If you want to see the best Hohhot has to offer, these are my recommendations. They are in no particular order.
Zhao Jun Mu: This is the supposed resting place of Zhao Jun, one of China’s Four Beauties. It’s just a bit out of town on the south side of the city. The site itself is a large hill or mound but the complex has other buildings as well. You can hike to the top to get a great view of the surrounding area, tour some other somewhat newly constructed museum-like rooms, and last time I was there it was spring and there were really beautiful flower gardens to walk through.
Da Zhao/Xi li tu Zhao: These temples are located close to each other (just across one main street) and my personal opinion is that as a tourist attraction they are similar enough you should just see one or the other, not both. If you are a student, bring an ID for a discounted ticket. No photography is allowed inside the rooms. There are guided tours available, but I don’t think they are available in English. From the Big Temple (da zhao) if you continue west from the plaza, there is a small street where you can purchase souvenirs and other unique items. One of Hohhot’s church buildings is located further down this street on the north side. I think entrance tickets are 35 RMB for adults or 15 for students.
Any City Park in the early morning. I think this is one of the best ways to really observe Chinese culture. Any given morning (but especially when the weather is nice) you’ll find the parks teeming with people…old men walking their pet birds, people of all ages doing their morning exercises, women participate in dance or aerobics classes, students reciting their homework aloud, and so much more. Entrance is free. Some suggestions: Manduhai or Qing Cheng Park
Great Mosque/Hui District The Great Mosque is built with Chinese architecture but is a place of worship for Hui Muslims (although there are small numbers of other Muslim minorities such as the Uighur). The area just around it has been renovated to look somewhat Middle Eastern and you can find unique foods and treats that you won’t find as easily in the other parts of the city. Try a cold fruit drink made from dates, any kind of pastry, or a nut cake/candy treat generally sold on a flat bed cart by Uighur salesmen. The mosque is an operating place of worship so sometimes you can go in and look around in the courtyard and sometimes you can not. Sometimes you will be turned away if not wearing long sleeves and pants. Entrance to the mosque (if granted) is free
Bai Ta/White Tower I haven’t been here in years, but the White Tower is what Hohhot’s airport is named after. It’s further east out of town past the airport. Last time I was there it seemed like a great place to take a day/half day trip and take along some food for a picnic. You pass through some suburb areas you could explore and the grounds of the Tower were well kept with some nice flowers. It’s a tall tower you can climb up steps on the inside all the way to the top. I haven’t been here in so long, I’m not sure how much a ticket is now.
Wu Ta Si (Five Pagoda Temple) This temple is located just a bit east of the other two temples. Its construction is quite different than the others. In the past ten-ish years they have reconstructed some of the other surrounding buildings/temples inside the Five Pagoda complex. There is a gate on the north side (pictured here) but a somewhat recent change is that now you must enter the complex from the south side. You can walk through the other newly-constructed buildings as well as the 5 Pagoda Temple itself. You can look out over the surrounding area from the top of the temple. Entrance tickets are comparable to the Big Temple.
Any of Hohhot’s squares, particularly in the evening. They are pretty boring in the mornings (except for some possible dance classes) but as the day goes on the squares get more lively. By evening, all the vendors, inflatable children’s toys, trampolines, electric cars, and other attractions will be out in full scale. Some of the squares also have movie screens. Entrance is free, all attractions/games etc are generally paid in 10-15 minute increments. Suggestions: Ru Yi or Xin Hua.
Hohhot Planning Exhibition Hall This museum didn’t exist when I lived here last, but I think it’s a great addition to the city. They exhibits that explain the history of the various cities that have existed in the area that is now Hohhot, explanations of the city’s plan for development and expansion (it’s going east and south), and this made-to-scale model of the whole city with a glass bridge you can walk over. They even have an English-speaking tour guide with great English. Closed Mondays. Entrance is free.
Any of Hohhot’s big mall/shopping areas such as Wanda Plaza, Hai Liang, Minzu, Beijing Hualian, or Weiduoli. These malls have lots and lots of shopping, outdoor food vendors, and inside food courts. Most big shopping centers have play areas for children, an arcade for teens, some have movie theatres, and most have a supermarket/department store in the basement level.
Inner Mongolia Museum This museum moved from its old location in the center of town and greatly expanded about 5 years ago. It has exhibits explaining the history and culture of Inner Mongolia as well as a dinosaur exhibit with moving parts, sounds, and lights especially for kids. English tours are available. Entrance is free but you have to get a ticket from the ticket booth on the south side of the building before going to the main entrance. Closed on Monday.
Those who live here: What do you think of this list? What would you add? What would you take off the list?