American, United, Air Canada and other airlines offer one-stop flights from all three Washington-area airports to Beijing. Air China offers flights from Beijing to Baotou, with fares starting at $250.
There are plenty of city buses and taxis. Always take a business card from the hotel to show a taxi driver so you that you can return easily. Either download onto your phone or ask someone to print out the name of the place you’d like to go to in Chinese characters.
Donghe, the older section of town, has the convenience of the airport and the bus and train stations but doesn’t offer much in terms of hotels. We stayed at the Super 8 Hotel Bayantala Xi Da Jie (www.super8hotels.com; 011-86-10-85502288), which was adequate. The nicer hotels seem to be located in the center-city Qingshan district.
Saihan Tala Grassland Ecological Park
Qingshan, Baotou, Inner Mongolia
Xiang Sha Wan (Resonant Sand Gorge)
Ordos, Inner Mongolia
Admission starts at about $13; there are add-on fees for each activity. 8:30 a.m. to
Genghis Khan Mausoleum
Bulage Road, Ejin Horo, Ordos, Inner Mongolia
Admission about $33. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wudangzhao Town, Shiguai District, Baotou
Admission about $10. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Drink only bottled water and don’t consume ice. Don’t eat uncooked fruits or vegetables.
Bring Pepto-Bismol and Imodium. It can be helpful to take a couple of Pepto-Bismol caplets a day as a preventive measure. Ask your doctor to prescribe a course of antibiotics in case of severe traveler’s diarrhea.
If you have breathing difficulties, bring along some respiratory masks.
Make sure you have an international data plan. WiFi is spotty at best.
Download a translation app such as KTdict C-E. You’ll come into contact with few English speakers.
Carry toilet paper and hand wipes. Not all public restrooms will be stocked with paper or soap.
Consider bringing a pillow (the pillows were as flat as the proverbial pancake) and a towel.
Avoid using the “facilities” at highway rest stops at all costs.