Hohhot is a strange place in that it is very touristy but it's not an easy place to be a tourist (unless maybe you speak Mongolian and have a vehicle). The city itself, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is typical of China although cleaner and of a more comfortable size than many Chinese big cities. If you are coming from Beijing, you will immediately notice the beautiful, clear, blue skies and cool, crisp air as well as a more Mongolian influence in architecture, culture, and cuisine.
In Hohhot there are many restaurants to choose from, with a good range of Chinese, Mongolian, and Muslim menus, although it may be difficult to find anything written in English. The Mongolian Hot Pot originated here; it is a fun and interactive meal. Also be aware that a Mongolian dialect as well as Mandarin is spoken among the residents, so your Mandarin dictionary might not always be of great use.
There are not many choices for hostels in Hohhot so staying near the main restaurant street will put you near most places of interest including the park and you will only be a short bus ride from the train and bus station. The large park running through the city is one of the nice things about Hohhot in addition to its proximity to the desert and grassland, which are the main tourist draw for the area. Unfortunately most activities outside of town are fairly expensive and must be arranged through a hostel or tourism organization (most of which are not necessarily English speaking) so do not be disappointed if you don’t discover an “authentic” Mongolian experience.
However, if you research well and choose a hostel in Hohhot that offers well reviewed tours and if you are lucky enough to have nice weather, you will no doubt enjoy your activities in Hohhot and Inner Mongolia. It might be your only chance to spend a night in a traditional yurt and go horseback riding through the rolling hills of Inner Mongolia, so spend a little money and find a good tour -- otherwise it is not really worth the money or time spent venturing to Hohhot.
Hi, I'm Amanda Haehl,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Hohhot hostels. Welcome.