Mongolia as an independent state refers to the historic Outer Mongolia, whereas Inner Mongolia geographically and politically belongs to China, even though it’s autonomous with its own language and culture. Mongolia is a country with vast steppes, arable land, and desert.
The Gobi Desert played an important role in the route of the Silk Road, with a number of sites and desert garden market places still abundant in Inner Mongolia.
Both Mongolia and the province of Inner Mongolia have very low population densities.
Inner Mongolia is a northern province in China bordering on the country of Mongolia. Mongolia itself shares land borders with China and Russia.
Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia, and is a vast city with heavy traffic, bohemian counter-cultural scene and a great nightlife. Its chaotic lifestyle juxtaposes with quiet squares and monastery courtyards.
Hohhot is the capital of the autonomous Inner Mongolia region and despite having only an 11% population of indigenous Mongols you’ll find Mongolian culture is well preserved. There are not many historical sites, but it serves as a base for exploring Inner Mongolia and the Silk Road sites surrounding it.
Eat & drink
Khuushuur is a Mongolian dish made from a friend pancake stuffed with onion and mutton. You can also get steamed dumplings with the same filling called “buuz”.
Boodog is a goat or marmot barbecue, a nomadic dish where the animal is cooked using hot stones inserted in the skin without a pot, sometimes vegetables and water are also added inside.
Airag is a traditional Mongolian drink made from fermented mares milk.
The Gobi Desert is not the wasteland pictured in popular culture, but it’s rather a diverse landscape dotted with ice-filled canyons, rock formations and oases. You’ll still find sand dunes, but these only cover 3% of the desert.
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is located on the most Western part of the country. The mountainous national park borders on both China and Russia, and has views over to Kazakhstan, where the Altai Mountain Range crosses into the three countries. You’ll find historic petroglyphs here that are part of a World Heritage Site, dating back to 11,000 to 6,000BC.