Hulunbuir Grasslands, Inner Mongolia

Fresh air and the endless green grasslands of the best preserved prairie in China, with hiking and visits to border towns that contain a curious mix of Chinese and Russian culture.

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Hikers walking through grass on the Hulunbuir Prairie
Hike through the Hulunbuir Grasslands.

Hulunbuir Prairie

The Hulunbuir Prairie is located at the western foot of the Greater Xing’anling Mountains, near China’s border with Russia and Mongolia. Natural grassland occupies 80% of the whole area, making it the richest big prairie in China. The area is home to Hulun Lake, one of China’s largest freshwater lakes.

Hulunbuir is the main area for rearing livestock in Inner Mongolia. Except for the Greater Xing’anling and the Greater Green Mountains, most of the area is flat. The prairie stretches without end for mile after green mile, dotted by thousands of lakes.

The biodiversity of Hulunbuir makes it a natural treasure. More than 20 kinds of grass can be found in one square meter, making the prairie a vital habitat for dozens of species of mammals and hundreds of different kinds of birds.

Being so close to the border, there is a strong Russian influence in the area. Visitors will find that there is not very much traditional Chinese architecture in many of the surrounding counties, which are instead influenced more by Russian culture.

Trip overview

Day One Fly to Hailar, hiking, overnight in E'erguna
Day Two Hiking and touring around Enhe, a town near the where the influence of Russian culture can be seen
Day Three Hiking and touring around Manzhouli
Day Four More touring around Manzhouli. Return to Beijing

Rapeseed flowers on the Hulunbuir Prairie

Fields of yellow rapeseed flowers.

Highlights

Hulunbuir League

The history of Hulunbuir League in northern Inner Mongolia can be traced back to when the Xiongnu united the grassland territories in North China. Today there are people of many different ethnic groups living here, including Han Chinese, Mongolians, Manchurians, Daurs and others. Hulunbuir boasts vast natural grasslands, natural woodlands, and more than 3,000 rivers and 500 lakes. The Greater Xing’anling mountain range stretches through Hulunbuir from north to south. The chief natural attractions in Hulunbuir are the forests of the Greater Xing’anling Mountains and the famous grasslands. The area is cool and pleasant in summer and is snowy and icy in winter.

Hulunbuir Prairie

The Hulunbuir Prairie is the largest in China. People living in the grassland engage primarily in farming, livestock breeding, and aquaculture. With fresh air, unique culture and landscapes, the Hulunbuir Prairie enjoys a reputation for its idyllic country scenery.

The area gets its name from a legend that long ago, there lived a handsome young man called Hulun and a beautiful young lady called Buir. The two were deeply in love, but were forced to separate and later turned into two lakes, the Hulun and Buir lakes. The grassland is nurtured by hundreds of rivers that have made this area highly popular with nomads and herders. This paradise is China's largest base for pollution-free food resource for animals.

A river flows through the E‘erguna Wetlands

A river flows through the E‘erguna Wetlands.

E’erguna

E’erguna is surrounded by grasslands and the E’erguna River and sees a fair amount of domestic tourism in the summer. There is nice hiking and horseback riding around the river and wetlands, as well as gorgeous views from the hills outside the city.

Enhe Town

Not quite as close to the China-Russia border as Shiwei, but less commercialized, Enhe is a town where we can see the influence of Russian culture. Quite a few of the residents are of Russian descent, but speak Chinese as their first language.

Manzhouli

A building in Matryoshka Square, lit up at night

A building in Matryoshka Square, lit up at night. Click to view a larger image »

Manzhouli sits directly on the border between China and Russia, just north of China’s fifth largest freshwater lake and 80 kilometers west of China’s border with Mongolia. This border city between China and Russia is China’s largest land port of entry.

In ancient times the area was inhabited by many different groups that lived in the region, including the Donghu, Xiongnu, Xianbei, Khitan, Jurchen, and Mongols. From the early Qing Dynasty onwards the Eerguna River, which originates in this area, became the border between the China and Russia.

In 1992, Manzhouli became one of the first land border crossings opened up by the People's Republic of China. It has since experienced somewhat of a boom as a center of border trade between China and Russia.

Manzhouli’s Matryoshka Square features a very diverse range of authentic Russian souvenirs and crafts. This landmark attraction combines the characteristics and features from the three bordering countries: China, Russian and Mongolia. The centerpiece of the expansive square is a nesting doll that is 30 meters tall. Nearby the Matryoshka Square is the Manzhouli Museum.

Weather

The temperature in the prairie will usually vary greatly between the night time and daytime. In July, we expect daytime temperatures of around 25°C, and temperatures of around 14°C at night. Even though it is summer, please be prepared to dress warmly. There's a chance that it will rain, and the weather conditions can change quite quickly.

Accommodation

We will spend one night in a local 5-star hotel and the other nights in local guesthouses.

You’ll be sharing a room with another hiker. It’s tough – and very expensive! – to get rooms here at this time of year, so single supplement will be difficult to organise. We can try, if you like! If single supplement is available it will cost an extra 1,200 RMB, covering the whole trip.

Further details about room shares and single supplement can be found in the documents we send you as part of the registration.

Flights and transport

We’ll be traveling by plane from Beijing to Haila’er and back from Manzhouli at the end of the trip. We’ll have a private bus to take us to the different destinations.

Frequent flyers: Please let us know if you would like to use your frequent flyer miles or if you are a frequent flyer member. If you would like to organise your own flights, we can provide further details.

Food

We will take our meals at restaurants and guesthouses. Bring some spending money for snacks during the trip. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

More photos

Herding horses on the grasslands

Herding horses on the grasslands. Click to view a larger image »

Things to bring

  • A few changes of clothes
  • Regular hiking gear
  • Hat with wide brim
  • Sunglasses and suncream
  • Warm clothes in case it is chilly in the evenings
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Quick-dry/wicking clothing to prevent chafing from sweat

Included with this trip

  • Round-trip flight tickets
  • Transport by private bus
  • Entrance tickets
  • Meals as described
  • Water
  • Local tour guides

Full itinerary

  1. Day 1
    06:00 – Meet at the Beijing Capital Airport for a 07:45am flight from Terminal 1 (Exact time to be confirmed)
    10:00 – Arrive at Haila’er
    10:30 – Drive from Haila’er to Jinzhanghan
    12:00 – Lunch
    13:00 – Hike for 10 kilometers to a high point overlooking the Morigele river
    16:00 – Drive to E’erguna, with good views of the prairie and forest
    18:00 – Arrive at E’erguna and check in at the local family guesthouse
    19:00 – Dinner

  2. Day 2
    08:00 – Breakfast, drive to Enhe after the breakfast (about 3 hours driving, total)
    09:30 – Take a break from driving in the middle of the prairie to hike
    11:00 – Continue driving to Enhe
    13:00 – Arrive at Enhe and have lunch
    14:00 – Tour Enhe
    18:00 – Dinner

  3. Day 3
    08:00 – Drive for 30 minutes into the hills by the E’erguna River for a 6 km hike
    10:00 – Finish hiking and get on the bus to Heishantou
    12:00 – Lunch at Heishantou
    13:00 – Continue driving to Manzhouli
    17:30 – Arrive at Manzhouli and check in at the hotel (5 star)
    18:30 – Return to the hotel for dinner, tour the city and Matryoshka Square

  4. Day 4
    09:00 – Breakfast
    09:30 – Visit the border crossing area, early lunch
    12:30 – Drive to Haila'er
    15:30 – Arrive at the airport for return flight to Beijing
    20:30 – Arrive at Beijing Capital Airport
    All times are approximate, and depend on our speed of movement

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