelers to Inner Mongolia. Hohhot Baita International Airport is the most important gateway to Inner Mongolia, offering flights connecting various domestic cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing, Urumqi, and major cities in Inner Mongolia. It also offers several international flights to/from Russia and Mongolia.

There are also Baotou Erliban Airport, Ordos Ejin Horo International Airport, Chifeng Yulong Airport, Manzhouli Xijiao International Airport, etc. serving other different cities and areas in Inner Mongolia. If you are planning to visit these places, check if direct flights to these cities are available to save time.

By train

Hohhot East Station and Hohhot Railway Station are the two major train stations in Inner Mongolia, offering both high-speed trains and regular trains to major domestic cities like Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Lanzhou, etc. The train ride is usually cost-effective and can reward you with stunning natural landscapes along the way.

Besides, Baotou, Manzhouli, Chifeng, etc. also have train stations to ensure visitors’ convenient arrival by train.

How to Travel Around

Inner-provincial flights connecting major tourist destinations in Inner Mongolia are available for tourists’ convenient transfer.

High-speed trains are available to connect Hohhot, Baotou, and Wulanchabu.

When traveling in the central areas or in the remote east areas, private land transfer is highly recommended for more flexibility.

Hohhot Baita International Airport
Hohhot Baita International Airport

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