Archive for Hohhot geography

A Tour of Wanda: The Center of Hohhot!


Shopping malls dot the map all over China as a symbol of growing cities and more global influence over the culture. It is always a bit funny to wander China and see giant posters of Lebron James, Justin Bieber and George Clooney everywhere next to KFCs and Stradivarius stores. Shopping malls are usually a nice escape for foreigners go back home for a few hours, enjoy a movie in English and familiar food.

A local television commercial calls the Wanda complex in Hohhot the center of the city! with the loud voice reserved for monster truck rallies back home. My wife always rolls her eyes when she hear this because it is far from the geographical center of the city. Despite this I do find myself at Wanda a lot.

The Wanda area of coWandaurse has the Wanda Shopping Mall but also has several large cookie cutter apartment complexes, in classic China fashion, right behind it. There are a few schools in the vicinity as well as some international businesses so there are clusters of foreigners that live in these complexes.

It is where I work, amazingly my wife as well works next door to the complex, a lot of my friends live in the apartments behind Wanda and in general there just seems to be a lot going on all the time. Im not saying Wanda is busier than the areas near other shopping malls such as Victory or City Mall/Mo Er Cheng but when combined with everything else Wanda does give off the air of being the center of the city.

To start the Wanda mall itself is 3 stories with a very large ground plan. It alone dwarfs most shopping malls outside of the largest cities in the United States. There is a supermarket, multi-screen cinema, all of the major fashion outlets including Zara, Pull & Bear and Levis (the only notable exception is H&M, youll have to go to Victory for that), several electronics and phone outlets and an entire floor of Chinese and other Asian themed restaurants. Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC each have a two story representation to round out your belly.

Behind the mall is where the fun begins. Its referred to by most people I know from the area as Waking Street although signs call it King Street. Once you exit the back door you will find a never ending stream of places to eat. Your standard dry pot and hot pot places dot everywhere with different degrees of price and quality along with neverending noodle shops and other Asian ethnic cuisine like Korean and Japanese.


Inner Mongolia is famous for its BBQ cuisine and it shows at night when the streets behind Wanda come alive with charcoal. While Beijing shuts down by 9:30 Hohhot stays up all night. Everyone chomps down on metal skewers and washes it down with cheap beer. Every third establishment it seems will bring out their grill pits and you can feel free to pull up a cheap plastic chair anywhere you want and order round after round of burnt pork, chicken and mutton sticks as well as mushrooms, tofu and noodles until the sun comes up.

There are more than enough Mahjong parlors, KTV clubs and billiard joints lining the street to wander into to keep things interesting.

Because of the cluster of foreigners as well as being the center of the city Wanda has some of the more famous Western style eateries. Now, I love Chinese food and I love saving money even more so I frequent these places less than some, but we all get a little homesick eventually.

I met my first little group of expat acquaintances when I arrived in Hohhot at Piri Piri, an (as far as I can tell) unlicensed rip off a famous South African based chain, Nandos. It specializes in burgers, wraps, chicken and deep fried Western staples as well as a few vegetarian meals. The service is very good, English friendly, prices just about right (35 RMB for a burger, little more for the french fries, Western prices) and the atmosphere is a cut above the noodle shops I tend to frequent.


Next door to Piri Piri is Marc Starry Diner. I am a big fan of Marc Starry and I think the food is delicious. They have pizzas, brugers, pasta dishes, it tends to feel like a more formal experience with large booths and a million fake plants everywhere. It is of course pricier but they actually know how to make spaghetti (hint, dont use brown wheat noodles). Marc Starrey is a place to take a date on a Friday night after work with its calm interior.

The Cheese Factory is not far and I would say this offers the most authentic Western (Im biased towards the United States in this regard) dining experience. The menu is quite large and has steaks, pizzas (you should be seeing a trend by now), cheesecake and other deserts and a large selection of imported beer and wine. The decorations and theme are very authentic to TGI Fridays type places and you can feel yourself disappearing back home if only for an hour or two.

Across from this little strip is a sign that says American Rodeo. It immediately brings to mind memories sloppy buffets on the outskirts of town with one type of meat deep fried in the juices of other meats and enough potatoes for a small nation. When I finally found myself there I was verrrrrrrry dissapointed.

In China, when eating Western food, you will either get Western food or Chinesey Western food. Pizza made with mayonaise, wheat pasta with garlic sauce presented as spaghetti and shoestring thin french fries served in a large bowl for everyone to dip their hands in are examples of the latter.

The American Rodeo is over priced, has very slow service and food is just above edible. I would not advise anyone to try it out.

Farther up the street is one of the most famous places in Hohhot for foreigners, Yummy Box. They have a screen that plays a massive playlist of Western hits round the clock as well as showing Daily Show reruns in a little TV in the corner. The menu is totally Chicago oriented with deep dish pizzas being the star along with deep fried everything you can imagine. A large selection of imported beer, a lot of it for very good prices or Buy One Get One specials, round out the menu.

Yummy Box Hohhot

Many will argue that Yummy Box is the best foreign food place in town. I think Marc Starry has better actual food but Yummy Box transports you the Midwest with ease and Im amazed they havent tried to cater to western sports crowds.

The last place I have to point out is a new micro brew called Small Kidney. It is located a little out of the way, if you exit Wanda from the back and take a right past the all night fruit and vegetable market and hug the fence with the construction you will find a nifty little bar. It is two stories and feels incredibly Western on the inside. It is new to the area but they are lining their shelves with all the imported beer you miss from home.

This article barely scratches the surface and doesnt even mention the loud as hell night club, Milk, located in the front of Wanda. There are merchants selling clothes, shoes, toys, purses, etc. next to greasy food vendors on the sidewalk. About a dozen wine stores will satisfy your tastes with bottles from all over the world. Even pharmacies are across from your favorite hot pot restaurant to fill a prescription for the sore tooth the spicy food gave you.

Places like this are located everywhere and only stand to show how large and diverse even a small city like Hohhot is.

Steven Ayy writes for The Culture Bum Blog and Podcast series. He has lived in China for a year and loves to write about places to go and see in Asia, tips to save money, ESL methods and advice and anything else that comes to his mind.

Hohhot’s Soccer/Football Team

Did you know Hohhot has a semi-professional soccer/football team? I’m not sure if “semi-professional” is the exact right term, but anyway, we have a team that plays teams from other cities and provinces.


Baidu tells me this is their official English name: Nei Monggol Zhongyou Football Club Hohhot excellent football team


The links below are press releases in Chinese if you want to translate them and learn more about the history of the team.

from North News

from NMG News


Here is the schedule for the remainder of the season:

August 15 vs Shenzhen Yu Heng

August 29 vs Yan Bian Changbai Mountain

September 19 vs Qingdao Yellow Sea Pharmaceutical

September 26 vs Xinjiang

October 24 vs Dalian A Er Bing


We haven’t made it to a game yet, but those I know who have gone have enjoyed them. I don’t know the ticket price, but I’ve heard if you show up after the second half has started there’s no fee collected.
Games are played at Hohhot’s Stadium on Genghis Khan Road. A map is below.

sports stadium

special thanks to Connie for helping me find the schedule!

Here is the link to the team’s information on baidu which includes the team’s lineup for the 2015 season.

“Green Food” Exhibition-Five More Days

From today and for the next five days there’s an exhibition of locally (across Inner Mongolia) grown “green food.” When I say green food I’m translating directly from Chinese because some will say this means organically grown, but other locals are distrustful if it is truly organic. I’m not savvy enough to know what standard is used to give it the “green food” labeling but if food safety and locally grown produce are important to you, it might be a great event to check out.



As you can see from the last photo, it looks like they have non-food products as well. It might be a great chance to pick up some gifts!

Photo credit for above photos: Togtoh

The event is at the International Exhibition Center, which is just east of the East Second Ring Road on Da Xue Lu. Here’s a map:
international exhibition center

Hohhot Tourist Map

I finally had a bit of time to tackle a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Here is a very simple map of Hohhot with some of the most famous places marked. I hope it can help you get around if you’re visiting or new to the city. Let me know as you find mistakes or really wish a certain place could be included or excluded.

tourist map in jpg format

tourist map


tourist map in pdf format



Also, be sure to check out our printable menu for help in ordering until you learn how to say your favorites!



Ten Hohhot News Items

There’s a news article that seems to be popular among my local friends so I thought I would share the highlights here with you, lovely readers. The article lists ten recent news items related to Hohhot. I’ll post the article in full below, but I’ll do my best to translate the headlines for you.

ONE: another expressway will open in late July in Hohhot. It will be have be 80 km of six lanes without signal lights

TWO: Subway lines one and two will be ready in 2020 according to the Metro Planning National Development and Reform Commission

THREE: Hohhot ranked 45th out of 289 cities in sustainable competitiveness

FOUR: A new landmark in Hohhot-A new bus station transport hub in the East will be ready in October

FIVE: Train service from Hohhot to Shenzhen began on May 20th (schedule included in Chinese article below)

SIX: The whole country will have a day of vacation on September 3

SEVEN: Pensions of retired personnel in Inner Mongolia increased by an average of about 10%

EIGHT: Decided! Civil Service salary will increase by 300 yuan per capita by the end of June

NINE: Good news! The education requirements for employment are being relaxed (I’m not entirely sure about my translation of this one).

TEN: A new flower garden will open in Hohhot at the end of May and entrance is free!

Read the full articles below:

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Allen Iverson in Hohhot

You read that right. I stayed up way too late last night trying to confirm or deny this Chinese news article that was on Inner Mongolia New’s wechat public account yesterday. So far, everything about the article mostly checks out.

According to the article, Allen Iverson will be at Inner Mongolia Stadium on May 25 at 7:30 pm. I can’t figure out if it’s like an exhibition game or just him or what exactly. The article states that the trip involves stops in Daqing, Harbin, Xian, and Hohhot. Allen Iverson’s twitter account (you can search for #AlChinaTour) confirms that he’s in China and makes reference to all those cities…..except Hohhot. I’d like to think that if the rest of the details of the article are true, the Hohhot appearance is as well.

The article states 3000 tickets have already been sold and are going fast at rates of 1500, 1000, 400, and 200 RMB depending on seating.

I have read other articles in Chinese that confirm the details in the article linked above, but haven’t found any English sources to confirm it.

So if it’s true, who’s going to see him? Anyone have a reliable source to confirm or deny?




Free tickets to tourist sites

Apparently May 19 has been named “China Travel Day” and because of that many local tourist locations will have free entrance tickets and others will be discounted.

The full article is in Chinese below so you can check my accuracy, but here’s the list as I read it.

Zhao Jun and Five Pagoda: half price

The General’s Quarters (the old place near gu lou): 20% off

Yili’s Travel Area will give away free products and coupons for products

Zhao Jun Museum and Xi Li Tu Temple (the small temple) will have 300 free entrance tickets each (first come, first serve)

And the Inner Mongolia Travel Service also has some kind of special about some kind of travel card, but I’m not clear on the details.

The article goes on to list the travel specials for Baotou, Alxa, Wulanchab, Xilingol, Chifeng, Tongliao, Hulunbeir, and Wuhai. If you plan to travel in the coming days, have a local friend help you check out the specials!

I can’t get the embedding to display correctly, but here’s the link to the full article in Chinese.


Bridge collapse

I know I’m a couple days late in posting about this story, but here it is anyway. This story seemed to be somewhat viral among the foreigners on my wechat, but I didn’t see any local friends talking about it and it was buried down in the depths of the Hohhot News feeds, not even a headlining story. But, since many foreigners seemed interested in it, I thought I’d post it here.

The basic details are that an explosion happened, causing one death, one serious injury and a portion of the south second ring road to collapse. The exact location was reported as the intersection of the second ring road and Shi Yang Bridge Road. I’m not exactly sure of the details of the incident other than it involved welding and flammable gas. One article about the incident is below in Chinese.

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Starbucks, or is it?


I saw this “beauty” the other day in a housing complex on the north second ring road. In case you aren’t sensing my sarcasm, this is a picture of another fake Starbucks. (I saw another one near the Madison Patio housing complex on the far south side). The name is at least spelled correctly and the color scheme is the same, but no. Not a real Starbucks.

Here is the link to Starbucks’ official site with the locations they list for Hohhot. The one pictured above, surprisingly not on the list. 🙂

The official locations are:

  • Wanda
  • Moercheng (Victory City Mall)
  • Hailiang
  • Minzu (although the website lists this location as closed. not sure if it’s not business hours or if its operations are closed)


I also hope this post is helpful to the number of you who stumble across this website each month searching for “Starbucks Hohhot.” Perhaps I finally have the content you’re looking for?


What other fakes have you seen in town? Leave us a comment.

What a day!

  1. If you have public heating, it probably turned off today. Hope you’re staying warm.
  2. There was an earthquake in Alxa today, but apparently could be felt in Hohhot. We didn’t feel it at our house. Who felt it?   Here’s an article about it.

  3. THE WIND! Oh my, the wind. I m glad today that my primary role is that of stay-at-home-mom so that I didn’t have to get out.
  4. I think most of the north side of the city was without water for most of the day. (Ours still hasn’t turned back on). I know near Gong Da, Meng Zhuan, Tuan Jie Xiao Qu, and Ming Du Feng Jing Xiao Qu were all affected, and I assume the areas between them were too. I’ve heard reports of power being out for part of the day too.
  5. I’m slowly working on getting all the broken links fixed and getting the photos to display. By the end of the day we should also have a new forum up. (Here’s to hoping that this one will display correctly)!
  6. The air quality number for today is the highest (worst) I’ve ever seen. If you have an air purifier, today would be a good day to put it to use.

That’s all the news I know. What’s happening in your part of the city?

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