Amazing Inner Mongolia

There are places you visit during travel that are doing something to you, moving something inside.
As such Inner Mongolia was for me.

The grassland - as green as it gets

The grassland – as green as it gets

Only 50 minutes flight from Beijing there is splendid nature, open spaced country with endless green and yellow.
You will find spacious grassland with green as far as the eye can see and the same goes for the yellow sand dunes of the Gobi desert which is just a few hours drive from the grassland.

We took  the morning flight from Beijing and got to the guesthouse at around 12:00.

The room, well, kinda

The room, well, kinda

When we first got to the guesthouse we were a little surprised by the room.
It was very very simple – as simple as it gets.
At first, we thought about moving to a nearby hotel, because the guesthouse room was around RMB180 for both with shared bathroom / shower, no a/c and in general nothing more than a stiff bed and 4 walls.
The 5 star hotel was just a little over 200.

Why didn’t we move you ask? because of the 2 day trip they had going the next day – and it was the right call to stay.
But before we get into the trip, let’s take a moment for Hohhot (or Huhehot).

The yellow street

The yellow street

Hohhot is the capital city of Inner Mongolia – it’s a nice laid back city, crowded as expected from a city in China (even though it’s an autonomous area) but a little different non the less and it’s population is somewhere around 1.5 million – a village in Chinese terms;)
Foreigners are greeted with excitement and often asked to take pictures with, unlike other big cities with seem to be accustomed to the foreign look.
There is a nice restaurant street with a lot of good restaurants – some are normal Chinese food but some serve Mongolian food.

Tasty lamb with parsley, not traditional but tasty

Unfortunately we did not really eat too many “local” dishes but just random Chinese food so I will not get into details of restaurants like I usually do – just go check this street out – it’s called “The yellow street” (黄街).
One thing I can warmly recommend is – have a real warm Mongol milk tea – it’s thick and heavy, but it tastes good!

The same day we also went to check out the “Inner Mongolia Museum

The museum from outside

The museum from outside

If you really like museums and history – go check it out, but go early if you can as at around 4 the tickets are free and it’s too full to enjoy it.
We went at around 4PM (we did not know the tickets are free) and we didn’t really enjoy it too much – just a heads up.

Now for the trip.
We set out at around 9:20AM and we got to the grassland at around 13:30 or so right for lunch.
We expected some traditional Mongolian food but we didn’t really have that, but the view was worth it.

The camp in the middle of nowhere, well, almost

The camp in the middle of nowhere, well, almost

The first day we went around the camp to explore, and it was just beautiful – green all around, everything is simple and far from pretentious, just great.
Listen carefully when you are there – you’ll hear cows, goats and your own footsteps, pretty calm:)
After walking around we took the car and drove to a nearby farm for a horse ride, although I stayed in the departure area to walk around and take pictures – but according to the group – the horse riding was fun.

You can actually see the rain in the distance

You can actually see the rain in the distance

Later we got back to the main camp and had some more walking around time in which we needed to collect some cow poo for the bonfire.. don’t worry, we used gloves;)
Somewhere before night it started to rain heavily and we could not really do anything besides sit inside and wait, luckily in that area rain usually last for around 30 minutes (according to our guide), so once it ended it was a beautiful day again.

After the rain we had a nice simple dinner and some beers (lucky we asked the guide to cool some) and then we had a bonfire.
The smell was not the best one (cow poo) but just don’t stand too close to it and you’ll be fine.

Sleeping in a yurt is ok, although the “bed linen” were a little stinky, which didn’t contribute for a good night sleep.
I’m used to it – but if you have a hard time sleeping outside – consider bringing something from home (a clean sheet for example) that will make you fall asleep better.

Beautiful sunrise

Beautiful sunrise

We woke to watch the sunrise (4:40AM) and to take some pictures, it was freezing cold and the sun took it time until it appeared:)
The result you can see here.

After a nice nap in the yurt we got up for a traditional breakfast of fried and baked bread and a cup of milk tea (sorry for the lack of bread pictures – I was hungry).
Right after breakfast we started driving towards the desert, after around 2.5 hours (of some decent sleep in the car) we stopped for lunch – nothing to write about.

We got to a tourist area in the desert – where they took us with a huge open truck into the desert where we walked a bit, some did sand slides and then camel riding.
It was a cool experience – but if you’ve been in the desert before it will be pretty much the same, with addition of a few hundred Chinese tourists:)

That’s about it.
After we came back to the guesthouse we bought some good beef jerky snacks (if you can, buy some. It’s called Niúròu gān / 牛肉干) and went straight to the airport to catch our flight back home.
We got to the airport at around 20:15 when the flight should have taken off at 21:40, “luckily” for us it was delayed and we took off only at around 24:00.

That’s it.
If you are traveling in China, Don’t miss out on Inner Mongolia, it’s truly a wonderful and beautiful place.
With regards to Hohhot, go for at least 3 days (2 of them spend in the grassland and desert tour) – I recommend that if you have the time take even 4 days and go see what Hohhot has to offer.
There are some nice temples in the city which should be very nice, and a lot of different attractions and of course there are plenty of places outside of Hohhot.

Have a good one,

Here are some pictures I took in the trip:

P.S – this is the guesthouse’s email address and this is a link to their booking area in hostel world (which is a great site for guesthouses).

Adam Disatnik

I have been living in China since early 2013 in the great Beijing. I try to travel as much as I can and try to understand the culture and the habits as much as possible. It's amazing how much can be learned about China, and about life, while living abroad in a totally different country than the one you grew up in. I love it! Catch up on my blog to try and understand along with me:) Adam.

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