Inner Mongolia (内蒙古, Nèi Měnggǔ or ᠦᠪᠦᠷ ᠮᠤᠩᠭᠤᠯ, Öbür mongɣul in Mongolian) is a Mongol Autonomous Region in northern China, whereas Outer Mongolia is a separate country to the north of China. The region covers most of the northern edge of China, curving in a banana shape. To the north is the Republic of Mongolia and the north east tip of Inner Mongolia borders with Russia. The other borders of the region are with other Chinese provinces; going clockwise from the Northeast they are Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Gansu.
- 1 Hohhot - the capital
- 2 Baotou - on the Yellow River (Huang He)
- 3 Chifeng - the location of Arshihaty Stone Forest in the Hexigten UNESCO Global Geopark
- 4 Ordos City - Dongsheng is the home of cashmere sweaters produced in the Erdos Grasslands
- 5 Erlian - border town on the Trans-Siberian railway
- 6 Hailar - in the North
- 7 Manzhouli - northern gateway to Russia
- 8 Wuhai - on the Yellow River
Inner Mongolia is a large region stretched across the northern edge of China. It has a relatively low population density the majority of which are Han Chinese. About 17% of the population is ethnic Mongolian. The region is officially an Autonomous Region for the Mongolian people within China. The east of Inner Mongolia consists of wide grass meadowlands, forests, and mountains. The west of the region is made up of scorching hot deserts. Traditional Mongolian nomadic lifestyles can still be seen in the region and yurts (Mongolian tents) and they are not an uncommon sight in the wide spaces between the cities. Even though ethnic Mongols form a minority in the region, the number of ethnic Mongols holding Chinese citizenship is almost twice the population of the independent country of Mongolia.
The main religion in the area practiced by the Mongol minority is Lamaist Buddhism, similar to that found in Tibet and the Republic of Mongolia. Lama temples are common throughout the region.
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) (酒泉卫星发射中心) is in Inner Mongolia and is the site of most of China's rocket launches. It is in a remote area and not open to the public. (The city of Jiuquan lies over 100km away in the neighboring province of Gansu.)
Throughout much of the 2000s, the region saw the highest economic growth in all of China.
Although separatist sentiments are virtually non-existent, travellers may note how the ethnic Mongols are fiercely protective of their cultural identity and traditions. This was especially evident in August 2020 when ethnic Mongols protested against the government for attempting to phase out Mongolian-medium teaching.
Mongolian is co-official with Mandarin in the area. There are different dialects of both spoken throughout the region. The north east of the province speak with a Dongbei accent that is very similar to standard Mandarin Chinese. Central areas speak the Jin dialect of Chinese. The two dialects are mutually unintelligible. The official dialect of Mongolian is Chahar and is distinct from the dialect used in Outer Mongolia. The Mongolian language and population is primarily located in the northern and border regions of the province with the neighboring Republic of Mongolia to the north. Most ethnic Mongols are bilingual in Mongolian and Mandarin. Writing on signs, menus and other documents is usually bilingual in Mongolian and Chinese.
Unlike Mongolia, which uses the Cyrillic script to write Mongolian, the variant of Mongolian here uses the traditional Mongolian script. The script is unusual in that it is read and written vertically.
There are nine public airports in Inner Mongolia. Most only receive domestic flights so requiring foreign visitors to transfer at one of the major cities of China before reaching Inner Mongolia. There are international flights form Hohhot (HET IATA)to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia run by MIAT Mongolian Airlines.
Other airports are Baotou Airport (BAV IATA), Chifeng Airport (CIF IATA), Hailar Dongshan Airport (HLD IATA), Manzhouli Airport (NZH IATA), Tongliao Airport (TGO IATA), Ulanhot Airport (HLH IATA), Wuhai Airport (WUA IATA), Xilinhot Airport (XIL IATA).
Many cities of Inner Mongolia are connected to the Chinese rail network giving access to the region from neighbouring provinces. The Trans-Mongolian railway connects from Beijing via Datong in Shanxi province to the city of Jining in Inner Mongolia and north through Erenhot, in north central Inner Mongolia, to Ulaanbaatar in Outer Mongolia and onwards to Siberia in Russia. The north Eastern end of Inner Mongolia is traversed by rail routes connecting Russian Siberia to Haerbin in Heilongjiang Province and through to the Russian Far East.
The central area of Inner Mongolia is connected to a rail route that spans form Liaoning and Jilin provinces through Tongliao city in the east of Inner Mongolia, on across the Trans-Mongolian railway at Jining (Inner Mongolia), to Hohhot. Then the line runs westward again until Wuhai city where the route exits Inner Mongolia, running just south of the border in the neighbouring provinces before turning north again and terminating in Ejin Qi in Western Inner Mongolia. Several branches run off of this to other cities. The north east of Inner Mongolia is not connected directly to the other cities of Inner Mongolia but is crossed by railways originating in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.
The international airport in Hohhot has connections to the other eight airports in Inner Mongolia. All Inner Mongolian airports also connect to Beijing. Thus it is possible to travel from one end of the region to the other by air. However, the frequency of flights to these small airports is low.
- Wudangzhao Monastery - 70 km (43 mi) northeast of Baotou.
- Dazhao Temple - In Hohhot
- Xilituzhao Palace - In Hohhot.
- Zhaojun Tomb - beside the Da Hi River nine kilometers south of Hohhot.
- Wanbu Huayanjin Pagoda - In Hohhot.
- Xiaozhao Temple (also called Chongfu temple) - In Hohhot.
- Five-towers Temple (Wuta Si) - In Hohhot.
- Qingzhen Da Si Mosque - In Hohhot.
- Inner Mongolia Museum (内蒙古博物馆 Neimenggu Bowuguan) - The museum has over 44,000 items and is particularly noted for it's dinosaur collection. In Hohhot.
- Mausoleum of Genghis Khan (成吉思汗陵) - Located within Ordos Prefecture. This isn't the real site of Genghis Khan's burial, but rather a shrine in his memory.
- Xilamuren Grassland - 90 kilometres (about 56 miles) north of Hohhot.
- Gegentala Grassland - Located in Siziwang Banner, 145 kilometres north of Hohhot.
- Huitengxile Grassland - 135 kilometres east of Hohhot, and 80 kilometers from the city of Jining.
- Bashang Grasslands - On the regions southern border near to Beijing.
- Badain Jaran Desert (巴丹吉林沙漠 Badanjilin Shamo) - Western Inner Mongolia and extending into neighbouring Gansu and Ningxia provinces.
- Tengger Desert (腾格里沙漠 Tenggeli Shamo) - Bordering with Ningxia Province.
- Kubuqi Desert - South of the Yellow river near to Baotou.
- Hexigten National Geopark - This is a UNESCO designated Geopark. It contains eight scenic areas: Arshihaty granite forest area, Qingshan granite mortar area, Dali Nur volcanic land form area, Huanggangliang Quaternary glacial vestige area, Reshuitang thermal spring area, Pingdingshan scenic Quaternary cirque group area, Xilamulun River valley area and Hunshandak sand land area. The geopark covers an area of 1750 km2. See Chifeng.
- Arxan National Geopark - South west of the Greater Hinggan Mountains in Xiang'an League.
- Alxa Desert National Geopark - In Alxa League (also known as Alashan League) of Western Inner Mongolia.
- Scenic Grasslands - Definitely plan on visiting a scenic grassland near Hohhot, Baotou, Erenhot, Ulanhot or Hailar where visitors may go for the Mongolian Experience, such as horseback riding, attending folk singing and dancing, and tasting roast whole lamb.
- Nadam Festival - Wrestling, horse racing and archery are the three traditional sports for Nadam (meaning entertainment or frolicking), the foremost traditional festival for Mongol nomads taking place in July or August.
- Mongol Homestay - Trying an authentic Mongol homestay, staying in a yurt in the grasslands. "Staying in a yurt" can mean almost anything in Inner Mongolia but if you do some research you will probably manage to find a nice one.
Traditional Mongolian food is found throughout Inner Mongolia. This is typically high in dairy produce such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. The traditional Mongolian milk tea is exceptionally good. Meats, especially lamb, form most meals. The meat is usually roasted with a coating of spices to give a strong distinctive flavour. As in many other areas of China, hotpot is a popular style of cooking. Mongolian hotpot usually has a well flavoured soup but without the hot spices of central China.
Mongolian milk tea is distinctive to this region and frequently served in hotels along with breakfast. Some brands of Mongolian bottle water are known for their purity or special mineral content.
There have been reports of isolated cases of bubonic plague in Inner Mongolia. Here are some advice for prevention:
- Stay clear from marmot holes to prevent flea bites.
- Do not contact, skin or cook possible sick or dead wild animals.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET to prevent flea bites.
- Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea control products. If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Do not allow stray dogs or cats that roam free in endemic areas to sleep on your bed.
- Stay clear from possible patients, as bubonic plague can transmit through air.
- If you have sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (also known as buboes), visit your nearest local hospital. Plague is curable if discovered early.
The various respect tips in the Mongolia article apply to the ethnic Mongols in China as well.