Hohhot, China: Capital of Inner Mongolia

Yep, you read that right, Hohhot China, not Mongolia.

The background

Hohhot has a long history. Founded by a Mongolian king in the sixteenth century it once belonged to the Mongol empire. But Hohhot is now the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in Northern China...

Inner Mongolia and Hohhot China.jpg
(C) Croquant, 2007.

Hohhot In China

In Mongolian, 'Hoh' means blue and 'hot' means city. However, the Chinese translated Hohhot using the Mandarin word 'qing'—a color between blue and green. Thus many people in China translate Hohhot as 'Green City'—including the city's own Web site!

Hohot became the capital of China's Inner Mongolia region in 1952. Its long history and a large cash injection soon established Hohhot as the administrative, economic and cultural center of Inner Mongolia. Hohhot also acts as Northern China's transportation hub—connecting Inner Mongolia with independent 'Outer' Mongolia to the North and major Chinese cities.

Chinese culture dominates. In fact, only one in ten of the people you meet will be Mongol. And many of the Mongols you meet will not speak Mongolian—even among themselves.

But China has passed new laws to try and bolster Mongolian culture. One law says that all public signs and announcements must be in Mongolian. In fact, the Mongolian script lives on only in Hohhot. 'Outer' Mongolia switched to Cyrillic in the 1960s.

Mongolian Script Hohhot China.jpg
Mongolian Script in Hohhot China

Best time to go

When's the best time to visit?

Northern China has long cold winters and short hot summers. In fact, temperatures in Hohhot can reach minus twenty in winter!

Spring isn't much better. High winds tend to whip up sand storms.

July and August suit most people best, the temperature will usually hit the thirty Celsius mark—ideal for visiting the countryside or just strolling around the city.

How to get there

Fly to Hohhot
Fly to Hohhot China via Beijing or Shanghai

By air—It takes about forty-five minutes to drive from Baita International Airport (HET) to Hohhot city center.

The airport's international status depends on flights arriving from a single country—Mongolia. Most people arrive via an internal China flight—usually Beijing or Shanghai.

You can find flights to Hohhot on the Internet by typing either: Hohhot China; or entering the airport code: HET.

By train—Hohhot links Inner Mongolia to major Chinese cities and 'Outer' Mongolia. Most train travelers arrive on the Beijing—Hohhot train. The journey lasts about eleven hours.

By bus—Long-distance buses also run to major urban centers and can be quicker than catching a train. The journey from Beijing takes between eight and eleven hours.

Getting around

You should have no problems getting around.

You have the following choices...

By taxi—Hohhot runs a well regulated fleet of green taxis. When you enter a taxi, check the dashboard for the driver's photograph and taxi license. But don't worry too much if the photograph and face don't match.

The plentiful supply of taxis disappears during early afternoon and the evening rush-hour—especially when it rains!

By bus—More than one-hundred bus routes serve most parts of the city. They're safe and cheap—but watch out for pickpockets.

By bicycle—Bicycles still rule many parts of China. You can rent and park bicycles cheaply.

On foot—If you want to meet the locals—walk. Hohhot has a low crime rate, but take sensible precautions.

What to See

Hohhot China used to be Hohhot of the Mongol empire. Its long history has left plenty of historical sites and sightseeing destinations...

Tomb of Wang Zhaojun—Zhaojun was a Han woman who married a king from the Xiongnu tribe, cementing a tribal alliance. Today her tomb symbolizes China's unity. Found nine kilometers south of Hohhot city center it is best reached by taxi or bus. Locals call it the 'Green Tomb' since it's rumored that the grass on the tomb never dies.

Temples

Some people call Hohhot 'Zhao City' which means 'City of Temples'. Hohhot grew around a flourishing temple trade and more than fifty temples remain...

Buddhist Temple Hohhot China
Buddhist Temple in Hohhot China

Da Zhao, the oldest temple, was constructed in 1579—six years before Mongolia's oldest standing temple, the Erdene Zuu. Locals call it the 'Silver Buddha Temple' since it contains an eight-feet-high statue of Sakyamuni Buddha—commissioned by the city's founder. Hohhot would probably not exist if not for this temple!

The Temple of the Five Pagodas

You should also visit the Temple of the Five Pagodas. Constructed in 1732 the temple is famed in China for its 1,500 frescoes of Buddha. Mongolian and Tibetan scripts cover the walls. The temple's other claim to fame is its uniqueness as the only Chinese temple built in the Indian style.

Buddhist temples do not have a monopoly, Hohhot also has mosques. The Great Mosque, built in 1693, is the largest and most renowned mosque in Inner Mongolia.

Inner Mongolian Museum

If you don't like temples, try the Inner Mongolian Museum. Museum exhibits include: dinosaur fossils; ancient nomadic artifacts; and examples of the flora and fauna of the area. Since Inner Mongolia hosts China's first space launch pad, the museum also includes a section on space exploration.

Or you could just walk around Hohhot and enjoy the architecture. Hohhot has seen a lot of development recently and many new buildings have a Mongolian flavor. If you like old-fashioned architecture, try visiting Tongdao Road in the Old Town area. You will find Islamic and Mongolian designs decorating the exterior of many buildings.

What to do

Visit the Zhao Wall

Great Wall of China
Hohhot China is north of the Great Wall (above)

The parts of the Great Wall built around Beijing were put there to keep the founder of Hohhot out. But did you know about the Zhao Wall—approximately 1,800 years older that the Ming dynasty's wall around Beijing.

Not much wall remains—but what there is can be found in a north running valley in the Wutusu Forest Park.

Skirt the Mountains

The Daqing Shan, which translates as 'the Great Dark Mountains', overshadow Northern Hohhot. They can make a pleasant day trip. The independent traveler can reach them by bus.

Visit a Dazhao Temple Festival

Dazhao Temple Hohhot China
Dazhao Temple—Hohhot China

Dazhao Temple Festivals take place on the first, sixth and eighth lunar months.

They take place between the eighth and fifteenth of the first and sixth month and between the fourteenth and seventeenth of the eighth lunar month.The lunar calendar can differ in China from the rest of the world—so take care that you visit at the right time.

What to buy

Inner Mongolian specialties include: Mongolian silverware, cashmere, camel-hair products, decorative deer antlers, and deels—traditional Mongolian clothing.

You can find the above products in the old markets or a modern shopping center.

What to eat

Halal Restaurants usually display a yellow or green sign and do not serve pork—best not to even ask. Since its Inner Mongolia find one of the many Mongolian restaurants and try mutton instead!

Authentic Mongolian dishes include khuushuur—a fried mutton pancake, and buuz—a steamed mutton dumpling.

Where to sleep

Hotels in China come and go. Management changes. Click here for reviews of over one hundred current Hohhot China hotels—many starred and rated by recent customers.

Other spellings

Hohhot: sometimes spelled as Hohot, Huhehot or Huhhot; or in China: Qing Cheng.




Mongolia Travel Guide > Inner Mongolia > Go to top of Hohhot, China


Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.