Hohhot to Erlian to Zamyn-uud, revised and updated

We have now crossed the China-Mongolia border twice (and my husband three times). I am updated our previous post to include more details, photos, and clarity than the previous post.

Here is our experience with crossing the border into Mongolia. First, you should read my disclaimers here about why I’m not the best person to write about our travel.

Trip One in Dec 2013:  We had some friends visiting us from the States so our first step was to rent a van and driver from Hohhot to Erlian. We had a decent vehicle that sat about 10 and the price was 2200 RMB round trip. Because we were staying a few days, we also had to pay for the drivers’ hotel room (118 RMB/night).  The trip can be made in under 5 hours, (I’ve heard some drivers even say 4) but we had two little ones and ran into a bit of snow so we made it in about 6.

Trip Two in March 2014: We rented a car (expect a post soon about car rental) which my husband drove. We left at nap time (1 ish in the afternoon) stopped in Sai Han Ta La for an early dinner and to let our girls have a break from the car seats, and made it to Er Lian about 7 ish.


Some notes about what you pass along the way: You first leave Hohhot driving north through the da xue cheng then continue north through/over the mountains. You’ll pass a ski resort, a golf resort, and lots of fancy vacation homes.

About two hours out of town you’ll arrive at Si ZI Wang Qi.

si zi wang qi


Just past Si Zi Wang Qi is the Gegentala Grasslands Tourist Area.


Another town you’ll pass through is Sai Han Ta La (Sai Han). On our journey we stopped here for a meal.

saihan town


Not too far past Sai Han you will begin to enter Er Lian. You’ll know you’re close when you begin to see dinosaur statues lining both sides of the highway.

erlian 3

erlian 1

The closer you get the more dinosaurs there are and right as you enter the city there are two giant ones that make an archway over the highway. Erlian was a famous site for dinosaur fossils and I think there is a museum there about it.
erlian 2

Once we got to Erlian we stayed at the 二连瑞元培训中心 Erlian Rui Yuan pei xun zhong xin. It is THE BEST under 200 RMB hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The standard room was 118/night. It’s nothing fancy, but it was clean, comfortable and well worth the price.


er lian 4

We had a local friend help us find a car to cross the border into Mongolia. If you don’t have a local friend to help, we heard you can hire drivers at two shopping centers that are next to each other: Wen Zhou Shang Chang and Yi Wu.

Erlian jeeps

jeeps erlian 2

You can see the jeeps lined up waiting for clients. The lady we have used both times is named Uyanga and her number is 15547958228. She was great.

For us a jeep was 150 RMB to go and 30 RMB to come back per person the first trip (Dec 2013) and 200 RMB total for our family of four in March 2014. I have no idea what determines the market price.

Most of the drivers are from Mongolia so my Chinese wasn’t that useful. Our local friend’s recommendation was to use the lady drivers as he feels they are more responsible and honest than the men. His impression was that the women work hard to get in two or three trips across in a day to earn money to support their families, but the men don’t necessarily work as hard and are more likely to rip off foreigners. James had a guy approach him and offer to take us for 300 RMB each, so be careful about who you choose.

The border crossing itself was a series of checkpoints (4-5 each direction) along the road between town and the border where the driver would show the documents of everyone in the car to a guard who would then wave us on. When we got to the immigration building we had to get out of the car and walk through immigration like you would in an airport. Before entering the building we also had to pay some kind of 5 RMB tax at a small building outside. We had to show the receipt of payment inside. We exited out of China and then had to wait for the driver who had to take the vehicle through a few other checkpoints while we were inside.

You also have to have a small yellow slip of paper that serves as proof that you registered with the police in Erlian. If you stay at a hotel, they will fill it out for you and there is a 5 RMB fee per person for the slip. If you don’t have one, it will delay you’re border crossing as you’ll have to find somewhere to get one along the way.

We got back in the car and then entered Mongolia, also by exiting the vehicle and walking through the immigration building. In our case, we weren’t there to sight-see and hang out, we were merely fulfilling our visa obligation to exit. Just across the border there is a plaza on the west side of the train station that has shops, restaurants, and also where you rent a car if you are crossing from Zamin Uud into China. We fed our kids, got back in the car and did the process in reverse.


It took much longer for the car to process through than it did for us to process through immigration into China. We had to wait quite a while outside so be prepared if the weather’s bad.


Next Field Trip: Saturday April 26


Our next field trip will be to pick fruit and vegetables! Here are the details:

Location: Jin Chuan Shan Dong Produce Field

The bus will leave from Bin Yue Hotel at 8:30 am, Gong Da’s West Gate at 9:00 am. Returning at 1:00 pm.

Price is 85 RMB per person and includes transportation, admission fee, and lunch. (For large families, please contact us about our reduced rates).

The price does not include the fruit and vegetables you pick. There are two varieties of strawberries for 40 and 55 RMB/jin, cucumbers for 8 RMB/jin, two varieties of tomatoes for 8 and 20 RMB/jin, and celery for 8 RMB/jin.

需要签免责书)4月26日,周六,8:30-13:00:金川山东采摘 基地 ,采摘蔬菜和草莓 (成人85 元  小孩85元)巴士会在宾悦酒店西门8:30出发,9:00在工大西门停车。

April 15th!

Today is known for two things. For those of us from America, it’s tax day. Did you remember to file your taxes yet (if necessary)?

On this side of the world, however, it’s Public Heating Turns Off Day. This year, I’m ready for it. In years past, it has been a sad day when the temperature outside wasn’t yet ready for the change. But this year the weather has been great! I don’t remember any year previously having as many nice days in a row as we’ve had the past couple of weeks. Enjoy the pleasant sandstorm-free spring weather while you can! Who knows when Hohhot’s normal windy, sandy spring will return.

Today’s update

There isn’t much of an update today because our internet is s o o o o s l o w these days. Today’s update has actually taken me two days, but it’s that I got the photo gallery back up on the around the city page. You may remember the gallery from before we moved servers. It’s back now for your viewing pleasure.

For the 5-8 of you at the Mongolian wrestling event this evening (see the forum) I hope you are enjoying it. Leave a comment about the event for those of us at home with the kids!

Field Trip Update

Our first outing was yesterday. 46 people from 3 countries attended! Above are some pictures from the day. If you missed this one, we’ll see you at the next event on April 26th. We’ll go berry/fruit/vegetable picking. Scroll down a few posts for more information.


site updates

I’ve added a local businesses page which I will try to add content to as I find great businesses. Please feel free to leave comments when you have a great experience somewhere and we’ll include the establishment on the page.

I also got a call from the golf course and they’re interested in giving a discount if a group of foreigners want to go play golf. Leave a comment here or give me a call if you’re interested.

First Leap

A few local friends mentioned this place to me and I finally got around to checking it out, and then now a few weeks later I get around to posting about it.

First Leap is a children’s English training center, but they have a small library you can check out books from. My friends liked the selection of English language books. For me, the English selection was much smaller than I imagined, just a shelf, but they had a larger selection of bilingual children’s books and a great selection of Chinese children’s books.

To get a card, there is a deposit of 200 RMB, plus a 10 RMB fee for the card. Then, you check out books for two weeks with no penalty or fee. Late fees are deducted from your deposit. When you no longer want to use the service, return the card and your remaining deposit is returned.

The woman I spoke with also made an offer that foreign kids could participate in their weekend activities for free.

First Leap is located in Wanda’s Tower A on the 7th floor. 0471-329-2288

Books About Hohhot

If you’re looking for some new reading material, check out the selections below:

Life Under the Eastern Sky is written by a Hohhot local and an American who has studied, worked, researched and lived in Hohhot for many years.

This book is pricy, but it is a worthwhile read if you plan to be in Hohhot awhile. It’s an anthropological look at Hohhot. It’s ten years old now, but many of the cultural observations are still accurate.

This one is about a few of China’s “frontier” cities but mentions Hohhot throughout.

And for some much lighter reading: This children’s book features a goat named “Wawa Hohhot” who travels to NYC.


What other books about Hohhot have you read? Leave a comment to recommend them!

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