Ordos (鄂尔多斯) is Mongolian, which means "many palaces". As one of the three central cities of Inner Mongolia, the place has a long history and diverse landform types. You may reach the hinterland of deserts, welcome the baptism of yellow sand and enjoy the cool breath from the sand lakes and oases; Pay a visit to the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, learn about the glorious life of the great king, as well as the mysterious and solemn worship ceremony of the Dalhutt people; Before or after driving to the desert, make a stop in the beautiful city center to enjoy the best night views and explore modern architecture; Besides, there are also herders singing songs on galloping horses and girls dancing in the grasslands, many undiscovered wonders like canyons, grottoes, bays...
Check the TOP 7 attractions & things to do in Ordos and plan your own Ordos, Inner Mongolia tour in 2023/2024!
Kubuqi Desert Hiking
Jeep-Safari in Yemingsha Scenic Area
• Type: Desert, Nature
• Address: Dalat Banner, Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (鄂尔多斯市达拉特旗)
• Get to Yemingsha from Dongsheng District: over 180 km driving distance, which takes 2~3 hours by car.
The Kubuqi Desert (库布齐沙漠) is the most popular desert in the central area of Inner Mongolia. As the seventh largest desert in China, it has a magnificent landscape and unique scenery. There are not only the most mature desert hiking routes, but also the extra large sand belt - Yemingsha Scenic Area that is unique in the world. At night, there is fluorescence in the scenic spot, which is quite magical. Camping, trekking, bonfire parties and jeep-safari, etc. are really popular experiences in the scenic area. The beautiful Qixing Lake is rippling, reflecting the azure sky in the rolling yellow sand. Thanks to the early development, the scenic area has good basic infrastructure and there are also various desert entertainment activities that make the place suitable for family vacation.
Xiangshawan (Resonant Dune Bay) is the most popular scenic area in the Kubuqi Desert, but it would be more fitting to call it a desert amusement park than a desert attraction site. The scenic area has been developed a little too much, and more suitable for children and the elderly to relax and entertain. By contrast, the Yemingsha Scenic Area is more suitable for adults, adventures and nature lovers. Located about 150 km away from Baotou City (about 2 hours of driving), the thousand years of desert scenery suddenly enters your eyes and hits your brain. In front of the boundless desert, all words become pale. There was no end in sight and no line of defense in the wide space between heaven and earth. People seem so small, as if they will be engulfed by this yellow at any moment. So we set foot on the land of the desert with awe in our hearts, riding the desert boat, through the rolling yellow sand. Eyes hazy as if to see the mysterious ancient city of Xixia right in front of us.
The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan
The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Winter
• Type: Historical Sites
• Address: Ordos Grassland, Ejingholuo Banner, Ordos (鄂尔多斯市伊金霍洛旗鄂尔多斯草原)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 60 km, which takes around 1 hour by car.
Genghis Khan Mausoleum (成吉思汗陵) is the world's first large-scale tourist attraction with Genghis Khan culture as the theme. Here, you can not only appreciate the unique Mongolian history and culture, but also feel the solemn and mysterious ceremony of the Dalhutt people, appreciate the exciting and alive Naadam Fair, and try the Mongolian characteristic tourism activities. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is the highlight of your trip to central Inner Mongolia.
Ordos Library and Ordos Museum
Ordos Chess Square
• Type: City Landscape
• Address: Kangbashi District, Ordos City, Inner Mongolia (鄂尔多斯市康巴什区)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 30 km, which takes around 40 minutes by car.
Many people have heard of Kangbashi. So what is Kangbashi like in your perception? Seeing is believing, why don't you come and see for yourself?
The urban design of Kangbashi District (康巴什区) is quite artistic, with unique buildings, sculptures full of ethnic customs, and the artificial lake rippling with green waves. In 2012, Kangbashi became the first 4A level tourist attraction in China to be named after an urban landscape. Wandering through streets in Kangbashi today, the city square is designed to resemble a Mongolian chess piece, the theater is shaped like a traditional Mongolian felt cap, the library is like a stack of books, and the museum is shaped like a giant black boulder. At night, the laser water fountain near the Ulan Mulan River turns the night of the city into a blaze of color.
Ordos Grassland in Summer
Riding Horses on Ordos Grassland
• Type: Grassland; Nature; Amusement
• Address: Ordos Grassland, Hangjin Banner, Ordos (鄂尔多斯市杭锦旗鄂尔多斯草原)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 120 km, which takes around 2~2.5 hours by car.
Covering an area of about 30 square kilometers, Ordos Grassland Tourism Area (鄂尔多斯草原旅游区) together with the Shizhenri Tourism Area in the east and Yemingsha Scenic Area in the south, forming a natural "golden tourism route". The core area is composed of a big Mongolian camp and more than 300 Mongolian yurts with unique design and style. In the scenic area, grassland has become a kind of culture rather than a piece of land. The charming scenery, Mongolian customs, entertainment, culture and leisure are integrated into one, bearing the passion, freedom, unrestrained and romantic lifestyle, and everywhere is permeated with the most pure taste of grassland.
There are overall 6 functional areas in Ordos Grassland. Visitors can ride horses, try archery, watch Mongolian singing and dancing performances, enjoy the famous Ordos Wedding Show, visit herdsmen’ yurts and watch the Aobao Sacrifice. Fried rice with milk tea, roast whole lamb with hosts offering hada, you may feel the hospitality of the Mongolian people, and appreciate the local customs and practices in the depths of the grassland!
Panoramic View of Wulan Living Buddha Mansion
Prayer Flags Waving in Wulan Living Buddha Mansion
• Type: Religious Site
• Address: Hengsan Road, Ejin Horo Banner, Ordos City, Inner Mongolia (鄂尔多斯市伊金霍洛旗横三路)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 40 km, which takes around 50 minutes by car.
Wulan Living Buddha Mansion (乌兰活佛府) is a monastery building group integrating Mongolian, Tibetan and Han architectural styles. It’s the place where the 12th Wulan Living Buddha lives, studies and promotes Buddhism, and also a holy place for devout Buddhists to worship.
The aerial view of Wulan Living Buddha Mansion shows a face with all facial features, facing heaven, liberating all living beings and learning from heaven and earth. The mansion covers a total area of 200,000 square meters, with a total construction area of 27,000 square meters. It consists of three parts, namely, the Ethnic and Religious Culture Exhibition Center, the Living Buddha's Mansion and the Ashram Center. The temple is quiet and solemn, you can hear the wind blowing prayer flags and the distant ringing of the wind chime. The museum and cultural exhibition halls in the scenic spot are rich in exhibits. It’s a good place to learn about the local history and the progress of religious culture. But whether you can see the Living Buddha or not depends on your Buddha reason.
Alzhai Grottoes in Summer
Colorful Murals in Alzhai Grottoes
• Type: Grottoes, Cultural & Historical, Religious, Art
• Address: Aerbasi Sumu, Etuoke Banner, West of Ordos Plateau, Ordos, Inner Mongolia (鄂尔多斯高原西部鄂托克旗阿尔巴斯苏木)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 260 km, which takes around 4 hours by car.
In the vast Ordos Grasslands, there is a magnificent and mysterious treasure - Alzhai Grottoes (阿尔寨石窟). Grottoes are mainly concentrated on Mount Sumerthuarzhai in the Alzhai district. Because there are hundreds of grottoes around the mountain, it is also known locally as "the hundred eyes grottoes". According to experts’ textual research, it is generally believed that the Alzhai Grottoes were excavated in the middle and late period of the Northern Wei Dynasty (A.D. 386~534) and experienced three flourishing periods of the Western Xia Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty. Some of them were destroyed in the wars of the late Ming Dynasty. After years of vicissitudes, most of the Alzhai Grottoes (43 out of 65) are still intact, standing on vast land, telling beautiful stories of the convergence of grassland culture and Tibetan Buddhist culture. Besides the elaborately carved Buddha statues of different sizes in the grottoes, you may also see thousands of colorful murals being well preserved on the roofs and walls of the grottoes. It is worth mentioning that the grottoes also have a deep connection with Genghis Khan. It is said that Genghis Khan once stayed here to recuperate in his later years when he was fighting against the Western Xia Dynasty. There are also murals depicting grand scenes of consecrate Genghis Khan, his wife and children. As the only large-scale grottoes on the grassland north of the Great Wall, Alzhai Grottoes deserves the reputation of "Grassland Dunhuang".
Panoromic View of Salawusu Scenic Area
Salawusu Scenic Area in Summer
• Type: Canyon, Landscape, Historical Site, Ancient Ruins
• Address: Salawusu National Wetland Park, Wushen Banner, Ordos, Inner Mongolia (乌审旗萨拉乌苏国家湿地公园)
• Distance from Dongsheng District: about 280 km, which takes around 4 hours by car.
Salawusu Scenic Area (萨拉乌苏景区) is a natural attraction with canyons in the desert and Hetao civilization as the highlight. Walking into the scenic area, the first thing that comes into sight is the narrow and winding gullys - the Salawusu Desert Grand Canyon, which is also known as "The Largest Desert Canyon in China". The canyon consists of eight gullies and bays (Dagou Bay, Yangshu Bay and Fanjiawan, etc.). Standing at the edge of the canyon and overlooking the land, you can see the Salawusu River at the bottom of the canyon winding its way forward. On fine days, the river glistened in the sun like a dragon with silver scales perched on the bottom of a valley.
The Salawusu River flows tens of thousands of years, quietly nourishing the land on both sides of the river, and giving birth to the brilliant Hetao Civilization. Here you can find the Salawusu Fauna (萨拉乌苏动物群) dating back to about 50,000 to 35,000 years ago, which belongs to the Late Pleistocene. There are also "Salawusu Hetao Ruins (萨拉乌河套人遗址)". Hiking in the canyon, accompanied by the boundless yellow sand, ancient trees and whispering water, the historical atmosphere overwhelmed the place. Tourists can trace the lives of their ancestors here and feel the rich historical and cultural deposits.
Best Time to Visit Ordos: May ~ October, especially in June, July, August and September…
How to Get There: Flights from Beijing (1.5hrs), Shanghai (3hrs), Xian (2.5hrs), Chengdu (2.5hrs), etc. and bullet train from Hohhot (1.5-2hrs), Ulanqab (2.5-3hrs), etc.
There are two biggest highlights in Ordos, one is the Kubuqi Desert, the other is the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan. It usually takes 1-2 days to explore the beauty of nature and culture in the two sites. For those who are interested in desert camping, riding and hiking can spend 1-2 more days in Kubuqi Desert. Before or after your desert tour, you can take half a day to explore the Kangbashi District in Ordos, visit Genghis Khan Sculpture Square, Mongol Chess Square and Kangbashi Gallery of Culture and Art, etc.
For first-time visitors to Inner Mongolia, it is recommended spend 4-6 days visiting Ordos together with Baotou and Hohhot, enjoy all the highlights in the central Inner Mongolia, like the famous Tibetan Buddhist temples (Dazhao, Wudangzhao...), vast grasslands (Huitengxile Grasslands...), and wild Kubuqi Desert.
☛ 5 Days Classic Inner Mongolia Tour (Hohhot / Huitengxile Grassland / Kubuqi Desert / Ordos)
☛ 6 Days Inner Mongolia Bests Discovery Tour (Hohhot / Ulanqab / Huitengxile Grassland / Baotou / Kubuqi Desert / Ordos)
Feel not enough? You can plan 4~5 days more in Hulunbuir to meet the most beautiful grassland in China and more primitive natural splendors, 2~4 days more in Xilingol to discover the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site - Site of Xanadu, and more authentic nature, or 4-5 days in Chifeng to soak in the Ulan Butong Grassland and other wonders in Hexigten Global Geopark. Do you have your own preferences about Ordos and Inner Mongolia? Please feel free to tell us your likes and let our experienced travel consultant customize a tour for you!
As attractions in Ordos are separated, travelling with a professional travel agency is usually the best way to visit there. We China Discovery know Ordos and Inner Mongolia a lot and we are experienced in organizing tours to this region. If you need any help, please feel free to contact us! Private cars, one-to-one guide and travel consultant... Everything is only for you and your group or family! All tours are customizable based on your interest, budget, plan and every special need!
Top 3 Ordos tours chosen by most customers to explore Ordos in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Hohhot / Huitengxile Grassland / Yemingsha of Kubuqi Desert / Hohhot
Hohhot / Ulanqab / Huitengxile Grassland / Hohhot / Baotou / Yemingsha of Kubuqi Desert / Ordos
Hohhot / Huitengxile Grassland / Ordos
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