Located 130km south of Bāotóu in the middle of nowhere is the Genghis Khan Mausoleum, China’s tribute to the great Mongol warlord. Unfortunately, old Genghis Khan (成吉思汗; Chéngjí Sīhàn) is not buried here (his resting place has never been found). Instead, the mausoleum’s existence is justified by an old Mongol tradition of worshipping Genghis Khan’s personal effects, including his saddle, bow and other items. Kublai Khan established the cult and handed over care for the objects to the Darhats, a Mongol clan.
Darhat elders kept the relics inside eight white tents, which could be moved in times of warfare. In the early 1950s, the government decided to build a permanent site for the relics and constructed this impressive triple-domed building, in the traditional Mongolian style. By then, most of the relics had been lost or stolen (everything you’ll see here is a replica). But even today, some of the guards at the site still claim descent from the Darhat clan. The ¥150 ticket includes entry to a museum with information on Genghis and Monglian culture.
From Bāotóu there is currently only one bus (¥47, two hours, 9.10am) to Chénglíng (成陵) from the main bus station in Dōnghé. You’ll then have to catch a taxi (¥15) the final 7km to the mausoleum. All buses from Báotóu to Yúlín pass by Chénglíng, so that is an option (same in the other direction, if you are coming from north Shǎnxī).
There are 11 trains (hard seat ¥18, 80 minutes) per day from Bāotóu to Dōngshèng West train station, 60km from the tomb. There are also regular buses (¥34, two hours, every 20 to 30 minutes, 8am to 7pm) from Bāotóu to Dōngshèng.
To move on, take a cab back to a small tourist village (with shops, hotels and restaurants) to flag down any Dōngshèng-bound bus at the roundabout. Buses should pass by regularly till about 4pm. From Dōngshèng (东胜) you can connect to Bāotōu (¥34), Hohhot (¥65, four hours, hourly) and other regional destinations as well as Yúlín in north Shǎnxī province.
At the roundabout, there are also share taxis to Ejin Horo Qi (伊金霍洛旗; Yījīn Huòluò Qí; ¥15 per person), known as ‘Yī Qí’, where you can get a bus to Hohhot (¥70, 4½ hours, last bus 3pm).