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Look at Inner Mongolia's Attractions

Apr 12, 2008
Not to be confused with its northern neighbour, (Outer) Mongolia, Inner Mongolia is today the third largest province in China - officially regarded as an autonomous region, and home to some 24 million people.

Flanked by the Great Wall and eight Chinese provinces in the south and the Gobi Desert, Mongolia and Russia in the north, the region is fringed with beautiful mountains and valleys, plateaued with picturesque grasslands. Capital city Huhhot lies around 700 kilometres northwest of Beijing, with other important cities including Baotou (the largest city in the region) and Manzhouli, a vibrant trade city bordering Russia. Given its location, Inner Mongolia is one of the most culturally diverse regions in China, with an estimated 49 ethnic groups living in the area.

Although a popular trading port between Russia, Mongolia and China, Inner Mongolia is probably best known for its natural resources. Vast grasslands are peppered with nomadic herders who set up yurt villages at various bends in the Yellow River. Further south, the Greater Hinggan Mountain range abounds with over 300 species of birds and 100 species of animals. A highland paradise indeed.

Monastic Fantastic
Located around 70 kilometres northeast of Baotou, the 250-year-old Wudangzhao Monastery - "Willow Monastery" in Mongolian for the fact that the valley it's in is dotted with the wispy trees -- is the only intact Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Inner Mongolia, and is also the biggest and the best preserved lama monastery in the region. Its significance is considered on a par with Potala Palace in Tibet and Taersi Temple in Qinghai. The white, Tibetan-style buildings are home to some 1,500 Buddhist statues and murals. Although 1,200 resident monks once resided in the 2,500-room complex, numbers have dwindled in recent years.

Jurassic Mongolia
Inner Mongolia has some of the richest fossil sites on earth and paleontologists have made impressive discoveries throughout the region. Fossil sites can be found from the northeast part of Inner Mongolia (a 1921 dig in Yan Chi discovered an outstanding Bactrosaurus specimen), to the far western desert. During the 1985 building of a factory in Xi Lin Gou Le, trace elements of a dinosaur fossil were discovered -- experts from the Inner Mongolia Museum were called in and unearthed an amazing Nurosaurus fossilized skeleton.

Empire of the Grasslands
Considered a hero in Mongolia for his role in the founding of the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan is remembered in Inner Mongolia with an extensive mausoleum, 185 kilometres south of Baotou. Although Khan is thought to be buried elsewhere, the mausoleum holds clothing buried in his memory, and is a popular gathering place for Mongolians to offer sacrifice to the leader, his two brothers and three wives, who are all said to be buried with him. Genghis Khan's Mausoleum has developed into a centre for authentic Mongolian culture, where you can ride horses across the vast grassland and partake of a Mongolian barbecue, a traditional dance show, and a friendly bout of wrestling.

Just Deserts
When you tire of riding horses through grass, swap to a camel and ride through the desert. Inner Mongolia's most famous deserts are located in the west of the region, and include the Badain Jaran Desert, Tengger Desert and Kubuqi Desert.

Mongolian Meadows
For many visitors to Inner Mongolia, the grasslands hold an unparalleled allure. The largest and most popular grasslands include Xilamuren, Gegentala, and Huitengxile, and are all great places to explore on horseback.

Art & Culture

Finders Keepers
Huhhot's museum is home to one of the most important collections of nomadic artefacts in the region. The large museum features some stunning cultural relics left behind by nomadic clans from the north, including minority costumes, musical instruments, and fishing and hunting implements, some dating back to the Stone Age.


Horseing Around
Huhhot's Horse Racing Ground is one of the most popular attractions in Inner Mongolia, for locals and tourists alike. One of the largest horse-racing tracks in Asia, the ground can comfortably accommodate over 100,000 spectators, and features facilities for horse polo, steeplechase, and horsemanship in addition to the track for racing.

Men in Tights
A traditional Mongolian sport that found its way into Inner Mongolia, wrestling is hugely popular amongst locals, and is taught in school from an early age. Today, wrestling battles are highlights at various festivals as well as dedicated sporting events. And whilst fun to watch, for many tourists, it's the wrestling costumes that hold the greatest appeal. Competitors dress up in the "odag," a tight, collarless jacket; the "shuudag," small, tight-fitting briefs; and the "gutal," leather boots with upturned toes.
About the Author
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 54 hotels under Shangri-La and Traders brands with a rooms inventory of over 27,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.
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