At first glance, it's much easier to see the environmental degradation of Hohhot rather than its preservation. But that's not to say that efforts toward sustainability are non-existent. Below is a short list of activities or establishments that are taking steps toward sustainability or other environmental issues.
Recently in the summer months as the weather is warmer and tourists arrive to see the famous grasslands, a few groups have also organized on social media to go to the grasslands and clean up trash. Pictured are a group who cleaned an area of Xilingol on June 28, 2015.
There are numerous groups organizing on Wechat for weekend outdoor activities, especially bike riding. One such group you can follow is the Ba Fu Guest House, which often organizes such activities. Wechat ID: BaFuHotel
Most travelers feel a trip to Inner Mongolia isn’t complete without visiting the vast prairies. Grasslands tours are available from almost any travel agency. Or, one can travel by car, bus, train, or plane to the largest nearby city and then arrange a private car and driver to get out of the city.
Below is a list of the most well-known grasslands. Each grassland has multiple tourist locations within. It should also be noted that most place names have an English version of both their Chinese and Mongolian name.
- Xilamuren Grassland/Zhao He: the closest grasslands tourist area from Hohhot which takes between 1-2 hours by car. Xilamuren (also called Zhao He) is located in the city district of Baotou in the Da Er Han Mu Ming An United Banner (Darhan Muminggan United Banner).
- Gegentala also called Kudzu Tara Grassland: located in Wulanchabu Leauge, Four Princes Banner (Si Zi Wang Qi). It's also a popular stop for tourists because of its close proximity to Hohhot, about 125 km away. The Gegentala tourist area has a AAAA rating from China's National Tourism Administration.
- Kerqin/Ke Er Qin/Horqin Grassland: located just north of Tongliao City. It's alternate name is "Horqin Sandy Land" which could speak to the condition of the grass at present.
- Hulunbeier/Hulun Buir Grassland: located in Hulunbeier League, this is the largest and arguably most pristine grassland in Inner Mongolia. It is located west of the city of Hulunbeier and stretches to Manzhouli which lies on the Russian border. There is a large lake, Hulun Lake, and many small rivers and tributaries flow through the grasslands.
- Gong Ge Er Grassland/Gong Geer: located in Chifeng, in the northwest and southwest part of Ke Shen Ke Teng Banner.
- Wu Lan Bu Grasslands/Ulan Buh: also in Ke Shen Ke Teng Banner of Chifeng, but the southernmost part. It's only about 300 km from Beijing and close to the border of Hebei.
- Xilin Gol Grassland/Xi Lin Ge Le: A very large area in Xilingol Leauge with many different tourist spots with in it.
- Huitengxile Grassland: located in south-central Inner Mongolia in Wulanchabu League (the city is called Jining) in Chahar Banner, about 135 km from Hohhot.
- Ordos Grasslands/E Er Duo Si/Erdos: located in Ordos City District in Hang Jin Banner.
There are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Hohhot. No wholly organic or vegan restaurants exist to this author’s knowledge. A number of healthy eating options can be found on SustainableVisit.
Local delicacies include Shaomai (a wrap with different fillings, steamed and served hot), You Mian (oats often processed to flour and made into noodles in various shapes and forms), Shou Ba Rou (boiled mutton served on the bone),and Roasted Mutton. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Mongolian “white food” (“milk food” when translated from Chinese) which are cultured, fermented, or dried milk products or treats made from the cream of the milk and served in hot milk tea.
China has a label for organic produce that has the words “Green Food” in English. However, many locals question whether all of the products are truly organic.
There are a few places on the outskirts of town where consumers can pick their own fruits and vegetables and it’s an especially popular activity in late spring and early summer. Prices are much more than produce at a local grocery store, but many of the places publicize that their produce is organic.
There are also individuals with large gardens who sell their home-grown produce. The information below is for a family who does just that.
This particular service will deliver if the order is large.
English address: Lang Shan Zhen, 2 km north of Cypress Garden
Contact: Ms. Li 18747802791, 13088479699
The Kerchin brand, a company located in Tongliao, received the “Green Food” certificate in 2002; they process, ship, store, and transport their meat according to international standards. Kerchin beef is available at most large supermarkets and from a few smaller distribution storefronts across the city.
Other locally pastured meat is readily available and stores are often marked or labeled according to the part of Inner Mongolia where the meat originates (for example 四子王旗牛肉 or Beef from Four Princes Banner).
By Jill Judd, blogging about all aspects of life in Hohhot Inner Mongolia