The province of Inner Mongolia - not to be confused with its northern neighbour Mongolia - occupies the far north of China. Like Tibet and Xinjiang, this independent region of the People's Republic of China has a special status. It is covered by vast steppes, where the famous nomadic tribe of Mongols ride their horses. A must-do for travellers in Inner Mongolia is sleeping in a yurt, as is the tradition! The province is also home to part of the famous Gobi Desert and its sand dunes, which are almost 100m high! You can travel to this remote region on an overnight train from Beijing, and must-see places in the area include Hohhot, the capital of the province, Dongsheng, a stopover city on the way to the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, and even Manzhouli, which borders Russia and is close to the beautiful Dalai Lake.
Surface area : 1183000.0 km2
Population : 23100000 inhabitants
Time difference : Mongolia is 8 hours ahead of the UK in winter and 7 hours in summer.
In Inner Mongolia, you can buy traditional costumes, silk, leather and wool garments, fur hats, rugs, cashmere and paintings to take back home.
: In winter, you must definitely try the Mongolian hot pot, which is of Muslim origin: each person cooks their own vegetables and thin slices of mutton in a very hot broth. Inner Mongolia's culinary specialities include grilled mutton, boiled mutton, mare's milk and milk tea. Another speciality not to be missed is the Mongolian barbecue, which consists of two varieties: horhog and boodog.
The capital Hohhot has many youth hostels that offer cheap accommodation in Inner Mongolia. You should ask for advice while there on how to arrange a horse riding trip through the steppes and spending a night in a yurt, as the Mongols do! To get to Hohhot from Beijing, you can choose between taking the night train (which is cheap but not very comfortable and takes a long time) or a one hour flight.