The 15 best places to visit in Inner Mongolia

 

Constructed from 2003 onward, in Ordos Prefecture on the edge of Ordos City and the Ordos Desert is an urban area known as the Kangbashi District, more commonly known as 'Kangbashi Ghost City'. Built entirely from scratch in an area that was once barren desert, the district was designed with large civic squares, huge stadiums, modern shopping malls, monuments and rows of apartment and office buildings able to hold approximately one million people. With fears of economic downturns and crashing coal prices along with the fact many Chinese cities were expanding, Kangbashi found it difficult to attract new residents. The result is a large scale city of eerily empty streets and buildings.

15. Kangbashi District

 

Built in 2007, in the far northern centre of the Autonomous Region, on the Sino-Mongolian border in the Gobi Desert near the town of Erenhot, also known as Erlian, are two giant Brontosaurus statues called the Kissing Dinosaurs. Standing either side of the highway, the two giant statues measure 34 metres (111 ft) long and 19 metres (62 ft) high at their highest point. The area around the statues is dotted with a number of other dinosaur statues as well as a number of real dinosaur fossils.

14. The Kissing Dinosaurs

 

Founded in 1579 AD in Inner Mongolia's capital, Honhot, is the Dazhao Temple, also known as the Wuliang Temple, the first building and official centre of the city as well as the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Honhot. The venue for Buddhist festivals, Dazhao Temple has become famous for its 3 metre (10 ft) tall silver Sakyamuni Buddha Statue, consecrated by the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1586 AD.

13. Dazhao Temple

 

Directly south from the capital, Honhot, in an area known as Qingshuihe is a section of the Great Wall Of China known as the 'Great Dirt Wall', otherwise known by locals as the 'Ancient Great Wall'. Stretching and snaking its way over the countryside, this crumbling piece of original wall is a world away from the more famous repaired sections around Beijing, giving visitors a real sense of ancient China.

12. Great Dirt Wall

 

In the far north west of the Autonomous Region close to the Russian border, among the great Hulun Buir Prairie lies the city of Hulun Buir, home to the modern Mammoth Park. Among the attractions are large mammoth statues, a giant Ferris wheel, roller coasters as well as large scale replicas of famous Russian buildings.

11. Mammoth Park

 

In the far north west of the Autonomous Region, close to where the Chinese, Russian and Mongolian borders meet is the city of Manzhouli, a bizarre border town of colourful buildings among the great flat prairie lands. One of the highlights of Manzhouli is the Matryoshka Square, taking its name from the Russian Matryoshka Doll, meaning 'Little Matron'. It is the official name of the famous Russian dolls, the wooden figures that separate at the middle to reveal a smaller one inside. The square is a place of Russian style architecture, workshops, entertainment facilities and large matryoshka dolls, the largest measuring 30 metres (98 ft) high, holding within it a church, a Russian restaurant and a music hall.

10. Matryoshka Square

 

North of the Great Wall, close to the border with Hebei Province between the cities of Beijing and Xilin Gol are the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, Xanadu. Dating from 1256 AD, from this base, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty that ruled China for over a century, extending its boundaries across Asia. Planned according to traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river, the site today, though almost completely in ruin, includes the remains of temples, palaces, tombs and a number of impressive ancient waterworks. The entire Site Of Xanadu has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Pictured is the Kublai Khan Monument.

9. Xanadu

 

Built in the late 18th century in Baotou, the largest city of Inner Mongolia is the Badekar Monastery, also known as the Wudang Temple, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Autonomous Region. Constructed according to the layout of the famous Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in the Tibetan city of Xigaze, Badekar Monastery is a vast sprawling structure that has been designated a major historical and cultural protected natural site.

8. Badekar Monastery

 

Founded in 1032 AD in the Ejin Banner of Alxa League in the far west of the Autonomous Region are the remains of the ancient Tangut City of Khara Khoto, meaning 'Black City', also known as the Heicheng Historic Site. Having been identified as the city of Etzina which appears in the Travels Of Marco Polo, with a history that saw it ruled by Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan, a few towers and a few crumbling walls are all that remain of this once great fortified city.

7. Khara Khoto

 

First built in the mid 1950's, south from the city of Ordos in the town of Xinjie is the Mausoleum Of Genghis Khan, also known as the Lord's Enclosure. Having been desecrated and its relics destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, what stands today was restored in the 1980's using replicas. The main hall is a cenotaph where a coffin contains no body, because the actual tomb of Genghis Khan has never been discovered. Because of this, the site has become the main centre of the worship of Genghis Khan, a growing practice in the Mongolian shamanism of both Mongolia and Inner Mongolia.

6. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

 

Between Baotou and Ordos City, at the far eastern corner of the Kubuqi Desert which forms the northern half of the Ordos Desert, which itself forms the south western portion of the Gobi Desert is an area known as the Xiangshawan, meaning 'Whistling Dune Bay'. With China's general campaign to combat desertification, this mostly non reclaimable site was developed as the countries first desert-themed tourism resort. It now consists of four islands of activities located around the Sand Dune Resort. Made up of mostly very fine and soft sand, the wind created dunes can reach over 90 metres (295 ft) high, which at their driest have been known to make a humming, buzzing or roaring sound.

5. Xiangshawan

 

North east of Beijing, between the Inner Mongolian cities of Xilin Gol and Chifeng is the 1,750 square kilometre (676 square mile) Hexigten Global Geopark, a scenic beauty area that includes volcanic, glacial and desert features. Encompassing part of the Greater Khingan Mountain Range, highlights of the park include the Arshihaty Granite Forest, the Xilamulun River Canyon, the Qingshan Granite Mortars, the Dali Nur Volcanic Landscape and the Reshuitang Thermal Springs. Whether winter or summer, the park remains one of the regions most beautiful terrains.

4. Hexigten Global Geopark

 

In the east of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, close to the far eastern border of Mongolia is the Arxan National Forest Park, also known as the A'ershan National Forest Park. Situated at the southeastern end of the Greater Hinggan Mountains, the landscape is covered with primeval forests among rolling peaks and large lakes. Home to 90 animal species, highlights of the park include Heavenly Lake, the Shitanglin Forest, Terme Mountain and Darbin Lake.

3. Arxan National Forest Park

 

Completed in 2011, just north from the city of Huolin Gol is the relatively unknown scenic area of Mount Khan, sometimes referred to as 'Mount Khan And The Terracotta Warriors' or the 'Genghis Khan And Kublai Khan Monument'. At the foot of Guanyin Mountain stands eight hundred 3 metre (9.8 ft) high terracotta style warriors, overlooked by two giant stone busts. The smaller of the two busts is the 30 metre (98 ft) high Kublai Khan statue, and the larger one a 50 metre (164 ft) tall bust of Genghis Khan.

2. Mount Khan

 

In the far west of Inner Mongolia, crossing the borders into neighbouring Ninxia Autonomous Region and Gansu Province is the 49,000 square kilometre (18,919 square mile) Badain Jaran Desert, a name that translates as 'Mysterious Lakes', so named for the hundreds of spring fed lakes that lie between the dunes. Highlights of the desert include ancient rock paintings in the Yinshan Mountains, the ruins of the Khara Khoto and the well preserved late 19th century Badain Jaran Buddhist Temple. Home to some of the tallest stationary dunes on Earth, the 1,609 metre (5,279 ft) Bilutu Peak is the third tallest dune as well as the single highest stationary dune in the world.

1. Badain Jaran Desert

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