ErlianInner Mongolia. It is also variously known as Ereen or Eriyen in Mongolia, and Erenhot or Erlianhaote (二连浩特; Èrliánhàotè) in China. It appears as Erlian on Chinese railway timetables, and Ereen on Monglian railway timetables.
By planeThere is a direct flight Beijing-Erlian (Erenhot Shi, code ERL) via Capital Airlines, China.
From Erlian to Hohhot a 40-minute flight was just over ¥170 (Sep 2016).
There are trains from Beijing. The train station is on the eastern border of the town. Tickets can be purchased at the station 20 days in advance, or from almost any tourist/travel center 5 days in advance. Prices are controlled by the government and there should only be a ¥10 commission on the sale if you buy it from a 3rd party agent.
Train #K23 departs from Beijing at 11:22 arriving in Erlian at 22:30 shared hard berth ¥200 (March 2016).
You can get from Zamiin-Uud in Mongolia to Erlian by train on the international train from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar as described in Zamiin-Uud. From Moscow and other major Russian cities along the track, you can take the weekly train 43, aka the "Trans-Mongolian", to Erlian.
Trains to Beijing only run a few days a week. If you are doing a visa run from Beijing, find out when trains will be coming back before going to Erlian. Train tickets can typically be purchased at the train station five days before the train is scheduled to leave, ten days during Chinese New Year (2010). If you are traveling from Beijing to renew a visa, return tickets can not be purchased in Beijing.
There are sleeper buses from Beijing. (¥200, 2011) The long-distance bus station is nearby, about one block west and 2-3 blocks north of the train station.
You can take a bus from Hohhot. There are several buses each day for ¥95 (2017). Depending on the traffic the trip is about 6 hours and 30 minutes. Bus stops for the driver to eat, but there is not much choice so bring some snacks.
You can get from Zamiin-Uud train center in Mongolia by bus (¥40, July 2009).
The bus station was closed for Chinese New Year until Feb 19 (2010).
By jeepYou can get from Zamiin-Uud in Mongolia by jeep, which costs around ¥50 per person (July 2009). Russian-made jeeps driven by Mongolian drivers start at the market where Mongolians buy goods to take back to Mongolia. The same jeeps also pick up passengers at the first border checkpoint with Chinese guards if they have room. At the border a jeep will arrive every few minutes. A Chinese taxi can take you to this checkpoint for ¥5-10. The jeeps are allowed to carry 5 passengers; however, some drivers ask the Chinese guards for exceptions and carry up to 7 passengers. If taking a jeep, expect to be very crowded and to either sit on someone's lap or have someone sit on your lap. Get out of the jeep at the Chinese and Mongolian entry points and walk through. Be sure to remember which jeep is yours as they come in only two colors (grey and green) and look nearly identical to each other. Many Mongolians cross the border on a daily basis so they are familiar with the process and can help out. Many speak at least some English.
You are not allowed to walk between the Chinese and Mongolian border posts though they are within walking distance. You will need to pay a ¥5 exit tax. The whole process takes around 1½ hours.
On some holidays (e.g. 1 June, Children's Day), the border is closed and you may be forced to stay a day longer than prepared. It may happen that a driver still offers you a lift, then notices at the border that it isn't possible and still wants to charge you for it.
Dinosaur MuseumThis is a cool attraction and outdoor park. There are several exhibits and large outdoor gardens. It takes 2-4 hours to see all the exhibits and gardens. To get to the museum a taxi will cost around ¥40 one way or ¥100 to have the taxi wait for you and take you both ways.
Large replicas of dinosaur skeletons
SculptureThere is a giant at the intersection of the main roads - one running east-west from the train station, the other north-south.
Dinosaur PlazaThere is a large plaza near the center of town that was under construction (2017). There looks like there is potential for a nice plaza with a dinosaur theme. There is loads of shopping all around. There was a fair in the plaza (July 2017). Several street barbecues set up every night just south of the plaza.
Erlian Grassland Tour LoopIt is possible to use Erlian as the starting point for the Erlian Grassland Tour Loop itinerary.
Antiques (of suspect age) and touristy knickknacks, at the alleys of gift shops at the north-east corner of 新华街 (mislabeled as Xinghua Street) and 前进路 (Qianjin Road).
Central MarketThere is a large indoor market with many small shops selling all sorts of goods from clothes to power tools. There are also many outdoor stores next to the market. There are many large shopping centers in the area also. There are money changers at the east entrance who will give you a decent exchange rate for Mongolian money if needed.
There are also Muslim restaurants opened by the Hui Muslims of China.
There are many barbecue places on Xilin street that set up outside dinning and start getting busy around 19:30.
Ruyi International MansionThe biggest hotel in Erlian
Geely HotelThis was the nicest "affordable" hotel within walking distance of the bus station. Clean rooms, AC, and good Wifi.
Mongolian visaGet a Mongolian visa either from:
- CITS (when open)
The visa will last for 30 days. You will need one passport photo and to pay with cash. The prices above apply to most, but not all nationalities. For a full list see the Mongolian Embassy in China website.
Directions from the train station: Walk straight ahead along the road that runs directly in front of the clock outside the train station until you reach the second junction. The CITS will be on the left hand corner. Turn right here, then walk straight ahead for about five minutes. When you get to Chichaer St you will see the beige bus station down the street on the left, but continue walking straight ahead for a about another ten minutes until you see the blue, red and yellow Mongolian flag on the left. Do not worry if it seems like you have walked a bit outside town, you are meant to. Go to the small office at the gate.
During Chinese New Year, the border (18 Feb) and the Mongolian Consulate (22 Feb) were both closed. (2010)
One Australian was able to obtain a visa at the border while the consulate in town was closed during Chinese New Year but this process did not seem to be encouraged and may not be typically available.
For residents of Beijing, a trip to Erlian is the cheapest way to leave the country and renew a multiple entry visa (a visa run) but is less straight forward than a trip to Hong Kong or Seoul, Korea. Most people in town and at the border do not speak any English so some basic Chinese is very helpful.