Hohhot (Mongolian: , Kökeqota; lit. "Blue Town"; ), occasionally spelled Huhehot or Huhhot, is a city in North-central China and the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, serving as the region's administrative, economic, and cultural centre.
The city was founded by Mongol ruler Altan Khan in the late 16th century. In Chinese, the name can be abbreviated to Hū Shì "Hu-town" or translated as Qīng Chéng (). A city with a rich cultural background, Hohhot is known for its historical sites and temples and is one of the major tourist destinations of Inner Mongolia. It was chosen as the region's administrative centre in 1952, replacing Ulanhot.
The two sections later became Guihua District (歸化縣) of the Qing Empire, renamed to Guisui County (歸綏縣) in 1913, and upgraded to a city in 1950. It was the capital of the now-defunct Suiyuan Province. In 1952, under Inner Mongolian chairman Ulanhu, the city became the capital of Inner Mongolia.
The city has seen significant development since China's reform and opening began. The city's far east side began development around 2000 and is now home to an artificial lake called Ruyi He, a large number of condominiums, the municipal government, and most of the Autonomous Region's government buildings. The Hohhot City Stadium was built on the city's north side.
The majority of Hohhot residents can converse fluently in Mandarin, but there exists a linguistic divide between "old-town" folk (comprising today's Huimin District), with a large Muslim Hui minority, who tend to converse in raw Hohhot dialect, a branch of the Jin language from neighboring Shanxi province. This spoken form can be difficult to understand for a standard Mandarin speaker or even Mandarin speakers from the other side of the city. The newer and more educated residents, mostly concentrated in Xincheng and Saihan Districts, speak Hohhot-based Mandarin Chinese, the majority also with a noticeable accent and some unique vocabulary. (See Hohhot dialect for further details)
Due to its relatively diverse cultural make-up, and despite its characteristics as a mid-sized Chinese industrial city, the Hohhot street scene has no shortage of ethnic minority elements. Tongdao Road, a major street in the old town area, is decorated with Islamic and Mongol exterior designs on all its buildings. A series of government initiatives in recent years have emphasized Hohhot's identity with ethnic minority groups, especially in increasing Mongolian-themed architecture around the city. All street signs as well as public transportation announcements are regulated to be in both Chinese and Mongolian.
Food specialty in the area is mostly focused on Mongolian cuisine and dairy products. Commercially, Hohhot is known for being the base of nationally renowned dairy giants Yili and Mengniu. The Mongolian drink suutei tsai ("naicha" 奶茶 in Chinese, "milk tea" in English), which has become a typical breakfast selection for anyone living or visiting the city. The city also has rich traditions in the making of hot pot and shaomai. There is also a large selection of Korean and Muslim restaurants, in addition to cuisine from other regions of China.
The city is administratively at the prefecture-level, meaning that it administers both its urban area and the rural regions in its vicinity. The administrative area includes 4 counties, 4 districts, and a county-level banner; they are further divided into 20 urban sub-districts, and 96 townships.
By rail, Hohhot lies on the Jingbao Railway from Beijing to Baotou. Trains to Beijing link to destinations to the south and the northeast. The most prominent rail link with Beijing is the overnight K90 train, which has served the Hohhot-Beijing line since the 1980s and is referred to colloquially as simply "9-0" by locals. Westbound trains go through Baotou and Lanzhou. There are also rail links to most major Inner Mongolian cities and to Ulaanbaatar.
Hohhot's Baita International Airport (IATA:HET) is about half an hour from the city centre by car. It has direct flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Wuhan, Hong Kong, and to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Long distance buses connect Hohhot to Baotou (via the Hubao Expressway) and to other areas in Inner Mongolia.
The city's public transit system is composed of nearly one hundred bus routes and a large fleet of taxicabs. The bus fare is 1-1.5 yuan. The taxi fare begins at 6 yuan.
Hohhot is unique in that its major north-south thoroughfares are called "Lu" and its east-west thoroughfares are called "Jie". This is roughly equivalent to dividing roads into "street" and "avenue" designation according to direction. The largest interchange is near the site of the city's Drum Tower, after which it is named. Several major streets are named after Inner Mongolian leagues; of these, Hulun Buir, and Xing'an run north-south, while Ulan Chaab and Xilin Gol run east-west.
High Schools located in Hohhot include: