Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hinggan League, an Inner Mongolian paradise

Endowed with rich natural resources and charming scenery, Hinggan League, in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has become increasingly widely-known after President Xi Jinping visited the region on Jan. 26, 2014.

Greater numbers of domestic and international travelers have been attracted to Aershan, a northern border city in Hinggan League, after President Xi complimented the city.

Aershan has been exquisitely and elegantly built, and each of its four seasons has its own beauty, President Xi said during his visit in January. He believes that local tourism will prosper in the future.

“We will increase efforts to strengthen local tourism, make full use of our mountains and rivers and eventually allow the local people to lead happier lives through the tourism industry,” said Yu Renjie, deputy head of Hinggan League at a press conference in Ulanhot, the main city in the league, last week.

The government of Hinggan League has allocated 10 million yuan to develop the local infrastructure and local tourism. In addition, Ulanhot and Aershan have signed airline and railway agreements to provide direct flights and special railways to help travelers get to the region.

Meng Tieniu, director of the Hinggan League Tourism Bureau, said there are cooperations with online tourism operators including Tencent and Alibaba to promote the local tourism industry.

Yet the local tourism infrastructure needs to be improved as the local economy is still under-developed, including hotel accommodation and related industries, he said.

Hinggan League borders Mongolia to the northwest, and Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces to the east. Its name is derived from the Greater Khingan mountain range that crosses the league from the northwest to the southeast. The league features unique landscapes and rich Mongolian culture.

Ulanhot and Aershan are two major tourist cities in the league.

Known as Wangyemiao, Ulanhot was the original capital city of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and is famous for its Genghis Khan Temple. Genghis Khan ushered in the most prosperous era in China and during his reign, China had the largest territory in its history. The temple combines Mongolian, Han and Tibetan architectural style. Each year, it received Genghis Khan’s admirers throughout the world. Today, tourists can experience Mongolian temple rites there.

Another major tourist city, Aershan (which means sacred hot water in Mongolian), attracts travelers for its unique scenery. In Aershan, visitors can witness stunning scenery in the form of jagged volcano rocks in grotesque shapes, the city’s 48 cold, warm and hot springs, the forest steppe, and azalea flowers which blossom in the ice and snow. Every year the city’s photography contest and ski and snow festival attract crowds of visitors.

In Aershan, travelers can experience the life of forestry workers, as the city used to be one of the largest lumbering areas in northeast China. Former forestry workers have moved into eco-tourism, deer husbandry and handicrafts manufacturing as the city imposed a rigid regulation on forestry conservation in 2012 to stop logging and better protect this crucial ecological reserve on the Sino-Mongolian border.

As there are no polluting industries nearby and its climate is not favorable for farming, Aershan enjoys highly pure water and fresh air. “Ecological tourism is one of our top travel products, as the environmental experts have appraised the region and gave local conditions high rankings,” Meng said. Aershan-brand mineral water from the local springs is popular all over the country for its high quality and health benefits.

Many varying tourist routes have been developed. People who come to the area in June can also enjoy the lush grasslands in neighboring Mongolia, as Hinggan League has reached agreement with Mongolia to open its border to travelers.

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