Though it's a major city, and the capital of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot manages to be an interesting blend of the old and the new, and a relatively green and leafy place in summer. As well as the shiny new banks and department stores downtown, there's an extensive area in the south of the town with old, narrow streets built of black bricks and heavy roof tiles. These days Hohhot is largely a Han city, though there is also a Hui and a Mongol presence. Hohhot is also temptingly close to some of the famous Mongolian grasslands, within a hundred-kilometre radius of the city.
The gigantic Inner Mongolia horse racecourse, the biggest in China, is put to frenzied use during Naadam, the summer Mongolian festival that combines horsemanship with wrestling and other games. The dates vary, but Naadam usually falls between late July and early August.