There has been a settlement at HOHHOT (呼和浩特, hūhé hàotè) since the time of the Ming dynasty four hundred years ago, though it did not become the capital of Inner Mongolia until 1952. Until relatively modern times, it was a small town centred on a number of Buddhist temples. The temples are still here, and although it’s now a major city, Hohhot manages to be an interesting blend of the old and the new, and a relatively green and leafy place in summer – which is fitting, as the town’s Mongolian name means “green city”. As well as the shiny new banks and department stores downtown, there’s an extensive area in the south of the town with old, narrow streets built of black bricks and heavy roof tiles. These days Hohhot is largely a Han city, though there is also a Hui and a Mongol presence; it’s worthwhile tracking down the vanishing Mongol areas, not least to try some of their distinctive food. The other reason for visiting Hohhot is its proximity to some of the famous Mongolian grasslands within a 100km radius of the city.
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