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My trip to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia--ah, definitely a top 5 travel adventure in China! I visited for 4 days in June 2017 during China's Labor Day holiday as a solo traveler and made sure to take plenty of notes.
Flying into Hohhot, getting from Hohhot Baita International Airport to downtown, where to stay in Hohhot, what to do in Hohhot, how to get to Xilamuren Grasslands and Xiangshawan Desert in Hohhot, what was the weather like in June in, what to bring--I've got answers to them all. Let''s get started!
Flying into Hohhot
Flights to Hohhot from Shanghai were surprisingly cheap, even during the Labor Day Holiday. With that, I decided to purchase my very first ever first class ticket with China’s Juneyao Airlines. Perks included having the chance to relax in a cozy lounge—breakfast included—before my departure, in addition to being allotted very spacious seating on the airplane.
The Bottom Line: Making the trip to Inner Mongolia is already a special experience in itself. If flights are inexpensive, why not just go all out and bump up to first class?
Getting From Hohhot Baita International Airport to Downtown Hohhot
From Hohhot Baita International Airport you can take a shuttle bus to either West Railway Station or to HNA Grand Hotel Portman. The shuttle bus ticket fee is approximately 15RMB. It takes around 45 minutes to reach West Railway Station from the airport.
Where to Stay in Hohhot?
From my experience staying in Hohhot, I suggest staying at Zhaojun Hotel or along Zhongshan Road, somewhere next to Zhongshan Park. The heart of Zhongshan Road had a shopping mall, restaurants, and plenty of pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Let’s just say that it was a busy area. I stayed at the 7 Days Inn Zhongshan Road Branch. The address is No.38 Zhongshan West Road.
Additionally, I recommend staying at Zhaojun Hotel, which is a 10-minute walk from West Railway Station, 5-minute walk from a large public square, 15-minute walk from the shopping mall on Zhongshan Road, and 20-minute walk from Zhongshan Park. The hotel also provides tour packages for exploring the region. Oh yeah, the airport shuttle bus also stops directly in front of the hotel!
What to Do in Hohhot?
Honestly, I didn’t have enough time to explore Hohhot like I wanted, but even from the sights that I did manage to see, it didn’t look like much of an interesting city as far as attractions go. I did have a great time visiting Zhongshan Park, though, which was massive. It had a lake, a skating rink, a small amusement park, large Ferris wheel, and plenty of leisure activities. Outside of that there was Five Pagoda Temple and Muslim Street. And outside of that? I have no clue as to what to do.
How to Get to Xilamuren Grasslands and Xiangshawan Desert in Hohhot?
I booked my tickets to Hohhot two days before I left to the city. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was get out to the grasslands, but I had no set plan of how to do so.
So when I arrived in Hohhot, I immediately set out to find a popular hotel chain in the city and infer about any available tour packages they offered. Zhaojun Hotel’s tourist reception desk provided the following:
2 Day Trip (SHORT VERSION):
Day 1: 8am coach to Xilamuren Grasslands & stay overnight in a Yurt
Day 2: Explore Xiangshawan Desert and return home at 7:30pm.
Price = 350RMB
The following is a detailed itinerary of the tour package and pricing:
Day 1: Downtown Hohhot to Xilamuren Grassland
8:00am - Depart from in front of Inner Mongolia Hotel by coach.
12pm - Arrive at a tourist resort on Xilamuren Grasslands.
12pm-1:30pm - You can either go horseback riding (405RMB), ride a two-seat dune-buggy (380RMB), or do some archery.
1:30pm - Lunch. The tour guide will try to get you to pay an extra 480RMB to eat roast lamb, which can be split between 5 people.
2pm - After lunch check into your Yurt (2 twin beds, TV, bathroom, NO Wifi, NO toilet tissue, NO soap, NO toothbrushes, NO air conditioner. You've been warned!)
2:30pm - Watch a short wrestling show.
3pm-6pm - Free time. It’s best to use this time to explore and take a bunch of pictures.
6pm - Dinner
7pm-8:30pm - Watch the sunset between 7-7:30pm.
8:30-9:30pm - Bonfire Party. Make sure to buy any last minute snacks or drinks during this time because the onsite shops close early.
Day 2: Xilamuren Grasslands to Xiangshawan Desert
7am - Breakfast
8am - Depart to Xiangshawan Desert.
12pm - Eat Lunch.
1:30pm - Arrive & Play at Xiangshawan Desert (280RMB). From my experience, DO NOT hesitate to pay this fee to enter in the desert area.
3-3:30pm - Leave Xiangshawan Desert
6pm - Stop at a Tourist Shopping Center
8:15pm - Arrive back in front of Inner Mongolia Hotel in Hohhot.
What was the weather like in Hohhot?
It was the start of June and it was pretty warm, so much so that I could wear shorts walking around the city. It got pretty chilly in the evening so I did need a sweater, but I didn't not need to change into pants. On the grasslands, the weather was cold (needs pants and jacket) in the morning, cool in the afternoon (I wore shorts and a sweater), and freezing at night. At the desert, the weather was warm.
What to Bring on Your Trip to the Grasslands and Desert in Hohhot?
Requirements will vary depending on the time of year you visit, but here’s a general list of what to bring based on my trip to Hohhot in June:
1. Warm Jacket
2. Pair of Pants and Shorts
3. Sunglasses – The grassland get windy and you'll probably experience bursts of dust storms.
4. Thin Scarf – Again, dust may fly into your mouth.
5. Toiletries – Tissue, toothbrush & toothpaste, towel, soap
6. Warm Pajamas – With no air conditioning the Yurts get incredibly cold at night.
7. Phone Credit – Make sure you have enough credit on your phone data because there isn't any Wifi on the grasslands.
Should You Go to Hohhot as a Solo Traveler?
I felt comfortable enough to explore Hohhot as a solo traveler only because I've lived in China for 5+ years, can speak basic Chinese, and have become familiar with traveling in the country. I also had plenty of Chinese friends I could call if I needed help. If you don't have a similar situation, it's probably best to arrange a tour with a foreign group travel agency.
Well, there you have it. If you have any questions about your own journey or want to try to follow my same process, feel free to contact me. I’ve saved the contact information from the tour and would be happy to pass it over. Again, safe & happy travels!
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